Soho’s Balthazar is a little touch of Paris and our favorite all-around restaurant, Norma’s Parker Hotel, W. 57th St. is acknowledged by many as the best breakfast spot in the City. It’s said that the chefs in town, head to Good Enough to Eat 483 Amsterdam at 83rd Street for a great breakfast. Everything is fresh and homemade. Bakery stuff is legendary. Long lines on weekends, bring a newspaper. Other favorites include Soho Aurora on Broome Street where you get crusty bread, a salad, an entree and a Mimosa or Bloody for $15!. Lafayette Grand Cafe and Bakery, downtown, serves all meals and is a wonderful people watching place. B&B Wine Pub offers limitless Mimosas, Bloody Marys, Beer or Wine for $19 with a brunch item.
A particular favorite, especially in the winter (they have a wood burning fireplace in the bar) is the Waverly Inn in Greenwich Village. Eat in a cozy book in the restaurant or the bright and cheerful Garden Room.
Some of the best restaurants in NYC offer surprisingly priced lunches (at least compared to their dinner prices) during the week. Le Bernardin has a three course lunch for $93. Bouley at Home presents a $55 Tasting menu. Marea has a two course lunch at $67 and Del Posto features three courses for $69.
Two great choices in the Village; cozy and popular, The Little Owl and for delicious Italian food and a romantic setting try Corbone. You can get the best Chicken Parm ever at Primola on the Upper East Side and Danny’s Meyer’s Union Square Cafe is still one of the best restaurants in the City.
French bistro. Balthazar. 80 Spring St. is one of my favorite places in the City. Make their own breads. I like to go here in late afternoon after a day in Soho or Little Italy, sit at the bar, order the cheese plate and a glass of wine. Boathouse, Central Park (E. 72nd St) Whatever the season, this place right on a lake in the heart of Central Park, is magical. May not be a more romantic lunch spot in the City. The food good, not great. but who cares with this view. If nothing else, go for a drink. Michael’s. 24 W. 55th. (5th/6th). “Power” spot in mid-town for media types and celebrities. Elegant, cheerful setting with striking modern art collection. Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a Friday spot so you’ll see some famous people. Upscale dress. B&B Wine Pub. Great atmosphere, delicious food and lots of good inexpensive wine choices. Avra Estiatorio looks like an authentic Greek Taverna, has wonderful Mediterranean food and wine and is delightful both inside and out on the patio.
Another fun lunch option is to visit Eataly (locations in the Flatiron and downtown). This wonderful “foodie” destination has restaurants, markets and vendors offering cheese, bread, pasta and more. Grab some food, a bottle of wine, sit at a table and people watch.
burger joint, Parker Meridian Hotel, W19 West 56th Street. Hard to believe this great little “Joint” and joint it is, resides in the luxury Parker Hotel. You enter the lobby and are directed behind a curtain and down a dark hallway to a neon sign outside the little café. Juicy burgers served on soft rolls, with cheese if you want. Fries served in small brown bags. Great shakes and beer too! Danny Meyer’s Shack Shack has 5 locations in Manhattan, you can tell where they are by the long lines. Followers are obsessed. The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern is to die for. and locals swear by J.G. Melon’s cheeseburgers. Love the cheeseburgers at P.J. Clarke’s and the cheeseburger at 4 Charles Prime Rib comes from the Chicago burger legend Au Cheval.
No trip to NYC would be complete without a visit to the Grand Central Oyster Bar, opened in 1913. Worth the trip just to see the decor. Love the vibe at the Pearl Oyster Bar in the West Village and AquaGrill, in Soho has outdoor seating in nice weather. Also, when the weather is nice, hop aboard the Grand Banks Schooner, parked at Pier 25, Hudson River Park, and belly up to their outside oyster bar.
Gray’s Papaya. Many locations, but one on W. 43rd Street. Can’t leave the City without having one along with the papaya drink.
BBQ has invaded the city in the last year and there are now a host of great spots. I haven’t tried them all, but the brisket sandwich I had at Hill Country at 30 W. 26th Street was the best I ever had. Dry rubbed and cooked slow over post oak wood shipped from Texas. Lots of great stuff from brisket to ribs to chicken. Looks like a Texas roadhouse too. Live music Wednesday-Saturday.
Legend has it that the Bloody Mary was brought to the U.S. by Fernand Petiot who invented it at Harry’s Bar in Paris. Petiot took a job at the King Cole Bar in the St. Regis hotel in NYC and the rest is history. Prune . 54 E. 1st Street. Lots of choices, but I like the Bloody Bull with beef bullion. Great place to get over a hangover.
There are some wonderful pubs that have been around for a hundred years, literally. The best are: P.J. Clarke’s, Third/55th Midtown. Around since the late 1800’s. Hang-out for Kennedy, Sinatra, Plimpton, Breslin and more. Great bar. Good pub food. Excellent burgers. Red checkered tablecloths. Check out the urinals…No reservations necessary. McSorley’s, 15 E. 7th Street. Sawdust floors, swinging doors, choice of light or dark ale. This is old New York at its best. The Long Room (formerly St. Andrew’s) 120 W. 44th Street. Convenient to theater district. Excellent selection of single malts and beers. Wonderful fireplace with couches around it. Great lunch spot, too. Molly’s in Gramercy Park is a true step back in time, a wonderful old Irish bar. The White Horse Tavern in the Village was Dylan Thomas’ “last call.”
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar is helmed by Sohm who is Le Bernardin’s master sommelier. Great list, small plates, comfy. Corkbuzz, multiple locations. Run by Master Sommelier Laura Maniec, one of only 3 female Master Somms in New York. City Winery in Soho has a great selection, including some they make themselves. Excellent live musical entertainment. Bar Boulud on the Upper West Side focuses on wonderful French wines.
This is a city with probably the best collection of steakhouses you will find anywhere. Most people will tell you Peter Lugar’s is the best steak…but Brooklyn is a trek and I don’t like the decor, attitude or the prices. If you assume all the steaks are pretty good, and they are, how to choose? I like steak houses that offer something different than the norm. Spark’s, E. 46th between 2nd/3rd.has always been a favorite and it’s the quintessential NY institution. It’s where mob boss Paul Castellano was killed, seemingly at the direction of John Gotti. Del Frisco’s, part of a 16 restaurant national chain, has the only Wine Spectator Grand Award for their wine list, among the City’s steakhouses.But the competition is heating up. Keens Steakhouse, opened in 1885 has a wonderful clubby atmosphere and the best mutton in town. Delmonico’s, downtown, opened in 1837 and is credited with inventing Eggs Benedict, Baked Alaska, Lobster Newburg and Chicken A la Keene. A new favorite is the Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village. Excellent steaks, fantastic old New York atmosphere. Hard to get in.
Maloney & Porcelli serves dry aged steaks and has a wonderful wine dinner. $90 for an appetizer, entree and dessert, paired with good wines that are poured generously.
COLD WEATHER/ANYTIME Campbell Apartment, Grand Central Station, Vanderbilt/42nd St. Amazing décor. Former offices if 1920’s rail tycoon John Campbell. Midtown. Boathouse in Central Park, 5th at 74th. Whatever the weather, a perfect place for drinks. Best view. Upper Eastside. Hudson Hotel Library 356 W. 58th Between 8th/9th. Fireplace. Chic. Cool. Midtown. McSorley’s Downtown. Old time New York. Been there forever. Sawdust floors, their own beer. Downtown. Bemelmans Bar, Upper East Side.Carlyle Hotel. Sophisticated and upscale. King Cole Bar. Mid-town. Popular after work spot for high powered execs and their “nieces”. If you happen to be in downtown in the Flatiron district (Gramercy Tavern, Craft) here are some great places for a drink either before or after dinner; Flute, E. 20th Street, dark, couches, amazing champagne menu. Attaboy, opened in the old space of Milk & Honey by two of its bartenders. Truly artisan.
WARM WEATHER/OUTDOORS Salon de Ning, Peninsula Hotel. Great view of the City. Midtown. Boathouse in Central Park. See above. 230 Fifth. 230 Fifth Ave. (26/27th). Spectacular penthouse Lounge and Rooftop Garden. Amazing views of the City. The crowd is as close to “Sex and the City” as you can get. PHD Terrace. Dream Hotel. Mid-town. Uptown and up high. 15th Floor Garden with Times Square, Central Park views.
You know that time in the afternoon just before you head back to the hotel to nap or relax before dinner? Any of the oyster or wine bars mentioned above are great for a snack, or try Rosa Mexicano. Homemade guacamole made in stone bowls in front of you served with hot chips. Have the pomegranate margaritas. Cheese plate and white wine or the raw bar at Balthazar. in Soho. Italian small plates at Frankies Spuntino .
After Dinner Fun
If you are not going to the theater, opera or Carnegie Hall, or a sporting event here are some other great things to do after dinner.
COCKTAIL BAR: Bo Peep. Fantastic cocktails. Nightly entertainment.
JAZZ: Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave. South at 11th St. Jazz Standard, 116 E. 27th St.. Birdland, 315 W. 44th between 8th/9th.
BLUES: BB Kings, 237 W. 42nd between 7th/8th.
CABARET: Feinstein’s at 54 Below. Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St. between Astor/E. 4th. Cafe Carlyle, Madison at 76th.
COMEDY: Caroline’s Comedy Club. Midtown. Gotham Comedy Club. Downtown
THE PIANO BARS: Don’t Tell Mama, Midtown. Brandy’s Piano Bar, Uptown
DANCING: Swing 46, Midtown. Live bands, lots of dancing. The Cutting Room, Downtown. Owned by Chris Noth (of Sex and the City, Law & Order fame) and Steve Walter, this hot Flatiron venue has a great bar and a wonderful back room for live music you actually want to listen to. Lots of stars drop by to drink and/or perform.
PIANO BAR/CABERET/COMEDY. The Duplex. Downtown. All in one place. Fun gay/straight crowd. Great vibe. Servers grab the mike and sing.
Most of the better hotels have spas of their own, but Elizabeth Arden, is still the queen behind the red door, and this article will give you some other ideas.
The no face lift, face lift. Tracie Martyn , 59 Fifth Ave., Suite 1. Your friends will swear you had a face lift. Celebrity facialist.
Georgi Dimov often sits outside the Metropolitan Museum or you can visit him on-line. Delightful watercolors at very reasonable prices
Cheese, Cheese, Cheese
Found this delightful shop a while back downtown on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village; Murray’s Cheese (#254) may be the best cheese store I have ever seen and they’ll ship to you. Great sandwiches, too.