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May 24, 2010 05:22 AM

Best food and drink near the main NY Public Library? -- restos, markets, bakeries, pushcarts -- you name it


I need to spend about 10 days in the vicinity of NY Public Library at 5th and 42d, so I'm collecting recommendations for great eats in a 10 block radius excluding Times Square.

I'll have a kitchen, so I would also appreciate tips for any fine places to shop for anything, or if there is any extremely good take out.

For restaurants, any cuisine is fine except Italian and I really prefer quiet and well-spaced tables, as I will seldom be dining alone and enjoy conversation.

Some fave foods are falafel, burritos, bimbap, great chinese and all things fish (raw or cooked).

I'm open to all price ranges.

If there is great espresso or a good classic cocktail bar in the nabe, indoor or out, I'd love to hear about it.

Thanks for your help in advance!

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  1. One of my favorites in the area are the doubles from the TriniPaki Boys cart (43rd & 6th) - take them to Bryant Park and enjoy the outdoors. You can find lots of cart recs on

    6 Replies
    1. re: LNG212

      Seconding this. I used to work in the Hippodrome building and the TriniPak cart was one of my go-to lunches.

      1. re: LNG212

        What are "the doubles" -- ? Thanks -- and thanks for link to midtown lunch!

          1. re: kathryn

            That's a good link, Kathryn. Thanks.

            To the OP: the cart has 2 sauces -- I think one is a milder chutney-ish kind and the other is the VERY VERY spicy kind. I usually get a little of both. They are really good. And you'll need plenty of napkins. :)

            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks, Kathryn! i'll definitely give them a try!

          2. re: LNG212

            I haven't tried TriniPaki, but my favorite food cart in the vicinity is Kwikmeal on 45th and 6th. I always get chicken over rice but have heard rave reviews for the lamb over rice as well.

            Also second Cafe Zaiya, mentioned below, on 41st off 5th

            Cafe Zaiya
            1073 6th Ave, New York, NY 10018

          3. check out 41st bet. 5th & Madison. there is the Japanese "trifecta." Cafe Zaiya, Yagura, and Chiyoda.

            Cafe Zaiya is great for sandwiches, rice balls, pastries.

            Yagura offers different soba, teriyaki, and other hot items.

            Chiyoda is mainly sushi and more expensive.

            Cafe Zaiya
            18 E 41st St, New York, NY 10017

            6 Replies
            1. re: travpard

              I'm not against expensive for sushi -- or for anything, really. I'm interested in good eats in all sorts of venues, including good restaurants for dinner.

              1. re: barberinibee

                If you are not against expensive sushi, then you should definitely go to Yasuda, on 43rd, b/t 2nd & 3rd. Although I don't eat sushi, our daughter and son-in-law love it, and Yasuda is their favorite.


                dbBistro Moderne, on 44th, b/t 5th & 6th, is one of Chef Daniel Boulud's restaurants. Its focus is contemporary French bistro cuisine. Prices are high but far less expensive than his eponymous temple of haute cuisine. And there is a 3-course pre-theater prix fixe at $45, well-priced for cuisine of such high caliber.

                Photos of our most recent dinner at dbBistro:

                La Fonda de Sol, on the street level of the Met Life Bldg., on Vanderbilt & 44th, serves delicious contemporary Spanish cuisine.

                Photos of our meal at La Fonda del Sol:

                Keens, on 36th, b/t 5th & 6th, is our favorite NYC steakhouse. It's been in that location since 1885. Thus, in additional to delicious steaks, chops (including the legendary signature mutton chop), sides, etc., there is the unmatchable Old NY ambiance -- walls filled with American memorabilia and rows of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings, plus pipes belonging to famous people dating back to the 19th century in display cases in the vestibule.

                Photos of our most recent dinner at Keens:

                1. re: RGR

                  Thanks, RGR! Does La Fonda de Sol do a regional Spanish cuisine, or is it pan-Spanish? Prices? (I drink wine but don't eat dessert.)

                    1. re: RGR

                      Thank you for the website. Do you ever go there strictly for tapas?

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        We've only been to La Fonda del Sol once for lunch. You can certainly go there just for tapas. I think the tapas menu in the bar/lounge area may be larger than what is offered in the dining room, which is where we sat.

            2. If you like bimbap, you are ten easily walkable blocks from Korea Town: 32nd between 5th and Broadway.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chow_gal

                Yes, I know about Koreatown. Any up-to-date recommendations for a specific bimbap place?

                1. re: barberinibee

                  I get serious cravings for the seafood dol sot bipimbap at Han Bat @ 53 West 35th.

                  Han Bat
                  53 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

              2. Grand Central Terminal may be of interest to you (market, Oyster Bar, and the Campbell Apartment). For coffee, I like the Macchiato Espresso Bar, on E 44th.

                1. NYC is not really a great burrito town like, say, San Francisco is, so I would manage expectations accordingly.

                  Great Chinese - Do you like Sichuan food? Try Szechuan Gourmet or Lan Sheng, both very close by.

                  Fish - Le Bernardin is a four star NY Times restaurant and its chef, Eric Ripert, has been on TV many many times. It's a temple to seafood. If you have the cash, go for it. Also, a little bit to the east of you there is a cluster of Japanese restaurants, including what many people think is the best sushi in town: Sushi Yasuda. But, again, be prepared to spent a good chunk of change although I do believe he has a much more affordable prix fixe lunch menu.

                  Espresso nearby - Culture Espresso Bar or Joe the Art of Coffee located inside of Grand Central

                  Good classic cocktail bar nearby - Campbell Apartment but it can get crowded after work. Great atmosphere, decent drinks, not the best in town. Note there IS a dress code:


                  They have also recently opened up the Empire Room in the Empire State Building. There are also a fair number of hotel bars nearby.


                  BTW, many restaurants in Manhattan ARE rather cramped, so I would set expectations accordingly. However, it's also right by the Theatre District and a good number of places are slammed between 6-8pm and then the threatre crowd essentially clears out.

                  Sushi Yasuda
                  204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

                  Le Bernardin
                  155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                  Szechuan Gourmet
                  21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                  Campbell Apartment
                  89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

                  Culture Espresso Bar
                  72 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

                  Lan Sheng
                  60 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                  Empire Room
                  350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn

                    I do like Sichuan, and had heard 39th St was great for them. Do you think either does take out well?

                    Le Bernadin is on the list.

                    What do you think of the coffee at Cipriani near Grand Central?

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      SG gets really busy for takeout lunch BTW but I've only ever dined in.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        I was more interested in the quality. Some good chinese restaurants don't do take out well (and vice versa).

                        1. re: barberinibee

                          The takeout at SG is great. It just gets very messy because the inch of chili oil on top tends to go everywhere and cover everything.

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            I get Szechuan Gourmet take out often. They do a great job. And have good lunch specials which actually have good sichuan dishes on it.

                            Szechuan Gourmet
                            21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                            1. re: ESNY

                              Thanks to both for the take on take-out!