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Feb 25, 2008 09:38 AM

Where to eat/ shop and be a foodie around the UN

I recently moved near the UN and need to figure out all of the good spots. I know the Amish Market is there for shopping and Grand Central market isn't too far. Any recommendations for hidden gems or anything good? Looking for places between 35th and 55th street and 1st Ave. to 3rd Ave. or thereabouts.


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  1. I've lived in the neighborhood for a few years and it isn't a chowhound destination area but there are a few gems. I’ll apologize up front, because I’m really bad with names. These are a few off the top of my head.
    Choux Factory on 48th and 1st
    On 52nd and 1st there is a great cheese shop and next to it a butcher.
    On 53rd and 1st another new butcher and across the street a little Italian specialty shop.
    On 59th and 1st you have the food emporium bridge market which is pretty good but a little out of your radius.
    On 52nd and 2nd there is a Buttercup Bakeshop.
    On 49th and 2nd there is Mee Noodle

    13 Replies
    1. re: adido

      Todaro Brothers (sp?) is around there I think. Ideal Cheese is the cheese store, and there is a good fishmonger next door. The butcher moved up to 54th Street I think. I think if the OP does a search for "Ideal Cheese" the names of some of those places will come up in those threads as well.

      1. re: MMRuth

        Todaro's is at 32nd St. Nicola's is on 1st bet. 54 & 55th. Pisacane Fish market is on 1st around 52nd, give or take a block. Bridgemarket is pretentious and fairly useless at this point. The street vendors on 1st around 54th & 57th have very good fruit at a very reasonable price - I pay $2. for 3 grapefruit that are nearly $2. each at the supermarket on the same block.

        1. re: Jane A.

          St. Nicola's is the butcher? (So I remember for next time!)

          1. re: MMRuth

            The butcher is Lenny Simchik, who moved from 52nd to the block between 54th and 55th a few months ago. Excellent quality with prices to match.

            1. re: erica

              Yes - that is the one I was thinking of - what is St. Nicola's?

              1. re: MMRuth

                MM: Nicola's is a small store selling sliced meats, ready-made sandwiches, coffee...small selection of various "gourmet" products. To tell you the truth, I have lived in the area for more than 20 years and have been inside only once..I will try to take another peek and let you know more..

                Also, there is a dessert shop on 55th just west of First that gets great reports from some of my neighbors...Dessert Delivery is the name..


                And, in the old Simchik butcher shop space an Italian prepared food shop has been scheduled to open for months now..a branch of another shop in either Brooklyn or Queens..the name is Mambo Express, I believe.

                Across the street on First between 52nd and 51st is Jeffrey Wine shop which is quite the neighborhood gathering spot..he has been here for more than 30 years, knows everyone and everything about the area, and has a great wine "wall of values" up front..

                1. re: erica

                  I've been to that wine store - very nice, I agree.

              2. re: erica

                Best butcher in the City! Just ordered a tenderloin for valentine's day, awesome quality! Leonards and Lobels were charging almost double.

            2. re: Jane A.

              The one thing I have definitely noticed just from the couple of walks I have taken between 30th and 50th on 2nd Ave. is the remarkable amount of fruit stands with what looks to be very fresh and quality fruit.

          2. re: adido

            i used to shop at the bridge market when it was an actual supermarket, as opposed to the museum it's now become. as a friend of mine stated, "i refuse to shop at a place that calls itself a supermarket, but does not sell oreos."

            1. re: RussianGirl

              The "bridge market" is a Food can they not sell oreos???

              The best supermarket prices in the East 40s-50s are reputed to be at the Associated on Second Avenue around 49th Street..they have a large section of imported canned and jarred things due to the high UN presence in the area..

              1. re: erica

                i've been informed that they recently added a nabisco section (must have received a lofty check) which includes oreos, but for a while, they did not sell them, which was exactly my point - you can hardly call yourself a supermarket!!

                1. re: RussianGirl

                  I agree that that is odd....!! I never shop there although I do go to the FE on Second Avenue if I am desperate. I will have to look for Oreos next time although at the price they must charge I can probably afford a cake someplace else, out of the area..

                  The supermarkets in the area are really pretty bad for price/quality ratio. Although I suppose you can say that about almost any supermarket in Manhattan

          3. I live on the opposite end o' town (far west side) but I do know of Todaro Brothers, 555 Second Aveune between 30th and 31st Sts....similar to Amish Market, but better quality, I think.

            7 Replies
            1. re: 280 Ninth

              I will definitely take a look at Todaro Bros. I honestly have not walked up 1st avenue becuse I didn't think anything was really there, but I guess I was being stupid that a city would waste a whole avenue.

              1. re: offthebeatenpath1

                You should walk up 1st Ave. We live in the area and there are those decent stores as mentioned earlier by MMRuth,

                Ideal Cheese on 1st and 52nd is a good store (they had Pata Negra Jamon for $20 pre 1/4 lb last Saturday);

                Simchik Meats is our go to butcher for some good quality meats on 1st and 54th (not that it should be a big deal, but I've waited with Emeril for our steak orders on a couple of occasion);

                there is the fresh fish/seafood store right next to Ideal Cheese (we don't do much buying there as we find them excessively priced);

                Amish on 45th and 2nd/3rd now has a Wild Edible fresh fish and seafood shop inside the store.

                Of course, you already know about the slew of stores at Grand Central market.

                1. re: RCC

                  Thanks for the pata negra tip - didn't know they carried it at Ideal. I really like Ideal - we don't go that frequently, as we often end up at Murray's on Bleecker, but I think that it is an excellent cheese store.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Just call ahead about the Pata Negra. I only bought a quarter lb and based on the small piece he sliced it from, and unless they have more in the back, there may not be a lot to go around.

                    1. re: RCC

                      Thanks. One of the owners there was v. nice late last fall when I talked to him about ordering white truffles - told me the price was so ridiculous he couldn't bring himself to order them for me. Have you had the Bleu de Gex from there? Wonderful.

                  2. re: RCC

                    Thanks RCC. I will definitely stroll up 1st ave. this weekend.

                    1. re: RCC

                      The fish market is Pisacane. I find them to be excellent. They supply fish to Le Bernadin among other places. If you do not see something in the front cases, ask them. They also sell some ready made dishes and stocks and soups.

                2. oms/b on 45th between 3rd and Lex - Japanese omsubi (sp?) which are these little awesome rice balls filled with yummy treats (like edamame, or hijiki, or lobster salad) and wrapped in seaweed. They also, completely inexplicably, have clam chowder that tastes exactly like Progresso's canned version (maybe it is Progresso's canned version!) But the rice balls are awesome. They have a different variety every day. Best value is in the "sets" which are 3 set rice balls with a cup of soup.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: selizara

                    Forgot about Oms/B. Another good one is Mechanko-Tei for udon.

                  2. Not to forget, there is the Wednesday all-year-around farmers' market along 47th, between 1st and 2nd.

                    1. Ess-A-Bagel along 3rd near 50th.
                      We've had much better service and, I think, better tasting bagels, at the 1st Ave. and 21st Street store, but the one on 3rd Ave will have to do as it is within walking distance in our area.