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Nice problem, but still

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Hi,

I'm bringing family (wife, 18-yrold, 11-yrold sons) to New York for first time in July, I know, for a long weekend. We're struggling a bit w/ being overwhelmed by choices. Trying to be smart about meal prices, $50 pp is more than I'd like to pay, though I'm sure we'll do it once or twice.
We're staying in midtown west. Hotel Belvedere says it has a fridge, which may make shopping/picnic easier.
We're all pretty adventurous eaters and willing to walk, ride as part of our adventure.
I'm not really asking for multiple recommendations, or links, - though those are certainly appreciated - as much as a "don't miss this" type suggestion.
I know we'll seek out pizza, noodles, bagels, a burger, likely the oyster bar counter at Grand Central, Chinatown and stuff we can grab for a picnic. I keep thinking we should seek out food we can't get anywhere near home. etc. The net is full of options, the city and boroughs - just walking around - even moreso, so maybe we won't go terribly wrong, but any wisdom NYC hounds can share is genuinely appreciated.
My 11-year-old keeps arguing for Le Bernardin. Eric Ripert's his food hero after Top Chef and Bourdain, but I think it may be too much.
Thank you for any help.

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  1. Where is home? If your son is such a Bourdain fan, I'd check out the most recent NYC visit (disappearing NY) from this past season of No Reservations. Some of the places we talk about on CH a whole lot were featured.

    http://nymag.com/daily/food/2009/02/a...

    For the greatest hits of NYC, my list would probably be (and most of these are pretty cheap):
    Bagels and smoked salmon at Russ & Daughters (maybe get some to go since you'll have a fridge
    )Egg cream (which has neither egg nor cream! A NYC anomaly drink!)
    Black and white cookies
    Cheesecake
    Halal chicken and rice
    Bialys
    Knishes
    Pastrami on rye with mustard (Katz's)
    Pickles (including quarter sours, half sours)
    Recession special with papaya juice from Gray's (not the best hot dog in the world but a very "only in NY" thing)
    A beer from McSorley's (maybe just for you and the Missus, hmmm)
    Egg and cheese sandwich from a street cart (not gourmet or of great quality but the everyday breakfast of many a New Yorker)
    Freshly baked bread (Sullivan Street, Grandaisy, etc.)
    Lunch at Jean Georges (not on Sundays, make sure you are in the formal room, $28 for two courses!)
    Shack burger from Shake Shack
    One of Mario Batali's restaurants (Otto or Lupa for the budget minded)
    One of Danny Meyer's restaurants (maybe the front room at Gramercy Tavern) - tell your 11 year old that this was where Tom Colicchio cooked before he opened Craft!

    I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

    Good foodie shopping (stock up the fridge maybe):
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/585538

    Essential eats for visitors:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/510567

    NYC for visitors:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/544817
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/545802
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/546884
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/541052

    7 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Sorry, home is Huntsville, Alabama. It's not really like Alabama in general - NASA's here, lot of tech co's - but it's a considerable distance from New York.

      1. re: paddys9

        Any cuisines you don't really get a lot of at home?

        Oh, if your 11 year old is a big fan of Anthony Bourdain, he may be tempted into talking you guys into Les Halles (Bourdain's old restaurant). I wouldn't bother, really, do a search of other CHers reviews.

      2. re: kathryn

        Thank you. That's a wonderful list.

        1. re: paddys9

          You're welcome! Also if you want a nicer, say more upscale, meal experience on day, you can definitely keep costs down by hunting out cheap eats like Chinatown restaurants, street food carts, and other ethnic food for one meal, and getting a nicer lunch (or dinner).

          1. re: kathryn

            Yes - I think that is a great idea. I had a tasty lunch at NY Noodle (Town?) last week with a friend - I think the bill was about $30, and we left a lot of food. Some banh mi at Saigon Bakery would also do the trick, as would Shake Shack. I think that there are a lot of mid-range priced places in NYC that aren't that exciting.

            1. re: kathryn

              Big Wong in Chinatown. Good and inexpensive. Maybe dim sum in Chinatown or Flushing (there is a separate thread of you do a search).

              Can't miss RGR's LES tour (already mentioned several times). Kossar's bialies are the best! I do my food shopping at Essex Street Market and Economy Candy.

              I'm sure Kathryn's links also include the Chelsea Market - the Food Network is there. Also if you go the Union square Greenmarket ealry you'll see staff from the best restaurants shopping there.

              Agree with other hounds a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is a MUST. For that you need to read the Outer Borough Board.

              Have fun!

          2. re: kathryn

            I would think the whole family would enjoy both the sights and the food on rgr's Lower East Side self-guided walking tour. Done right, it takes up most of a Sunday, and I would start in the morning, for sure.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

            Not mentioned yet is Cesare Casella's Salumeria Rosi on the Upper West Side (283 Amsterdam). It's eat in-take out, and the selections are fabulous, as is Cesare's personality.

            I would also suggest a Falafel sandwich from a Halal cart. They are inexpensive and delicious, and have become a New York tradition.

          3. Phew, Kathryn's always a tough act to follow! I think she's covered the hit list pretty well. But a few additional thoughts...

            You're in a wonderful part of town for food, actually. There are lots and lots of inexpensive, delicious places in Hell's Kitchen (aka Midtown West). You'll get a bunch of good suggestions by doing a search on Chowhound using those two terms.

            New York cuisine is to a great extent distinctive for its variety. In that spirit, some budget / family friendly board favorites within walking distance of your hotel:

            - Empanada Mama (Venezuelan arepas)
            - Akdeniz (Turkish)
            - Pam's Real Thai or Wondee Siam (ONLY if Huntsville doesn't have good Thai, which it might... last time I was there, I was 10 years old and attending space camp, so I don't have the latest intelligence :)
            - Kyotofu (Japanese fusion; think panko crusted mac & cheese, cute desserts; I like the place, not everyone does; take a look at the menu and see if it might be to taste: http://www.kyotofu-nyc.com/index.php?...
            )- Tehuitzingo (if Huntsville doesn't have a Mexican food scene, try this for very inexpensive, takeout Mexican street food; there are a few seats, but the place is really just a deli counter)
            - Tulcingo del Valle (casual, sit-down Mexican)
            - Hallo Berlin Express (German sausages; not the best in town, not the wurst, but a possibly enjoyable pit stop in the nabe for curry wurst over lovely potatoes, washed down with a beer)
            - Azuri Cafe (falafel, tabouleh, other Middle Eastern)

            Within a short subway ride:

            - Zabar's Cafe (bagels with a schmear and lox, knish, latkes... downside is that it's crowded on weekends and often hard to get a seat; Zabar's store has a lot of good takeout items for a picnic or hotel room meal; take the 1 train at 50th st. uptown to the 79th st. stop)
            - Chelsea Market (take the C/E at 50th downtown to 14th st.; lots of great places to nibble, including excellent gelato at L'Arte del Gelato, jams and baked goods at Sarahbeth's, bread and scones at Amy's, chowder at the Lobster Place, yogurt and ice cream at the Ronnybrook Farm Milk Bar, lots of antipasti and other options at the deli counter at Buon Italia, etc.. Again, lots of good things to take back to the hotel or for a picnic)

            Please feel free to let us know which cuisines you particularly like or dislike.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cimui

              Hell's Kitchen also has at least one reliably good Afghan restaurant - Ariana, on 9th Av. between 52nd and 53rd Sts. - and a delicious Greek bakery (takeout only) - Poseidon, 9th Av. between 44th and 45th Sts. - which serves equally good sweet and savory pastries.

              At Pam's Real Thai (49th St. just west of 9th Av.), I would suggest asking the waiter to have them make the food to an actual Thai taste, if you can handle a high degree of hot pepper and in some cases, fish sauce. But even without such instructions, you'll still get good, flavorful food as long as you avoid steamed items and such. paddys9, by all means post again for specific menu recommendations if you like, once you've decided where you want to go, and have a wonderful time in New York!

            2. I won't try to add to the list, just wanted to say that I have stayed at the Belvedere a couple of times and the fridge is a great perk. We bought diet coke and fruit, so that we didn't have to spend so much on breakfast and lunches. Plus, it was great for storing left-overs.

              Have a great trip.

              1. Starting on the Manhattan side, you should: walk across the Brooklyn Bridge; get pizza at Grimaldi's; get ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream factory; walk back over the bridge.

                The pizza has both its fans and its critics, but the walk itself is one of the best ways, in all of NYC, to spend your time.

                2 Replies
                1. re: big o

                  Here's what my nephews (13/17) have enjoyed in NYC.

                  Junior's on W. 45th between Broadway and 8th Avenue. The burgers, shakes and cheesecake are just as they are in Brooklyn, but much closer to you. Kids like that (and I admit, as an ex-Brooklyn resident, so do I).

                  The View restaurant/lounge on top of the Marriott Marquis. It's fascinating for kids and the food is fine, if pricey. Since it revolves, it's endlessly entertaining, and you can take them there to see Times Square at night.

                  For your food shopping, there's a Food Emporium at 49th and 8th for basics. There's a Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center about 10 blocks north, right across from Central Park.

                  1. re: brendastarlet

                    Skip The View restaurant, not very good. Go for coffee/cocktails/virgin cocktails instead. Avoid on weekends, very touristy.

                2. What about catching the train to Queens? There is a famous Vietnamese out there along with who knows what else -- do any Chowers have specific ideas for a day trip out the seven line for a lunch and a dinner? (I live in Vermont so I get to be this vague, hee)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: BratleFoodie

                    You should probably search on the Outer Boroughs board.

                    1. re: BratleFoodie

                      What famous Vietnamese are you talking about?

                      1. re: Corporate_40

                        Aieee! My bad! I meant Thai -- Sripraphai in Woodside. Sorry about that -- I'm having to move out of my house due to storm damage repairs and am clearly not focusing on my foodie duties properly.

                    2. I'm only a NYC visitor myself so always enjoy reading these. The only thing I'd add is to not eat at the counter at Grand Central Oyster Bar. I've read plenty of negative comments about that. But go into the bar/restaurant (it's to the far right when you walk in). Great ambiance. And I'd keep it simple. Some chowder, oysters. We've been three times in a year.

                      Oh, well, one more. If you go to Brooklin, I'd take the train there and walk back or vice versa. But, honestly, with only a weekend, I wouldn't spend my time going to the boroughs. We always do but we go for a couple of weeks at a time. There's great food there but I'd rather not spend a really limited amount of time riding the subway (which I love!)