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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!!

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        3 Replies
        1. re: a_and_w

          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.

          1. re: ballulah

            Blech! But I love their big glasses and the spinach and feta omelette...

        2. 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?

          http://www.marseillenyc.com

          I agree that Roberto Passon is a good option for Italian. They offer a 3-course lunch prix-fixe for $15.

          http://www.robertopasson.com

          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.

          http://www.cascina.com

          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:

          http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

          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.

          http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

          For a continental-style breakfast and lunch (e.g., sandwiches), check out Amy's Bread, on 9th, near 46th.

          http://www.amysbread.com

          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.

          http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

          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

          http://www.labonnesoupe.com

          Btw, thanks for being so specific. Hope you have a great stay in NYC and Bon Appetit!

          1 Reply
          1. re: RGR

            Second Amy's Bread (try the cherries and cream scone). I'd personally skip both Grand Sichuan and Wu Liang Ye -- Chinese is significantly better in LA.

          2. A little further north, but I just had lunch at Whym and found it tasty and stylish, with good service.
            http://www.whymnyc.com/

            1. Chimichurri Grill is a great Argentine Steakhouse on 9th between 43rd and 44th though it's a little high for your budget.

              Amy's Bread is a good recommendation for a cheap breakfast. I like the toasted almond brioche.

              El Deportivo is a cheap Puerto Rican diner at 48th and 9th. It reliably serrved excellent food for years, but the last meal I had there was subpar. (I didn't even get any skin with the pernil...) Perhaps sombody else could comment on whether it's still good, because if so, it's a great budget place.

              It may be true that you can get better Chinese in LA than in New York, but can you get fatty pork with chestnuts? If not, try Grand Sichuan International.

              1. Sarah,

                Lots of great recommendations here, and while I don't agree with all of them, you'll really have your pick of decent food. Since we both often respond to questions about Hell's Kitchen, you may get some benefit out of clicking on RGR's and my Chowhound user icons and read what we've said in the past about places in this neighborhood.

                Also, if you're up to a short walk, eat at least once at Market Café (just south of 38th on 9th Ave.).

                Nosher

                NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                1 Reply
                1. re: Nosher

                  Wholeheartedly second Market Café. I work in the neighborhood and am there once every week or two, either for a lunch meeting or for dinner with friends. Simple, tasty, well-prepared Continental food (the homemade pizzas are fresh-tasting and very generously portioned), nice wine list, good cheese selection. It's bright and cheerful at lunch, cozy and tealight-lit after dark.

                2. Orso is at 46th between 8th and 9th is the best on the block. It's hard to get into on the weekends but well worth it for a great dinner before or after a show. Celebrities hang out here and at Joe Allen's next door (both are owed by Joe). Tell them Andre' sent you.

                  1. I enjoy Turkish Cuisine on the west side of 9th Ave. between 44th and 45th.

                    1. Wow! Thanks so much for all of your thoughtful suggestions! I'm looking forward to walking deliberately into specific places rather than just wandering around aimlessly trying to pick between a million different places that I know absolutely nothing about!

                      A and W--thanks for the tip about not asking for a toasted bagel as I totally would have! It's amazing how even a relatively savvy city girl like myself can so easily feel like a complete dodo when I'm in NY!

                      And thanks to all who warned against Becco. My boyfriend's mom bought us tickets to a Broadway show and gave us money to go to her favorite restaurant Becco for dinner beforehand, so we're a bit obligated. We're going on the early side, so it might not be too noisy and the menu looks good to me, so we'll see!

                      RGR--thanks for all those links and the wellwishes! I'm going to check out your other reviews along with Nosher's.

                      Thanks again to all of you for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it. I'll give you a report when I get back!

                      1. there are a ton of thai restaurants all over that area but the only one I like is Pam Real Thai (the original one, not the weird bar looking one). I believe its on 49th Street and 9th Avenue. This is my go-to Manhattan spot for Thai food (when I can't make it to Sri or Chao Thai).

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: bigjeff

                          Better late than never? I just realized that I never came back to give a report. So, if there's anyone out there who's at all interested, here goes!
                          So, like every other NYC trip, I had to make more food choices out of necessity than good planning, BUT we did get to try a few of the places recommended by fellow chowhounders.
                          Snack/light lunch at Amy's Bread--Yum!! We shared a slice of spinach pizza and a tuna melt and both were really really good. We would have definitely gone back more if we'd had the chance. The only drawback is that it's really teeny inside, so you have to either go at an off time or take away.
                          Breakfast at Renaissance Diner--couldn't beat the location for us and most definitely couldn't beat the price. I had 2 eggs, toast, hashbrowns and juice for like $4. It wasn't amazing, but it was decent and very cheap!
                          Went to Becco pre-Broadway show and both enjoyed it. The noise didn't bother me though the tables were extremely close together. That seems pretty standard in NYC though. Had the Polenta with Speck appetizer and it was a little heavier on the cheese and Speck than we anticipated but it was still very good. Very rich. Next time I'd probably just order a side of polenta. We both got the pasta special. I started with the Caesar which sometimes is amazing in a really good restaurant but unfortunately not at Becco. Should have gone for the more interesting antipasto salad. The pastas were a spaghetti with basil and tomato sauce, an orrechietti with sausage and olive oil sauce and a gnocchi with a parmesan cream sauce. The spaghetti was pretty plain but nice and fresh tasting. The orrechietti was okay--a little too greasy or something. I'm not a big sausage fan. The gnocchi was sooo good! I usually don't like it's heavy consistency but these looked like scallops and had the texture of a soft polenta cake. And I love rich sauces, so this one was amazing for me. It's nice too that they come around with more pasta though my appetite wasn't big enough to really take advantage of it. We had the zabaglione with poached pears for dessert and it was really good and felt like a lighter choice even though it really isn't a light dessert.
                          Went to John's Pizzeria post-Broadway show because that's where some friends were, but we'd already eaten (see above) so sadly did not get to sample the pizza. Luckily, we just found amazing NY/NJ style pizza in L.A. (www.vitopizza.com
                          )Lunch at La Bonne Soupe--my boyfriend tried this place because it was near his conference at the Hilton and a former New Yorker friend remembered it fondly. He said it was okay and pretty reasonable (some sort of lunch special), but not amazing.
                          Went by Grand Sichuan International--I *think* it was the one mentioned here and it had a sign saying it had been closed by the Board of Health. Yikes.
                          Shared a Mississippi Mud Pie at Little Pie Company and it was really yummy! We wanted to try the Key Lime, too, but didn't want to completely ruin our appetites.
                          I went out of my way back to our hotel (with a cold! in the rain!!) to try Ruby et Violette and it was closed for renovations! Dang, that was disappointing.
                          Went to a place called Viceroy in Chelsea for drinks and they had fun, fancy drinks and delicious calamari and french fries!
                          Went to Stout near Penn Station and it was a little loud and trendy for my taste but apparently the coolest non-dive bar in the area and served good pub grub. I had the fish and chips and the fish was really good.
                          And...I think that's about it!

                          Thanks again to all who took the time to make recommendations. I'm only sorry I couldn't try them all! Next time!!

                          1. re: sarahvagaca

                            Thanks for the detailed report, saravagaca! Absolutely, we're always interested in finding out how places we suggested turned out.

                            I'm not a fan of Becco, but even so, despite the few negatives you encountered, I'm happy you enjoyed it. I am a fan of Amy's, so it's encouraging that you liked it a lot. I'm not surprised your boyfriend didn't find La Bonne Soupe amazing because it's basically just a sweet French bistro with good food.

                            Glad you had a great visit here. Come back soon!