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12th & University tonight -- walk-in, 5 people -- ideas?

Yikes. I've been asked to come up with a few ideas for a group of about 5 people to get a bite to eat and wine and/or coffee in the vicinity of 12th and University tonight (c. 8:15 p.m.). It would be a walk-in arrival, as I'm not sure now of the exact size of the party. I was looking at the websites of Jack, French Roast, and, closer to Union Square, Chat'n Chew, but I've never been to any of these places. I'd much appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

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  1. If you want a casual, inexpensive place I'd recommend Saigon Grill (on University between 11 and 12). Went there for the first time yesterday (for lunch), and it was very good.Having never eaten Vietnamese food before I have nothing with which to compare it, but all four of us left satisfied.

    1. I never went there, but I was also looking at the Jack's review in the Zagat. The menu looks like a french bistro you find everywhere, but the reviews on menupages.com are all good. I would try it and you should come back and tell us how you found it!

      1. Forget Jack's, it is very unimpressive. I'd do the Knickerbocker before that. I hear awful stuff about Chat 'n Chew, so avoided it. I personally would walk east and go to Veselka for pierogies and beef Stroganoof or even hit Cafetasia on 8th St.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sing me a bar

          Knickerbocker is fantastic! They make an amazing burger and you can eat in the bar. The food at Chat 'n Chew is good, but there are serious hygiene issues...

        2. I live close to where you're meeting. Sagion Grill is a good bet. I would also suggest Stand, the new upscale burger joint on 12th b/w University and 5th. Neither will be the best meal of your life but they each have good food, good value and a relatively "hip" atmosphere for a group. I agree with previous posters that Jack is unimpressive and Chat n' Chew reminds me of the Ground Round. Yuck

            1. re: tsiblis

              knickerbocker is pretty good and consistent...saigon grill is garbage and so are all of the italian rests on university

            2. Agree that Jack is mediocre. Try Osso Bucco on Univ - 5 will be enough to share some of the family style dishes. Saigon Grill is a safe bet. There's also the Chocolate Man that has a comfort food/diner menu.

              1 Reply
              1. re: wadawada

                Chocolate Man is fun but be aware that service is consistently awful.

              2. You might be up for Mesa Grill on 5th ave near 15th St. I'm not sure if there'd be a wait there, and it's more of a nice drinks and dinner or apps type of place rather than coffee... very good Bobby Flay, southwestern flavors.

                1. I probably didn't get to answer on time, but L'ANNAM on 13th/University is a really pretty decent Vietnamese place. I don't know much about their entire menu, but their Vietnamese pork chops are ridiculously tasty. Their sodas are usually flat though.....

                  1. It depends on what you are looking for. Knickerbocker is very good (I recomend it often) but can get pricey if your just looking for a bite to eat. I like Jack, it is not great, but dependible. Siagion Grill is a good bet though I have been disappointed with this location. I agree with Osso Bucco, I also like the Patsys and if you can get in Spice has good Thai food. I do not like The Chocolate Man (bad food, pricey and annoying, the triumverant). I would also add Resevior. It is just a local sports bar, but the traditional bar food is surprisingly good.

                      the food superior more ambience karaoke downstairs average prices

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ARTIE G

                        A place would have to be pretty bad for Lemongrass to be superior.

                      2. Saigon Grill is mediocre-at-best Americanized Vietnamese food: only go there if your party is extremely easy when it comes to Asian food...

                        i still cannot fathom why anyone would ever decide to name a restaurant "Chat 'n' Chew" -- i've always avoided it on priciple...

                        In that area, i'd recommend:
                        -- Borgo Antico: sit in the mellow downstairs bar area -- medium priced Italian, game specials, nice affordable wine, espresso...
                        -- Do Sirak...homey, college-vibe Korean place...nice wine by the glass...

                        Your options open up considerably if you wander a few blocks east...

                        1. Knickerbocker is definitely the best in the immediate area. Jack isn't bad, as long as you don't get too creative. Saigon Grill is good.

                          1. All the faux-Asian places on University suck. Cafe Spice, the Indian joint, is the real deal, however, if you like Indian. The murg tikka lababdar (chicken tikka in a mildly spicy sauce) is amazing.

                            The Knick is good - excellent burgers - but I don't think there's a 5-top table in the bar area, and the resto can be fancy schmancy. Just tell people not to order the expensive porterhouse?


                            1. Ugh, Knick is AWFUL! Chat 'n Chew, Saigon Grill all heinous. French Roast also hideous for anything other than a latte or illicit affair.
                              Cafe Spice is very good. I would call for a reservation, though. They get pretty busy. Mesa is fine, overpriced but big and you should get in. Ive had very, very good delivery from Stand, the new burger joint ( 1 of the thousands of new burger joints, actually...) on 12th and B'way but don't know what the space is like.
                              If you are feeling flush, call Gotham Bar and Grill and see if you can get a last minute res. If Strip House (12th and 5th)is still open they are decent if you don't go to far off the beaten path: steak, frites,creamed spinach. Had a very good filet there and I usually don't like filet.

                              1. Danal, on 10th Street between Third and Fourth Avenue, has tasty food and excellent service. They have freshly prepared French style dishes

                                Alta, on 10th between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, serves up a Tapas-style spread. It's a warm environment with a great wine list. The food is flavorful and there's a wide range of selections.

                                1. Maybe Café DeVille? It's pretty big, so your group should find a table. The cheese plate is awesome.

                                  1. Borgo Antico on 13th, and a block west, Trattoria Maurizio, are both solid and will be able to accomodate you. Otto (8th & 5th Ave.) might be good if you don't mind standing around one of the high marble 'tables' - quartinos & antipasti....

                                    The Knickerbocker is also a good choice for burgers - you night be able to squeeze in the bar area....

                                    I like the Mexican palce (Mama Mexico?) on 12th just west of B'dwy - try and get there before 8. Across the street is Piola for pizza....

                                    1. Am I the only person who likes L'Annam? If you know what to order, its really great! Well, the pork chops anyways

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: hotpot1

                                        I like it. At least, their veggie stuff is good.

                                      2. I am a fan of L'Annam for sure -- the curries are quite fantastic.