So I have a very good friend who's visiting from L.A. next month. He's arriving on September 11th, to be exact, and spending six days, five nights. He's one of those born-and-bred L.A. natives who think NYC sucks (it's a business trip.) He definitely loves good food. He's taken me to many excellent restaurants in L.A. over the years so I not only want to return the favor but also show him that NYC does NOT suck!
Yes, he loves good food, but he's not a fine dining kinda guy. So nowhere with a dress code or even slightly stuffy. Even EMP might be too high-brow for him, so none of the ilk. He's more into simple stuff. Simple food, done well. Molecular gastronomy wouldn't impress him at all. Ingredient-wise, not a fan of foie gras or other offals, though he loves uni and he wants to go to El Quinto Pino just for uni panini (he'd seen it on Food Network, apparently.) The only cuisine he dislikes, as far as I remember, is Chinese. Budget-wise, I'd say we can go up to $100/person including tax and tip, but not alcohol.
Since he's coming from L.A. obviously no Mexican, Korean, etc. Basically whatever L.A. does way better than NYC. I'd like to show him what NYC does really well, or at least better than L.A.
He mentioned he loved Blue Water Grill, but I know that was at least ten years ago. So I was thinking something similar, like maybe Oceana? Would that fit our budget? I've never been. You can't find a good lobster roll in L.A. so I was also thinking Luke's Lobster (best in NYC IMO.) I'm kind of torn on sushi - I think there are too many excellent mid-end sushi places in L.A. for him to have sushi here. I don't think he would want to spend the kind of dough that you need to get really good sushi here. I would like to take him to Sakagura though since it's pretty unique.
I also know that he likes Mastro's in Beverly Hills, so I was thinking either Peter Luger, Keens, or Minetta Tavern for steak. He kind of likes a bit of a "scene" so I'm leaning towards Minetta. I have an in at Minetta that I can't use too often, actually haven't used it at all yet, so this might be a good time so I can get a res at a reasonable time. And of course, some kind of Italian - I thought Scarpetta, then I realized they have one in L.A. now. So where now? I don't know too much about Italian places here since my husband (my main dining partner) doesn't care for it. I'm also thinking Keste for pizza even though I know it's not NY style.
Am I missing anything? Maybe some kind of Eastern European or Jewish? Is there a place good enough to squeeze in during a shorter-than-a-week visit? Any other recs you can think of?
I know this is a rather long-winded post, so I totally appreciate you reading it and would really, really, really appreciate any opinions or recs you might have! Thank you in advance!