As the tourist masses continue to descend on New York during the Thanksgiving-into-Christmas-into-New-Year’s season, Grub Street continues to face the same question: Where to take out-of-town friends and family members to eat while they’re in the city? You want a place that will show people what a true, non-touristy New York experience is like, but you don’t necessarily want to push them too far outside their comfort zone by taking them to eat, say, offal soup on Columbia Street in Brooklyn. The real problem is that there isn’t a one-restaurant-fits-all model for entertaining tourists (Balthazar maybe counts, but a person can only eat so much steak frites), so New Yorkers playing host to to visitors constantly need to drum up new suggestions for every person that comes to town. It will now be easier: Grub Street has assembled a fool-proof guide to choosing restaurants for twenty types of visitors, from your sushi-loving cousin to a tween niece that just wants to see some celebrities.
The Guests: Your parents, if they’re paying.
The Strategy: You want to take advantage of the free meal, but you need to play it slightly safer than usual in case your parents don’t dig offal.
The Guests: Your thirtysomething pal from back home … and his three little kids.
The Strategy: You need someplace casual and fun, so you won’t be embarrassed if the kids cause a riot.
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken
Murray’s Cheese Bar
The Guests: Your Food Network–loving friend, who actually isn’t all that adventurous.
The Strategy: You need to satisfy your friend’s celeb-chef-loving ways, but find a place that isn’t too out there.
The Guest: Your online lover, who’s in New York for the first time ever.
The Strategy: You need a place that’s both cool (if you two click) and somewhat crowded (in case you’ve been catfished and need to escape).
The Guest: Your sushi-loving cousin, who knows her uni from her unago.
The Strategy: You probably can’t score seats at Sushi Nakazawa, but you can find another excellent omakase spot with a New York vibe.
The Guest: Your pizza-obsessed brother, who is desperate to try some real New York pies.
The Strategy: Yes, Di Fara’s Neapolitan pies will go over real well, but you don’t have to trek out to Midwood and wait in the cold to find a place your bro will love.
The Guest: Your coffee-fiend friend that left New York for Portland.
The Strategy: Take him or her to a new New York-specific shop that doesn’t have a West Coast location.
Joe Pro Shop & Headquarters
The Guest: Your mother-in-law, who wants to bond with you over holiday high tea.
The Strategy: Avoid stuffy hotels, where afternoon can last for several hours, and choose one of the more relaxed downtown tea rooms.
Bosie Tea Parlor
The Guests: Your sorority sister, who really wants to meet up for brunch.
The Strategy: Stay calm. There are plenty of non-brunch-y brunch spots, with short wait times and egg dishes that you can’t make yourself.
The Guest: You aunt, who refuses to leave midtown in between Broadway shows.
The Strategy: Avoid all cheesy pre-theater prix fixe menus, and suggest better spots than your aunt’s hotel concierge will.
Gotham West Market
The Guest: Your obnoxious brother-in-law, who took one wine class and now considers himself a sommelier.
The Strategy: Find a restaurant where he can feel free to express his wine geekery (and where he’s sure to learn a few new things).
The Guest: Your hype-beast friend, who will inevitably Instagram every single bite.
The Strategy: Go someplace brand-spanking-new, of course. It’s all about the FourSquare check-ins.
The Guest: Your hopeless friend who’s still trying to make it as a drummer, and is basically broke.
The Strategy: You need cheap food and, if possible, even cheaper booze.
The Guest: Your childhood friend who never moved away from home and still desperately wants to try a food truck.
The Strategy: A few trucks still offer unique foods that you can’t find at brick-and-mortars.
The Guest: Your boyfriend’s extended family members, who you’re meeting for the first time and who would love to try a Cronut.
The Strategy: Let them know you’re no magician (and you have no interest in waking up at 5:30 a.m.), then offer a few alternatives. Or go to Dominique Ansel for DKAs, which you can play up as being even better than Cronuts.
The Guest: Your L.A. food-snob friend, who insists that all New York tacos are atrocious.
The Strategy: Don’t try to compete here — no matter how good NYC’s tacos really are, your friend will never give in. Instead, choose a food that New York unarguably does better: hot dogs.
The Guest: Your college roommate, who just wants to get drunk and act like an 18-year-old.
The Strategy: Steer him or her away from drinking cheep beer at your local, fratty dive, and check out one of these excellent, but not dour, cocktail bars.
Whiskey Soda Lounge
Long Island Bar