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Recs Near The Museum of Natural History

This coming saturday I'll be in a group of five people and we're going to be spending the day at the museum on 79th and Central Park West. The age range for us is my 14year old sister who knows how to eat well but doesn't enjoy anything too complicated, to my parents who're in their mid 50's and love to eat. I want a place that all five of us can enjoy, I'd prefer something with possibly a more fun, relaxed atmosphere, but as long as it's not either a quiet/romantic restaurant or an uptight snooty place, anything really goes. I guess you could say I'm looking for something with an average price range, nothing too expensive because we're not looking to splurge, but we want a real restaurant, something more than a deli or hole in the wall. The only other requirement I have is that it really should be close to the museum walking distance would be greatly preferred.

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  1. somes places which come to mind:

    Vynl (eclectic)
    Zeytin (Turkish)
    Ollie's (Chinese)
    French Roast (cafe/bistro)
    Boat Basin Cafe (on the river, worth a walk if the weather is nice)
    Cafe con Leche (Cuban, Latin)

    You can check menupages.com for the addresses and to see the menus.

    1. There's this new place called The Funky Diner (awful name) and the atmosphere is just ok, trying to be cute/mod. The menu, however, is a perfect range of american/light french fare, everything from omlettes to crepes to salads, etc. I wanted just about everything on the menu. I got the california omlette, which was delicious, and my friend got the salad with chicken, asparagus, goat cheese puffs (I think?) - and it was delicious, and the portion sizes are generous. http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

      1. A few good, fun places within two blocks of the Museum--Isabel's with a great sidewalk cafe; Jacques Imo (for New Orleans cooking); Rain for terrific Pan-Asian food in a festive environment...and check out the sidewalk cafes on Columbus between West 79th and West 85th Streets.

        1. Close to AMNH is Sarabeth's on 80th and Amsterdam, as well as Nice Matin, 79th and Amsterdam.

          Sarabeth's is a little more sedate but still casual.

          Nice Matin is more bustling since it is a French Bistro type restaurant and attached to a hotel.

          For a group of 5 I would probably make reservations since it's going to be Saturday night.

          You may also want to research Kefi, a new Greek restaurant, that's been getting good buzz. 222 W. 79th St. is the address.

          Ollie's is decent Chinese but not something I'd go out of my way for, especially compared to what Chinatown can offer.

          1. Ok so far I'm looking most at the Boat Basin Cafe, I thought French Roast looked good but my mom feels it's too breakfast-y. As awesome as Rain and Jacques Imo look, I get the feeling my sister will be extremely intimidated. If anyone has any other suggestions other than or better than Boat Basin Cafe, please feel free to suggest as many as you can think of.

            Also, is there a difference between the two locations of the Boat Basin Cafe? I can't seem to find any info on which of the two different locations to go to.

            1. Isabellas is right on the corner of the museum, the food is great but not too complicated and exotic.
              Good enough to eat is more low key, with a white picket fence outside and a more traditional american/southern menu (think biscuits) but also fresh ingredients and good quality food.
              Boat basin cafe is nice but it is definitely at least a 15 minute walk and can get a bit loud & hectic with afterwork drinking crowd and smokey from the grill if the wind blows into the dining area.

              5 Replies
              1. re: scanditrash

                I would agree -- that's a long walk, especially because the Natural History Museum takes up between 77th and 81st, between Columbus and CPW, so you have to go around the museum and all the way to the Hudson River. That's nearly a mile.

                1. re: scanditrash

                  I agree, Boat Basin is a bit of a walk and in my opinion the food is just ok. It is great for the atmosphere (on the water).

                  I think Nice Matin is the bet choice for your group.

                  1. re: JoLi

                    If we can lets try to avoid French cuisine, I'm not a big fan of it and I'm pretty sure the same goes for at least two other people in the group

                    1. re: hungry_fox

                      I totally agree with Jacques Imo and Isabellas, (especially if it's nice enough to sit outside) but I wouldn't suggest Rain for a 14 year old, although I love it.

                      1. re: pacz

                        I love Isabellas. Great atmosphere and pretty good food. Rain has also been a delight but it is a little more chic of a restaurant. I personally love Calle Ocho which is on 81st and Columbus. Just a block away from the NHM for cuban food.

                2. Hi,

                  Hounds have offered great suggestions so far but also do a search under museum of natural history. There have been 2 or 3 recent threads on this same topic.

                  My suggestion is the Mexican restaurant (can't think of the name) right off Broadway at 85th (I believe). My favorite is Cafe Lalo although it gets tight in there on the weekends.

                  Enjoy your visit!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Uptownflavor

                    cafe la fortuna
                    sit in the garden and have some casual italian food-- great atmosphere


                    1. re: jordana

                      Cafe la fortuna looks great but more for lunch or dessert, not so sure it's right for dinner

                  2. This may be a deli but it's the most authentic deli in the city- Barney Greengrass at 87th and Amsterdam. It's a unique experience that will certainly elicit an "only in New York" response from everyone. Pastrami, lox, the best potato latkes in the city, it's a real trip. I know you said no delis but this place is an NYC institution.

                    1. Jacques Imo's isn't too complicated, don't worry. Even during his pizzaterian phase, my brother deigned to eat there--and he liked it.

                      You might want to look into the new, UWS Vinyl (columbus / 84). It has a fun atm that your sister'll probably like, with lots of safe, but well-prepared diner standards (burgers and fries). And it has some decent Thai and Thai fusion offerings. (Stay away from the artificial flavoring/coloring infused sugar bombs that they sell as "cocktails.")

                      Celeste (amsterdam / 84) might also work for you if you get there early. They don't take reservations and the space isn't huge. Food and service are always good to great.