Please endure another visitor inquiry...
I'll be visiting Manhattan for a few days and have been reviewing the NY boards lately almost as much as the Chow-boards of my Los Angeles hometown. I have a few specific questions I have not yet found answers on and would be most grateful for opinions:
1) We are staying at the Essex House on Central Park South, are there any "must haves" or highly recommend walk-in (short or no reservation required) places or carts nearby?
2) We are planning to take the bus from Port Authority to Giants Stadium for one of the Springsteen shows, do you have any recommendations for non-hassle, on the light side, food to take on the bus and eat there (outside)? I've read we can't bring anything in the stadium and that the food is bad there, so any opinions would be welcomed.
3) One day of our visit will be touristy as we are bringing a 17 year old who hasn't been to NY, do you have any recommendations for the Times Square area? If there are any other quick recommendations near other touristy sites, those would be appreciated too.
4) Pizza and hot dog recommendations would be welcomed, as well as some quick lighter/healthier ideas.
5) Any other "must do" and/or "very new york" ideas would be appreciated, especially spur of the moment type things (we have the higher end meals planned).
Thank you in advance for your help!
Essex House is on 59th between 6th and 7th, and if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, I'd recommend popping over to Bouchon Bakery in Columbus Circle, on 59th and 8th, and grabbing a TKO, a chocolate bouchon, or other pastries (but stay away from the french macarons). They also have sandwiches and things of that nature, to go.
You're also not too far away from some of the best chocolate in the city, La Maison Du Chocolat, in Rockefeller Center, as well as a famous halal cart on 53rd and 6th.
Times Square: this question has been asked and answered many times; the truth is that there aren't that many inexpensive foodie places in Times Square because it is so oriented towards tourists/business visitors.
Pizza: most of the best pizza is pies only, no slices, and not located in Midtown. Exceptions to the "no slices" rules are Di Fara, Patsy's in East Harlem, Artichoke.
I agree with nearly all of these pizza picks:
RGR's Self-Guided Gustatory Tour
Other takeout treats:
Times Square is iffy because of the plethora of tourist joints and chain restaurants. You may want to venture west of Times Square to avoid them and try one of the good ethnic places on 9th Ave. or a few newer, hipper places, including 44&X Hell's Kitchen (10th Ave @44th St.), includes good comfort food and good-looking waitresses, which your son may appreciate. Also, Cara Mia, 9th Ave., between 44th and 45th for solid Italian.
With a 17-year old I would consider going to
(1) Burger Joint, hidden in a little nook off of the lobby of Le Parker Meridien, 118 W 57th St, although at prime times the line can be pretty long.
(2) Island Burgers & Shakes, 766 9th Ave @ 51st St. NB: just so's you know, they don't have make fries (they explain why in their menu, if you care).
(3) Virgil's Real Barbecue, 152 W 44th St, is the subject of mixed reviews, but overall I've been pretty happy with their food for the last 14 years.
Be sure and hit Zabar's while you're in New York. It's kind of a gourmet deli kind of place. It's on Broadway at 80th, and you can catch the northbound subway at Columbus Circle and get off at 79th. Great place to get anything from cookies to sandwich fixings to snack on in your hotel room or for a picnic in Central Park. You won't regret it!!!
I don't live in NYC, so I take a folding cooler with me & stock up on goodies to take home.
They have a website, but there is much more inventory at the store & most of the stuff on their website is on the pricey side.
I definitely recommend the cinnamon babka or the cinnamon delancey swirl cake!
<Be sure and hit Zabar's while you're in New York. It's kind of a gourmet deli kind of place. It's on Broadway at 80th, and you can catch the northbound subway at Columbus Circle and get off at 79th. Great place to get anything from cookies to sandwich fixings to snack on in your hotel room or for a picnic in Central Park. You won't regret it!!!>
A visit to Zabar's is a great idea, both for the food you can get to eat in your room or on a picnic, and the shopping upstairs, but be sure to get on a #1 train, or you may end up FAR away from where you want to be!
Times Square does not have good food to eat, imho. West of there, tho, on 9th avenue, and 10th as well, are a number of ethnic eateries that have yummy and affordable offerings. Uncle Nicks comes to mind....
You're very close to the Whole Foods market in the Time Warner Center with all its hot bar and salad bar options and high quality, if overpriced, produce/cheese/bread, etc... You might want to stop there for pre-Springsteen fare. (very cool about springsteen, btw. that's going to be a good concert!)
Re: Times Square area, there are actually some pretty good places to eat in that vicinity, esp. if you're talking about a weekday lunch and don't mind walking a bit. For lunch or dinner, head east to Aburiya Kinnosuke or Sushi Yasuda for Japanese fare, or for dinner, head northwest to 55th st. for Yakitori Totto.
For a very inexpensive and tasty takeout lunch, try the chaat (esp. the chicken or aloo tikki) at Indus Express on 45th or the wurst at the Hallo Berlin cart on 54th, just west of 5th ave.
If you dont' mind more expensive places where you don't need much, if any, advance notice, look into the Modern Bar Room, Insieme, Anthos, Milos (surprisingly empty at lunch times, though the food is excellent). The 17 year old might like the Modern Bar Room: it feels a little grown up and glitzy / hip.
251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019
204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017
9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019
213 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017
36 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019
125 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019
Hallo Berlin Juicy Food Stand
W 54th St and 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019
48 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036
the redeye grill on 56th and 7th is just around the corner, and probably would take walk ins- but this is manhattan- every block has a great place to eat! Pizza and hotdog. there are carts all over the place for hotdogs, and a million pizza places. times square- eat at Blue Fin right in time Square. amazing and huge, so they should be able to accomodate a last moment reservation. Ruby Foo's is around there, also great. If you want to get some great stuff to take with you to giant stadium, I'd just ask the matre'd in the hotel- or go to the Time warner building in columbus circle, downstairs is whole foods, that has a huge take out place with fantastic food.
Just wanted to second the 9th Ave rec. We often go to the theatre and more often than not, end up eating around 9th between 42nd and 52nd. In addition ot the "ethnic" places, we also recommend Marseille (French Med/Moroccan betw. 44th & 45th), Nizza (French/Italian Med, very informal, right next door), West Bank Cafe (American/continental, 42nd west of 9th), Roberto Passon (Italian, 50th, ask for the price of "specials"), Trattoria Trecolori (47th bet. 8th and 9th; homestyle Italian, very good and very reasonable).
We also like Hell's Kitchen (47th, neuvo Mexican) - but I hesitate recommending any kind of Mexican to an Angeleno!