Visiting NYC with 2 teens
Any suggestions on where to take them? We're already planning on taking in the sights, I'm still waiting to here about tickets for the Letterman show. We'll be there 4/4-4/7. Does anyone know anything about either one of these plays, Curtains, or Talk Radio. I was thinking about taking them to one of them. They are 15, and 19. Any other suggestions or ideas? Thanks in advance
You're coming here to experience a radically different place where people speak over 550 different languages, right? So why not try something different from those 550 different places?
For an absolute true bargain, go for Middle Eastern food at Mamoun's Falafel on 119 McDougal St. by Minetta Lane in the . One falafel sandwich (coarsely ground chickpea flour that rolled into a ball with spices and fried. It's put in a pita with lettuce and tomatoes and tzatziki sauce which is white). One of those, a sweet baklava (honey cake) and a drink will set you back $5.00. They have astounding stuffed grape leaves. But if you're a meat lover, the best is their shawarma. It's a massive roll made of pieces of succulent lamb roasting slowly on a spit with either an onion or tomato at the top just slowly drizzling its clear juices down all over it. Beautiful. They shave off the outer layer with a huge knife and serve it in a pita with lettuce, tomato, white sauce and, if you really want to kick it up a notch, ask them for hot sauce on top. Be careful! A little goes a long way. This will set you back $4.00. I've seen everyone from the poorest of the poor to women in expensive furs line up down and around the block from this hole in the wall. Go to historic nearby Washington Square Park to eat it as a picnic. There's no room to sit down inside the restaurant.
Nearby, historic Minetta Tavern serves up good Italian eats and has been since anyone can remember. It's moderate to expensive, but there's a reason why it's been around.
Across the street is Meskerem. Now the number one thing I always say about Ethiopian food is check every notion of what it might or should taste like at the door. There's nothing like it. Oh, and it's fun for the kids because in Ethiopia, there are no utensils to eat food. Therefore, kids can eat with their hands and for once, be allowed to play with their food. You can pick food from mild to atomic bomb spicy. I love their meat dishes of chicken, lamb and beef, but their vegetarian dishes are so good that I usually go there for that. I never miss the meat. Kitfo is an Ethiopian delicacy and is one of their best dishes. It's cubed steak tartare in a highly spiced sauce. Not for the faint of heart.
Kyber Pass in the East Village is a great Afghanistan restaurant. It features charcoal-grilled kebabs of filet mignon, ground beef, or Cornish game hen; sauteed pumpkin; housemade noodles in yogurt sauce; and a number of spicy meat sautes, as well as plenty of vegetarian options.
Almost next door is Go, the Japanese restaurant and arguably the best because I see stuff on that menu that my Mom used to make. It has things that are closer to what is actually served in Japan. Like seaweed and carrot salads called Hijiki or small pieces of octopus put into a batter, rolled up into a ball, and garnished with soy based ponzu sauce and dried bonito flakes. They call that otaku-yaki and vendors of the stuff in Osaka are as common as hot dog stands here.
Go to Jing Fong in Chinatown for the biggest Chinese dumpling house (dim sum) you will ever see in your life. 18 Elizabeth St (Cross Street: Canal Street) From 9 AM- 2PM literally hundreds and hundreds of kinds of dumplings to chose from. You go up this escalator to the biggest wedding banquet hall you've ever seen. A waitress seats you with other people at a table, also probably from around the world, and then you get a wonderful pot of jasmine tea. Women stroll with big carts full of steamed and pan fried dumplings such as pork and shrimp, beef ball, and bean curd skins stuffed with vegetables.j Some aren't dumplings at all like stuffed peppers, sticky rice with sausage and scallions, rice with egg, chicken, and other meats wrapped in huge lotus leaves (no, you don't eat the lotus leaves. They're just there to impart a jasmine tea like flavor to the rice. Unwrap the suckers.) Seafood dumplings in clear chicken broth is fantastic. One of my favorites is a huge plate full of clams with black bean sauce. (No, this isn't the Mexican black bean sort. The Chinese variety is smaller, saltier and packed with much more flavor.) The sweets are nice too. Sticky roasted pork juicy buns are great. Fried shaved taro root is a treat. Rice cakes stuffed with lotus seed paste is divine. Get there between 9 to 1 for the greatest variety. After that, you're stuck with leftovers.
Believe it or not, this is Cantonese food. The stuff most people are used to in the States is a messed up, watered down Americanized version of Chinese food. Closer to reality is braised chicken or duck's feet, any kind of organ meats including brains and eyes, roots of all kinds and a heavy diet of vegetables, fruits and fiber, fish and squid of all sorts, and weird stuff you've never even heard of. If you've never been to any Chinatown in your life, brace yourselves. The barbecued ducks, chickens, huge squid and pigs are displayed to the world with the head and all still intact. The head is still there to keep the meat from going dry.
Raid the street stalls in Chinatown for the seasonal stuff. Depending on the season, you can get monster grapefruit, logan berries, fresh lychee, stench filled but delicious Durian fruit, persimmons, pomegranites, and other stuff. If you're lucky, you will see a stall on Canal St. where they sell 20 tiny cakes for a buck. Fried fish cake balls go for a buck as well on the grease trucks. Lo Mein at the same grease truck will earn you at least half a pound of the stuff for a buck or two. Skip the spring rolls, though. They aren't good.
65 Bayard Street Street off of Mott St. in Chinatown means The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. All handmade ice cream with flavors listed as almond cookie, ginger, lychee, and longan berry is displayed. Along the wall note the list that says, "Foreign flavors: Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, rocky road...." For coffee and bubble tea (black tapioca balls with either tea or a fruit smoothie) raid any Chinatown bakery. Try the sponge cakes, lotus seed cakes, and roast pork buns. Sweet bean cakes are great too.
If you go to Baxter Street off of Canal Street, there are a number of Malaysian and Vietnamese places that are great too.
Skip Little Italy for Italian food. It's only alive for tourism. The Italians have pretty much moved on to other parts like Bay Ridge in Brooklyn.
I agree with the review about Katz's, the egg-creams and such, but don't forget Yonah Schimmel's Knishes Bakery on 137 E. Houston a couple of blocks west of Katz's. Unlike the hot dog stand variety, this is the real deal. There are so many varieties. They are big and round and stuffed with Kasha (buckwheat), potato, broccoli, and more. They also serve other old time Jewish food. It's a real throwback into time.
Mary Ann's at W. 16th Street and 8th Ave. is good Mexican food. For good Cuban food Little Havana Restaurant on 30 Cornelia in the West Village is great. Po, the upscale Italian place across from it is also fantastic. Get reservations early.
Upscale French is Capsouto Freres in TriBeCa. is excellent. It's really out of the way, but is worth the experience. 451 Washington St (Cross Street: Watts Street) Call for reservations and make sure you order the soufle before the rest of your meal. Those soufles are to die for. (212) 966-4900. You will need directions.
Really, the best ethnic food is in Queens and the other outer boroughs and if you really want to know how we truly live, take the #7 line to 74th Roosevelt to see Little Bombay, the Indian district. Check out the buffet at Jackson Diner for only $9.00. All you can eat.
If you can't go there, try vegetarian Pongal Indian restaurant on 81 Lexington near E. 27th St. (212) 696-5130. I swear you will not miss the meat. It is really, really, really good. Get there EARLY. It fills up FAST. What makes this place unusual is that they serve dishes from Southern India. Most serve only Northern stuff and that is what most people are used to. Keep in mind that really good Indian restaurants mean really spicy. They take their spice seriously. So make it clear whether or not you like it mild or atomic. That whole area is also Indian and we call that section Little India.
There is a Little Korea near Herald Square. From about 32 -36th Streets going east, there are tons of Korean restaurants, many of them specializing in Korean style barbecue. Either they barbecue it in front of you, or they give you the ingredients and you can cook the stuff at your table.
Or check out the restaurants in Little Brazil. I think that is around 46th or 47th Streets off of 6th Ave. Since Times Square is nearby you may be in the vicinity to try something different and off the tourist path. The Brazillian Embassy is nearby, so you know that something good is probably around the corner. In fact, I'd go into the embassy and ask the workers where there is a good Brazillian restaurant. They'd know for sure. Brazil is known for great grilled meats. Same with Argentina.
Unfortunately, I wish I could find an excellent Southern Barbecue place around, but I haven't found it yet and I long for the New Orleans that I saw intact.
To be astounded by a huge gourmet shop like no other to create a picnic in Central Park for yourselves, stock up at Fairway Market on W. 74th St. and Broadway. Or for a real treat of a true French Bakery where you can find croissants of all types that don't bounce, go around the corner onthe south side of W. 74th St. inside the massive Ansonia building to Patisserie Margot. If you want good coffee, you've got it there. Those Madeleine tea cakes are killer too.
But if all else fails or you're looking for something common, try Cozy Soup and Burger on Broadway between E. 8th and Washington Place in Greenwich Village or Big Nick's Pizza Joint where you can get their one pound sumo burgers on 2175 Broadway (Cross Street: Between W. 76th and W. 77th Streets.)
Skip the Upper East Side. There isn't anything good up there and it's all overpriced because of the rich people who live there.
Hope this helps!
Baron, I'm sure Skateboardmom will appreciate the information in your long post, but I have some questions:
What other Afghan restaurants are you using as a basis for comparison when you say that Khyber Pass is a great Afghan restaurant? I went once years ago, found the food just OK and was disgusted by their using mint syrup in their dough (the yogurt drink, not something you make bread from). I reiterate that that was a bunch of years ago and things could have changed, but I've found Ariana Afghan Kebab House best of the Afghan places I've tried in New York. Have you tried it or any other Afghan restaurant?
I'm also very surprised to see a recommendation for Go. I've found their food mediocre or worse, some of it disgusting-tasting - over-the-top salty and sort of gloppy. I guess that's down to taste, but the Japanese restaurant I've enjoyed most in the neighborhood lately is a soba specialist, Soba Koh on 5th St. Sure, it costs more and serves a different type of Japanese food than Go, but it's to my taste expertly balanced, subtle, delicious food.
I also have to take exception to your remark that "there isn't anything good" on the Upper East Side. The great American baked items at Two Little Red Hens might not be worth a special trip, but they sure are worth a detour from the Metropolitan Museum!
Lots of good details in your post, baronsaturday. However, I do want to point out that on my tour, after Katz's and Russ & Daughters, but before heading for the egg cream, there is a stop at Yonah Schimmel's.
As regards your comment about the UES, I think your blanket statement is ridiculous. It appears you've never been to Cafe Boulud or Cafe Sabarsky, two excellent examples of restaurants with delicious food that, in my view and the opinion of many others, are worth the upscale cost. While it's true that many restaurants on the UES are expensive, that is also the case in just about every neighborhood. I presume you would agree that neighborhoods like Union Square/Flatiron, Gramercy Park, and G.V. have expensive restaurants that are worth the expenditure. And like these and other neighborhoods, the UES has restaurants with very good food at more moderate cost. You, obviousy, have never bothered to seek them out.
Katz's Deli, if they like meat. RGR's tour is excellent, but if you don't have time for the full tour, at least go to Katz's - the place is canonical.
Grimaldi's might be a good choice for pizza. They have some of the best pizza in the 5 boroughs, it's not too hard to get to, and the atmosphere is straight out of a movie. It's located almost directly under the Brooklyn bridge, on the Brooklyn side; there's a pier a block or two down the street where you can buy ice cream and look back at Manhattan (great spot for pictures), and there's a small park at the base of the bridge. If you feel up to it, you could work up an appetite by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to get there. There can be a line, though, especially on weekends.
P.S. My cousin and I both really enjoyed Curtains. She loves musicals in general, and I'm typically not a huge fan. I don't know anything about Talk Radio, though, so...
Blockheads is awful. That's where we went for large portions of bad Tex-Mex and cheap beer in med school.
There's a great, active thread on burgers:
A fantastic thread on street cart food:
A recent thread on cheap eats:
I think Mexican food is a bad idea. Something like 50% of the cities in America (I wanted to say "almost every", but then thought hypothetically of Portland, Maine) must have better Mexican food than NYC, and there are so many foods that NYC does better than any other city in America! When in Rome, and all that... So, unless you're visiting the US from, say, Iceland, and not going anywhere else here besides Portland, Maine, I'd steer clear.
Korean is probably a good idea, but I know very little about it. I'm sure there's a relevant thread somewhere. Well, one of these, maybe:
i vote for joes pizza on carmine st (used to be on the corner(now a chain pizza place) but JOE's now is mid block across from Fr Demo park(under construction) for food-you could also try union square always good people watching and a decent variety of food places-also a farmers market on wednesdays and saturdays
My 16 year old cousin just came up from Hawaii and her tour group took her to Top of The Rock, the restaurant at Rockefeller Center. It isn't expensive, something like $18 per person to get up there. Really, what you're going for is the views of NYC and Central Park. Check out the website here
Places that teens would also find interesting are South Street Seaport, obviously Times Square, and Check out the NYU area of The Village- around West 4th Street. Some fun shops and restaurants there.
Remember, NYC is an island. It might be a little chilly but check out some of the boat tours- I've been on them, even though I'm from the area, and found them fun and informative:
If its running, try "The Beast." There's nothing like it anywhere; I know it runs in the summer months, but it should be running soon...
If you have any other questions, I'll be happy to help.
Lombardi Pizzeria (http://www.lombardispizza.com/) is the first pizzeria in the U.S. and they still use the same oven. Pizza is delicious, try the roasted peppers and sausage. Somewhere on this site someone gave a tour of spots on Houston, great tour with excellent spots (Katz's on Houston and Ludlow for best pastrami anywhere). Search Katz, Lower Eastside.
With literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from, a few specific will help narrow things down and allow us to make appropriate suggestions. Is this a first-time visit? Are the teens boys or girls? Do they -- and you -- have any food preferences? Do you want totally casual or some fancier places? Any budgetary constraints?
P.S. I've not seen either play, but I've seen Liev Schreiber, the star of "Talk Radio," in two other plays, and he is a superb actor.
Since most teenage boys have big appetites, they and you might be interested in taking my Lower East Side eating "tour." It will give you an opportunity to walk around a very interesting neighborhood while sampling (and stuffing yourself with) foods that are emblematic of New York City. As you will see, the tour also includes a stop at a museum. I'm appending the tour 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. http://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.
Enjoy your visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!
You're right about that little detail, georgeb. But "he will write on your ticket" sounds awkward to me; therefore, in this case, I'm using "punch" in the metaphorical sense of the word.
As far as the $50 lost ticket charge goes, I wonder how many people have ever lost their ticket, and if so, did the management actually charged them $50? As the expression goes, inquiring minds want to know. lol