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Nov 11, 2010 11:43 AM

New York food lovers returning...but this time with the chowpups (aka "my body is at Build-A-Bear but my spirit is at Abraco")

Truth is, we can't wait to introduce our young children to one of our favourite cities. But with a pair of kids under 4, this will be a very different chow-trip for us. Our kids are tremendous eaters - they love just about everything from fried calamari with tzatziki to dim sum and dumplings with sweet chili sauce (and of course, cupcakes and ice cream!). I'm trying to compile a handy list of good chow options in the few neighbourhoods we're planning to be in - I'd appreciate your feedback on my current short-lists as well as answers to a few specific questions.

1) UWS - in and around the Children's Museum and the park - thinking of Barney Greengrass for brekkie (don't want to line up - will it be crazy at 9:00 on a Sunday morning? Better for a weekday?) and maybe Shake Shack or Kefi or EJ's Luncheonette for lunch. If we want a great americano - Joe The Art of Coffee? Others?

2) Central Park South and lower part of UES (by the zoo, carriage rides, pond, etc.) - Sarabeth or Landmarc for brekkie. Lunch/picnic ideas?

3) Union Square - in and around the new playground - City Bakery (breakfast or lunch), Cupcake Cafe in Books of Wonder (sounds like maybe not the best cupcakes but cute spot for kids?), Petite Abeille. Haven't been to the greenmarket in a while - anything fun for little kids or mostly just produce vendors? Others? Best espresso nearby?

4) Rockefeller Plaza - anywhere within a few blocks where we can grab a good grilled cheese or sandwich? Or a great street vendor?

5) A special kids treat - I remember Serendipity from when I was a kid. Is the frozen hot chocolate still a fun treat? Does La Maison du Chocolat have anything great? Peanut Butter & Co? In a perfect world, we'd find a place where we could enjoy a great coffee while kids go googly eyed over a special treat (maybe an Abraco + Butter Lane combo?). Ideally this would be in one of the areas above but we'd consider making a special trip for this.

6) Ordering in - we're going to plan to have at least one dinner at our hotel (Park and 61st). Looking for places with good food that travels who will deliver to our hotel for about 6 - Sip Sak or other Turkish? Wa Jeal? Cafe Evergreen? Beyoglu? Also, if we wanted to pick up a nice dinner to eat in our room after our kids go to sleep, could we do that from Park Avenue Autumn? Do you think it would be a waste? Other options?

7) Great coffee near Park and 61st - this is key!!! - anywhere within a few blocks where we can get a great americano?

Other places on my list, if we find ourselves nearby - Via Quadronno (a personal fave - kid-friendly first thing in the morning?), Smac or Macbar, Keste or Motorino, Third Rail.

Lots of questions, I know - thanks!!!

200 E 81st St, New York, NY 10028

Barney Greengrass
541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

Via Quadronno
25 E 73rd St, New York, NY 10021

City Bakery
3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

La Maison du Chocolat
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020

Park Avenue Cafe
100 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10021

505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

Sip Sak
928 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022

86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

179 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

EJ's Luncheonette
1271 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021

Cafe Evergreen
1288 1st Ave, New York, NY 10021

Butter Lane
123 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

Wa Jeal
1588 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

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  1. Fun for little kids at the Union Square greenmarket: maple candy in various flavors, at the north end of the park toward Union Square West.

    Grilled cheese near Rockefeller Center - if you don't mind walking west past Broadway, you can go to Cafe Edison in the Edison Hotel.

    Cafe Edison
    228 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pan

      Maple candy is fun for big kids too...I haven't seen the vendors much lately though. I'm pretty sure they're only there on Fridays, but they've been missing when I've looked for them. Can anyone confirm if they've switched days?

    2. Sounds like you've got it figured out for the most part, but the cupcakes at Books of Wonder are GROSS. Kids or not, I wouldn't subject anyone to them, haha. Try Sugar Sweet Sunshine on the LES—much cheaper too! If you do Keste, Amy's Bread is right on the corner—they have good cupcakes too.

      Check out or to find places that deliver close to your hotel.

      Amy's Bread
      250 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

      Sugar Sweet Sunshine
      126 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

      1. Alice's Tea Cup is fun and has really good food - their "tea sandwiches" are actually pretty substantial, and excellent. Their chopped tea-egg salad might be my favorite egg salad sandwich ever.

        Alice's Tea Cup
        102 W 73rd St, New York, NY 10023

        1. 1. According to this, re: Barney Greengrass, yes, it's busy that early on Sunday mornings:

          It's probably better on a weekday, just don't go on Mondays, as they are closed.

          For espresso based drinks, not really a whole lot on the UWS (or UES for that matter now that Luna closed) that isn't Starbucks.

          2. Note that Landmarc is in the Time Warner building...which also houses the Whole Foods downstairs!

          Here's some other picnic ideas nearby (Salumeria Rossi, Bouchon, and Grandaisy Bakery all sound like winners to me):

          I'd have a backup plan in case the weather is bad, though.

          3. At the Greenmarket, it might be nice to stop by one of the honey vendors, they often have some bees with them and love talking to kids.

          For espresso, Joe The Art of Coffee has another branch nearby, and there's also Everyman Espresso, and Tarallucci e Vino.

          4. Depends what day of the week it is, but I know on weekdays, a lot of people like Kwik Meal or the Biryani cart. I think the Kwik Meal cart is daily. Both are only a few blocks away from Rockefeller Center.

          5. La Maison du Chocolat has great hot chocolate this time of year, and I've seen kids in there, for sure. Just be warned that they'll often run out by the end of the day. Never had their coffee.

          Zibetto Espresso Bar is nearby but it doesn't have any seats, and would be good to get something to go, at best.

          There's a Momofuku Milk Bar in the Chambers Hotel that serves Stumptown drip coffee, you can buy some cookies or a slice of pie or some cake truffles, and enjoy them in the mezzanine of the hotel if you need a break.

          6. Maybe log onto Seamless Web using the hotel address and see what pops up?

          Anything here, perhaps?

          7. BTW, the New York Times has a coffee map that I've found quite useful (you can get it on the iPhone too):

          Barney Greengrass
          541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

          Tarallucci e Vino
          15 East 18th Street, New York, NY 10003

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

          Everyman Espresso
          136 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

          179 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

          Kwik Meal
          45th St and 6th Ave, New York, NY 10036

          La Maison du Chocolat
          63 Wall St, New York, NY 10005

          102 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038

          18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

          Momofuku Milk Bar
          15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

          1. Thanks so much for the feedback.

            Pan - we're Canadian so we're genetically predisposed to loving maple treats - thanks for the tip! Cafe Edison sounds good too.
            Loratliff - really, cupcakes are that bad huh? Bummer. And thanks for the seamlessweb link - Daveena - thanks for the reminder about Alice's. I've heard about their cornmeal pancakes too. And I just noticed that they have one quite close to our hotel - Chapter 2 - that's great to know.
            Kathryn - always great to get your extensive feedback - I may blow off Barney Greengrass then and opt for Ess-a-Bagel or something instead (kids love lox). How can there be no great coffee on UES or UWS - don't the people that live in those 'hoods want it? Thanks for all the other suggestions. I'm a big fan of La Maison from the days when it was only in Paris - never miss an opportunity to go there in NYC. Thinking about Inase for sushi delivery one night. And thanks for the NYT coffee map - brilliant - I'll download the app on to my phone. I had printed out the NYT article on indie coffee spots from last April but this is WAY better.

            Any brilliant ideas for an early (5:30) dinner on our first Saturday evening - kid-friendly (but needn't be kid food), ideally on the east side of the park, say 55th-70th streets? Thanks!

            10 Replies
            1. re: peppermint pate

              Cupcake Cafe inside of Books of Wonder is very kid friendly, though. But the cupcakes have frosting that is heavy on the butter side of buttercream frosting (too close to eating a stick of butter IMO). Some people love it, some people hate it.

              1. re: kathryn

                I'm definitely a Cupcake Cafe hater, but yeah – you can't get much more kid-friendly than that place. Sugar Sweet Sunshine, mentioned above, doesn't have the same amount of space but the baked goods are much better IMHO and there's more variety. If you really want to send your kids to sugar heaven, you could couple a visit there with a trip to the Sweet Life (on Hester St) for gigantic lollipops or Economy Candy (also on Rivington) for old-school treats in bulk. Coffee from the Roasting Plant on Orchard Street would be a nice reward for the grown-ups. You would also be close to Russ & Daughters on Houston, where you would be able to pick up some fantastic smoked fish sandwiches and spreads to eat back at the hotel.

                Re: coffee around Union Square, you could hit up one of the yellow Van Leeuwen trucks (there's usually one parked on 5th Avenue around 16th Street. Intelligentsia coffee for you and great (if pricey) ice cream for the kids. You've also got Joe the Art of Coffee on 13th Street.

                Roasting Plant
                81 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

                Sugar Sweet Sunshine
                126 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

                The Sweet Life
                63 Hester St, New York, NY 10002

                Economy Candy
                108 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

                1. re: gort

                  Thanks for the recs. On our last 2 trips, without kids, we stayed in the LES - love Economy Candy, Russ & Daughters, etc., and proximity to Chinatown and E. Village eats. Maybe I need to research some playgrounds or other young child friendly activities in the neighbourhood to see if I can build a half-day around it (I mean, they love to eat but unlike their mom, it's not all they want to do).

                  1. re: peppermint pate

                    There's a nice little park on Spring St. and Mulberry. I've often gone there to eat a Vietnamese sandwich I bought at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery.

                    Banh Mi Saigon
                    198 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                    1. re: Pan

                      That park is where I go sometimes too, lots of kids there. Much better than the park on Chrystie which can be kind of seedy for children though thats where I usually stop on my bike.

                      1. re: MVNYC

                        Not sure about the seediness, but I think they just redid the playground at that park so it could be fun.

                  2. re: gort

                    Note that Roasting Plant has that cool Willy Wonka esque tubing going on -- they grind beans on the spot to brew for your cup of coffee. But there's not a whole lot of seating IIRC. Also if you're on the LES you might want to stop for chocolates at Roni-Sue's in the Essex St Market, too. She does chocolate covered bacon! You could also hit up Il Laboratorio de Gelato.

                    Second the Van Leeuwen trucks but note that they do move around a bit. Here's the WEEKDAY schedule (not sure about weekend, check Twitter):

                    Kangaroo: 8am- 6pm 5th Ave @ 15th Street
                    Panda: 8am-10am 6th Ave @ 22nd St
                    10am- 4pm 23rd @ 5th Ave
                    4pm-6pm 5th ave @ 22nd St

                    I love their affogato!

                    Roasting Plant
                    81 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

                  3. re: kathryn

                    Thanks - I've yet to see a cupcake that my kids won't devour including some pretty icky ones (to my plalate) from a supermarket the other week. We'll play this one by ear. I'm sure they'd be delighted to introduce a cupcake tour into our plans.

                    Good Enough to Eat is starting to tempt for Sunday breakfast - any idea if it will be lined up when it opens at 9?

                    Good Enough to Eat
                    483 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                    1. re: peppermint pate

                      The Sunday line at Good Enough to Eat does start pretty early, though I'm not sure I could tell you about 9:00 am. Frankly, I've never understood the charm of that line-up at all, but then again I long ago stopped seeing the charm in the weekend brunch thing altogether -- it's an awful lot of time to invest on one of the two days I get to actually *do* things.

                      There are alternatives to Starbucks on the UWS, especially with little ones in tow. We (including my kids) are fond of Edgar's on 84th west of Bway, . Your kids (like mine.....) will probably love the pastries while you enjoy your coffee. There's another one on Amsterdam and around 90th, but we haven't been there.

                      There's also Cafe Lalo, right near the Children's Museum, , but I haven't been there (mostly because Edgar's always ends up being our first choice).

                      Good Enough to Eat
                      483 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                      Cafe Lalo
                      201 W 83rd St, New York, NY 10024

                  4. re: peppermint pate

                    I would go to Inase if you can. The sushi is too god to sit around in a takeout container.

                    Also on 77th and 2nd ave, Sable's has good smoked and cured fish. They deliver too so that could be your delivery meal.


                    1586 1st Ave, New York, NY 10028