HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


NYC next week with autistic tween

Need your advise for good yet not crowded restaurants that won't involve long waits for a table for our family that includes an autistic tween. He's tends toward simple fare, but has been surprising us lately with some of his choices.

In our last trip a couple of years ago, the concierge recommended Sarafina's Famous Grille for pizza and it was a hit, especially the Italian ricotta cheesecake.

So far, I'm thinking of Momofuku Noodle Bar's fried chicken dinner (if I can get reservations), a meal in Chinatown and a repeat of Sarafina's.

We're staying for two days at the new FourPoints at 326 West 40th Street.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I should add that he doesn't eat off the kid's menu any longer. His favorite fancy restaurant meal is fillet mignon.

    1. when i saw the title of your post i thought you might ask for a list of gluten-free/casein-free dining options, but i gather from your comments about pizza & fried chicken that dietary restrictions aren't an issue...?

      5 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        No, he's not on the GF/CF diet - luckily, he doesn't have any GI issues. Mostly, we're concerned about sensory issues - crowds, noise, long waits.

        1. re: immendorf

          I suppose I should probably warn you that Momofuku Noodle Bar is typically crowded and noisy, even if you do have a reservation...

          1. re: immendorf

            got it. the best advice i can offer for avoiding crowds, chaos & waiting (at least for dinner) is to eat early, if that's an option for you.

        2. I always enjoy going for ramen at Rai Rai Ken, its on 214 10th street in the east village. Its Empty in the late afternoon, but packed after 8pm and before 1am.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Recursion

            "packed" for Rai Rai Ken isn't really packed at all. There is essentially only bar seating for about 10 people.

              1. re: Recursion

                But it's not packed it's full. It's a distinction with a difference. Everyone is seated it's not like people are all shoulder to shoulder.

          2. if your family liked Serafina you'll love Otto. the most accessible mario batali spot. we've never had trouble getting a reservation around 6-7 pm. and the back room is nowhere near as chaotic and noisy as the front room & bar.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mcoleman

              I think Otto would be a nightmare for someone averse to crowds and noise, but I've never sat in the back. I'd get some coal oven pizza at Angelo's on 57th, which has never been crowded when I've been. I also echo the Apizz rec below.

              1. re: a_and_w

                Otto is usually loud, crowded, and with long waits (1.5 hours.) I absolutely would not recommend it for an autistic teen.

                For Chinatown, I would do an early (10am brunch) at New Yeah Shanhai Deluxe of soup dumplings. Or you could do an early dinner 5 or 5:30 at NY Noodletown. Japanese restaurants are also good for quiet - Soba Koh or Soba Ya if he is into buckwheat noodles.

            2. i did a little research on the board to dig up some of the places CHers recommend when someone needs a rec for a quiet place:
              - Kurio - E. 92nd b/t 1st & 2nd Aves: http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...
              - Palma - Cornelia b/t Bleecker & w. 4th: http://www.palmanyc.com/menu.html
              - Apizz - Eldridge St (b/t Stanton & Rivington): http://www.apizz.com/
              - Cafe Boulud - E. 76th (b/t Madison & 5th): http://www.danielnyc.com/cafebouludNY...
              (note: Boulud isn't cheap, but they do have a lunch prix fixe)

              3 Replies
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                apizz is a neat option. they have a woodfired oven that turns out some lovely dishes, including great -- and huge -- meatballs.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Cafe Boulud is closing for renovations after this weekend. Last service: Sat., Aug. 15. They will reopen Sept. 21.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Kurio is definitely quiet - we had dinner there again last week and shared a lot of appetizers - the beef empanadas are fabulous. I'd skip the crab quesadilla, which is the only thing I've ever had there that I wasn't thrilled with. The owner's mother is the cook, and she has a real touch with fried food. All the wines on the list are $30, by the way.

                  2. Campanile, on 29th St., b/t Park Av. S. & B'way, is an exceptionally quiet neighborhood spot. The Italian-American food is delicious, and the staff couldn't be more cordial and attentive. (Note: Closed Saturday and Sunday)


                    1. A neighborhood Italian restaurant called Grano in the West Village. They are always very friendly and have constantly good food and great brick oven pizza. Can get a little crowed on Friday and Saturday at night.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: misnatalie

                        Great replies - thank you very much! How is Les Halles Midtown for an early dinner?

                        1. re: immendorf

                          It's pretty mellow but probably not the best food choice from the mixed reports..

                          1. re: immendorf

                            Yes, negative to OTTO! I've waited up to an hour WITH A RESERVATION!
                            How about Blue Smoke.....right down the block from Les Halles.

                        2. Chinatown might be a challenge. The streets are very crowded, people push and shove knockoff handbags in your face, and there are likely to be strong and unfamiliar smells from the fish markets on Baxter & Canal. I don't know how you son is about smells, but one of the kids I used to work with would NOT have liked passing the market. However, some of the food is excellent. Some quieter places with good food are Shanghai Cafe and Red Egg. You can also avoid much of the crush by walking in via Little Italy and crossing into Ctown at the last moment.

                          1. I would try to make reservations for places on open table.Maybe you could put a note in the comments section requesting a quiet table. I agree with red egg- also in chinatown nha trang centre (vietnamese) for a late lunch early dinner. food is great and service quick! Your steak eater may like the Palm Too- they have some quiter rooms off to the side. They have always been great with my kids-If you like deli(not kosher- kosher style) try Lanskys on the Upper West Side. Have a great trip!!