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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!!!

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Beyoglu
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

Kefi
505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

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

Abraco
86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

Landmarc
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

Motorino
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.

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    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 SeamlessWeb.com or GrubHub.com 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.

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        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:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7423...

          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):

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/704895
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/743536

          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.

          http://kwikmeal.net/locations.html
          http://www.biryanicart.com/

          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?
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/634647

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

          -----
          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

          Landmarc
          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

          Zibetto
          102 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038

          Stumptown
          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!

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                    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, http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/... . 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, http://www.cafelalo.com/location.htm , 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.

                    http://sablesnyc.com/delivery

                    -----
                    Inase
                    1586 1st Ave, New York, NY 10028

                  5. Thank you all. I get dizzy when planning these trips - too much to eat, too little time - such high class problems!

                    MVNYC - maybe we'll go to Inase for dinner. Family run and small so I presume kid-friendly too? And with Pan, looks like DeSalvio is the name of that little park, thanks.

                    Those VanLeeuwen trucks sound great - I may have to check out "twitter" after all - what are panda and kangaroo?

                    catouws - I actually called GETE and they said we'd ideally need to get there before 9 to get in for first seating. I'm now leaning towards Sarabeths at Central Park South for a more relaxing first meal of the day. We can head north from there.

                    Appreciate all the recs so much - thanks.

                    -----
                    Inase
                    1586 1st Ave, New York, NY 10028

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: peppermint pate

                      Panda and Kangaroo are Van Leeuwen's nicknames for their coffee/ice cream trucks.

                      1. re: peppermint pate

                        Inase is kid friendly, go for it. You can also take the kids to Emack and Bolio's a block away for ice cream afterwards.

                        -----
                        Inase
                        1586 1st Ave, New York, NY 10028

                      2. Any thoughts on Persephone for an early dinner with the kids? Proximity to the hotel is great plus menu looks nice. Other (further options) - Nick's Pizza, Inase, Beyoglu, Zebu Grill or Gajymaru? Thanks.

                        1. If you're willing to head up to 86th St and 2nd Ave, Two Little Red Hens has the best cupcakes I've ever had. Brooklyn Blackout is my fave, Red Velvet is very popular too.

                          -----
                          Two Little Red Hens
                          1652 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                          1. Sounds like your balancing out your kid friendly trip really well.

                            As you've probably figured out, your Americano options are best below 34th.
                            There is an Italian chain on Madison Ave. in the 60's that specializes in coffee pods, but it's so pricey, you're better off at Starbucks. There's also a Joe's in Grand Central. A stop to Caffetteria or Ace Hote's Stumptown would be good alternatives to Third Rail.

                            I wouldn't go out of your way timing the Van Leeuwen trucks, unless it happens you check Twitter and the timing works. They bounce around a lot. Another alternative is the Mudd Truck, which is bright orange, and sometimes parks at Broadway and 14th. Check Newyorkstreetfood for their Twitter roll of other fun food trucks ($1 pizza, cupcake truck, etc.) that would be fun.

                            Cupcake Cafe has really decent donuts, and other non-cupcake items. I suggest the pumpkin donut if they have them. You'll get your fix from City Bakery across the street though.

                            Farmers Market has good cookies (find the bread stand with plastic bins of cookies sold in 3's), lots of hot cider, chocolate and strawberry milk at Ronnybrook, the maple candy bits, the hard pretzels, Red Jacket for juice blends and apples. Nearby on 14th is Baked by Melissa for mini cupcakes, and on 17th there's Dogmatic which has hand made sodas. Also, there's seating, and restrooms at Whole Foods across the street. Nearest coffee aside from Starbucks and Whole Foods (which isn't the worst) would be 71 Irving, Joe's, Think, Grey Dog. I would personally skip Everyman Espresso. I've never had a decent cup there.

                            As an alternative to Abracco, and easier to get to is La Colombe on Lafayette. Across the street is Soho Park which has good frites, and it's near the bombolini and other pastries at Falai. Also near, is Delicatessen which has a good menu for kids, and it's next door to one of your Mac n' Cheese options. Dean and Delucca is also nearby.

                            Another combo (slightly out of the way) might be Dessert Works, and Cafe Pedlar.

                            Oh, and take a look at Keste for pizza instead of Motorino.

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

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

                            Falai
                            68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                            Soho Park
                            62 Prince St, New York, NY 10012

                            La Colombe
                            270 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                            Stumptown
                            18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

                            Baked by Melissa
                            7 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

                            Motorino
                            349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: sugartoof

                              I think that the Mudd Truck's coffee is not really good at all, but my experience is only with the Astor Place one.

                              Love Stumptown but if traveling with a family, I'd actually go sit in the lobby of the Ace Hotel and order coffee from the lobby menu. The actual coffee shop itself isn't huge, the lines can get long, and there's no seating at all (only two counter style ledges that run against the front windows).

                              Note also that Baked by Melissa is really expensive in terms of what you get. $3 for 3 pieces, each about the size of a quarter, right?

                              -----
                              Stumptown
                              18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

                              Baked by Melissa
                              7 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

                              1. re: kathryn

                                Stumptown will ask you if it's for here or to go, and you can find seating. No need to order from a server unless you prefer to.

                                $1 a mini is about standard. I find minis allow you to try more flavors, and usually satisfy me just as much.

                                Mudd coffee isn't my favorite in the city, but the Americanos and Cappucinos are very good...just a little muddy, true to their name. I also like their seasonal flavors. For a coffee truck in Union Square, it's a fine choice in a pinch. Last I checked there were 2 different trucks, with 2 different menus (no holiday menu at Astor)....and the Union Square is better, not to mention, better than Think, or say, Starbucks.

                                -----
                                Stumptown
                                18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

                                1. re: sugartoof

                                  I always feel weird going into the Ace Hotel lobby with a to go cup from Stumptown though. My comment was more using it as a space to rest/relax/use the restaurant.

                                  Isn't the orange coffee truck at Union Square the Love Truck, not he Mud Truck? The Mud Truck and Love Truck are both painted orange but not run by the same people (there was some sort of dispute involving a truck that someone ordered but couldn't pay for, IIRC). That would explain the different menus.

                                  http://www.examiner.com/freelance-art...

                                  -----
                                  Stumptown
                                  18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    You know, you may be right about the Love truck! ....though I think the Union Sqr. truck predates that whole thing.

                                    Stumptown let's you drink in the lobby. A "to stay" order can be enjoyed anywhere. I've even seen people sitting on the stoop outside. Table service isn't expected that I'm aware of.

                                    -----
                                    Stumptown
                                    18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

                            2. Thank you all for your many recommendations. As always, we had a wonderful time in your great city and our kids didn't want to go home. We appreciated you providing us with such beautiful, warm weather and the leaves in Central Park were simply stunning.

                              Now for the mini chow report - and if you don't have little kids, this may be of little interest as they dictated our itinerary:

                              Ordering in - after full days in parks, playgrounds and museum, we realized that restaurant dinners just weren't in the cards so we ended up bringing food into our hotel for 3 evenings - LOVE seamlessweb - the first was Greek food from Ethos (good but nothing outstanding), the second was Sushi of Gari (I went to pick it up, loved the room, wished we could have stayed there, sushi was quite good - we tried Inase first but they are closed on Sundays) and the third was ready-made pizza slices to go from some spot on Lexington (obviously not Keste or Nick's but it did the trick).

                              Breakfasts/brunch - went to Landmarc for Sunday brunch. Felt instantly at home when we got on to the large elevator with 3 other stroller-pushers and then saw many more strollers outside the restaurant and Bouchon Bakery. Within moments of sitting at our window table, we had crayons, pictures, drinks for the kids in little cups with straws, etc. That kind of a welcome makes a huge difference. Americano was good, food (pancakes, eggs florentine, etc.) was good enough but not wow. Service was very friendly. Definitely a great kid-friendly option that still feels like "going out for brunch".

                              Via Quadronno - this remains a favourite of mine. It just feels very local, very special, a little fancy but still warm. It's not particularly kid-friendly but not unfriendly either - our waiter, Angelo, was super with the kids, fun and warm. Great fruit salad (we counted 10 different kinds of fruit!), yummy toasted mozzarella panini, good cornettos, a special plate of cookies for the kids and the best cappuccinos. By contrast, Zibetto was pretty disappointing - blah americanos, bland cornettos, uninspired panini and the whole place just took itself too seriously - everything that Via Quadronno is, Zibetto isn't. I would kill for a great midtown espresso alternative!

                              Lunches - City Bakery - fantastic spot - kids loved the mac 'n cheese with roasted veggies on the side while the grown-ups ate fresh and flavourful kale salad, pistachio crusted chicken breast, a chickpea and radicchio salad, braised tofu, etc. It's casual, friendly, offers a range of fresh food to please all, plenty of high chairs, a play kitchen area, etc. My kids said "let's come here everyday". KILLER chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. When we were up on the UWS, we were going to go to Good Enough to Eat but there was a line-up so we ended up at Frank's (I think? The place with dog pictures?) - food was okay (kids loved the grilled cheese) but kid-friendly service won the day (crayons, pictures, friendly waitresses and a basket of tasty mini chocolate chip muffins as soon as we sat down).

                              Other - way too hard and dry cupcakes from Cupcake Cafe but, as expected, our kids loved them and the location in Books of Wonder is great, great frozen yoghurt with toppings from Wildberry (or something like that - near Artie's Deli on Broadway around 84th) and UNBELIEVABLE hot chocolate from La Maison du Chocolat, though I would consider this rich and decadent treat a more sophisticated grown-up version (if you go with little kids, have them share one). I also had an afternoon americano from the kangaroo Van Leuwen truck - hit the spot but nothing wow. Oh yeah, and we went to Joe the Art of Coffee on the UWS - great capp, very cool vibe.

                              All in all, it was a great trip. I may be heading back down in the next month or so with my sister so I hope to be back on the board soon looking for some very different recommendations - thanks all!

                              ps - I'm completely mystified by the lack of cool and credible indie coffee bars in midtown and uptown -the streets are teeming with tourists, workers and people who live on the UWS and UES - with the exception of Joe on the UWS, can't these masses sustain a few of cool spots that seem to be proliferating downtown?