My Day Off: Special Request

July 7th, 2010 by abbe diaz

Welcome to: Where I Spent My Day Off —by a NYC Restaurant "Insider" – BY SPECIAL REQUEST


From the inbox: "Hey… planning an upcoming trip that includes two days in NYC. Don’t want to end up at the tourist spots, I wanna eat like a hip/savvy local! What do you suggest, please? Like, where would you go if you only had one day? And how hard is it to get reservations or get in? … You’re like the Adrian Moore of NYC, [where] I got some great tips on dining when I first moved to Paris… Thanks! – D.B.


So, what do you do in the industry?
it’s me, bitches! or rather — for our Parisian friends— c’est moi, salopes!


And you have how many days off a week, generally?
let’s say 2


What did would you do for breakfast yesterday?
i don’t generally do breakfast, but if i did (or if i were entertaining, e.g.), i’d likely go to SantAmbroeus in the west village. boom— it’s only breakfast and already you’re a “hip and savvy” local. try not to stare at liv-tyler.
breakfast is a bit more sedate than lunch or dinner, so just walk right on in.


if it’s a beautiful sunny day, BarPitti.
after 2pm is best, but do plan on the possibility of a short wait unless you arrive after 4pm. they don’t take reservations, and they don’t take credit cards either.


And afterward?
as you’re already in that vicinity, perhaps some shopping in SoHo or the WestVillage?
and since you’re on vacation, after that, you’ll of course need a nice apértif. personally, when in SoHo, i like LaEsquina or CafeSelect. if i’m in the WestVillage, it’s CentroVinoteca or GustoRistorante e BarAmericano.
either/all are nice and relaxing in the hours from 4pm to 7pm, no reservation/waiting required.


this is where it gets a little tricky. firstly, because you asked where i would go if i only had one night (or had guests from out of town), and secondly because the answer to the question "is it hard to get in?" would likely be a yes oui. but here goes anyway:

at the top of my list would be LaEsquina.
unfortunately, it can be difficult to get a reservation even for a local. a good alternative since you’re coming in the summertime is to sit outdoors, provided you don’t mind dining early (around 7pm). tables outside are first come first served, but do not offer the full cellar dining room menu. however, the "scene and/or people watching" (one of LaEsquina’s primary attractions) is stellar from this vantage point.

also at the top of the list is MinettaTavern, mostly because whenever friends of mine visit from across the country or overseas, dinner at MinettaTavern is usually a principal request. i believe reservations at this juncture are still a bit difficult, so a decent strategy is to dine at the bar. i normally suggest people go early (around 6pm), check with the maitre d’ for any cancellations or sudden availabilities, but be prepared to have full dinner at the bar if necessary. of course, late dinner (around 11pm) is always an option too, but it’s not the choice i would make.

[i wanted to re-iterate however, these are selections i would make under the provision of one night in NYC as a "hip/savvy local." if you’re one of those die hard foodie types, send your hate mail elsewhere, i’m not even remotely interested. then go get yourself a Michelin guide or something.]


And afterward?
sigh. if i had to? the BoomBoom. but yes it’s true, you’re not getting in. but since you must go home and tell everyone you’ve been there— go early, in the hours from 4pm to 9pm.

please do not ask me where you can "go dancing" after 10pm without a hassle at the door, because any pragmatic suggestion i would make would only serve to publicly embarrass myself. [okay here’s a tip: you can go absolutely anywhere else you please if you’re willing to “buy a bottle” and/or bribe the doorperson.]


How much did would you [have to] blow today?
with the exception of "BoomBoom Room," none of my recommendations are exorbitantly expensive. but, since it’s vacation, and i assume you mean to have a nice time— i would approximate the total cost for a day out like this (for two people) at about $550.00

i hope you have a nice visit!


*** See our latest UPDATE on La Esquina ***



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4 Responses to “My Day Off: Special Request”

  1. insider Says:

    after 10pm kenmare’s downstairs has gotten alot better lately.

    la esquina is on it’s way out. anyone can get a res now.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Derek and James think that they’re hot shit but Esquina was only hot bc of Serge. All the people that used to hang out at Esquina are at Kenmare. Soon everyone will leave, the staff is not happy and all want to quit bc its so lame now.

  3. Dick Johnson Says:

    Actually, Abbe, I think there are a few other places on your list that qualify.

    For one night in NYC as a “hip and savvy local”, I personally at this point would pick Indochine or Mekong off that list rather than La Esquina.

    La Esquina’s recent foray into food press politics is going to end up proving to be their undoing.

  4. Dishwasher Says:

    Well said DJ. I always say that in this age of the internet, service and merit are going to count alot more than ass-kissing the press like in the past. I don’t know why La Esquina chose to hang out their dirty laundry, but I’m pretty sure they are going to find that it was a bad idea that doesn’t do any good for their business.

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