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Jan 17, 2008 10:13 AM

Lunch in Times Square?

My family is coming to NYC for the first time and we would like to have a nice lunch in the Times Square area before a 2pm matinee on Saturday. While they are not adventurous eaters, I would like to take them somewhere delicious and part of the New York Experience.

Any suggestions?

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  1. Foley's - it has a great view of Times Square and the food is great as well. I took my mother there and she loved it!

    1. Foley's has closed.

      With literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from in the Theater District, it would help to narrow things down if you would tell us your cuisine preferences, whether you want something casual or fancier, and what your per person budget for food is (alcoholic beverages, nearly 9% tax & 20% tip extra).

      3 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        What happened to Foley's - does anyone know?

        1. re: RGR

          Foley's was in the Renaissance Hotel, part of the Marriott group, in Times Square. Apparently Marriott decided to revamp the entire Renaissance brand last year, and as a result the hotel had construction going on through much of 2007.

          They finished late last year, and the changes could not be more striking. There is now a Renaissance restaurant (I think that's the new name) in the Foley's space. I had dinner there Wednesday with an old friend. The new restaurant has the same striking views, so on that basis it's still worth a visit.

          The interior, the menu, the furniture and the wine list have all changed. Whether for the better is a decision you would have to make. My own feeling is that there was nothing broken about Foley's, and I'm a believer that if it ain't broke, you don't need to fix it.

          I will say that the restaurant is comfortable enough once you're seated, and in my opinion it is far more comfortable than the space-age new cocktail lounge.

          My friend and I had a table at the far window (from the entrance), to my mind the best two-top in the restaurant. The wine list is reasonably diverse and reasonably priced (for a Times Square upscale hotel). We also thought the food was good.

          The menus are printed on red paper in a small black font, making them almost unreadable, at least to my eyes. The manager told us that they're having new menus made.

          They were out of the entree my friend ordered, something they did not tell us until perhaps 15 minutes after we had eaten our appetizers. The manager apologized and did not charge us for either entree.

          All in all, it seems like the kind of design and decision that would be made in a corporate office far from the restaurant itself. If that sounds critical, that's how I mean it. I liked Foley's for its view and its classical layout.

          1. re: BrookBoy


            The new restaurant at the Renaissance is called Chop Suey. I presume that's where you ate? eater has this post up on it today:

        2. I work in Times Square and these are some of my usual venues (some of these places can get touristy in light of their locale but their food is generally good and not overly expensive, with the exception of Del Friscos):
          1) American - Thalia
          2) Seafood - Blue Fin (in the W hotel)
          3) Sushi - Hakata or Sushiden
          4) Mexican - Minidito
          5) Italian - Scarlatto
          6) Cuban - Havana Central
          7) Thai - Blue Chili or Pong Sri
          8) Pizza - John's Pizza
          9) Pan Asian - Ruby Foos
          10) Steak - Del Friscos
          11) Indian - Utsav
          12) French Brasserie - Marseille or Pigalle

          Hope that gives you enough of a variety to choose from.

          8 Replies
          1. re: JC6147

            Le Madeleine
            La Bonne Soupe
            Un Deux Trois

              1. re: nyebaby37

                I don't think the bbq at Virgil's is delicious or, for that matter, particularly good, and I don't see it as a place to have a "New York" experience.

                Carnegie Deli would certainly provide a "NY" experience. Unfortunately, I don't think much of the food there.

                West Bank Cafe might be a good option. Excellent New American cuisine served in a space with attractive decor, comfortable seating, and a NYC feel.


                1. re: RGR

                  Hi RGR - It's 5:00 and I am about to leave the office and head to the West Bank Cafe before a show. I will report back and let you know how it goes.

                  1. re: angelo04

                    Hey, Angelo,

                    I look forward to reading your report. Enjoy the show and Bon Appetit! :-)

                    1. re: RGR

                      Hi RGR - It goes without saying that you opinions are well respected on these boards, that said, I was trolling the Manhattan board looking for a good place. My sister and I bought tickets to Phantom for my mom for Christmas. Saw your post and and made the reservation at West Bank Cafe

                      Words can't do this Dinner Justice. It was excellent. Mom isn't the most adventurous eater. I spotted the tasting menu and she had never heard of one before but was intrigued. The 3 of us ordered it and it was fabulous and very reasonably priced. 5 courses - $45.

                      First Course, complements of the chef - Tuna Tartar with potato chips. The tuna had a lemon vingarette and beautifully presented.

                      Next A salad with endive, candies spiced pecan, cranberries light tossed with a dressing and side of a whipped blue cheese emulsion. Very interesting, light like whipped cream but with a Blue cheese flavor.

                      My favorite the grilled peppered shrimp served with pieces of grapefruit and a grapefruit sauce. Another beautiful presentation. The shrimp had good heat, almost like subtle Serrano Chili heat but it was visibly black pepper and the sweetness of the grapefruit paired very well.

                      Gilled Brazini aka Mediterranean Sea Bass, served over a Eggplant puree, very good

                      Grilled to perfection Sliced Rib Eye steak served over sautéed cremini, shitake and one other mushroom, name eludes me for the moment and spinach. The chef also sent their signature Mac and Cheese which had vermicelli rice and 3 types of cheese, I think ricotta, cheddar and gruyere. It was to die for.

                      The server Emilly, was phenomenal, she really knew her food and explained the components of each dish. We hit it off with her and she asked if she could select our desserts. We obliged and were served a cappuccino panna cotta, a butter scotch parfait, and a chocolate decadence cake. All were excellent

                      We ordered a bottle of champagne, and 2 splits, one white, one red and they bought us round of after dinner drinks. Pretty good wine list, some reasonable bottles too. What I liked also was that they had at least 10 spilt bottles of wine which is nice so you can pair accordingly without having too order a full 750 ml bottle of white and red

                      A truly excellent meal, thanks for the rec!

                      1. re: angelo04

                        Hey, angelo,

                        I'm honored by your compliments and, of course, thrilled that you had such a dynamite experience at West Bank. I've been drooling all over my keyboard while reading your wonderfully detailed descriptions of that tasting dinner, something we've not had there. It's a definite insentive for us to go back to West Bank very soon.

                2. re: nyebaby37

                  I have to second Virgils.. I think it is a great, really fun place, and it's PERFECT for out of towners who aren't particularly adventurous. It's soo yummy and very New York-esque in the sense that it's a fun place that's always packed with people. Of course, BBQ is not inherently New York food, but what is New York food anyway.. just a mix of lots of different kinds of food... also, it's not crazy expensive. Try the praline milkshake.. to die for!

            1. Italian: Becco
              Asian fusion: Ruby Foo

              I'm also going to suggest Olive Garden (the one on an island in the middle of Times Square). It's been bashed and what not, but it's good honest food that's often overlooked.

              6 Replies
              1. re: thislittlepig

                There are many Italian restaurants in the Theater District that serve much better food, especially pasta, than at Becco. In addition, seating there is sardine-tight, and the noise level is so insanely high that it's impossible to have a normal conversation. Not my idea of enjoyable dining.

                1. re: RGR

                  We will be trying Trattoria TreColori (Italian) for our pre-theater lunch tomorrow. They are not on so you need to make reservations via phone. Not sure if there are ANY truly "New York Experience," as OP requested, in Times Square area regarding food . . .
                  Marseille (Mediterranean) and Le Madeleine (French) are good. Went to Marseille last year several times and have not been to Le Madeleine recently. Virgil's is okay for what it is (I used to work nearby). Carmine's (Italian) is okay for family style Italian with a group (alot of food served family style). moymoy already mentioned Caremine's below. Gaby's (French, in a hotel) is nice (I used to work across the street) but I have not been recently enough to be helpful. Resette (Italian) on 45th Street (I haven't been since I worked nearby), they pour their wine conservatively and it's small & lively, food was good. Looking to get back to West Bank Cafe and try La Bonne Soupe for the first time (often suggested by hounds and already mentioned by idia). Go to the top of the Marriot Marquis hotel for cocktails or coffee if you want a view before or after dinner.
                  p.s. We no longer frequent Becco's (Italian), agree with RGR's comments.

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident


                    You know Trecolori is one of my favs. Sounds as though it will be your first time? I look forward to hearing what you think.

                    Enjoy the show and Buon Apetito! :-)

                    1. re: RGR

                      RGR, yes we are trying it for the first time before The Farnsworth Invention (thanks to you and other hounds). Any recs? If I have time I'll report back.

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        I think we've only been to Trecolori once for dinner, and that was ages ago. At lunch, we stick with soups, salads, pastas, and dessert. The pasta e fagiole is always delicious, especially great on a cold winter's day. And you can't go wrong with the penne arrabiata. Last time we were there, Mr. R. had the soup, I had a salad that was a special, and we shared the lasagna della casa, which was Bolognese-style. For dessert, I'm partial to the seriously delicious tiramisu though occasionally, I'll opt for the ricotta cheesecake.

                        1. re: RGR

                          Thanks, RGR. I'll do my best to report back on our experience.

              2. the edison hotel coffee shop (not the restaurant) for matzo ball soup. It was an August Wilson hangout. It has your classic NY coffee shop atmosphere.

                1 Reply
                1. re: fayehess

                  As it happens I work across the street from the Edison and I just returned from lunch at their coffee shop. I (and most of my colleagues) love the place. It's like stepping back into the 1950s, and it's very New York. It's also decidedly inexpensive.

                  Another plus is their soups. They always have six or seven or eight soups, and they are generally excellent. I had the chicken noodle today, and it never disappoints. You can't go wrong with a bowl of their soup (any kind that appeals to you), and something like a BLT on rye toast.

                  It's easy to look at the Edison and dismiss it as another junky coffee shop, but it's more than that. In addition to the local workforce, it caters to local actors and theater types, and a group of magicians meets there on a regular basis. The waitresses are terrific and they've all been there for as long as I've been going, which is more than five years.

                  Give it a shot. Whether you like it or not, you won't break the bank.