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Best Casual Restaurants on Ninth Between 42nd and 57th

I'll be in NYC several times over the coming weeks, and am looking to go to at least a couple of the many restaurants along Ninth Avenue generally between the Port Authority Bus Terminal and 57th Street.

What are some favorites along that street? I'd prefer casual, reasonably priced, but with at least some atmosphere (no takeout places).

Thanks!

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  1. Starting from 42nd & heading north:

    Marseille, corner 44th. French/Mediterranean - http://www.marseillenyc.com

    Cascina, b/t 45th & 46th - Italian - http://www.cascina.com

    Roberto Passon, corner 50th - Italian - http://www.robertopasson.com

    Uncle Nick's, b/t 50th & 51st - Greek

    Old San Juan, b/t 51st & 52nd - Puerto Rican & Latin American

    Uncle Nick's and Old San Juan are on menupages.com

    17 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        My favorites are
        1. Amy's bread (if you ever stop for breakfast/ a snack)
        2. Chili Thai
        3. Afghan Kebab House

        www.orderinny.com

        1. re: hiddenboston

          As mentioned above I give a strong recommend for Cascina. We were just there before a show a few days ago. It was not our first choice but we waited too long to decide but happy accidents occur and this was one of them. The decor says Italian farm house, the service is efficient, the food is really good, solid, Italian fare. It won't change your life but you will most certainly leave happy. The manager is very knowledgable about the extensive Italian wine list (he is from Verona) and very personable (if that sort of thing is important to you).

          1. re: Spiritchaser

            That's funny--my GF sent me a link to the Cascina site a few days ago to see if I might want to go there for my birthday. Between your recommendation and her picking of the place, I think we might have a winner!

            1. re: hiddenboston

              You can't go wrong. Do yourself a favor and engage the manager in conversation, ask for recommendations on wine. After interacting with him he made sure to check on us repeatedly, it was very nice. And with dessert make sure to have the Miele (honey) Grappa. Happy Birthday.

            2. re: Spiritchaser

              Spiritchaser,

              Thanks for that update on Cascina. We haven't been there in quite some time. (Since Trecolori re-opened, we tend to go there.) There have been some posts about disappointments at Cascina, so it's good to hear from someone with such a recent positive experience. Based on our experiences in the past, I agree entirely with your assessment. The only caveat: the little roly-poly waiter is not exactly a ray of sunshine though he gets the job done.

              1. re: RGR

                I think you are talking about the rather, ah, "round" gentleman that has kind of been relegated to sitting out in front of the restaurant to add some character. I agree, not so cheery.

                I know you like Trecolori (I completely agree on that one BTW) but next time you find yourself needing a meal in the area you would be safe with Cascina.

                Sidenote: Supposedly Cascina has the largest selection of Grappas in NYC. I love grappa and based upon the book the manager went over with me I would tend to believe it.

                1. re: Spiritchaser

                  I must of ordered wrong, because I had a very disappointing meal the one time I ate at Cascina. My dining companion liked her meal though. Just didn't think the place was worth a return trip...

                  1. re: Ora

                    That's a shame but I think it illustrates the point that, with a few exceptions, the restaurant world is very fluid. I've seen rave reviews for places that I thought were "eh" and I've been to places that others have said "eh" and I've really liked (obviously). It's one of the advantages of having a great site like CH at our disposal, we never have to go into any restaurant completely blind.

                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      Yeah, Grappa has that effect on me as well. Even if you dine elsewhere I would encourage you to go to Cascina for a dessert and some
                      Grappa(s).

                      1. re: Spiritchaser

                        I think Cascina makes some of the best Bolognese sauce in town! It's a cute place.

                        Add: El Centro, Westside Cottage II (laugh and roll your eyes all you want...this place really hits the spot when you're craving Americanized Chinese food)

                        1. re: LeahBaila

                          My GF had what I consider to be the best gnocchi (I am not a big fan of gnocchi). It was actually light tasting, wonderful.

              2. re: hiddenboston

                Big ditto for Marseille - nice wine selection there, too.

                I'd add Ollie's Sichuan on 42nd just west of 9th. Stick to the Sichuanese sections of the menu, and you'll find some very good - and interesting - eating at reasonable prices. For dessert, go around the corner to the Little Pie Company (43rd, west of 9th) and try a slice of their sour cream/apple/walnut pie.

                Also add Hell's Kitchen on 9th between 46th-47th for good contemporary Mexican and excellent margaritas.

                1. re: Striver

                  Well, it we're including places just west of 9th, there are a couple that can be suggested. For one, Ollie's neighbor, West Bank Cafe, Excellent New American cuisine.

                  http://www.westbankcafe.com

                  And Le Madeleine, just off the corner of 43rd. French bistro cuisine.

                  http://www.lemadeleine.com

                  I'm sure there are a few good ones just east of 9th as well, but none springs to mind just now.

                  Back on 9th proper, we can add Turkish Cuisine (that's the restaurant's name), b/t 44th & 45th. Menu on menupages.

                  1. re: Striver

                    One more -- and this is almost right on 10th -- on 51st St is Azuri Cafe, home of the best schwarma sandwich in the city. The falafels get mixed reviews and I've never actually tried them, but the sides alone are worth the walk. There are some tables inside to sit and eat.

                    I've got to stop reading CH when the late night munchies hit.

                2. re: RGR

                  I second Roberto Passon and Marseille, both are excellent.

                3. Thai Basil is excellent, on 9th near 57th. It's a tiny place, but has a really cute interior & atmosphere.

                  1. Lots of good suggestions here, but Marseilles is the absolute MUST. Also. if you are willing to go a few steps east of 9th, consider Vice Versa, Chez Napoleon and Orso.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: rrems

                      I've never been to Orso, which is on 46th, b/t 8th & 9th (aka "Restaurant Row"), but I've passed it countless times. It's more than a few steps off 9th, actually closer to 8th. This is not to say, of course, that your suggestion isn't a good one. :-)

                      1. re: RGR

                        You should try it, RGR. It's been a favorite of ours for years for after theatre because, unlike many theatre district restaurants, you don't get the bum's rush because they are in a hurry to close. It is also great to go at 8:00 when the pre-theatre crowds have just cleared out, and easy to get a reservation. The food is delicious, service polished, atmosphere lively but not noisy. Pizzas are great for sharing, appetizer portions are large, and I often order 2 appetizers instead of an app and entree and it is more than enough.

                        1. re: rrems

                          rrems,

                          I know that Orso has a reputation for good food. In fact, when it first opened many years ago, it was kind of like the Babbo of its day, i.e., almost impossible to get a reservation, especially pre-theater, and I've presumed the latter has continued to be the case though that could have changed.

                          We don't eat in the Theater District unless we have tickets, so after 8 is out, and since I don't like to have to turn somersaults to get a pre-theater reservation, over the years, I've pretty much dismissed the idea of going to Orso. I see on their website that they're open on Sunday beginning at 11:30 a.m. and offer their regular menu. That would work for us. However, one thing does trouble me though. You say it's "lively but not noisy." Does that refer only to after 8? While I have no problem with lively, if it's exceedingly noisy when full, then it's not the place for me!

                          http://www.orsorestaurant.com

                          1. re: RGR

                            RGR,

                            I know you are sensitive to noise, which is why I pointed that out, and not just after 8. To clarify further, by lively I mean busy and bustling, but not noisy by any means. The clientele tends to be mature (no frat boys and screechy girls) and civilized. I have never been there pre-theatre, but would expect it to be similar to after. I see that they now take reservations one month in advance (used to be one week), so it should not be so difficult.

                            1. re: rrems

                              Thanks for that clarification, rrems. Civilized is definitely a plus for me. Orso is now on my "go to" list.

                              1. re: RGR

                                I have been pre-theater and it is fine noise wise. Really not any worse than any of the other restaurants, i.e. Trattoria TreColori, Scarlattto in the nabe. The tables are more cramped and it is smaller space than the two that I have mentioned. However it is doable, I think. I am not crazy about raising my voice to have a conversation either.

                                1. re: G3B

                                  One of the many things I like about Trecolori is that tables are nicely-spaced. Noise has not been a problem so far because since the move to 47th St., we've been there two times pre-matinee on Sunday, and it hasn't been been very busy.

                                  As far as hideously high noise levels are concerned, it's not just having to shout in order to have a conversation that bothers me, it also becomes a physical assault that makes me so uncomfortable that I can't wait to get the meal over with.. .

                    2. Wondee Siam 2. Had an insanely good meal there recently. Try the whole red snapper in chili sauce and the duck kra-pow (spelling issues!) I used to only go to the original a block down from 2, but it's so teeny that you may find it TOO informal! Have some Singha and the steamed meat dumplings too.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sing me a bar

                        Thanks to RGR, Spiritchaser and rrems I have found me a font of knowledge.
                        I have added Cascina and Orso to my ever-growing list of viable places to try.
                        At this rate, I'll NEVER get out of NY!!

                      2. Just went to Gazala's Place on 48th & 49th on Ninth Avenue. Very good hummus and lamb. Very reasonable and casual. We had dinner here and then went a few doors down to Kyotofu for dessert and spent almost as much on dessert as we did on dinner. Also recommended on Ninth Avenue is Chappen on 51 St. good Thai food, Blue Point Seafood decent brunch on 46 St. and Vynl on 53 St. is good for their lunch specials. I also second Uncle Nicks.

                        1. Ok... this may be totally lacking in atmosphere, but Mee Noodles on 53rd and 9th has some of the best noodle soups in the city. There is table service and the staff is generally friendly. Very reasonably priced... you can eat well for about $10. It also gets crowded at peak times. But the food is great!

                          1. nook can get a bit cramped, but has a good, homecooked vibe. nice dinner spot, excellent mellow brunches too.

                            -----
                            Nook
                            746 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                            1. I'll put the New Orleans influenced Delta Grill (48th and 9th Ave) in this category. Across the board, the food is solid (especially anything blackened or traditional Cajun/Creole) and the prices are very reasonable. The service can be a bit sloppy but for a casual dinner out.. it's a great option.
                              rz

                              1. Check out Kemia under Marsellie for a cool bar and great food, but the service leaves something to be desired. The atmosphere is excellent, though.