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Where can a mature woman (40's ) with sense of adventure bring younger neice (20's) to enjoy dinner drinks and a scene that is friendly to both?

I have spent better part of two weeks searching for the answer to this question amongst the hounds and I am now ready to take the plunge.

Angeleno spending three nights in Manhattan in mid-April with young niece from UK. She thinks I am cool and know all the hot spots. I do not want to disavow her of this notion, however, I am not willing to do cattle call style bars/clubs/"restaurants."

I appreciate any suggestions. Any price/location in Manhattan is okay. I do have reservations at Stanton Social for Sat Late Night, Balthazar for Sunday lunch. I was thinking about The Modern? We are staying in mid-town and I am comfortable getting around the city.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Check out: 5 Ninth, Kittichai, Morimoto, The Modern...

    1. Stanton Social is awesome, go there!
      Kittichai is also a very nice place.
      I like Pastis a lot as well as Son Cubano.
      If you something in the village try Matador.
      Dos Caminos is also good.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Rolen18

        Artisanal is great, too. Also, there's: Spice Market (food is fine, but the atmosphere is outstanding) and I hear that Buddakhan is fantastic.

        1. re: Rolen18

          I think Stanton Social sort of requires a big crowd for all their plates f miniature food, no? What about Schiller's? That's right there. And I'll say this again, I think Mermaid Inn onthe LES is a great spot.

          1. re: MellieMac

            My boyfriend and I go the SC all the time, just the 2 of us. I don't think a big crowd is required.

          2. re: Rolen18

            If the OP goes to Balthazar than Pastis is just more of the same.

          3. Balthazar is great...

            Also consider Lucien if you want another French bistro meal (LA is short on good ones, i know as i lived there for ten years)...East Village hipster place but w/ a wide age range and excellent bouillabaise, escargot, chocolate cake, etc...if you go there in the afternoon, try to introduce yourself to the owner Lucien (bald, portly, French-Berber, garrulous) and tell him your neice is visiting, etc and he will likely pour you some extra wine, send over a dessert, etc...it's crowded at night, w/ occassional celebrities, but afternoons are mellow and lovely...

            Lupa might be fun...

            Maybe a drink at somewhere like Temple Bar?...

            oh, and n33 (33 Crosby) is fun for wine and tapas...get there at 5 or so before the crowds and you can enjoy some drinks and snacks and your neice will be delighted by the cute tiny space...it's very close to Balthazar too...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Simon

              I don't think drinks at Temple Bar are such a great idea. I think of Temple Bar as more of a romantic bar than something really hip.

              1. In doing your research, perhaps you came across my (in)famous LES eating "tour"? If not, while it doesn't involve hip or hot spots, it will give you and your niece the opportunity to walk around a truly interesting neighborhood with a lot of history and to sample some foods that scream "New York!" I'm appending it here:

                LES Food Excursion

                For the quintessential NYC deli experiences, no place beats Katz's, on the corner of Houston (pronounced "how-stun") & Ludlow Sts. You're there specifically for the pastrami sandwich. When you enter, you will be given a ticket. Instead of opting for table service, do what the "natives" do and get on line for counter service. When you reach the counter, put a $1 for each sandwich in the counterman's tip cup and order pastrami on rye. He'll give you a piece to taste. If you like it (the best pastrami is juicy and has some fat on it), tell him o.k., and he'll make your sandwich, give you some sour pickles, and punch your ticket. Then, continue along the counter for sides – the cole slaw is good -- and drinks. Find seats at a table in the center of the room. (Tables along the wall have menus on them and are reserved for waiter service.) When you’re done, take your ticket to the cashier in front. It's cash only. Note: For the purposes of this tour, unless you have a gargantuan appetite, it would be best to share one sandwich in order to leave room for more tastings along the way.

                When you exit Katz’s, turn left and continue along the same side of Houston St. You will come to Russ & Daughters, famous for all sorts of smoked fish and many other goodies. It's not a restaurant, but they make sandwiches to go.

                After leaving the Russes, continue west a couple of blocks until you reach Yonah Schimmel's. Get a tasty potato knish, and make sure to ask them to heat it up.

                Now it’s time for the quintessential NY drink – the egg cream. So, reverse yourself and head east on Houston until you come to Avenue A. (Note: Avenue A becomes Essex St. on the south side of Houston.) Turn left on A and head north until you get to the block between 7th St. and St. Mark’s Place. Look for a hole-in-the-wall candy shop, closer to 7th, with an overhead sign jutting into the street that says, “Belgian Fries.” (The place’s official name is Ray’s, but there is no signage to that effect.) One of the women behind the counter will make you a delicious chocolate egg cream.

                When you’re finished licking your lips, go back to Houston St. and make a left (east) one block to Norfolk St. Turn right and walk down Norfolk until it ends at Grand St. Two places to look for at the corner of Grand and Norfolk: Kossar's, for freshly baked bialys (another very NY food) and the Donut Plant (self-explanatory).

                Next, walking west along Grand St., you will come to Orchard St. Turn right. At 87 Orchard, snack on a pickle from Gus's World Famous Pickles.

                Then, continue to 97 Orchard, b/t Broome & Delancey, where you will find the Tenement Museum. The tour will show you what life was like for immigrants to NYC at the beginning of the 20th century. (www.tenement.org
                Once you have finished the tour, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, right next door at 95 Orchard, is a must for some of the best gelato anywhere.

                If your sweet tooth is still not completely satisfied, the final stop on this tour should do it. Continue ahead (north) on Orchard, crossing Delancey, then one more block to Rivington St. Make a right and you will find Economy Candy at 145 Rivington.

                Note: It’s best not to take this tour on a Saturday since some of the spots are closed because of religious observance. Also, Donut Plant is closed on Mondays.
                One other point about the LES. Although my tour does not focus on them, in recent years, this neighborhood has also become a place to find a boatload of hip, cool restaurants; for example, Stanton Social, which has been mentioned. If you do a search for "Lower East Side," you should find lots of posts.

                Hope you and your niece have a sensational visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

                7 Replies
                1. re: RGR

                  Pegu Bar-- upstairs at Houston and West Broadway. Awsome snacks, lovely bar.

                  1. re: RGR

                    This is a great idea, RGR. I'd go for more New Yorky stuff. The big question is, what is the 20 year-old like? Some of the suggestions here may be too upscale/straitlaced for her. Eleven Madison Park is boring and like a corporate boardroom for me and I'm the auntie's age. That said, I find Pegu Club too trendy. Everybody's different.

                    1. re: Up With Olives

                      Well, the aunt did say that her niece is thinking about hip, cool spots. But I don't think that means she shouldn't be given the opportunity to eat at all kinds of places. After all, one of NYC biggest assets is its culinary variety.

                      1. re: Up With Olives

                        Interesting comment re: EMP. I am concerned that the food and atmosphere may be too austere for both of us! I think I will have to check it out on another trip. There are so many intriguing suggestions, I wish we could stay longer than three days.
                        Thanks to everyone for your input and if you ever have a need for tips on L.A. (our downtown is exploding with new restaurants) or other CA environs I am happy to assist.

                      2. re: RGR

                        Indeed, I did come across the tour and would love to go on it with my husband. He is a pickle and pastrami fiend. I'll try to make a detour with my neice at least for gelato.

                        1. re: Densible

                          The fact that you did find my tour indicates, at least to me, that the two weeks you spent searching before finally posting were definitely not wasted! lol

                        2. re: RGR

                          Thanks for posting this--glad I came across it. My husband and I are sure to enjoy...

                        3. I highly recommend Freeman's - Very hip and attractive crowd, amazing food and delicious cocktails

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: davisready

                            I second Freeman's -- an ideal place to bring a hip 20 year old.

                          2. I would bring your niece to Public. Food is good and it is pretty "now" and cool.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              I support Eleven Madison Park. Awesome.

                            2. Momofuku! Or Prune.
                              Public and Tabla Bread Bar are fun too.

                                1. re: leela

                                  No, No, No do not take her to EMP. Not cool for a 17 yearold. Trust me I have one. She will not be impressed. She wants to go somewhere she would see on Sex and the City. Go with that strategy.

                                    1. re: princeofpork

                                      Densible's niece is not 17; she's in her 20's! It may be true that for this particular young woman, Eleven Madison might not be a good choice; however, based on posts on this board, there are plenty of 20-somethings who have very much enjoyed going to Eleven Madison. It is possible for someone in that age group to enjoy both hip places and those that offer fine dining. It's what's known as having eclectic tastes.

                                      1. re: RGR

                                        My 23-year-old son and his friends favor the lower East Side for the hip eating places and they like Schiller's a lot, which is the cheaper, younger Keith Mc Nally restaurant that should please your niece, or BarMarche, a bistro in the same neighborhood. If you want trendy and young, those should be perfect. Food is very good and the atmosphere is definitely hip. Schiller's does a thing with the wines, dividing red and white into two categories: cheap, okay and good. The waiters wear cute t-shirts.

                                        1. re: RGR

                                          I do plan to go to EMP with husband next time we are both in the city. Although I know my neice would enjoy the food more than me as she will eat anything (I mean that in an ecletic way of course), I feel she is expecting a more frenetic scene (dear god!). Therefore, I am planning to strap on my helmet and take her to Stanton Social, Balthazar, n33, Kittichai. Perhaps The Modern(starting out slow) on Friday evening for dinner after we arrive and then on to a late night show (burlesque?) and then drinks somewhere nearby....and somewhere in all this we have to shop, have pizza, pick up bagels to bring home, go to the Frick and Chelsea Markets.

                                          1. re: Densible

                                            Sounds like a GREAT plan to me! Have a fantastic time here and report back!

                                        2. re: princeofpork

                                          actually EMP was, indeed, in an episode of 'sex and the city'.

                                          1. re: princeofpork

                                            EMP actually was on Sex and the City. Big told Carrie about his new wife there. Not that I think it's the best place, but if that's your standard ...

                                            I see below that you're doing drinks at Bemelmans -- not cool, but absolutely wonderful (speaking as someone IN her 20's ....)

                                        3. I'm in my 20's and I enjoyed EMP. I've even enjoyed Bouleys at the age of 17 and Danube at 20 along with a list of others. So whats age got to do with it?

                                          As for suggestions, you can grab some drinks at One little west 12th in the meatpacking and the Maritime hotel. Lotsa great suggestions, grab a cab and bar hop around the city.

                                          1. You've got to take her to PASTIS! It's my favorite. I even took my 2 nieces there when they were only12 and 15 and we had a great time. Another fun experience (I think) is Grand Central Oyster Bar, sit at the counter and have oyster pan roast or clam chowder. Artie's Deli on the Upper West Side (Broadway) is so much nicer than Katz's. I know the food is good at Katz but I can't stand it in there. The new Morandi is the hot place right now, you'd enjoy that too. Have fun!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Victoise

                                              Nobody in their right mind goes to Katz's for the ambiance! It's all about the pastrami. Plus the fact that Katz's has been in the same spot since 1888 and is a NYC/LES institution.

                                              1. re: RGR

                                                Well, doesn't it have its own kind of old-New-York-plus-photos-of-celebrities ambiance? Sure, that wouldn't be a reason to go there if the food weren't good, but I do find it fun.

                                            2. Balthazar for Dinner...

                                              1. Hearth... sit at the pass. Great food & verrry cool watching the kitchen staff work. Especially if Marco is there.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Steve R

                                                  I have another question (what a surprise!) So far I have planned:

                                                  Dinner at Kittichai, Stanton Social, Brunch at Balthazar, Lunch at The Modern, tapas at n, drinks at Bemelmans, the bar at the Oriental, Apt, Pegu and who knows where else.

                                                  I grew up with a Sicilian Grandmother from Brooklyn and remember Sunday gravy feasts. My neice was a baby living in UK when her greatgrandmother died. I'd love to indulge in nostagia (for me) and great food (for both of us), which, leads me to ask:

                                                  Is there a great Italian restaurant we can do Sunday dinner at that is fairly close to midtown (Brooklyn is out of my comfort zone) and that offers traditional Italian immigrant food? I read somewhere about Nonna's in UWS but not sure if a) it is still operating and B) is it any good?