Going To NY- lost!
I am taking my partner (turning 50- birthday present) and two daughter (ages 14 and 8) to New York at the end of the month as a surprise. We are from a very foodie town in Ontario (Stratford) and our kids love food and restaurants. I am absolutely overwhelmed with the New York restaurant scene and I need help!
I am looking for an unpretentious place for dinner that serves honest and wonderful food (not into towers of things, or foam- not for this particular trip) and is kid- friendly. Cost is not an issue, but I am terrified of making a reservation and having ice cold service and mediocre food. I intend to make a reservation for Balthazar tomorrow. I was aslo considering Spice Market, but I worry that it will be too hip for the kids. Any other suggestions? Ethnic of any kind is great, except Asian because we frequently eat Asian in Toronto. We are staying near Battery Park City.
Also, for lunch I was thinking of the Shake Shack. Is it worth a special trip? Or any other suggestions? We have theatre at 3 pm, so a pre-theatre lunch suggestion would be great. We love kitchy and fun places.
Thanks in advance!
Another vote for Otto, it's someplace both the kids and adults will really appreciate. Balthazar and Otto are my two standby recs for friends with foodie kids. And yes, do try the olive oil gelato. I second the Chelsea Market rec, too, a fun stroll, and the kids will be able to get a glimpse of the bakers at Amy's Bred through their big glass window, which can be fun. Just a block or so from Chelsea Market is Suenos - a fusiony mexican restaurant, nice but relaxed and unpretentious, that you all might enjoy -- it was great when it first opened, but I haven't been for a while, so would be curious about what other 'hounds have to say about it.
I'll second the recs for Otto and John's. The olive oil gelato at Otto is terrific and the wine list is great. Jacques Torres is a good experience, and way way way beyond the Max Brenner chocolate (which if you search this board gets pretty panned all around). You and your children might enjoy a walk through Chelsea Market. It's a neat space and has lots of food shops and places to eat (Fat Witch Brownies, some neat cookie places). Most especially at Chelsea Market, I love Ronnybrook Dairy Farm's Milk Bar. It's terrific with kids for breakfast, e.g. They also have ice cream (cones, cups, plus containers). It's great ice cream and all their milk products are good.
Yes, smart to avoid Asian, as the best Asian I have ever had was in Canada...Now, to add to your list, I agree with John's for pizza, but also go to Otto's...I personally like the pizza and veggies, and everyone loves the gelato...Go to Jacque Torres for a chocolate experience, and Magnolia's for cupcakes...
Shake Shack is wonderful, as long as the line isn't 45 minutes long, which will put you in a bad mood. Best things are the Shack Burger (not the plain burger) and the Concretes. Love the park setting. Wonderful in good weather or a breezy evening.
In the theater district, John's Pizzeria on 44th is a contender for best pizza in Manhattan. It's a big place in an old church -- neither fancy nor scuzzy. They have salads and wine, no slices.
Balthazar and Serendipity sound like good choices. The problem with Spice Market is...well, the food is actually good, but it can be impossible to get into (wacko door people) and outrageously crowded and loud -- more nightclub than restaurant. Plus the Meatpacking District is unwholesome.
If you can go very early (5:30 or 6 pm) I highly recommend Barrio Chino, a very small, understated (and crowded and noisy after 7), wonderfully delicious and relatively inexpensive Mexican place on the Lower East Side. The guacomole and chips, the chicken enchiladas with green sauce, the steak, and the flan are just terrific. (So are the regular, grapefruit, and jalapena margaritas -- all made with fresh fruit.) I am from California and I have not had better Mexican food. I have friends with a five-year-old nearby and they go early all the time.
And, gosh, if you're on the Lower East Side, Katz's is super fun and super New York-y. The regular old pastrami on rye (no cheese) and a cream soda is tasty. At peak hours, it's sometimes hard to get a table. (Don't be put off by the gruff waitresses -- it's part of the charm.)
I think the buffet at City Bakery near Union Square is really good (inventive salads, yummy mac and cheese). You pay by weight. About $10 each. Lunch only. There's also some Max chocolate thing (big to-do theme restaurant) for kids in the same area. A friend of mine is taking his 14-year-old neice there.
One of my favorite restaurants is La Bonne Soupe. It's a pretty authentic French Bistro. The food is fantastic and very reasonably priced. They even have a kid's menu, though with regular menu options like ham and cheese crepes and cheese fondue, you might not need it! They are located at 55th between 5th and 6th, so very convenient to the theater district (my mom and I would often go there post-theater). The service is fast so pre-theater wouldn't be a problem.
I agree that La Bonne Soupe is fantastic, and very family friendly, with the caveat that both times I was there recently, the service was very slow and decidedly unfriendly. If you can handle all of the cream (including the creamiest salad dressing imaginable) the food is fantastic.
To the OP, yes, yes, yes, do go to the Shake Shack. If you go on an off hour, the line won't be outrageous, and the burger is greasy, salty, delicious goodness.
The epitome of kitchy and fun is Yaffa Cafe on St Marks Place, but unfortunately, it's grimey and the food isn't great.
I highly recommend Compass as a family friendly place with very good food.
Nothing fancy and unrealistically expensive.
I took my grandchildren and children there and they were very accommodating to the children's tastes.
There is a menu for you to peruse if you Google it.
As for Pre-theater lunch, try Le Madeleine.
At some point in time, you must take them to Serendipity for Banana splits and shakes and sodas. All kids flip over that place. (You'll tolerate it!)