What to expect when you're Connecting: Where to eat dinner at ICNY

Our favorite picks for places for evening meals and networking over fantastic food during Inman Connect New York

Dinner at Inman Connect New York is always an experience, whether you’re dining with friends you’ve known for years or establishing brand-new connections that will take your business to new heights in 2019. Whatever your goal, one thing is true for any dinner in New York: You want to find the best food at the right price so that you can enjoy it with the people around you.

You’re no doubt already aware that this city offers an array of dining possibilities, and it all depends on what you want and when you want it. Here are some of our favorite places to grab dinner close to the Inman Connect New York headquarters, so you can focus on your friends and business connections instead of spending your time figuring out where to eat dinner.

1. The Smith
1150 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

There’s a huge dining room at the Smith, plus a big communal table next to the bar — so if you’ve got a group and no reservation anywhere, it’s worth a try to see how long it’ll take to seat you. Its New American menu has something from just about every category, from seafood to steak to pasta to burgers to salads, and daily specials to mix things up a little bit. And if you’re in the mood for a cocktail with dinner, the Smith has an assortment of custom drinks that will have you hard-pressed to stop after just one. Try the hot potato chips with blue cheese fondue to start with; as far as a main course goes, you can’t go wrong with either the pot of mussels or one of the burgers, but the sea bass and the shrimp tagliatelle are also popular choices.

2. Ai Fiori
400 5th Ave #2, New York, NY 10018

Ai Fiori is a Michelin-ranked restaurant, and reservations are required, so it’s not the best place for just popping in to see if there’s room for your party — but if you want to plan ahead a little bit and prepare for your trip, a reservation here would be an excellent way to charm your dining companions. The atmosphere and ambiance is impeccable, and the food is divine; it’s on the pricier side, but for such an upscale experience, you’ll likely agree with thousands of other diners that it’s well worth any dollars spent. Ai Fiori offers a few prix fixe options — four-course, seven-course and vegetarian menus — plus an array of pastas and risottos, caviars, appetizers, fish, meat and more. The Trofie Nero is a popular option: ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops and spiced mollica. Or try the spaghetti, fancied up with blue crab, lemon, bottarga and chilies. Try to save room for dessert, either one of the gelato or sorbet flavors, or split the semifreddo or affogato with a friend.

3. The Sea Grill
Rockefeller Plaza, 19 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020

The Sea Grill overlooks the iconic Rockefeller Center ice-skating rink, and it’s also got some of the best seafood in the city. Make a reservation if you’re dead-set on sitting by the window to watch the ice skaters — but you never know; you might just get lucky if you show up on a whim and make nice with the hostess. A three-course prix-fixe dinner menu runs $49 per person and includes some of the most popular appetizers, main courses and desserts on the menu — the jumbo lump crab cake is a solid first-course selection, and either the house-made linguine or surf-and-turf main course will satisfy you for your main course. As far as dessert goes, the cheesecake comes highly recommended, or try the warm chocolate steamed pudding.

4. Nios
130 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

Nios serves comfort food with a modern spin; if you bring a friend to split a couple of appetizers and main courses, you’ll get the best of all worlds, and the dishes at Nios are very shareable. The Colombian beef empanadas or cheese plates are excellent choices for starters, and if you’re not sure whether you should get the bison or lobster sliders as a main course, ask for the surf-and-turf option and try a little bit of both! The scallops and Morrocan octopus are also popular options, and any of the main courses pair beautifully with a side of blistered shishito peppers or fried Brussels sprouts. If you’re in the mood for cocktails, try the spiced old fashion or the Midtown Manhattan; Nios also offers an array of excellent wine and beer.

5. The Lambs Club
132 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

Located inside the Chatwal Hotel, the Lambs Club is one of New York’s signature New American experiences near Times Square. There’s a chef’s tasting menu if you’re in the mood to try a little bit of everything, but if you have a more selective palate, you’ll find plenty to satisfy you on the Lambs Club’s menu. The Nova Scotia lobster served with spiced butter and Amish chicken — prepared with mushroom duxelle, leeks, saffron, bok choy and huitlacoche — are two of the most popular dishes on the menu, and you can’t go wrong starting off with the steak tartare or bone marrow gratin. This is a pretty meat-heavy menu, so probably not suitable for mixed groups of vegetarians and carnivores, but if everyone is agreed that meat is the order of the day, then this might be the perfect dinner option for your crew.

6. The NoMad Restaurant
1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

If you already know you want to split a meal with your dining companion, consider the chicken for two at the NoMad, a French-inspired restaurant located inside the hotel of the same name. The whole-roasted chicken comes with foie gras, black truffle and brioche and cauliflower and pommes puree on the side (mashed potatoes to those of us on this side of the pond). This Michelin-starred restaurant has a lot more than roast chicken on the menu, too — try the sea urchin “tacos” for two on the snacks menu, or the white truffles from the appetizer section, which can be ordered served over risotto or tagliatelle pasta with butter and parmesan. The suckling pig, duck and bone marrow-crusted beef are also standouts, and you can find some vegetarian dishes for a mixed group, too.

7. Etcetera Etcetera
352 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

Not every nightly meal needs to be an ultra-upscale experience; if you’re seeking something a bit more casual and wouldn’t mind Italian and Mediterranean inspiration behind the menu, then you’ll find what you’re looking for at Etcetera Etcetera. It’s pretty popular with the theater-going crowd, so you might want to take that into consideration when you’re timing your visit; like many restaurants in the area, this one provides a multiple-course prix-fixe menu (three courses for $42). You can also find gluten-free pasta and some vegetarian/vegan dishes, making this a solid option for mixed-lifestyle diners. The mustard seed pappardelle with duck ragout is a popular choice, and if you can find the mango creme brulee on the dessert menu, don’t miss it.

8. Le Bernardin
155 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

The French know how to do food, and the seafood experience at Le Bernardin is one you’ll remember for years to come. There are several tasting menus, including a vegetarian option, or you can opt for the $160 four-course prix fixe menu, which features “almost raw” selections (caviar, oysters and more), “barely touched” (lobster, scallops, langoustine and more), “lightly cooked” (the monkfish, baked lobster and dover sole are three highly recommended choices); you can also get lamb, filet mignon and red snapper upon request. If an evening of Manhattan fine dining is what you’re craving, Le Bernardin will absolutely not disappoint.

9. Butter Midtown
70 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036

Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli is the chef at Butter Midtown, so you know you can expect some amazing combinations at this New American restaurant. The interior is polished and spacious, with plenty of room for private conversations — a nice venue for doing some deals. On the starter menu, the gnocchi mac-and-cheese is one of the famed dishes available; if you’d like a salad, the raw and roasted Brussels sprouts salad with apple, black radish and smoked pecan dressing will have you thinking about it for days; for dessert, try the raspberry beignets with a fresh pot of coffee made just for your table. The white cloud cauliflower (made with marash pepper and coconut milk) or French onion-style boneless short ribs (served with Gruyere cheese and dry marsala) are two standout options on the “large plate” menu.

10. Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

Momofuku Ssam Bar offers quite a few pork options — the country hams are flown in from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, and a tasting menu is available where you can sample a little bit of everything — but seafood takes the main stage at this Asian eatery. The fried cauliflower and black truffles is one of the most popular small dishes, and ask if you can try their spicy pork sausage and rice cakes (they serve it for lunch but those in the know might be able to snag some for dinner, too). For a larger dish, try the sizzling flatiron and chanterelle mushrooms or the shellfish and sambal. Order a carafe of sake for the table or a small glass just for yourself; servers are well-versed in which sake (or beer, for that matter) pair nicely with which dishes.

Did we miss your favorite dinner spot at Inman Connect New York? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Photo by Alex Munsell on Unsplash