HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
What's your latest food quest? Tell us about it

Hungry teens/cheapskate husband. Can this vacation be saved?

Layne Murphy Apr 2, 2011 02:05 PM

Greetings from L.A. I know the importance of research and people on our board get really petulant when people say, "I'm coming to L.A, tell me what to eat." I'm visiting Manhattan for long weekend with husband and two teenage boys. We're staying in Tribeca and our itinerary includes Whitney, MOMA and Guggenheim. I've poured over the Chowhound, the NY Times and some other sites and my head is spinning. I see places on the map but I really don't have an accurate idea of travel time which complicates planning an itinerary. Here are our specifics: Three of us are non-shell fish eating pescatarians. The older kid eats anything and will require at least one big red meat extravaganza. It seems to me also that my boys could blow any competitive eating champion out of the water and having had a little sticker shock perusing NY menus I am concerned. Husband very thrifty and hates more than anything waiting in a line although good beer assuages the crustiness a bit. There has been some debate about the quintessential New Yorkiness of Shake Shack but I think the kids would like it. I also want to try Vegetarian Dim Sum because to my knowledge there's nothing like this in L.A. Otherwise, outstanding Asian and Mexican are in our regular rotation so unless there's something mind blowing and not budget busting, we'd probably stick to other cuisines. Our budget for the four of us is $250 a day and this should include tips and a couple beers. We all like pasta and the three males love pizza which I can take or leave. I will rationalize this with my intention to do a lot of walking but L.A. is notorious for mediocre bread so good sandwich and breakfast recommendations will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  1. c
    cornweasel Apr 8, 2011 04:06 PM

    First, I would like to second Pita Joe's - big portions and delicious, it is a drop in and eat type of place. Tribeca is close to Little Italy which I think would be an enjoyable evening for two teenage boys and you and your husband - lots of pasta and pizza and red wine (especially if it is warm, also can be touristy but find a good spot and ignore all the pushy "come to my restaurant" types). I would tend to stay away from "mexican" food as NYC does not have much that I find impressive. Places like La Esquina (at Lafayette and Kenmare, choose the to-go side, not eat-in) or Cafe Habana (cuban and very small on Spring St.-expect a terribly long wait but pop into Spring St Lounge for some beers) are good places to go to feed your Mexican food cravings. If you are on the Upper East Side visiting museums Cascabel Taqueria has great tacos but they are small - the lunch special is good though. Does your family like sushi? I would tell your husband not to be too stressed about the money - everything is just expensive and your weekend will be most enjoyable if you know that you will probably go over budget but accept it. You are headed to the right places and after that just enjoy yourself and spend it! People always like to say that New Yorkers are impatient but I don't find that true - find a line and relax, look around, talk to your family and that other person in the line...its all part of the experience...

    Cafe Habana
    229 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

    La Esquina
    106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

    Pita Joe
    2 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

    Spring Lounge
    48 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

    1538 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

    1. p
      photofinish4 Apr 8, 2011 12:29 PM

      Vapiano - Fresh pasta, great atmosphere. Looks like a high end restaurant inside, great vibe, but it is more of a v upscale cafeteria. You walk in, they hand you a card to charge your meal to, then you go to the stations where they prepare your salad, appetizers, pizza, or pasta fresh and in front of you. All the pasta - including the penne - is fresh, and the food is very very good. They are located 3 blocks from the Union Square subway so it might be worth a quick detour. The menu is inexpensive. Pastas are about $10. Apparently this concept started in Germany and then DC/Virginia and has been so successful that they are expanding rapidly.

      Any of the upscale burger places are a great choice, too -- I have never been, but you can read more about the Burger Joint, which should be close to MOMA. There will likely be a wait, though --- so go early or on an off hour.

      i also love Zigolinis pizza bar Hells kitchen. Very authentic Italian pizza with v fresh ingredients. 9th Avenue and 46th/ 47th street. They dont get that crowded so may be worth the hike from MOMA.

      Burger Joint
      118 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

      Zigolinis Pizza Bar
      675 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

      113 University Pl, New York, NY 10003

      2 Replies
      1. re: photofinish4
        small h Apr 8, 2011 04:53 PM

        I just went to Vapiano last night, as it happens, and I would not recommend it. I had a pizza with arugula, and it reminded me of something you'd find at a pretty nice corporate cafeteria. And their ice is too warm, resulting in watery (and sadly undersized) drinks. The card system struck me as ridiculous, although if you want to dine and dash, this is clearly an easy place to do it - I went out to smoke with the card in my pocket and could've just kept walking. It's not a bad place to meet up with friends if you're in the area and need some space to spread out - the place is immense - but with so much good and interesting food available in Manhattan, there's no reason for a visitor to spend money or time there.

        1. re: small h
          bklynsausage Apr 8, 2011 04:59 PM

          I have not been there but I have never been to any type of chain that was worth going back to by choice. I also agree in NY there is no reason to eat at a chain...


      2. aching Apr 5, 2011 06:14 PM

        Hello, fellow Angeleno! I too am headed to New York and, as I always do before a vacation, I've created an eating map:


        Although my criteria is a bit different than yours, my focus was on inexpensive but great food, and I did a lot of research. Hope it helps you!

        1. j
          Jane A. Apr 5, 2011 08:32 AM

          A 5-10 minute walk from MOMA, you'll find Angelo's Coal Oven Pizza on 57th St. between 6th & 7th Aves. [MOMA is bet. 5th & 6th on 53rd St.] The pizza is great, prices reasonable, and there are fabulous salads for you. Shake Shack is cool, but your teens will barely consider that a mid-day snack. Guaranteed, they'll be hungry again in an hour. It's happened to me!

          Angelo's Pizza
          117 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

          1. visciole Apr 5, 2011 07:44 AM

            Re: travel time, just get yourself unlimited metrocards and a subway map for the weekend and you can easily get pretty much anywhere in Manhattan in less than 30 minutes.

            1. b
              bklynsausage Apr 5, 2011 05:55 AM

              You will have no trouble eating within budget in NYC. If you want the best Kosher Deli in the country go to Katzs Deli if the boys love meat thisis the place!!! Also another good pizza pasta place is Three Of Cups on first Ave. very reasonable and great pizza. I have been to LA many times and unless you go to Mozza you have not had good pizza.


              Katz's Delicatessen
              205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

              Three of Cups
              83 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

              1 Reply
              1. re: bklynsausage
                pbjluver Apr 8, 2011 01:47 PM

                FYI...Katz's is not Kosher

              2. d
                dayzdnc0nfusd Apr 5, 2011 05:25 AM

                If the weather's nice and your'e looking to stay local on a weekday - walk down Church St or Broadway to Zucotti Park (Cedar between Broadway and Church). Go before 11 or after 2 to avoid the lines of financiers. One of my favorite falafel places in the city is Sam's Falafel - huge sandwiches for $4 or large plates for $6. Wash it down with a freshly made juice (or mango milkshake) from one of the other carts and you're good to go.

                Also, this park is conveniently located across from the World Trade Center site if you planned on making that part of your visit.

                Sam's Falafel
                Broadway Cedar St, New York, NY 10007

                1. b
                  Blumie Apr 4, 2011 08:48 AM

                  A great only-in-NY experience: head to one of the dumpling places in Chinatown where, quite literally, for $5 per person you can have a wonderful and filling meal of soup, meat or vegetable dumplings and meat or vegetable filled sesame pancakes. It's been a while since I did this, but I used to go to one of the places on Eldridge St. I'm sure other hounds can pipe in with their favorites. Expect to eat standing up.

                  1. rose water Apr 4, 2011 08:37 AM

                    IMHO, Xian Famous Foods falls under the "mindblowing and not budget busting" Asian food category. Their spicy cumin lamb noodles and tiger salad are among my absolute favorite foods in NYC these days. Though their east village shop has few seats, getting take out, and eating the food over great beers at d.b.a.'s back garden is an awesome way to spend time.

                    I think Shake Shack is a great bet for a good, inexpensive meal with good beer. If the weather is nice, I'd steer clear of the Madison Sq Park location, unless at off hours. The line there is too much for even the most die-hard Shake Shack loving, line tolerant/acclimated new yorkers. And if the (delicious) deep fried cheese oozing fat load that is the shroom burger is too much for the non-meat eaters in your group, there is an off menu grilled cheese option.

                    Google maps is a great way to figure out travel times, and there's an option that shows you how to get places via public transportation.

                    Shake Shack
                    Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                    41 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    Shake Shack
                    366 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

                    Xi'an Famous Foods
                    81 St. Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                    Shake Shack
                    691 8th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                    Shake Shack
                    154 East 86th Street, New York, NY 10028

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rose water
                      PotatoPuff Apr 5, 2011 05:34 AM

                      I think it is best to use hopstop.com for accurate travel times if you are taking the subway or busses. It also will estimate (pretty accurately) your cab fare. As for food - H&H Bagels for breakfast.

                      H&H Bagels
                      639 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                    2. s
                      Simon Apr 3, 2011 02:14 PM

                      -- consider Malatesta...very very reasonably priced Italian in W. Village...close to Hudson River, so fun for a walk there before or after dinner...rustic and fun...pastas are only like 12 or 13 dollars...

                      -- personally i dislike Kefi...had a poor meal there a couple years ago and won't return...if you were staying on UWS maybe, but not a destination place on a short trip in any case...

                      -- i agree that you should skip the veggie dimsum...

                      -- Ippudo ramen could be fun

                      649 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

                      65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                      1. m
                        michelleats Apr 3, 2011 11:31 AM

                        For breakfast or lunch before visiting the MoMA, stop by Amy's Bread or Sullivan St. Bakery in Hell's Kitchen. It is a pleasant walk to the MoMA, after, at least if the weather cooperates.

                        For lunch, grab a meal at one of the many food carts in the area and sit outside in an office building courtyard or walk to Central Park to eat.

                        - I know you don't want Asian as a general rule, but the kimchi arancini at the Kimchi Taco Truck are pretty interesting and good if you happen to be in the area on a Wednesday or Friday. (Their schedule is here: http://kimchitacotruck.com/ .)

                        - The son who eats red meat can gorge himself silly at the 53rd and 6th Ave. halal cart, parked by day on the southeast corner of the intersection.

                        - And the Taim Falafel truck is often in midtown on weekdays at lunchtime: http://twitter.com/taimmobile

                        Afterwards, stop by:

                        - Ethos in Midtown East for a relatively well priced grilled whole fish dinner (about $25 / fish and it comes with a side, bread and I think dessert, as well).

                        - Or take the subway down to the West Village and have an early dinner at Keste or John's Pizzeria or Bleeker St. Pizza, whichever is less crowded. They are all within a short distance of one another so you can peek into each.

                        - Or have a few beers and inexpensive, good pub grub at Blind Tiger Ale House, also on Bleeker St. Evidently they have free cheese on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. (http://www.blindtigeralehouse.com/events) and $1 off happy hours run from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays.

                        Sullivan Street Bakery
                        533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                        Bleecker Street Pizza
                        69 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

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

                        Blind Tiger
                        281 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                        John's Pizzeria
                        260 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

                        Halal Chicken and Gyro
                        106 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

                        905 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10022

                        Taim Mobile
                        , New York, NY 10001

                        Kimchi Taco
                        , New York, NY 10001

                        1. b
                          bruklinboy Apr 3, 2011 10:10 AM

                          dont know where you're staying in Tribeca, or if it involves a weekday (you did say long weekend) but if you want a "quintessential" ny eating experience then you have to eat from a street vendor.
                          in front of 390 greenwich st, on weekdays, there is falafel vendor that makes the best falafel in the area. for $5 the falafel over rice is a ton of food and the flavors are great. somedays they have hummus to go with it, some days salad and pickles, others roasted eggplant and sometimes all of it.
                          my co-workers also tell me the chicken over rice is delishus too. $5 too)
                          they also serve fried fish there too. and sodas (or water) are included in the $5.

                          1. k
                            kathryn Apr 2, 2011 11:02 PM

                            You can easily estimate travel time using Google Maps or something like Hopstop or the MTA travel planner. BTW, your husband's thriftiness and line-hating seem incompatible -- the reason a line is long sometimes is...because it's super-cheap! It's a good thing your family likes pasta and pizza. You can eat rather well at, say, Otto, Keste, or Motorino even on a limited budget.

                            I don't think vegetarian dim sum is worth the trip. Everything tasted the same to me when I tried it. I'm not a vegetarian, though, and love regular pork and shrimp based dim sum.

                            Sandwiches in NYC (many in NYC are pretty meat focused so while a famous place may have a great meat-based sandwich, their vegetarian ones may suck so YMMV):

                            Breakfast and brunch:

                            My first thought is to look into places that include a drink/coffee/OJ with breakfast or brunch. 'ino, Jane, The Smith, IIRC.

                            Pizza in NYC:

                            RGR's self guided LES walking tour is pretty inexpensive as well (sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles):

                            Here's some others:

                            Cheap eats in NYC by Time Out NY is a pretty great list, too:

                            Pickle Guys
                            49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                            100 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10012

                            1 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                            21 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

                            The Smith
                            55 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                            Keste Pizza & Vino
                            271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                            349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                            1. b
                              Brian W Apr 2, 2011 08:49 PM

                              Since you have a party of pizza lovers you should try Patsy's Pizza on 1st Ave at 117 Street. I don't think you'll find pizza like this on the Coast. It's a restaurant, not a slice place and you can get beer or wine. My wife thinks it's the best pizza in NY and I agree. She says it 's not the same as what she got as a little girl on 2 Ave and 28 Street and that's a good thing. Same goes for me. We never had this in Queens when I was growing up. Don't get fancy, just get a regular pie and maybe another one with a topping if you like. If your still hungry get another pie, the prices are cheap. The house salad is delicious and it feeds two, and the place is real old fashioned. I've brought Italian relatives from Queens there and they raved about it. Same goes for my cousins from Ireland.

                              You can ride an M15 bus up 1st Ave to 116 Street or just take a cab. if you are going from an UES museum a cab would be under $10. If you feel taking transit from Patsy's is daunting just walk one block or so East on 117 Street to Costco where there is a car service at the entrance to the garage. Or ask if Patsy's has a car service they use.

                              Patsy's Pizzeria
                              2287 1st Ave, New York, NY 10035

                              1. p
                                pbjluver Apr 2, 2011 03:39 PM

                                delicious Turkish food at
                                HANSI TURKISH CUISINE
                                854 10th Ave, New York 10019
                                (Btwn 56th & 57th St)


                                854 10th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                                1. p
                                  pbjluver Apr 2, 2011 03:35 PM

                                  take a walk over to Ninth Ave...Hell's Kitchen area...40s and 50s
                                  many great inexpensive ethnic places...Thai, Greek

                                  one of my fav inexpensive AND delicious places is Pita Joe on W. 14th Street & Fifth Ave.

                                  check out this great site to get an idea of what is out there

                                  Pita Joe
                                  2 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

                                  1. a
                                    andy27 Apr 2, 2011 03:17 PM

                                    If you're going to be around the UWS at any point, Kefi is a good option for lunch or dinner. It's very respectable Greek food. Ordering a variety of the meze plates and sharing is a good strategy--the grilled octopus is especially good. It's reasonably priced and there's rarely a wait since they moved to their larger location, although you might want to make a reservation anyway. It's probably about 25 minutes from Tribeca.

                                    505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                                    Show Hidden Posts