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Lunch with a 2-year-old near Central Park Zoo and playground

Food Tourist Dec 5, 2009 06:07 AM

Please don't hate me for being a tourist and asking dumb questions -- honestly, it's hard to use the search function for this topic.

Looking for a mid-range or casual lunch spot and a dessert/espresso spot with EXCELLENT, memorable food for 3 adults and one toddler during the holidays before or after a visit to Central Park zoo and kiddie attractions. Under $20 per person is a must. We are from Toronto and not interested in Chinese or seafood (allergy).

Something like Katz's pastrami or Arturo's coal pizza or to-die-for southern barbecue, or Batali or amazing burgers & fries or Mexican, and something like Doughnut Plant or Grom gelato or cupcakes/cookies/chocolates would be great. Thank you!

  1. j
    Jane A. Dec 5, 2009 06:30 AM

    "EXCELLENT, memorable" and under $20pp aren't happening together, especially in that neighborhood. Where are you willing to compromise? Price or neighborhood. From the restaurants you're listing, it seems you're willing to travel out of the neighborhood.

    The best pizza (and very good salads) near the park, for my money, is Angelo's on 57th Street between 6th & 7th Aves. And it is accustomed to children and has enough space for you to fold away your stroller.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jane A.
      Food Tourist Dec 5, 2009 06:33 AM

      I would compromise on the price, not the location. I don't think the little one will last for too long on a long walk. Those restaurants I listed just give you an example of what we like to eat (if any are within a 20 minute walk of the zoo, let me know!) Thanks Jane.

      Actually we could compromise on location if the subway is close by and a good eatery is a couple of stops away on the same line.

      1. re: Food Tourist
        j
        Jane A. Dec 5, 2009 07:00 AM

        Many people on this board are great fans of Fig & Olive http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...
        They have an interesting menu which might work for you, and they have a lunch prix fixe to which you could add a little plate for the toddler. Lexington Ave. is 3 long blocks east of 5th Ave. (5th, Madison, Park, Lex)

        1. re: Food Tourist
          LNG212 Dec 5, 2009 07:22 AM

          Actually Grom gelato isn't too far (Bway and mid-70s). Neither is the UWS Shake Shack (Columbus and 77th). For chocolates and hot chocolate, there's Jacques Torres on Amsterdam at about 73rd. Grandaisy has great pizza (Amsterdam and 72nd) but there's really not anywhere to sit down.

          -----
          Grom
          2165 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

          Grandaisy Bakery
          176 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023

          Jacques Torres
          285 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10023

          Shake Shack
          366 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

          1. re: LNG212
            k
            kathryn Dec 5, 2009 09:27 AM

            Seconding Grom, Shake Shack, Jacques Torres, and Grandaisy Bakery.

            For coffee & dessert, I'd make two separate stops. There's a Joe the Art of Coffee on the Upper West Side now, and then I'd head to Levain Bakery for one of their chocolate chip cookies or Jacques Torres for other chocolate confections.

            For help using search, make sure you set your parameters to "sort by relevance"!

            1. re: kathryn
              LNG212 Dec 5, 2009 09:59 AM

              Joe's a great suggestion. But it's up at 85th Street (Columbus). I thought that might be a little out of the OP's range, what with a 2-yr-old and all.

            2. re: LNG212
              j
              Jane A. Dec 5, 2009 03:17 PM

              The above west side restaurants - all west side restaurants - are way outside your area of interest unless you're willing to take a taxi or walk over a mile with your toddler. Remember, the zoo is at the eastern edge of the park.

        2. t
          trixareforkids Dec 5, 2009 02:38 PM

          Via Quandronno. 74th between madison and 5th, The seating is tight.. just fyi

          1 Reply
          1. re: trixareforkids
            MMRuth Dec 5, 2009 06:49 PM

            Yes, that was my thought as well. Not cheap, but the panini are great, and certainly "shareable" with a toddler.

          2. c
            cmarie Dec 5, 2009 02:46 PM

            Shake Shack is a great idea one of the top burger places in NYC. Or you can try Serendipity for dessert on 60th street, but be prepared to wait.

            1. y
              yebo Dec 5, 2009 03:13 PM

              For the poster's info - the Upper East Side - near the CP Zoo, is not a hotbed of vivid ethnic food (expensive or no) such as the places you list liking. Speculation on why includes the rents (among the highest in a high-rent city) and the ethnicity of ur-Upper East Siders.

              What about separating the post-Zoo and great meal functions into 2 events? (Levain, Grandaisy are great but have only a few stools seating and room for one stroller, IMO, which may already be there. Somewhere everyone can sit down seems better to me.)

              1. Food Tourist Dec 7, 2009 07:03 PM

                Thanks everyone! You've given me a lot to think about. Is there anything at all with sit-down service and a little extra room for a stroller on the Upper East Side? We certainly plan to eat well on other occasions (considering returning to Les Halles for cassoulet and steak frites because we enjoyed them immensely in 2003, and to Babbo) without the toddler, but I was so hoping to eat within close vicinity of the zoo especially if it's cold/snowy and we need a rest before heading back to the subway.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Food Tourist
                  MMRuth Dec 8, 2009 03:30 AM

                  You might look into Serafina - I think there are two relatively close by. I've only been once, and wasn't a big fan, but it's definitely family friendly, and a go to spot for my in-laws and their three kids when the come to NYC. I can't remember how the prices are though.

                2. Food Tourist Jan 2, 2010 07:54 PM

                  Thanks so much to all of you for your advice.

                  As it turns out, my niece got sick and she wasn't able to go to Manhattan or Central Park at all.

                  However, I made it to Grom on Bleecker Street for an affogato hot chocolate con espresso gelato on my way to Katz and Pegu Club and Lupa. That was an amazing day. Can't believe my one sandwich and seltzer at Katz came to $20, though!

                  I also made the trek up to 85th for an 8 oz latte at Joe the Art of Coffee which was very good and just what I needed. I also had an 8 oz latte at Stumptown (29th in Ace hotel) two days later, and actually preferred the taste of Joe's. I also very much enjoyed the cuban latte at La Isla in Hoboken. All 3 lattes are memorable.

                  Shake Shack at 77th, on the other hand, was a let-down. I ate the Shackburger, crinkle fries and lemonade. All very mediocre in taste, and what a tiny burger! Too bad, because "homemade" could have been a lot better. Not sure why anyone would rate it "top" in NYC.

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