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Kill the tourists, but for their last meal...? (long)

Man, searching the Manhattan board is exhausting:)

I'm gearing up for a freaks'n'family long weekend in April and am a little overwhelmed. Three generations, two continents, diapers, pimples, surging testosterone, viagra and hot flashes all fricasseed in one five member party. My f-i-l is coming from C.A., he dislikes spicy food, but is very well travelled (Asia, Europe, the Americas, Carribean-loves loves Cuba, but that may mostly be for the women) and is generally pretty relaxed. Husband is quite cautious, leans towards Italian, hates Indian; his personal heaven is upholstered in smoked salmon and imported prosciutto. He is always happy with pizza, sushi, and steak. Teen is picky at home, but quite adventurous in the world (allergic to shellfish, but will try pretty much any form of protein, eats all cuisines.) The baby is (perversely) the easiest of us; at 2.5 she's calling out at the churrascaria "Baby wants MEAT!" but, truly, she's a pastatarian at heart. Me? I'm just tired. Oh, and a foodie. I tend to plan exhaustively, but am flexible in the field-in part because I know my options.

We're looking for a mix of "occasion" meals and comfortable, casual, funky, fun places. You haven't invited us to stay at your place (yet), so currently we're thinking we'll be in a hotel in Midtown.

Thursday night: ordering in-maybe pizza. Delivery rec's? The alternative is going straight from LaGuardia to Pollo Campero and *then* to the hotel. This would not be an altogether bad thing-I wonder if any of the limo services offer that package....

Friday: Low key breakfast, I'm tempted to head to the LES and hit up a Ukrainian place for blintzes.

Friday or Saturday: Lunch near Guggenheim

Friday: Low key supper pre-concert at Carnegie Hall (yes, the baby is skipping the concert.)

Saturday: Breakfast or Lunch near AMNH, snacking or lunch near the Central Park Zoo, maybe Plataforma for dinner. Definitely an "occasion" meal for that one, neighborhood flexible.

Sunday: Brunch. In Boston, we'd choose The Blue Room (http://www.theblueroom.net/main.html) or the Deluxe Town Diner (http://www.deluxetowndiner.com)
Sandwiches near Penn station to pick up before catching the 6 pm train back to Boston.

On all days rec's for bakeries, afternoon teas, sushi, chocolate and ice cream are appreciated. People tend to fall back to chains when traveling this way with kids, but, ummm, I don't swing that way. It seems highly unlikely to me that Unos is any more "child friendly" than any neighborhood joint.

The teen has fond memories of La Bonne Soupe. Perusing the menu online it seems to have good options for everyone-not that I would be excited, mind you-and the prices are good, but I remember the space as being quite tight. Would the toddler end up skewered and dunked in fondue? I also saw references to the tea at the Japanese department store, but I couldn't find a website in English. Korean stores are amazingly supportive of babies (staff will hold and play with them while the mom eats, there aren't just high chairs, but actual cribs, etc.); I wondered if the Japanese store might be okay. Somewhere, too, there was a recommendation for tepanyaki for kids-I think it was Ollie's Noodle house. Any thoughts?

I'm too tired and writing too much. Thanks in advance for any help.

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  1. ok... so c'mon over and bring everyone. i'm right on the tourist bus route anyway so what's the difference?!!!

    your post was so hilarious that i just had to offer. you can all share my 12 X 24 studio apartment. we can each take a window sill b/c the dog gets the bed. sorry. i have 6 windows so it's perfect!! the 7th window is in the bathroom and too cramped even for the 2.5 yr old.

    i'm sure the chowhounds will soon chime in and, overall, you will get a consensus after about 20 emails. i'll send you some ideas shortly, but please... NO OLLIES!!!!

    as far as the nabe near the amnh, look into cafe ronda for brunch on saturday. it is on columbus and W72. it's not absolutely fabulous but it's cute and has its moments.
    patsy's pizzeria (w74 bet cpw and col) may also work. some folks like isabella's which is 2 blocks from the AMNH. cafe lalo is also cute. arties deli on brdwy and W82 may make your husband happy. there are also lots of japanese places near the amnh on columbus between W77 and W 68. use menupages.com for your search where you can see candid reviews from customers and glance at menus.

    as far as ice cream is concerned, emil bolla (sp) on amsterdam in the W80s is great. serendipity is always fun near bloomingdale's but too crowded. cold stone on w72 bet broadway and col is also decent. since i've had gelato in sorrento several years back, i can no longer get excited over ice cream in the U.S.

    i'll keep thinking. good luck. still lol.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nativeNYer

      i just want to correct myself. i butchered the name of the ice cream shop on amsterdam and w79 . it is emack and bolio. unusually great flavors of ice cream and yogurts.

      1. re: nativeNYer

        No problem if the 7th window is too small; if your heat works at all, she'll just curl in that nice cool space behind the toilet.

        I've got Lalo on my google list-thanks. We have Emack and Bolio's up here, too-though in our wierd clan we've always refered to it as "Yuk Yuk and Julio's." I have no clue why. Early onset dementia, prolly.

    2. I second Cafe Ronda and Cafe Lalo.

      1. The Tea Box at Takashimaya is a bento box and finger sandwich place-ladies who lunch, not anything like the Korean family thang.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SusanSDG

          Phooey! Why can't the world just turn to my convenience? Thanks for the head's up:)

        2. I'll third Cafe Lalo if it's of any consequence :-)

          1. Man, your post was hilarious! For ice cream suggestions, if you find yourself way downtown (perhaps after brunch on the LES), go to The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for interesting flavors that you may not see anywhere else. Here is the website:


            1 Reply
            1. re: kaffy

              Looks like great fun, thanks!

              Wasabi ice cream might be a l'il scary, though...

            2. for superb gelato, try il laboratorio del gelato on orchard below delancey:


              it's one of my must-do recommendations for visitors.

              takashimaya is indeed quite hoity-toity. if you're downtown, there's a great japanese bakery called panya on e.9th street bewteen 2nd and 3rd avenues. no sit-down option, but great to pick up some snacks.

              3 Replies
              1. re: wleatherette

                I absolutely second Laboratorio del Gelato. The flavors are pure, intense perfect forms. It's also easy walking distance from Russ and Daughters, which has incredible smoked fish options for your husband. Nowhere to sit though.

                1. re: rose water

                  OOOooh! I had forgotten Russ and Daughter's-I've eaten their stuff vicariously through Trillin's writings for years! Yes, my beloved blanket snatcher would be in heaven. We'll leave him there and head out to empty the reserves at Laboratori del Gelato.

                2. re: wleatherette

                  It's agreed; we'll just eat ice cream and pastries. The gelato and Panya sound great!

                3. In response of bakeries, you must go to Silver Moon Bakery in the Upper West Side (Broadway & 105th St), I've written about this bakery several months ago and I'm enamored with their baked goods - but that's if you're willing to bring the family up there.

                  Takashimaya is a bit pretentious; you rarely see any young children in that place and the food's ok. I just love their tea wares and Japanese snacks.

                  I agree with the previous posters on the il laboratorio del gelato suggestion - it's really divine or Cones on Bleecker St in the West Village.

                  Or if you really want regular ice cream (but not in bad terms), you may bring your family to Sundaes & Cones on 95 E. 10th St. - it has your typical chocolate and vanilla, but there's also some unique flavors like corn, green tea, etc.

                  As for chocolate, I highly suggest Kee's Chocolate in SoHo (80 Thompson St., right off Spring St). It's modest in price but the quality is superb. If you happen to go there you must try the Creme Brulee! But to get the best picks on the chocolate you have to get there an hour or two after opening.
                  Here's a link of the website: http://www.keeschocolates.com


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chocokitty

                    i strongly second the recos for silver moon (been there countless times) and the ice cream factory in chinatown. i went there for the first time this past weekend based on chowhound reviews.

                  2. For lunch near the Guggenheim, you must consider Café Sabarsky, an Austro-Hungarian restaurant within the Neue Gallery.

                    It's classy, but well-behaved kids of all ages appear to be welcomed warmly.

                    Their serve excellent Hungarian goulash. Their beautiful (if overpriced) salads, sandwiches and sausages are all nice. But the real draw are the Viennese desserts (did you say something about chcolate?) and out-of-this-world coffee. Yowza.

                    Get some lovely Austrian wine for the grown-ups and the concoction made from sparkling water/Elderflower syrup for the younger ones (As a 2-year old or 15-year old, I believe I would have flipped for such a beverage).

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Yaqo Homo

                      i second Cafe Sabarsky...

                      and, for a lunch or late afternoon meal or dinner, Lupa will satisfy everyone in your family: huge assortment of antipasti choices (seafood, meats, veggies), amazing pastas, secondi, etc, etc...affordable too...

                      1. re: Yaqo Homo

                        This sounds great-I left out of the otherwise comprehensive biography that my husband attended an Austrian school pretty much from womb through debauchery, or, umm, when he met me. ::::::blush:::::::::::

                        I don't suppose the offer a Spanische Winde Torte? That would just put us both over the moon.

                        1. re: BarefootandPregnant

                          I don't think Cafe Sabarsky has Spanische Winde Torte.
                          You may see their menu on the website:

                      2. I have fond memories of going to La Bonne Soupe as a teen too, and the place holds up. Good classic French far for reasonable prices in a relaxed atmosphere. The cheese fondue is perfect for a cold day. Spaces can be a little tight in the room where you first walk in, but there are several other roomier dining areas upstairs and in back.

                        I couldn't tell what neighborhood you're staying in, so can't give any pizza recs for your arrival night.

                        Bubby's in Tribeca is fun for Sunday brunch and very kid-friendly, but they don't take reservations. Clinton Street Baking Co on the LES has an amazing breakfast/brunch, but they get packed on weekends. Might be a good option for your Friday breakfast?

                        Good luck!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JennS

                          We'll keep La Bonne Soupe open as a possiblity, then-thanks. This trip will be so different from each one before as the teen is actually old enough to go ut and about on his own. I wouldn't be surprised if he decides to make a pilgrimage to LBS on those terms.

                        2. Fabulous post, very funny. His personal heaven is upholstered in... I'm going to steal that line!

                          One word of caution on Cafe Sabarsky, which is a must, for your Guggenheim trip, is to get there early. And I mean by 12.00, or forget it. The soups are wonderful, and make a reasonable alternative to the expensive main courses.

                          An alternative is Yura, on the corner of 92nd and Madison. The seating is an afterthought, but it's also very relaxed, and the food is excellent, particularly the soups.

                          For your big blowout, the bar side of the Modern is great. Balthazar also, even for the baby.
                          And for a bit of funky New York, the secret burger joint 'behind the curtain' on 57th St (Parker Meridien, and a few steps from Carnegie Hall) is a must.

                          Finally, my girlfriend is from Boston, and is pregnant, so I feel your barefootedness! Good luck.

                          - Sean