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Looking for fun lunch place in sept. NYC trip

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My husband and I have a few hours to kill before heading to a CT wedding, and I'd love recommendations for a fun, moderately expensive lunch place, maybe in Little Italy...parking info. would be great for any recommended restaurants. Thanks!

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  1. Avoid "Little Italy." It's one big mediocre tourist trap.

    Perhaps some more information will get you some better help: cuisine, where in the city, price range....? "Moderately expensive" means different things to different people.

    8 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      Sure...we'd like to stay under $20/entree, would love either italian, Mediterranean, or Asian, we're coming from laguardia, so I'm not sure where that means...thanks!

      1. re: laurenpk

        You're driving to Manhattan from Laguardia....and then heading to....? And how much time will you have?

        FYI, under $20/entree is not "moderately expensive" in Manhattan...

        1. re: gutsofsteel

          She said they're heading to a wedding in CT. Another important question: What day of the week will it be? If it's the weekend, it's hard to find a strictly lunch menu as most restaurants that serve during the afternoon offer a brunch menu.

          1. re: RGR

            Sorry for being a pain, I didn't realize how much I needed to think about this. We get in to LGA around 930 am on a Friday. More expensive Is fine, I just wanted o get some recommendations. Thanks...
            Oh, time: we need to drive toward new haven for dinner that day, so like 10 to 230 or so...

            1. re: laurenpk

              In terms of geography Patsy's would be an excellent choice (LGA->RFK bridge Manhattan->116th St. and then back across the RFK to the Bronx after lunch), but you will probably be there too early. (fwiw- if you post this on the Outer Boroughs board you could get some alternate suggestions for Queens in the Flushing or Astoria area that could also afford you some leisure time in the park or botanical garden).

              Also keep in mind that the traffic starts to build early on a summer Friday (September may be just as bad), and 2:30 would put you in the thick of it.

              1. re: laurenpk

                Lauren,

                No need to apologize. But it's always helpful for us to have as much info as possible in order to provide appropriate suggestions.

                By September, the "early" Friday exiting for weekends away is over. However, in order to avoid rush hour traffic, it's best to be gone by 3 p.m., so your idea about being out by 2:30 is perfect. Now, on to the chow...

                If your plane is arriving at 9:30, my guess is that you'll be getting to Manhattan around 10:30, obviously, too early for lunch. So, my suggestion is that you drive uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (5th Av. & 81st St.), park in their indoor lot (Warning: Expensive!), have a look around at some exhibits, and then go to Cafe Boulud for lunch, conveniently located near the museum, on 76th St., b/t 5th & Madison. It is one of our favorites. The cuisine is superb, service is polished, and the ambiance is lovely.

                While the a la carte menu is expensive, they do offer a "Prix fixe du Marché": 2 courses for $28 or 3 for $35. Lunch service begins at noon, so you can have a wonderful leisurely meal, then pick up your car and be off to Connecticut well before the afternoon's rush.

                Photos of a lunch we had several months ago at Cafe Boulud: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                Edited to add: I just noticed the word "fun" in your title. Honestly, that would not be a word I'd use to describe Cafe Boulud. However, it is one of 4-star Chef Daniel Boulud's restaurants, and C.B.'s Chef Gavin Kaysen is serving some of the most delicious cuisine in the city right now, so I stand by my recommendation.

                1. re: RGR

                  I think that's a great suggestion...takes care of parking, gives you something to do before lunch, and then lunch at Cafe Boulud which is really nice. And you're already uptown, you can head to CT in plenty of time. You can get on the FDR (aka east side highway) and then head right up I-95 to New Haven. Cafe Boulud is lovely, and lunch there is a treat.

                  Make sure to make a lunch reservation though, I'd suggest 12:30 which will get you out easily by 2:30 so you can hit the road.

                  I have to say I do not think going to Patsy's for pizza is in keeping with what the OP is looking for.

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                  Cafe Boulud
                  20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    Always happy when you agree with me, gos! :)

                    And, btw, if *you* haven't been to Cafe Boulud lately, run, don't walk!! To wet your appetite (so to speak), here are the photos from our most recent, spectacular dinner there taken by our dining companion:

                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulterior...

      2. For some really good and fun Italian/Mediterranean eats in NYC, I’d say go to Lupa Osteria in the West Village for your lunch. If you’re coming off Laguardia, find your way to the FDR Drive Southbound (or East Side Hwy south) and exit at Houston Ave. About a mile and a half, turn right on Thompson Street and Lupa is right around the corner along Thompson.

        Parking is available by driving past Lupa and into the next block, after Bleecker, at 223 Thompson Street.

        You can either go back to FDR via Houston and make your way north to New Haven, or take 6th Ave North and left on 14th Street to take you to West Side Hwy North.

        http://www.luparestaurant.com/restaur...

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        Lupa
        170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

        1. Since you mention asian food you could try Ma Peche in midtown, which is close to MOMA, Central Park, a good area to kill time in general. Limited reservations though (think you need to get a special menu if you make a res or something like that??).

          Another idea would be to get dim sum at Red Egg (takes reservations) and then walk around Little Italy, that way you get to visit it without actually chancing a full meal in a LI restaurant.

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          Red Egg
          202 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013

          Ma Peche
          15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

          2 Replies
          1. re: gramres22

            Ma Peche now takes reservations.

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            Ma Peche
            15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

            1. re: bookhound

              A nightmare to park near there and a nightmare to get in and out of midtown. Really the best idea is to stay uptown...come in from LGA and stay uptown.