There is no one face to New York …she is definitely a fickle and ever-changing gal. One minute you can be amid slick glass skyscrapers surrounded by executives in suits, and the next you can be strolling down a quiet tree-lined street as an old man comes out of his elegant brownstone to walk his dog. And then, in a flash you can be surrounded by lofts and old warehouses amidst people with outrageously colored hair and more body piercings than you ever thought possible.
When it comes to New Yorkers, socializing and entertainment often revolve around food. Dining out is an event and a pastime so it is no wonder that New York chefs have become bona fide celebrities and many of the hottest restaurants require reservations months in advance!
If you are a true gourmand, the second thing you will probably do after booking your hotel room will be to book your restaurant reservations — and if you want to go to one of the trendiest restaurants in New York , we wholeheartedly agree. Many of the chefs whom you have probably seen on the Food Network have restaurants in New York City — some have even more than one. Those are usually the hardest places to get into so be sure to call in advance for a reservation. Please do not wait until you arrive, as you may be disappointed. If you want to know what the top restaurants in New York are, check out the Zagat Guide (in print or online) for recommendations.
If you would love to dine at one of these big-name restaurants, but budget is a concern, you might want to plan your visit during “Restaurant Week.” A few times each year, New York City restaurants gather together for Restaurant Week and offer a three-course prix fixe lunch or dinner. For 2004, you will be able to get lunch for $20.04 and dinner for $30.04 — it's a great value and a wonderful opportunity, but once again book early! For information on the next Restaurant Week, check out the website of NYC & Company.
Sure New York City has its fair share of the national fast-food chains; however, with so many restaurants of all sizes and prices, this is not the time to dine with the old reliables. To experience the true New York , you need to taste the food. Just ask the doorman or person at the front desk of your hotel…like the Travel Inn, the Milford Plaza , or the Ramada New Yorker…to point you in the direction of a good deli or coffee shop. Grab a bagel or an oversized muffin and a hot cup of coffee to start your morning like a typical New Yorker. Or get a hot dog or pretzel from a street vendor and take a stroll through Central Park . You can always dine on a budget in New York so there is no need to have to go to the fast food places — unless of course your kids will not eat anything else.
In New York you will find EVERY type of cuisine you could possibly ask for so why not be adventurous and sample them all! This is truly a melting pot and you will find certain cuisine centered in certain areas. The west 30s are a good place for Korean food, Chinatown of course for Chinese. The East Village has good Indian and Asian food and also offers some funky affordable cafes. If you want authentic Italian food, then be sure to head downtown to Little Italy (the Holiday Inn Downtown is nearby if you want to make that your headquarters) where you will find Italian food from simple to upscale. The restaurants offer wonderful deals and the food is absolutely incredible. But save some room for dessert …
When it comes to dessert, New York does not disappoint. If you're down in Little Italy, you'll want to head on over to Ferrara 's for mouthwatering pastries, cakes, cookies, and more. Another incredible dessert place is Veniero's ( 11 th Street between First and Second avenues). Believe it or not, desserts are very affordable here and you can even get a sampler platter of mini-desserts if you simply cannot decide. If you happen to be up by Central Park, make a visit to Payard (Lexington at 73 rd Street) on the upper east side and sit in the café upfront for a coffee and pastry.
If you are visiting New York with children, there is no better place than Serendipity ( 225 East 60 th Street ). This restaurant is a combination general store and ice cream parlor and also serves food — it's a bit pricey but is known for HUGE sundaes and frozen hot chocolate. Plan to get there as early in the day as you can because there is always a line down the block (hotels in the area include the Melrose and the Bentley) — and not just folks with kids…adults love the place too!
The Upper West Side (the Lucerne, the Empire, Westpark, and the Hudson hotels are all located on the west side) is a good area for dining too…plenty of restaurants, many with outdoor cafes in summer, and a good selection of cafes and coffeehouses where you can hang out and soak up the NYC ambiance.
If you are one for scenic spots, The Boathouse in Central Park offers fine food and a great view of the lake. If you want something a bit less pricey but the same ambiance, you can dine at the café at the Central Park Zoo and enjoy the greenery as well. The restaurant and bar atop The Beekman Hotel offer great views of the city and Long Island, while the Rainbow Room on the 65 th floor of 30 Rockefeller Center also has great views of the city. If budget is a concern, just go for drinks. Finally, no visit to New York would be complete without a meal at Tavern on the Green — quintessentially New York . Go for brunch and celebrate a special occasion.
Much like the people who come and go from this incredible city, New York 's dining scene is ever-changing. Check with the staff at your hotel for recommendations on nearby spots — you will often find that the small, little-known hideaways have better prices that the more well-known restaurants and serve better food.