Need recs for W. 46th and 9th Ave. please!
First let me say that I am new to chowhound but I have spent about 3 hours poring over the boards and I hope to annoy none of you with rookie mistakes!
So, I live in L.A. and am coming into NYC next week for a few days. I have been there many times, but always to visit friends, so I've mostly eaten at places based on their convenience to whatever else we were up to. Plus, this time we're coming for a conference and are staying at a hotel in what I think might be a much more touristy area than where we usually stay. You'll notice by my exact cross streets in the title that I'm not even sure what this area is called, so I figured I'd be as specific as possible!
What I'd like to find is some tasty, not too expensive (under $50 for two, w/o drinks), not too stuffy places within walking distance for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dessert, etc.! If there are any amazing finds in this area that are a little more expensive, that would be fine. Places that are known for one particular item are cool, too--I'd love to try Pommes Frites or the Doughnut Plant, for example, but I know they're nowhere near where we'll be staying. As far as ethnicity goes, we're pretty open, but we have plenty of delicious sushi and Mexican food here in L.A., so we can skip those. Great pizza and bagel places would be especially welcome as those two are impossible to find in L.A. (with the exception of Pizzeria Mozza which isn't exactly a typical NY pizza place). The only place we have as a definite is Becco which was recommended to us as a pre-theatre meal.
I hope this isn't too long, but I've seen other newcomers get slammed for giving too few details so I thought I would be as specific as possible! Thanks!!
Your address is right smack in the middle of Hell's Kitchen and is also the western edge (extending to 10th) of the Theatre district; searching on either will give you plenty of options. Frankly, I'd skip Becco (which is very noisy & crowded and - IMO - not great) and go to Roberto Passon on 9th and 50th for very good, reasonably priced Italian food (a bit higher than your budget, though - stick to pastas, which they do very well, and you can manage). Every restaurant in the area handles pre-theatre; some have specials . Le Madeleine - French provincial - on 9th & 43rd is a nice option for a prix fixe; we also like Marseille (French-Moroccan) on 9th & 44th - which again, may go over your budget, but which has a very good and reasonable brunch. For low budget, good Thai, try Wondee Siam up around 51st & 9th or for Sichuan, try Grand Sichuan in the same area. Ninth Avenue in the 40's has many places to eat and drink; I think you'll enjoy being there, tourists and all.
As for your direct inquiries, John's Pizzeria on 44th west of Times Square is probably the best in the area (which is not a pizza paradise) and for bagels, try to take a run up to 107th and Broadway to Absolute Bagels.
Hell's Kitchen is actually some rich hunting ground for some good food, and 9th Ave is far enough away from the worst of the tourist crunch.
I second Striver's recommendation for John's Pizzeria, I used to work on 44th Street and it was a nice place to meet a few friends and have a few good pies in a pretty setting. It used to be a theater and a church at some point, and the place is very very nice inside. Some will argue there is better pizza in NY, but I think it's one of NY's best.
And you're in luck for bagels as well. On 44th right off Times Square (right between Ollie's and Carmine's) is Times Square Hot Bagels, which are pretty damned good. In the 90's, if you bought a bagel at Zabar's or Murray's Sturgeon Shops it was a bagel made by these guys, not sure if that's still the case, it's hard to research stuff like this sometimes!
There's a really charming Italian restaurant on 9th Ave between 46th and 47th, Basilica. Really homey atmosphere, very good food, and very reasonably priced. You'll probably spend less than your $50 a person allotment. Delta Grill on 9th Ave and 48th is fun and pretty good cajun food, if you feel you need some fried green tomatoes or some pralines. Hallo Berlin is a German biergarten with trestle tables, knockwurst and good beer, it's on 10th Ave between 44th & 45th.
There is a big pocket of Brazilian restaurants in the area as well, I like Churrascaria Plataforma on 49th and 8th. It's not terribly cheap, but it's worth it.
For breakfast there is a good diner on 9th Ave between 43rd & 44th, Westway. This is nothing fancy, just if you're hungry and a fan of real diners. They do a good job with the basics.
You're in my old 'hood! You absolutely must try Azuri Cafe on 51st off 10th Ave. Just be forewarned that it's a small place that closes early (around 8pm, 4pm on Fridays, closed on Saturdays) with an owner who can be downright rude on occasion. For diners, the Westway is fine but I personally recommend the Renaissance up 9th Ave (btw 51st and 52nd). For bagels, check out the H&H plant on 46th and 12th, though I personally would head downtown to Murray's at 23rd and 9th (don't embarrass yourself at either place by asking them to toast your bagel). I also second the Hallo Berlin and Roberto Passon recs. For pizza, however, I urge you to get out of Times Square and try Arturo's in the village.
Hahaha...I used to like the Renaissance but I had one of the worst tuna melts of my life there and haven't been back since. It was open-faced, had two big ice cream scoops of tuna salad and a limpid, barely melted square of American cheese over both. And soggy bread just toasted where the broiler barely kissed the corners (and barely melted the limpid cheese). It also upset my stomach terribly, and I have a garbage disposal for a digestive system.
I agree wholeheartedly with Striver about skipping Becco. I just got finished on another thread trying to disuade someone else from going there. As I've said many times on this board, the pastas are disappointing; they pack as many tables into each room as they can, which means you are elbow-to-elbow with your neighbors; and the noise level is so insanely high that you have to shout across or around your table in order to have a conversation.
I like Marseille. Excellent food and a very attractive brasserie setting with an upbeat vibe. However, as Striver indicated, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to keep the cost to $50 for two, particularly at dinner. Lunch or brunch, maybe?
I agree that Roberto Passon is a good option for Italian. They offer a 3-course lunch prix-fixe for $15.
Another Italian restaurant I like a lot is Cascina, on 9th, b/t 45th & 46th Sts. Very good pastas, excellent service, and nice, rustic ambiance. They serve a pre-theater prix-fixe for $24.50. But you can also order a la carte and still stay within your budget.
For very good Greek food, there's Uncle Nick's, on 9th, b/t 50th & 51st. Pleasant taverna-style setting and moderate prices. Menu on menupages.com:
Old San Juan, one block north of Uncle Nick's, is the place to good for large portions of tasty Puerto Rican/Argentinian cuisine at very budget-friendly prices.
For a continental-style breakfast and lunch (e.g., sandwiches), check out Amy's Bread, on 9th, near 46th.
Grand Sichuan has already been mentioned, but another option for very good Szechuan cuisine is Wu Liang Ye. It's further east, on 48th, b/t 5th & 6th.
Heading slightly uptown but still within walking distance of your hotel, La Bonne Soupe, on 55th, b/t 5th & 6th, is a sweet French bistro that has lots more on the menu than just good soups. You might want to try the fondues. Tasty, fun, and they fit your budget
Btw, thanks for being so specific. Hope you have a great stay in NYC and Bon Appetit!