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Dec 26, 2010 01:27 PM

going to nyc with my dad... places to eat?

i'm a teenager (17)... what are some places that i could go that are not too expensive, but nicer than a diner-type place? And nothing that is too "kiddy" themed would be great.

i'd really appreciate any suggestions,

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  1. you need to help us by narrowing down a bit more. there are 30,000 restaurants in nyc. at least 10,000 are "not too expensive" and niceer than a diner.

    how much money do you want to spend? what kinds of food do you like? what kind of atmosphere? what neighborhood?

    56 Replies
    1. re: thew

      as far as money goes, about $20 per person, max...
      as far as kinds of food, mostly classic american food, nothing that has exclusively spicy food, and salads, burgers, are good.
      as far as neighborhood, anything honestly, we're flexible.
      as far as atmosphere, a relatively comfortable place, although not "too" comfortable..

      some places i liked the look of were Bobby's Flay's Bar Americain (although the food wasn't exactly what i was looking for), possibly a place like Vinyl? although more towards the atmosphere of Bar Americain. I've been to Mercer Kitchen in soho and really liked that as well.

      Bar Americain
      152 W. 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019

      Mercer Kitchen
      99 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012

      1. re: jessicaruth

        Are you talking about $20 per person, including tax and tip? I'd stick with burgers.

        1. re: gutsofsteel

          that's not fair know that there's plenty of good food to be had for under $20pp. i would suggest that jessi alternate costs, assuming they'll be here more than one night. do ramen at Menchanko one night ($12pp, including tax ad tip) and then something more expensive the next night. hell, you could eat like a king at Congee Bowery for $20 each.

          also, jessi, if you are a straight up tourist, meaning not from Jersey or Connecticut, own it and go to Lombardi's. sure, there's better pizza in New York but why not go to the nation's first?

          Edit: i now see that your name is Jessica Ruth, not Jessi Caruth...old age, i hear you knocking but you can't come in.

          1. re: coasts

            The OP said classic American food. That eliminates Asian. For $20 including tax and tip. burgers would be the way to go.

            And Lombardi's is lousy and coasts on an old reputation - If you want pizza, do Keste or Motorino.

            349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

            1. re: gutsofsteel

              i suggested keste elsewhere in this thread and think it's a great place to go...and yes, both Keste and Motorino are exponentially better than Lombardi's, but still, it is historic and "an attraction" and almost an event. not every meal has to be the best.

              as far as the limitation on cuisine, i would say that "Chinese" is "American". i don't know anyone that won't eat Chinese food, including my Italian grandmother who still calls dumplings "Chinese Raviolis".

              i'm guessing that Jessica doesn't want pizza and burgers everyday.

              1. re: coasts

                When someone says "classic American food" and "salads and burgers are good" that doesn't scream Chinese food to me. And she gave Bar Americain and Mercer Kitchen as examples......?

                Not every meal has to be the best but Lombardi's is far far from, no reason to have pizza there when there are better pizza options.

                Bar Americain
                152 W. 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019

                Mercer Kitchen
                99 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012

                1. re: gutsofsteel

                  there's no other "Nation's First" pizza from 1905. say what you will about the pizza itself (I'll likely agree), i still feel that it's a worthwhile stop for an inexpensive dinner for tourists.

                  1. re: coasts

                    Why should tourists eat mediocre food, especially when they come here to CH to ask for advice on GOOD food to eat? She also said "nicer than a diner-type of place" which Lombardi's isn't. Just because Lombardi's is old doesn't make it good. She didn't ask for a recommendation for a tourist attraction with mediocre food.

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      i think you've made it clear that you're not a fan of lombardi's. that said, your suggestion was "stick with burger"...not so helpful, agreed?

                      if i were visiting a city, i'd be interested to know about their landmark restaurants, especially if it met the budget and limitations already set out. to some people, there's greater satisfaction in saying "i ate at the oldest pizza place in America" than saying "i had the best piece of pizza".

                      you know what, i ate at what i recall being the oldest restaurants in San Francisco AND in Boston, both chowhound-recommended. i enjoyed both meals tremendously and have recommended both places to other travelers.

                2. re: coasts

                  Lombardi's is not historic. This is a myth created by Lombardi's. It's true the original Lombardi's was opened in 1897 at 53 1/2 Spring Street but it closed in 1984. Ten years later John Brescio opened a pizzeria at 32 Spring Street and used the same name. Besides the name it shares nothing with the original.

                    1. re: coasts

                      Who cares? Lomarbadi's is still just a restaurant that opened in 1994 that used the name of the first restaurant that sold pizza in America. I can change my name to George Washington but it wouldn't make me the first president.

                      Here is an article in the NYTimes from 1995. From the 2nd paragraph, "Tradition explains why Andrew Bellucci called the pizzeria he opened in SoHo last year Lombardi's, after the restaurant opened on Spring Street in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi, an Italian immigrant who is credited with introducing pizza to New York City."


                      1. re: coasts

                        I thought you wrote plaGue so I clicked on the link. Dumb!!

                        How about Katz's for good old American fare. You can split one of their monster Pastrami sammiches and still have enough leftover for 2 egg creams and fries or a knish!!

                        1. re: Motosport

                          Katz's online menu ( is showing a pastrami sandwich at $14.95 and a brisket sandwich at $14.45. I consider those their two best sandwiches, provided that the brisket is ordered juicy. (The pastrami is definitely their best sandwich, in my opinion, though some of my friends have actually preferred the brisket. But the pastrami can actually be too fatty for my taste if I order it juicy, so I try to order it moderately juicy). So even with a tip of a couple of bucks to the counterman, a couple of cans of Cel-Ray ($2.50 apiece) and a small order of cole slaw ($4.50), plus tax, you come out under $50.

                          The one potential problem for Jessica is that the room at Katz's is not really nicer than a diner, though it is certainly way more interesting and historic than a diner, with all the photos of celebrities who've patronized the place through the years, and the pastrami is really special and undoubtedly nothing like you could get in Connecticut.

                          1. re: Pan

                            I consider the pastrami on rye with mustard to be one of the top ten things to eat in NYC.

                            No combos, no corned beef, no reuben, just juicy pastrami on rye. The other food is good, but if you just want to taste their best-pastrami on rye

                            1. re: AdamD

                              I fully agree, with one modification: Hold the mustard for me. :-)

                              1. re: Pan

                                "Hold the mustard"!!! OY!! Just kidding!!
                                I think of Katz's as a quintessential NYC eating experience. They should charge a fee just to take in the sights, sounds and heady aroma of the place. I don't know of another place in the world like Katz's.
                                And the food is great too!!
                                Keep it simple: Hot pastrami on rye, tip the counterman a buck and tell him if you want lean or juicy (liitle bit of fat). You don't need waiter service so you'll save on that tip. Egg cream or Dr Brown's and a knish. You'll be well under $50 total!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't lose your tickets!!!

                                1. re: Motosport

                                  They should charge an entrance fee? Don't give them any ideas!

                                  1. re: Motosport

                                    do you find that tip makes any difference in the sandwich?

                                    1. re: thew

                                      Probably not but it is a courtesy. I always give him a buck or two before I order the pastrami the way I like it. "A little fatty, not lean." I am never dissatisfied with the sammich. I never sit at the waiter tables. I enjoy waiting in line (fast moving) and chatting up the out of towners. I always ask them "how did you hear about Katz's?"

                                      1. re: thew

                                        I don't know. I always give the tip after they give me the sandwich. But then again, some of the staff might recognize me from previous trips. I always get tasty pastrami, and when the sample isn't totally to my liking, I specify why and usually have them get another. In those cases, I tip extra.

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          The main reason to tip IMHO is to get a few extra slices while you wait. And you need to make sure they see. Sometimes they are so busy slicing they don't notice.

                                          1. re: AdamD

                                            That sandwich is so huge. Why would you want a larger sample? They always give me a sample.

                                            1. re: Pan

                                              Pan: Your comment reminded me of my cheap cousin Leo Jr.. He would actually bring two slices of rye bread and a sammich bag to Katz's and make two sammiches from the one huge sammich.
                                              "Tomorrows lunch" he would say.

                                              1. re: Motosport

                                                that isn't cheap. it's sensible

                                                1. re: thew

                                                  Agreed. I can't eat a whole Katz's pastrami sandwich in one sitting. And their bread is not good as it is. I have been known to bring good rye bread and make two sandwiches from one, and take one home. Better than throwing away a half eaten huge sandwich.

                                                  Not sure what is "cheap" about that.

                                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                                    MVNYC: Back in the day (I am an old guy) there was a TV commercial for Levy's Jewish Rye bread. The counterman in the commercial says: "It makes a nice sammich, a nice sammich" I could never think of it as a sandwhich after that.
                                                    Anyone else remember that commercial?

                                                        1. re: Motosport

                                                          No. I remember the "You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's" campaign, though, which took place in the early 80s when I was in high school. As I recall, their billboards in the subway included a white ballerina, an Indian in full headdress, a black man, and a white Catholic priest. There must have been a Hispanic, too, and I think there was a Chinese man as well.

                                                          I'm Jewish and grew up here in Manhattan, and it's never been anything but a sandwich to me. I never heard of a "sammich" until I started reading online food boards.

                                                          1. re: Motosport

                                                            The line/quote is attributed to Leo Steiner, from the Carnegie Deli......and it was for Arnold Breads, if not mistaken, not Levy's

                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                              Nope - Pan is absolutely correct. I still have one of the posters from that ad campaign. But the ad campaign started in the 60's, not the 80's.

                                                              Levy's was sold to Arnold's in 1979.


                                                              1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                It must have still been going at least into 1979, if not the 80s. I remember the posters up in the Times Square station when I went to the High School of Performing Arts (1979-83).

                                                                1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                  The don't have to be Jewish....or

                                                                  makes a nice sandwich, a nice sandwich......campaign?

                                                                  I refer to the latter.

                                                                2. re: fourunder

                                                                  Yup I knew Leo well. Very funny guy.

                                                                3. re: Motosport

                                                                  His name was Leo Steiner. The brother of a good friend of Mine. He grew up in Elizabeth, NJ and was a very funny guy. Leo is who made the Carnegie Deli famous. He died several years ago. He was on David Letterman many times and it was his personality that made him the favorite Deli man of so many celebrities. All the Deli scenes in Woody Allen's 'Broadway Danny Rose' took place at his Deli . Woody even gave him a speaking part in the movie but from behind the Deli case. You won't see him, but you'll here him answer questions in the movie.
                                                                  If you Google his name you can read more about him if you'd like.
                                                                  RIP Leo, and yes you made a nice sandwich...a nice sandwich!

                                                                  Carnegie Deli
                                                                  854 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                                                                  1. re: JerseyBilly

                                                                    @ Jersey Billy: It's "a nice sammich, a nice sammich!!"

                                                            2. re: Pan

                                                              I dont think they are oversized at all. Consider the extra slices an appetizer.

                                                              1. re: AdamD

                                                                Everybody has different capacities. One person's appetizer size portion is another person's main course.

                                                                1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                  After all this talk about Katz's I hope Jessicaruth takes her dad there!!

                                                                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                    True, but compared to some of the other "famous" delis, Katz's is relatively small.

                                                                  2. re: AdamD

                                                                    I consider them mainly a taste test of the meat.

                                                                2. re: AdamD

                                                                  I tip after and I still get the sample slices.

                                              2. re: coasts

                                                Patsy's in East Harlem and Arturo's in the Village are also historic attractions. What's the point, then, in going to Lombardi's for inferior pizza? (Caveat: Some hounds have been complaining of mediocre pizza from Arturo's lately. But hasn't Lombardi's been mediocre for years?)

                                                1. re: coasts

                                                  You're lucky that you know people like that -- I know folks who live in and NYC DEFINITELY don't eat Chinese food. Getting an eggroll down is a minor victory!

                                              3. re: coasts

                                                haha i enjoyed that post...
                                                also, as i am from CT.. i'm not a complete tourist - does that change any of your suggestions?

                                                1. re: jessicaruth

                                                  how long are you staying? if you are here for just one day and night, you'll want to make each meal as memorable as possible.

                                                  1. re: coasts

                                                    just going in for the day - so we'll be there for lunch and then probably an early dinner before catching the train back home

                                              4. re: gutsofsteel

                                                no not really including tax and tip - just trying to keep the bill around $50...

                                                1. re: jessicaruth

                                                  Around $50 for two or for one? $50/person is a whole lot different from $20/person, but of course, $25/person is not too much more than $20.

                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                    I would assume $50 for two, since her initial post said around $20 per person.

                                              5. re: jessicaruth

                                                the food at Vinyl is terrible, imho.

                                            2. momofuko noodle bar
                                              shake shack
                                              bar room at the modern - might be too expensove
                                              aquavit lounge
                                              osteria morini
                                              lots more

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: tldmatrix

                                                Bar Room, Aquavit, Osteria Morini, and iTrulli are all too expensive.

                                                You would probably enjoy lunch/brunch at Jane.

                                                Osteria Morini
                                                218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                                                1. re: loratliff

                                                  lounge at aquavit is under 20...the other 3 are on the border.

                                                  1. re: tldmatrix

                                                    Of nine entrees on Aquavit's lounge menu, only two are under $20. Even their lunch prix fixe is $24.07, so no, I don't think it's under $20.

                                              2. Keste, for sure. i would also look at Sevilla. it's very affordable and has a great feel to it. i have some personsal rules that i adhere to when i go, which is still quite often. if you are at all a typical 17 year old, check out Ditch Plains, Mark Murphy's dogs topped with mac n cheese. hell yeah!

                                                Ditch Plains
                                                29 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

                                                62 Charles St, New York, NY 10014

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: coasts

                                                  Agree with Keste.
                                                  For dinner, you could go to the Redhead if you're interested in food with a Southern twist. Their entrees hover around $20, but they do have a burger for $11 also.

                                                2. I took a friend to Marseille for dinner - it's technically "French Bistro" but he's a picky eater and doesn't like to get too exotic. There is a lot of familiar stuff on their menu, and he enjoyed himself quite a bit. It's not TOO expensive, but might be a bit outside of your range.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Heatherb

                                                    I think it is. I believe I paid around $40 there for brunch, including tax and tip. Dinner is more expensive than brunch.

                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                      Yeah, you're right, Pan. I had the prix fixe dinner when I was there for $35, but it was good value for the price, I thought. My buddy liked it quite a bit - he'd never been to NYC and does NOT like anything exotic. Marseille's menu pushed his comfort zones just enough that he had an interesting experience and we weren't relegated to Friday's at Times Square:)

                                                      Jessicaruth, you might want to convince dad to do pizza for lunch and spring for a little more for dinner:) In terms of pizza places, I always liked Bella Napoli when I was working in the city - I think they have two locations. Not sure what the local opinion is though on that.

                                                      Bella Napoli
                                                      150 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019

                                                  2. Pasta, at lunch, at Becco will easily meet your price point. Dinner shouldn't ruin you budget by more than a few dollars each.

                                                    Having said that, soup and a seriously good burger at Molly's might work for you. I like this place a lot. Sit near the fire if that's important to you.