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Dec 5, 2009 06:07 AM

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

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!

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  1. "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.

      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

        Many people on this board are great fans of Fig & Olive
        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

          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.

          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

            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.

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            1. re: kathryn

              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

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: trixareforkids

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

          2. 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. 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. 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

                  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.