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3 days w/small Chowpup - where shall we eat?

I'm not sure where we're staying, but we'll be in town soon for three weekdays, and looking for great chow opportunities. Chowpup is an enthusiastic eater, but he's little, so no Uber-formal Temples to Serious Cuisine, all mouth-searing Sichuan, or four-hour-long wine-flight tasting menus. I'm thinking ethnic, relatively cheap, and unique/particular to NYC (we're from the Philly 'burbs for point of ref).

We'll be doing a few of the usual touristy things, like the Brooklyn Children's Museum, MoMa, the Museum of Natural History, the Central Park Zoo.... so, anything close to those that would be suitable for us & the little guy? Anything not-to-be-missed?

Cuisines we're not into: Ethiopian, Indian, anything that revolves around offal. Other than that, we're pretty game. :) Bonus points for a really good Italian restaurant that isn't too serious/formal for Junior to be welcome.

Thanks in advance for any ideas you can offer!

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  1. How cute and fun!
    In Brooklyn, take Junior for some pizza at Grimaldi's...then head over to The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for some yummy homemade ice cream and fabulous views of Manhattan.
    For lunch, why not go to The Central Park Boathouse? The food is fine, but the views and atmosphere are so breathtaking! He will really love it, and so will you all.
    (people are going to roll their eyes)...Why not try Carmine's Upper Westside location for a good Italian meal?

    2 Replies
    1. re: LFeinberg

      I'd recommend wandering downtown - East Village, lower East Side if you all like a change of pace from uptown NY and you can have a great Italian lunch or dinner (cash only) at Bar Pitti on 6th Ave. between Bleecker & Houston. Another fun outing might be the Chelsea Market on 9th Ave. bet. 15 & 16, where you can have lunch at one of the places (maybe a lobster roll & clam chowder at the fish place). The building is a great architectural site and there are food boutiques - also ice cream & bakeries.

      1. re: LFeinberg

        Has anyone ever had a "good Italian meal" at Carmine's?

      2. il labritorio del gelato, peanut butter co., magnolia bakery

        1. Thank you so much everyone. Love the ideas... Keep'em coming!

          I'm especially into the Cheslea Market concept. For some reason I was mixing it up with an organic farmer's market that's only open on Saturdays .... Greenmarket?

          Anyway, now that I realize they are more than one thing (!), I'm really into the Chelsea Mkt idea. We were in Barcelona a few months ago and fell in love with the Boqueria, so big noisy architecturally/historically significant place bustling with people and food food food are right up our alley...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Mawrter

            if you loved the Boqueria, Chelsea Market is going to be disappointing. it's not nearly as big or colorful, although there are some good places in there worth checking out. And i'm sure your li'l chowpup will be amused by the cookie's in eleni's.

            Also, Lombardi's is definitely worth going to, in SoHo, for great pizza. And there's a place across the street from it, called Rice to Riches that serves only rice pudding, in all these different, totally addictive flavors.

            1. re: funkymonkey

              I agree with the downtown focus. Other suggestions -- in Chelsea, we frequently took our chowpuppy to Cookshop where they were perfectly lovely with her even at age 12 months. Since you're probably eating at off hours (6 pm dinner anyone?) you can do very well in nicer places without it being forever or having lots of eyerolling from staff or other patrons. On the other hand, why not the Shake Shack? Little compares to the joys of an outdoor urban burger....
              Also have had great experiences with kids at Mary's Fish Camp (extra points for being close to Magnolia) and at all the bistros.

          2. If you're at the Museum of Natural History, you might consider stopping by Alice's Tea Cup on the West Side (70s and Columbus or so) for lunch or a snack. It's a little tea shop and cafe that has sandwiches, soups, and salads as well as tea and tea sweets (very nice scones and cakes, etc). It's a nice place to sit and take a load off after the museum.

            1. You could try Nonnas at 85th and Columbus, an easy walk from the Natural History Museum. It's a cozy Italian w/outdoor seating if the weather is nice.

              I'd suggest the Fairway cafe, which sits above Fairway market, but I think it would be too frustrating. The cafe has very decent burgers, etc., though it can get very crowded. The market is (sort of) the NYC answer to Boqueria, but the food, etc. is all crammed under one roof and seems like it's alway chock full of quietly seething New Yorkers. Great prices and tons of really interesting imported food. Might be worth a peek in, but be wary of cart jams.

              1. Pepe Rosso in soho has great cheap and casual Italian. its on sullivan right below houston

                1. Just got the info from dh - we're staying in Columbus Circle.

                  Thanks so much for all these thoughtful replies! :) I'm really looking forward to chowing our way though town.

                  1. Hi Mawrter,

                    If you are looking for inexpensive food experience in NYC, the Lower East Side Food Excursion by RGR, our veteran Manhattan chowhounders, is the perfect plan for you:

                    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e 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, 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 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 Place. Look for a hole-in-the-wall candy shop, closer to 7th, with an overhead sign jutting into the street that says, elgian Fries.?(The place official name is Ray, 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e 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 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

                    Other reasonably priced restaurants:

                    East Village - Crif Dog for hot dogs, Kenka for Japanese Izakaya (Japanese small plates), Yakitori Taisho for yakitori (Japanese styled skewers), Pomme Frites for Belgium Frites, Rai Rai Ken or Men Kui Tei for Ramen, Alta for Spanish Tapas. Kuma Inn for Phillipine fusion. Bread Pa Pa for Creme Puff

                    West Village - 202 (Chelsea) for Breakfast, Cookshop for brunch or any meal. 'ino for anything but particularly their truffled egg toast.

                    Other ideas: Shake Shack for burgers and frozen custard. Joe's or John's pizza on Bleecker Street. Crispo for moderately price but very good italian; or Max for good Italian pasta for very cheap price

                    I will continue to add to the thread when I can think of more!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      Kobetobiko, thank you! This list rocks! Does the mayor know about you? 'Cause you should be on the payroll. :)

                      1. re: Mawrter

                        Hi mawrter,

                        If someone is to get a payroll, RGR should be the one. She came up with this brilliant food excursion which has benefits locals and visitors alike. I am sure it will be a highlight of your trip! I notice that you are staying in Columbus Circle which is a bit uptown, but traveling in subway is really easy in NYC. If you have a few people to share a cab, it will be just about the same as the subway fare per person.

                        Also, there is a website menupages.com where you can check out the menus of some restaurants. Opentable.com will allow you reserve table if needed.

                        Hope you have a wonderful trip! again, will continue to add to the list if I can think of any.

                        1. re: kobetobiko

                          Agreed! RGR is our resident LES genius and always has good recommendations for NYC visitors.

                          Getting to the LES from Columbus Circle is pretty easy and fast if you take the D. You can either get off at Broadway-Lafayette and take a leisurely stroll to Katz' Deli. Or transfer to the F/V and get off at 2nd Avenue (on the 1st Avenue side).

                    2. Dh has gotten recommendations to Bice & Scale Natello (?) but I'm getting no hits on the latter and uninspired reviews on the former. Opinions? Counter-suggestions? Compare/contrast in 100 words or fewer? (J/k!)

                      And... how about another Italian place that I remember from the early '00s, vaguely near the Guggenheim, something like Cento Lire? I remember really wonderful brussels sprouts and spaghetti squash. Made me think of both vegetables differently. I assume this place must be gone forever?