36 Hours in New York for a Delicious Birthday-Please Help!

Dear SE NYC Food Experts,

I'm planning a surprise trip to NY at the end of July for my boyfriend. We'll be traveling from DC and arriving very late Friday night, so we'll have all day Saturday and then Sunday morning before going back to DC. I'm hoping to take him to Le Bernardin for dinner on Saturday night because he loves Eric Ripert, or Per Se as an alternate. Other than that, I don't know what we should do. Neither of us have been to NY for at least 5 or 6 years and we've never gone together, so where else should we go? We are not picky eaters at all and love everything from greasy spoons to fancy high-end meals. No dietary restrictions. Would prefer to have at least one affordable breakfast/brunch idea. Boyfriend is also really into bourbon so any ideas related to that would be good. I haven't made our hotel reservations yet but I'm thinking I'll want to stay near wherever we have dinner on Saturday night, so close to Le Bernardin hopefully. I was also thinking about going to Eataly b/c we love to shop for food and go to interesting food stores but maybe it's just a tourist trap?

I know Talk is full of NY recommendations and so is SE NY but I'm hoping you NY experts will take some pity and help me make plans for this specific trip. I want to have a memorable trip and I know that requires the knowledge that only locals can provide. I will answer any questions you have if more info would help make recommendations. We're adept at public transit but won't have a car, so that's something to keep in mind as well. Thank you in advance! I just want to give him a really special birthday.


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