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Suburban invasion

kookymcgee Sep 7, 2006 07:50 PM

My parents are making the trek from South Jersey to visit me in the city for a dinner. Their idea of fine dining includes Olive Garden, Outback, and Applebees. While I refuse to take them to TGI Fridays for their visit, I would like to take them someplace with a similar vibe for their comfort. Also, so I do not have to hear them complain about “weird and expensive” food.

Any suggestions, preferably downtown?


  1. c
    ceeceee Sep 7, 2006 07:51 PM

    how's about chat and chew? i think it is on 17th st. off fifth avenue. yummy comfort food at great prices!

    2 Replies
    1. re: ceeceee
      alex70 Sep 8, 2006 02:50 PM

      I have never had a good meal at chat and chew

      1. re: alex70
        rose water Sep 8, 2006 05:22 PM

        second that. at best it is not a special way to spend time with your parents. grimy place, apathetic service, uninspired food.

        what about dinosaur bbq?

    2. r
      RGR Sep 7, 2006 08:23 PM

      I think your parents would feel comfortable at the very unpretentious Via Emilia. We had dinner there last night -- first time in their new location, on 21st St., just west of Park Av. S. Of course, we had to have the lasagna. Delicious!! The new space is bigger and, while not any fancier, the contemporary decor is much more colorful. Unlike the previous place, there is a comfortable area where you can wait for a table since the no reservations policy remains. Also, still cash only.


      1. jcmods Sep 7, 2006 09:07 PM

        I don't know. Is an upscale Greek diner too weird?

        If not, Nikos on the Upper West Side is decent. They have your basic pizzas and grilled fish.


        1. m
          MikeG Sep 7, 2006 09:37 PM

          It's not downtown, but this might be one of the few occasions when Carmine's is in order. I'd never send anyone there for the food, but it's no worse than TGIF (I've never eaten at an Olive Garden) and there's absolutely no danger of anything being "too authentic" for the sort of tastes you describe. It wouldn't be unfair to say the atmosphere is "upscale chain", to the extent that's not an oxymoron. It can get a little pricey, but not outrageously so if unless you really forget yourself when ordering.

          I like Via Emilia a lot, but the "vibe" is nothing like the chains if your parents' preferences (or aversions, as the case may be) are really that strong.

          3 Replies
          1. re: MikeG
            alex70 Sep 8, 2006 02:54 PM

            What about Otto. It is casual yet a little bit fun. And they can watch the food network and then say they ate at a mario batali restaurant.

            1. re: alex70
              kookymcgee Sep 8, 2006 03:11 PM

              wow, that is definitely on my parents wavelength! They are insisting on making a stop at Veniero's because Paula Dean's sons did a special there on the food network.

              1. re: kookymcgee
                virago7 Sep 8, 2006 03:15 PM

                Not downtown, buy Serpendity 3 has some good sandwichs and of course fabulous desserts. Although they might be a little peeved at the prices, they can say they've been to Marilyn Monroe's fave dessert place (in addition to inspiring the John Cusack film)

          2. r
            roze Sep 7, 2006 09:53 PM

            Your parents sound exactly like mine! Which is why I took them to Via Emilia --but they hated it! They honestly didn't like their pasta--probably because they're used to Olive Garden. The places they did love were Le Zie and Markt--it's going to be nice this weekend so those might be perfect choices.

            1 Reply
            1. re: roze
              NAtiveNewYorker Sep 8, 2006 01:56 PM

              Le Zie is PERFECT. Accessible food ("spaghetti and meatballs") but a NY restaurant atmosphere.

            2. jenniebnyc Sep 7, 2006 09:54 PM

              Any Houston's location. My preference is 54th st

              2 Replies
              1. re: jenniebnyc
                ceeceee Sep 8, 2006 01:17 PM

                houston's is a perfect suggestion. the french dip, out of this world.

                1. re: jenniebnyc
                  mr_fro2000 Sep 9, 2006 12:48 AM

                  I agree w/ houstons... it IS a chain so they may feel more comfy. BUT food is very good!

                2. r
                  roze Sep 7, 2006 09:57 PM

                  Oh and they also liked MetroCafe & Wine Bar and Rolf's (although I think Rolf's is overrated)--much more of a relaxed vibe.

                  1. m
                    mas Sep 8, 2006 01:59 PM

                    I think a lot of us have parents like yours. Some places I take mine:
                    - Italian always works: Frank, Cacio e Pepe
                    - Blue Ribbon: something for everyone
                    - Sounds kinda strange, but Freemans
                    - Pizza! Lombardis is great for that
                    - Alias can work too

                    1. k
                      kenito799 Sep 8, 2006 04:04 PM

                      Crispo is pretty safe and un-weird

                      1. Bob Martinez Sep 8, 2006 04:27 PM

                        Five Points would work too. NY vibe but appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds.


                        1. g
                          gingersweetiepie Sep 8, 2006 07:30 PM

                          petit abeille. the one on 2nd ave in the 20's. i think everything else here, as casual as they are to ny food lovers, will still make them uncomfortable.

                          yeah, they might be able to say that they ate at a mario joint with otto, but i'll bet you a hundred bucks that they think the pizza stinks.

                          1. Gluttonous Prime Sep 8, 2006 08:40 PM

                            Try Hudson Place Restaurant. It's like an upscale Bennigan's. They serve "American bar & grill" type foods. My boyfriend's mother, who rarely leaves the enclaves of her Illinois suburb, would probably love it, and he plans to take her there when she visits.


                            Sadly it's not downtown, but maybe it's worth the trip if they like it.

                            Good luck with your parents!

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