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Jun 12, 2008 04:32 AM

Dining near Blender Theatre @ Gramercy

Hi - Philadelphia mom w/2 teen girls are looking for a fun, NY experience place to dine before a concert tonight at the Blender Theatre at the Gramercy(127 East 23rd street between Lexington Ave and Park Ave South ) Any recommendations? My daughter and I are adventurous diners, but her friend isn't- does anyone know a place that would fit the bill but not break the bank?

Thanks in advance -


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  1. Hi Melissa. The first thing that comes to mind is Blue Smoke--lively, upscale barbecue, but not crazy expensive:

    If you are up for a looong wait in line (what could be more NY than that?), the Shake Shack is right down 23rd street at Madison Park. Phenomenal burgers, shakes, etc. and the weather is supposed to be lovely tonight.

    Any more specifics you could add, like ethnic cuisines you do or don't like? I live a block from the theater, so I'm happy to brainstorm more.

    7 Replies
    1. re: foodshark73

      Thanks -

      The Shake Shack sounds perfect! We should be getting there around 4:30 - is there a place to park near both (for a large SUV) and will it be crowded at the Shake Shack at that time as we have 'sound check pre-concert' passes and have to be back before 6:30. Also what stores, etc,.. are around just to walk around (especially for me!). Thanks!



      1. re: uromac

        Great, glad that works! And the line shouldn't be /too/ crazy at 4:30--hopefully just long enough to build up anticipation, maybe 30 minutes? If it looks nuts, you could drop the girls off to get in line, go park, and then meet them.

        Street parking is tough in the area before 6/7pm, so I'd recommend a parking garage. Cheapest one I know of is on the west side of 3rd Avenue between 24th/25--look for a small sign, then you drive down the ramp into the basement of the building.

        After the Shack, there's tons of shopping down Fifth Avenue (between 23rd and 14th Streets), mostly of the upscale chain variety--BCBG, Club Monaco, J.Crew., etc. However, there's also a neat vintage clothing place called Reminiscence at 50 West 23rdat that sells retro fashions, quirky toys and amusements that I know I would have LOVED when I was a teenager.

        Have a fun trip!

        1. re: uromac

          Hey, Melissa,

          At 4:30, if there is a line at Shake Shack, it will probably not be insanely long. But you never can tell, so it's good to have other options.

          Foodshark73's suggestion of Blue Smoke is one good alternative. Another is Hill Country. It's a bit further away, but a nice walk through Madison Square Park will get you there. Though they don't take reservations, you should have no trouble walking in and being seated immediately at 4:30.

          No street parking in that area until 6 p.m. (unless you can snag an alternate side space). There are a few garages in the vicinity of the Blender, but I don't know if they will accept a large SUV.

          Not a great area for shops though food-wise, you might want to check out Kalustyan's, on Lex, b/t 28th & 29th.

          Enjoy the show and Bon Appetit!

          1. re: RGR

            There should be no or a very little line at shake shack at 4:30 on a Thursday night but if there is, my rule of thumb is that if the line stretches past the walkway into the park from Madison Ave, I don't wait. A line that long usually means about a 30 minute wait to order and get your food. If the line is too long, it should be early enough to be able to walk in to most restaurants and snag a table. Just be warned, that some might not start serving until 5 or 530. I like the Blue Smoke and Hill Country recommendations. If you want good italian with great homemade pastas, Via Emilia is on 21st btwn Park and Broadway (cash only). For something slightly more adventurous and slightly more expensive, you can grab some outdoor seats at the Bread Bar at Tabla on 25th and Madison. It is an upscale Indian fushion restaurant and the bread bar is the more casual side of the restaurant. Here is a menu.

            As far as parking, if you are looking for a street spot, the best option to to check the side streets further east than Lexington, but I'm not sure you'll have much luck. Meters on side streets are in effect until 7pm and are usually only for an hour and on main streets, like 23rd, and avenues are in effect until 10pm. Going further east will also probably give you more inexpensive garage options as the closer to midtown/mad. sq park, generally the more expensive the garage will be.

            1. re: ESNY

              Agree about Via Emilia being a good choice for Italian. They start serving dinner at 5.


              Sitting on the patio at Bread Bar is lovely when the weather is this nice, and the food's o.k. However, since the friend is not adventurous, I don't think it's a good fit.

              It's now all muni meters in this area. $2/hr. and only one hour at a time.

              1. re: RGR

                I know the Bread Bar might be too adventurous for the friend, which is why i caveated it and linked to the menu. But it is such a great place to be when the weather is nice out, I thought I'd throw it out there

                1. re: ESNY

                  If they want to dine al fresco, a better choice menu-wise would be I Trulli, which has a lovey back garden.


      2. If shake shack is too crowded, which it might be (I have tried to sneak out of my office across the street to get ice cream around 4 and there are still long lunch lines for the A line), Planet Thailand (24th bet. 5th and 6th) might be fun for teenagers and is pretty reasonable. The food isn't spicy at all by Thai standards, and there are enough options that someone picky should be fine. They can get thai iced tea, and you can have a nice asian-influenced cocktail. It's on menupages too, so you can see if it's up your alley.

        1. If SS doesn't work out, Penelope would also be good for your group.