Just north of Grand Central in the Met Life Building is Cucina & Co. (200 Park Ave., 212/682-2700), an Italian-accented eatery serving gourmet sandwiches, salads, pastas, and baked goods.
For a classic New York lunch, eat at Grand Central Station’s Oyster Bar (42nd St. and Park Ave., lower level, 212/490-6650, open weekdays only), complete with red-checked tablecloths and a vaulted ceiling. On the menu is a wide variety of fish dishes, priced at about $25. Adjoining the main restaurant is a cheaper counter area, where dishes average $12.
A top-tier Chinese restaurant is the Shun Lee Palace (155 E. 55th St., between Lexington and 3rd Aves., 212/371-8844, $22), featuring gourmet fare in an elegant black lacquer setting with a glowing cream satin dragon encircling the dining room.
The sophisticated Dawat (210 E. 58th St., near 3rd Ave., 212/355-7555, $23) is considered to be one of the city’s best Indian restaurants.
Sushi Yasuda (204 E. 43rd St., 212/972-1001, $70), frequently cited as New York’s best Japanese restaurant, makes use of a Spartan ascetic to focus all of the attention on the beautiful fish.
For a bird’s-eye view of New York at night, Midtown is the neighborhood. The cozy Top of the Tower (3 Mitchell Pl., off 1st Ave. at 49th St., 212/355-7300) at the Beekman Tower Hotel offers an art deco lounge and an outdoor terrace open in summer.
Reopened in restored Grand Central Terminal is the Campbell Apartment (15 Vanderbilt Ave., at 43rd St., 212/953-0409), once the private office of railroad trustee John Campbell. Designed to resemble a 13th-century Florentine palazzo, the bar offers expensive drinks in an intimate setting.
P.J. Clarke’s (915 3rd Ave., at 55th St., 212/759-1616) is an out-of-time saloon sporting brass railings, worn wood, and sawdust on the floor. Featured in the 1945 movie The Lost Weekend, P.J.’s also serves pricey burgers and sandwiches.
In the post-modern Four Seasons Hotel is the Fifty Seven Fifty Seven Bar (57 E. 57th St., between Madison and Park Aves., 212/758-5700), serving 15 different kinds of oversized martinis.
Drinks at the posh St. Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar and Lounge (2 E. 55th St., at 5th Ave., 212/753-4500) don’t come cheap, but the room’s stunning historic mural makes it all worthwhile.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition