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Murray Hill/ Kip's Bay: Chow wasteland or secret treasure trove?

I know Wu Liang Ye is on Lex. there, (though many posters here prefer the other branches), and 2nd Ave Deli may be moving to 33rd & 2nd Ave. I noted Molly's Burgers is close. There's a great lunch spot on 2nd Ave between 33rd & 34th, name unknown. One can fairly easily walk down to East Village spots, but what else is there in the East 30's? We prefer simpler spots to corporate, expense account type venues.

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  1. El Parador, I really like it, and I think it is very underrated. The service and food is good, and they let you linger over drinks before shoving menus into your face. Alex is one of the managers and he is most helpful. Not totally authentic mexican or spanish, but an old neighborhood standby that still has some verve. I recommend an early movie at Kips Bay AMC followed by dinner at El Parador. I have placed a review somewhere on chowhound. If you do a search you can find it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: centrejack

      Totally agree about El P (as we like to call it). You could also try Waterfront on 2nd & 30th by the movie theater for good pub grub & beer. I like Ali Baba on 34th betw. 2nd & 3rd as well.

    2. Ethos, Vezzo, Penelope, Pizza 33, Ali Baba, Carl's...plenty more should chime in

      1 Reply
      1. re: Todd

        Da Ciro, Lexington between 33 & 34th. Authentic Italian,
        wood-burning oven, http://daciro.com/index2.htm

        Pasticcio, 3rd Avenue betw. 30 & 31st www.pasticcionyc.com

        On balance, though, Murray Hill is not a culinary paradise
        by any means

      2. Waterfront - 30th and 2nd - pulled pork, burgers, other specials. Plus, Sam's Famous hot sauce might be my favorite hot sauce ever.
        Penelope on 30th and lex is a great casual spot
        Saravannas on 26th and Lex for the best Southern Indian vegetarian.
        Grand Sichuan on 33rd and Lex - not the best of the locations (and not related to the others) but definitely passable. Dan dan noodles, dried and sauteed string beans, braised beef filet in chili sauce.

        1. It's been a while since I've lived in that neighborhood, but Molly's Shebeen (3rd Avenue in the low twenties) was a cozy wintertime place with a fire and sawdust on the floor. I would get the chicken pot pie. That's not the "Molly's Burgers" that's closing is it?

          Also, Tatany (3rd Avenue in the 20s)served up fresh and succulent sushi.

          1. El Parador, Ethos, Ali Baba, La Giara and Phoenix Garden are among my regular deliveries. I think that each is good to very good. There are other places on the immediate outskirts but you asked for east 30s. Nothing new--the area is just not a culinary destination. RGR seems to have an investment in this part of town and will no doubt offer other suggestions.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dbird

              I forgot all about Phoenix Garden - that is a great restaurant and the staff is incredibly helpful. I think it is one of the best chinese options in midtown. Is it still as affordable? Is it still BYOB? - I haven't been there in a couple of years.

              1. re: centrejack

                Glad you like PG too; I don't consider it great, but very passable. Today in the rain, on the other hand, I succumbed to a plausible on line menu and a couple recommendations (shills?) for Saigon Taste delivery and had one of the worst meals ever, threw it out and phoned in desperation for a falafel sandwich from Ali Baba. Along with the order (mixed appetizer, 'crystal' dumpling--which I should have realized was a dead giveaway but it's always a complex negotiation; I thought they might be attempting to translate a real Vietnamese dish about which I was unfamiliar--and pho) I received one of those menus from which I run screaming: Saigon Taste featuring egg rolls, pad thai and sushi. There must be a dozen interchangeable restaurants in the neighborhood that share a chef and a printer, both favoring garish presentations, and entirely clueless. Usually I see them coming miles away and am thoroughly annoyed at myself for falling for this one.

            2. Haven't been to Wu Liang Ye yet, but I like Iron Sushi's lunch bento box for $7.50 - a steal! Also enjoy brunch at Penelope's and Chennai Garden over at 28th and Lex.

              Murray Hill/Kip's Bay doesn't have a lot of knockouts, but some solid performers and neighborhood joints.

              1. I totally forgot to mention Sarge's...can't go wrong with a souper soup and corn beef/pastrami on rye

                1. hi sing me a bar,

                  It's a bit of both.

                  Having lived here for 2 1/2 years I'm both spoiled and bored.

                  Spoiled because:

                  * Kalustyans - no other place to get spices, honey, hot sauces and the like. Plus everyday stuff and the mujidderah sandwich
                  * Penelope (brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert, its all good)
                  * Molly's - one of the best burgers in the city. Top 3.
                  * Blue Smoke for the occasional bbq fix and that damn fry bread that keeps me coming back for more.
                  * Walking distance to the guilty pleasures of Park Ave. South
                  * Walking distance to the Danny Meyer monopoly on Madison Sq. Park.
                  * Waterfront Ale House for pre-Kips Bay Movie Theater dinner
                  * Indian food: Saravanaas, Roomali, Copper Chimney, Pongal
                  * Pretty good delivery options

                  Bored because
                  * That's about it. (see above)
                  * Yeah, there's Park Bistro, Artisanal, Cosette and La Petite Auberge to satisfy the french bistro/brasserie cravings, but all have their faults - which often add up to more than their glories.
                  * The vast amounts of Indian food is really not all that great. And besides, how much of it can you eat on a regular basis?
                  * Todaro brothers is the only "nearby" market to consider without taking a subway or cab - and its way overpriced.
                  * Pizza is lacking. Vezzo is good, but doesn't satisfy the NYC pizzza craving you want. Mike's Pizza CAN be good, but for the most part...disappointing.
                  * Just outside of several good delivery areas.

                  I'm about to move (we bought a wonderful house in Bergen County, NJ, so if anyone is looking for an amazing apt. in the area, let me know) and have managed very well.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: dkstar1

                    That's it huh Dkstar1? I'll miss your comments and reviews on NYC.

                    1. re: Sugar

                      It certainly isn't it. I work "in the biz" to some extent, so I'll continue to dine in the city and will continue the blog/CH posts. That's nice to hear though. thanks.

                    2. re: dkstar1

                      Bummer, we need you here on Chowhound. Our loss is NJ's gain. Keep coming back for dining out and to the site. Doorman bldg??? btw, what was that comment above re: Molly's closing??? Egads.

                      1. re: eve

                        Thanks, but I'll be around for the eating. No idea about Molly's closing...I can't see it to be true. There are a few "Molly's" in NYC, so maybe it's another one?

                        I live in a 4 story brownstone - no doorman. Only 4 people live in the building including me and the wife. (Doctors office on ground floor).

                        1. re: dkstar1

                          thanks for the reply. sorry to go off topic (ouch). Good luck on the move.

                    3. We're all beneficiaries of your voluminous knowledge, dk, and I'm sure you'll still be around. I'm printing your list. Does Food Emporium totally s*ck as a market? The one on Sixth Ave & 11th St or so is no great shakes. I am pretty loyal to Bleecker St. Pizza these days for slices, but if my pizza jones comes down on me in Murray Hill, I'll try Vezzo. I'm searching for how to email you about the crib! Do I still walk over to Sapporo, or is there a cheapish sushi place closer to Kip's Bay?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sing me a bar

                        Thanks. I certainly will. I can't stand Food Emporium. I've been three times to get emergency items. It's good for that (chips, packaged goods, and such) but any produce/meat even dairy is risking it. It actually smells bad in the store...and the service is atrocious. A subterranean supermarket...doesn't bode well from the start.

                        Vezzo is good, but don't expect NYC style pizza. Sushi lacks a bit in the neighborhood. I'd avoid Aki Sushi III - pretty bad.

                        There's a two-floor sushi place on Lexington bet. 30th and 31st that's pretty good. I think its next to BBs nail salon but can't remember the name. michaelmahle(at)gmail(dot)com

                        1. re: dkstar1

                          Re: Food Emporium - I can't speak to the one in that neighborhood, but I generally find FE VERY overpriced for what it is - often things are cheaper at Citarella, surprisingly.

                      2. Does anyone like Trio, so named for its location at 33rd and 3rd? It's a modestly upscale Croatian restaurant with a live piano--not really a destination in and of iteslf, but a wonderful neighborhood spot. I've found their food to be consistently delicious and their staff unfalteringly warm and friendly...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Yaqo Homo

                          Yes. RGR swears by the salted cod dish they have there (I think). I thought it was a good place. Cosette is next door. Expect harried service at Cosette (its just the owner waiting tables, for the most part) but decent bistro food at fair prices.

                          1. re: dkstar1

                            It's been quite some time since we last ate at Trio, so I'm happy to hear that the food's still consistently delicious.

                            To be precise, the dish I've loved there is the Strukli, one of their Croatian specialties. (The overall menu is, actually, Mediterranean.) Strukli are handmade raviolis and, while the filling does include some salt cod, other ingredients are ricotta, pine nuts & raisins. So, the salt cod flavor is not very pronounced. The sauce is a roasted garlic beurre fondue. In a word: Yum!

                        2. I've lived in the neighborhood for 15 years; here are my recommendations: Sushi Sennin (E. 33 St. & Park), Sarge's (Third Ave & 36 St.), Benjamin's (E. 33 St. & Second Ave.), Notaro (Second Ave & E. 34 St.), Saigon Taste (E. 34 St. & Lex.), Noodles on 28 (now on E. 29 St. & Third Ave.). Enjoy!

                          1. here are my favs:

                            Tatany(cant eat in anymore but still delivers in it's new location!)
                            Carl's philly steaks
                            Pinch Pizza
                            Pizza 33
                            Les Halles
                            Curry in a Hurry

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: dreamyday

                              Bamiyan is pretty good for Afghan cuisine. Forgot about that. Les Halles is horrendous and I'm fairly certain both Benjamins and Curry in a Hurry are closed. Though both might have/will be reopening. Mishima is the sushi place I was thinking. Thanks.

                            2. I live in the area and would also like to add 2 relatively new spots:

                              Marbella on 33rd between 3rd and Lex. I had some nice tapas and really delicious paella and sangria here. They have flamenco dancers on weekend evenings supposedly and it's a nice atmosphere. I think it's a welcome newcomer and I'd love to see them get some more traffic.

                              Todai which is the new Japanese seafood/sushi buffet on 32nd between madison and park. All you can eat for $23. I was apprehensive about the concept but was very pleasantly surprised. I hear it is a chain with a few other locations in the country (gasp!) but enjoyed it nonetheless. Some standout items: fresh raw oysters, king crab claws, a tremendous array of sushi and sashimi, barbequed calamari, and spicy beef short ribs. There was a large table next to us that ordered a lobster for the table a la carte for $7! What a deal. The place was pretty crowded for a Wednesday night at 8:30 so they must be doing well.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: foodie4life

                                Marabella is as good as gone. Rumor is that Marabella is the new location for the second coming of the 2nd Ave. Deli.

                              2. aww no. I guess it never caught on. Did you ever go?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: foodie4life

                                  I haven't been but Marbella (excuse the typos above) might still be open...just likely for not much longer. Not sure though.

                                2. good list so far, but a couple more to add:

                                  carl's for cheesesteaks
                                  saburi (30th and lex) for late night japanese food served until 3 am - great ramen too
                                  roomali for indian roti wraps
                                  blue smoke for all things pig (and their mac n cheese)
                                  mishima for very good sushi (only sit upstairs though)
                                  totonno's for pizza (though not as good as coney island)
                                  bagelry for what i think are my favorite bagels in the city
                                  baby bo's for fantastic fish tacos (everything else is ok)
                                  anh for good vietnamese food (ate there last night actually)

                                  that's about all i can think of now.

                                  1. An awesome neighborhood, but a culinary wasteland.

                                    BUT!!!! At least there's:

                                    Carl's Cheesesteaks
                                    Waterfront Ale House - great burgers & chili
                                    Totonno's - pizza
                                    Noodles on 28 - Chinese
                                    Go Sushi
                                    Molly's - burger & onion rings - I think I'm still from a burger we had 1 month ago
                                    USA Pizza (friendliest guys ever)
                                    Minado - sushi buffet
                                    Blue Smoke

                                    Some might not be the fanciest, but all these have great service, staff, great or above par food, and consistency.

                                    1. I highly recommend:

                                      Pizza 33: good thin-crust pizza, fresh ingredients.
                                      AQ Cafe: cafeteria-style version of Aquavit. Only open on weekdays for lunch, but they always have interesting Scandanavian dishes. Try the Gravlax club sandwich.
                                      Ethos: tasty Greek restaurant, cute interior. The seafood kabobs are delicious!
                                      Iron Sushi: good lunch deals
                                      Sarges: old-school deli food. Very good when you're in the mood for such things

                                      Also, I tend to stick to D'Agostino at 35th and 3rd for grocery stores. While it suffers from the typical problems of NYC food stores, it seems to be the cleanest of the local Gristedes/Food Emporium type places. Good luck!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: BabkaGal

                                        I lived in the area for over 12 years, during which time Pizza
                                        33 opened. I voiced a major gripe to them: the counter person
                                        would handle the money at the register, and then handle your pizza
                                        slices, all ungloved! To me this is a major health violation. I don't know if they've changed their routine. Also, unless there's been a renovation of some sort, I think Sarge's is a dump and wouldn't recommend that anyone go there.

                                        1. re: KayMae

                                          Truly gross about the pizza. I wish NYC would institute health code ratings such as they have in LA. Lots to argue about there with respect to adequacy etc but at least it is a barometer. Sarge's is ok, not fabulous and certainly overpriced for many things, but I enjoyed the veg. soup today and love the half sour pickles.

                                      2. I Trulli. Such a treasure... and they've got a wine bar next door.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: claire de lunacy

                                          I Trulli is one of those love/hate places. I like the room, I loathe the service (dreadful from hostess to maitre d' to waiter to bartender). The service is even worse across the street at the wine store they own. But again, a lovely wine store.

                                          The food is good, but dramatically overpriced.

                                          The only thing I will do there now is go to the bar/tavern room, order a glass of wine and a pasta and call it a night. I enjoy it everytime...until the end when I have buyer's remorse looking at the bill.

                                          1. re: dkstar1

                                            i agree about the service in the restaurant, but i've found it to be the exact opposite in the enoteca. the staff are lovely. i got an extensive free grappa tasting on one visit because one of the barmen overheard me say that i didn't like grappa and was shocked.

                                        2. Has anyone tried Marchi's on 2nd and I think 30th. Its a fixed menu (well they change it twice a year) but its supposed to be great.

                                          1. Dkstar1 -- were you kidding about the second incarnation of second avenue deli replacing Marbella?

                                            2 Replies
                                              1. to dkstar1...Bergen County is the culinary wasteland...you might find a decent ethnic restaurant but nothing interesting in the way of fine dining. You'll be back at Kalustyan's buying spices and begging Danny Meyer to deliver to NJ before you know it.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: nancyl126

                                                  ha. Well, I'll still be working in the city and in the "industry", so I'm not too concerned. But what you say is only partially true. Varka Restaurant and Axia Taverna in Ramsey and Tenafly respectively, are excellent restaurants, Brick House in Wyckoff serves some great steaks, The Abbey (Ramsey C.C.) is also good and there are some great sushi places too. And, sad to say, Kinchleys/Nellies is serving better pizza than anything in my current neighborhood. But yes, I'll continue to come in on Saturdays for my Greenmarket fix, get my spices at Kalustyans and the like.

                                                2. We'd like to remind everyone that we're Chowhound, not Apartmenthound. If dkstar1 wants to be contacted offline about the apartment, we suggest listing an email address in his/her profile, as apartment inquiries are off topic for this site.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                    My apologies, I really debated posting that, but I couldn't figure out any other way to get a hold of dkstar1. Won't happen again, I promise.

                                                  2. I moved from away from the neighborhood a few years ago after living there for about 10 years, so I may be a little out of date. A few places I didn't see mentioned...

                                                    Casa Mia - A small neighborhood Italian spot on 24th. A longtime stand by.

                                                    Turkish Kitchen - Not one of my favorites, but other people seem to love it

                                                    And striong agreement with everyone who mentioned Waterfront Ale House.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Michael Ambrosio

                                                        Casa Mia's been closed for about a year. They have renovated the building. Nothing has yet moved into the former restaurant's space.