Tucked-Away Places for New York Business Meals

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If you're stumped about where to arrange a business meal in New York City, I've got the advice you're looking for.

I hate to go to business meetings, and I hate to eat at places where everyone else is talking business. So I try to combine these two "hates" into one "like" -- the eat-meet.

Here's the dilemma: you don't want to just recommend a decent restaurant that everyone else is eating at. I ate at a nice, upscale, midtown Manhattan restaurant the other day and everyone there was talking about hedge funds, carbon credits, Fed yields, etc.

There's no point in doing an eat-meet there. Even if the food is great, there's nothing really special or interesting about it.

When doing an eat-meet, you want everything to be unique, a little offbeat without being grungy. A little special -- from the menu to the other patrons, to the owners and location (without being so far off that it's difficult to get to).

When people, particularly investors or other visitors from out of town, want to do an eat-meet with me, I try to surprise and delight with the choice. Maybe even make it a little hard to get to or find.

Breakfast

For instance, if someone wants to do a breakfast meeting, the perfect place is the Diamond Dairy on 47th street. It's Kosher fare -- good, solid breakfast food.

Even if you know the exact address (4 W. 47th Street, right in the heart of New York's Diamond District), it's actually very difficult to find, since it's tucked away inside the building and doesn't seem overly welcome to newcomers.

If you want the absolute best breakfast in town, a little off the beaten path (zero hedge fund managers will be there, other than maybe me), check out the Clinton St. Baking Company on the Lower East Side.

Last time I was there, half the cast of "The Office" was present, along with assorted other patrons who seem to have nothing better to do than the crossword puzzle at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. I always like a restaurant where everyone there looks better than me, and this place qualifies.

Lunch

For lunch you really want to avoid the infamous "hedge fund alley" which stretches from Grand Central to 60th Street and from Third Avenue through Madison Avenue. Crowded, loud, and all hedge fund managers. Nothing special.

A couple of recommendations: Not too far from hedge fund alley is Bamiyan, an Afghan restaurant located at 26th and Third. They have excellent homemade pasta and dumplings. I haven't had a bad dish there yet, and the place is never too crowded.

If you're not afraid to venture out a bit further and impress your friends with the best Chinese food in Chinatown, check out Goody's on East Broadway, which is a departure from the usual Chinatown fare. From the outside you wouldn't think it was the best in the area -- but it is.

If you want straightforward meat and potatoes, forget about all the fancy steakhouses in town and check out the "Burger Joint" hidden inside the Parker-Meridien hotel. Get a burger with the works and fries (order at the counter), fight for a seat and enjoy.

The best vegetarian food for lunch (and close to the center of the hedge fund universe) is Franchia on Park near 35th.

Dinner

If you want to go fancy for dinner, you should check out Joanna Ossinger's article on steakhouses. But if you want to fly below the radar, here are a couple of choices I prefer.

If your companions are not afraid of tofu, head to my favorite place in town right now: Kyotofu on 48th and Ninth. The menu is divided into sweet (try the black sesame tofu -- it's my favorite dessert in the city) and savory (I like the "chicken" sliders). It's extremely creative.

A fairly new place that's just starting to get crowded (although I like to eat in the less-crowded and comfortable bar area there) is Ilili, a Mediterranean restaurant on 27th and Fifth started by a former hedge fund manager (though I won't hold that against him). It has a great, spacious atmosphere and excellent food.

If you want to switch venues for dessert and it's before 11 p.m., check out Cha-An on E. 9th Street (you can also book a private tea ceremony for two there).

Finally, if you don't mind the weirdest eating environment in New York, check out Ninja, a sushi place in Tribeca. If you have a heart condition, tell them beforehand not to scare you when you walk in. Also, check out the YouTube video about the place to get an idea of what's in store.

A career in the investment world doesn't just involve knowing the best ways to invest -- you have to find the best and most creative places to eat, too. Take your clients and partners off the beaten track, and anything can happen.

Readers, tell us about your favorite restaurants on this Stockpickr forum. We look forward to hearing from you.

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