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Tourist Traps to Avoid

Am visiting NYC for the first time and want to avoid restaurants that have outlived their reputations.

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  1. Restaurants in which parts of town? What types of cuisine? Price points?

    1. I think there are too many to list... you really are better off asking for recommendations. I think we try to forget the bad ones...

      2 Replies
      1. re: erin07nyc

        Come on. Let's take a stab:

        Magnolia Bakery-line is very long, cupcake is only OK, "quaint bakery" feel is long gone
        John's Pizza-just not that good (go to Patsy's in Harlem)
        Ferrara's Bakery-Cannoli are not that good anymore, go to the great Caffe Palermo
        Serendipity 3-too long a wait for chilled hot chocolate
        Marriott revolving restaurant-food is awful
        Tavern on the Green-food is really bad, hasn't been a NYC experience since 1950s

        1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

          I used to live across the street from Serendipity and I NEVER saw the place without a line stretching down the street (11 PM on a Sunday night, 3 PM on a Tuesday, 10-degree weather, whenever), along with all the bag and jewelry street vendors who've claimed that very touristy line as their territory.

      2. LIttle Italy, Wo Hop, Carnegie Deli, Union Square Cafe

        20 Replies
        1. re: Brian S

          sorry, i like carnegie deli...especially when they cater our business lunches.

          babbo...now thats a tourist trap.

            1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

              Also agree on Carnegie. I recently did a Manhattan deli pastrami test. Katz's was definitely the best (no surprise there), but of the other three, I'd rank Carnegie second, with Artie's next (that was a surprise), and Sarge's last(disappointing - the flavor of the meat was mild and salty). The old Second Ave would probably have come in second (just from memory); I've got a wait-and-see attitude on their forthcoming reincarnation.

              Carnegie may be 50% tourists, noisy, crowded, and pricey, but they can still deliver the goods when it comes to pastrami, pickles, a kasha knish, and a side of derma.

              1. re: Striver

                I've eaten at Carnegie and their pastrami was so bad it made me depressed until my next meal. I even heard a waitress boasting to a customer that their pastrami was extra-lean! If they are too cheap to put fat in, it can't be any good.

                1. re: Brian S

                  One must always order extra fatty. Anything else is not pastrami.

                  1. re: Striver

                    I ALWAYS ask for fatty at Katz's. A guranteed food orgasm.

                    1. re: Scagnetti

                      No argument about Katz's.

                      OTOH, Carnegie always gets praise and grief on this board in about equal proportions. My experiences there over many many years have been basically good (although they're not what they were 40 years ago) - maybe it's my insistence on the fattiest meat they've got and a side of derma (something I would guess few tourists order), coupled with an obvious native accent (Bronx).

                      Anyway, people who order lean pastrami (AFAIR, Katz's even charges extra for it) get what they deserve.

                2. re: Striver

                  I rank Sarge's above Katz's for pastrami -- very flavorful and not salty at all. It's one of the few restaurants I miss from the Murray Hill neighborhood.

                  1. re: ellenost

                    Well,YMMV, of course, but I made a special point of eating there two weeks ago, due to praise on this board, and I - and the two other people with me - liked the old school atmosphere and the friendly service, but found the pastrami unremarkable and distinctly salty. Maybe an off day, but I can't imagine it being better than Katz's.

                  2. re: Striver

                    Walked into Katz's and walked right out again: the cooking smell/smoke was atrocious, and I was not prepared to smell like that for the rest of my workday.

                3. re: sam1

                  Babbo is popular, but that doesn't make it a trap. Not even in the way that one might consider Nobu a trap in that it is over-hyped. Sure, there are better deals than Babbo and better food than Babbo; but Babbo does not rely on a prime-tourist-destination location like Carnegie Deli does to pack the house despite inferior ingredients and sloppy service.

                  www.whorebivore.com

                4. re: Brian S

                  Sorry, gotta agree with Brian on this. Little Italy, Carnegie Deli, USC, Tavern on the Green, Times Square, Cafe des Artistes, One if by Land TIBS.

                  Babbo is not a tourist trap. It's a dining destination but that doesn't make it a tourist trap. The prices are not inflated for the quality of the food. In fact, it's the other way around. It's surprisingly reasonable and the wine list is below the standard 2x markup...which speaks volumes to what kind of place Babbo is.

                  1. re: Brian S

                    I'm with you on Little Italy. I don't think anyone eats there except tourists and folks from Jersey. I do like the Carnegie Deli, though.

                    1. re: JungMann

                      Totally agree little Italy is a tourist trap, it is worth walking around (maybe) and aslo doing chinatown, but eat in c-town. If you want really good Italian, trek up to the Bronx and hit Arthur Ave!

                      1. re: SweetPea914

                        Arthur Avenue is certainly more quaint and less discovered than the restaurants that line Mott and Mulberry. But Arthur Avenue can also be hit or miss. And, like Little Italy, one also gets the sense that this was better yesteryear

                        www.whorebivore.com

                        1. re: Whorebivore

                          But, IMHO, Di Palo's is worth the trip there.

                    2. re: Brian S

                      OK, I would say Little Italy EXCEPT for Peasant. They can't do anything badly, including service. It is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and has been for years. Also, there are still a few places left on Mulberry that are worth a visit (maybe Ferrara's for the history, ditto Taormina Restaurant), even though I would not devote my mealtimes to the area if I were a visitor with a time budget.

                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                        What about Luna? Haven't been in years but growing up in a family with 6 kids, that was our birthday spot so we went a lot. It used to be so good!

                        1. re: southernitalian

                          Luna is cute. I have never eaten there, so I cannot say... maybe I'll try it, because I would love to find more reasons to go to LI to eat.

                    3. Tell us what restaurants you were thinking of visiting and we'll respond on which are tourist traps.

                      1. Tavern on the Green. I also agree with Carnegie Deli, which I personally find vile. John's Pizza (go to Arturo's if you can't get to Brooklyn or East Harlem). Also, while it's technically outer boroughs, Grimaldi's.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: a_and_w

                          Tavern on the Green for sure. I agree with Carnegie (and Stage for that matter) as well. I'll throw in Serendipity and most places along Restaurant Row - especially Becco,

                          1. re: harrison

                            tavern on the green? well, it is pretty though. Consider it for a drink.

                            1. re: Jerome

                              I agree with the drink idea but a definite pass on the food.

                            2. re: harrison

                              Why pick on Becco? Yes, it's crowded with theater tourists, but the food is passable and it's not expensive, so I wouldn't consider it a "trap."