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Casual place in Murray Hill

I'm meeting some visiting relatives from Ireland who are staying in a hotel in Murray Hill on E 37th and Lex. Any suggestions for a place to eat that is moderate in price and conducive to a long chat?

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  1. Hmm... for old-school Mexican (very Spanish influenced, with amusingly formal waiters), I love El Parador Cafe (34th btwn 1st and 2nd). Opinions of it seem to be divided on these boards, however.

    For Spanish food with an authentic Spanish ex-pat crowd, try El Pote on 2nd Ave. (btwn 38th and 39th).

    For an amazing hidden Japanese sake bar/izikaya, try Sakagura (43rd between 2nd and 3rd).

    If they really want to eat "American" food, there's Hudson Place on 3rd Ave., or, if you are willing to pay a bit more for much much better food, there is the Dining Room at the Morgan Library (Madison and 36th).

    For a really casual, pub-like atmosphere, I don't mind Benjamin's on 2nd Ave around 32nd-ish.

    2 Replies
    1. re: katie570

      For a truly retro but fun place go to Marchi's on East 31st off Second. No decisions to make, they serve one menu. Quiet, and considering all the food appetizer to dessert moderate. You won't be rushed. Check the website.

      1. re: katie570

        I've had brunch at Hudson Place a couple of times and just recently went for dinner, it was delicious! Between the two of us we got a great French Onion Soup (which anyone who like the soup knows is hard to find) and hearty burger and delicious pasta primavera. It's moderately priced and you can sit for as long as you'd like.

      2. I'm one of those who gives a "thumbs down" to El Parador. I found the food very mediocre.

        I would recommend Campanile, a neighborhood gem hidden away on 29th St., b/t Park Av. S. & Madison. Delicious traditional Italian fare served by a very friendly, efficient waitstaff in a space with an old-fashioned feel. It's a low-key place where you can relax and chat for as long as you want. Even if you are the last people there, they will never rush you out.

        1. One of my favorites is Dukes (right near where you are staying on 37th and 3rd) It is VERY casual, Southern-style comfort food that is excellent. They have a few tables outside that are great for people watching and catching a little sun.

          I would not recommend El Pote- even though the food is excellent- it might not be the casual route that you are going for...

          1. Thank you all so much for the suggestions!

            1. From what I know of the Irish - they love their homeland and they love Irish pubs. There are plenty on Third Avenue - the one I'm thinking of is Paddy McGuire's on 3rd and 20th, but if that's too far downtown there's Patrick Kavanagh's on 33rd. More sports bar-y and less conducive to chat, but still a good time. O'Neils at third and what?...43rd? is better than Kavanagh's I guess.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Greg Strong

                The Irish pub on Third I would recommend is Molly's, b/t 22nd & 23rd. It's especially known for the excellent burger. Skip the fries and go for the onion rings.

                1. re: Greg Strong

                  I have had 2 terrible meals at Patrick kavanaughs. Worse than standard pub fare. However, Mollys is awesome but I doubt relatives from Ireland would want to eat there. I would not want American fare in Ireland no matter how good it was.

                2. 2nd Avenue Deli for a NY experience.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: offthebeatenpath1

                    I second 2nd ave. for the food, but they do have a tendency to rush you out the door, at least on weekends.

                  2. what about Rare??! Casually the yummiest burgers for miles! Not to mention their truffle fries! Run, do not walk... 37th and Lex.

                    1. Hi Maryfitz! Are your relatives open to many different cuisines or are they more traditional in palate?

                      Visiting Irish friends and relatives of mine -- mostly in their 20s and early 30s and pretty open minded -- have really liked Korean barbecue in this area (Madangsui gets some of the best reviews on this board) and Shake Shack for burgers and fries. Shake Shack is a little bit south (on 23rd st.), but it's a pleasant walk on a mild summer night, and you can linger outside in Madison Square park indefinitely. Pio Pio could work as well, if you stick to the roasted chicken.

                      Shake Shack
                      Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                      35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

                      Pio Pio
                      210 E 34th St, New York, NY 10016

                      1. I think Rare is a good suggestion. There's also the Swedish food at AQ cafe on Park. The dining snack bar level of Grand Central might be fun. Saaravanas has lunch specials and it's usually pretty empty during weekdays-days. Blue Smoke had gone downhill last I tried it but maybe it's back to form again.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sugartoof

                          We haven't tried any 'cue at Blue Smoke recently, but the hamburgers we had not long ago were excellent. That was lunch on a Sunday. It was not crowded, so no problem relaxing and chatting away. Dinner would be much busier (people waiting for tables) and noisier. Not exactly conducive to long chats.