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Manhattan with a 10 Year Old

I let my nephew pick a destination for a vacation for his 10th birthday present. He picked New York. We are going in early January to experience the city around Christmas and the New Year. We are staying at the Affinia at 37th and Lexington and I need some advice on food. Like most kids, he loves pizza, hot dogs, and steak.

This is what I have planned so far, but I am flexible.

Lombardi's
Joe's Pizza
Keen's (or a cheaper option if possible)
Papaya King
Maybe Eataly

I would also love a diner with some character. I read about Empire or there is Murray Hill Diner that is near our hotel. Any advice would be appreciated. I also thought about Junior's for some cheesecake.

Thanks in advance. Oh yeah, we will only be there for four days.

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  1. Hit up Penelope for breakfast one morning. Its walking distance from your hotel and the food is great. You may have to wait a bit for a table.
    Forget Keens and go to Wolfgangs on Park. Again walking distance and he wont mind the loud noise. Much better people watching too.
    I prefer Arturos for pizza over the 2 you mention but on 39th and 3rd there is Royal for a great sicilian slice. For get the diners you mention, not worth it. Head up to Harlem for some BBQ at Dinosaur if you are not from BBQ part of the country.

    -----
    Arturo's
    106 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

    Penelope
    159 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

    Wolfgang's
    4 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

    Royal Pizza
    592 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

    Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
    777 W. 125th Street, New York, NY 10027

    3 Replies
    1. re: princeofpork

      Sarges

      -----
      Sarge's Delicatessen
      548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

      1. re: princeofpork

        Totally disagree about scratching Keen's. It is a great choice for young children -- great food plus a NY museum. I have been with young people and the staff is very accommodating about taking them on a tour of the entire place and explaining the history and fascinating objects that abound. By the way, what a great aunt/uncle you are!

        -----
        Keens
        72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

        1. re: City Kid

          Ditto on Keen's- wait until he sees the painting over the bar and the pipes in the ceiling! They have a great pub menu ...

      2. > Lombardi's

        I would replace this with John's of Bleecker.

        > Joe's Pizza

        Currently I think that the slice at South Brooklyn is a hair better.

        Keen's is a great choice.

        See also:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/753369
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693492
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/711832
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/710673
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/753930
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/798911

        -----
        Joe's Pizza
        7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

        South Brooklyn Pizza
        122 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

        1. My advice (I'm the father of a 12-year-old, if that matters):

          Most kids are not as picky about pizza as adults. I think any of the classic NY pizza places will thrill most kids. I would avoid the newer artisan-style places, such as Co., Keste and Motorino. Not that they're not good (Co. is my favorite), it's just that I think the Lombardi's/John's/Arturo's variety are better suited for a 10-year-old.

          If your nephew is a real meat eater, take him to Keens. Consider, however, sitting in the pub room, which is slightly more casual, but which also allows you to order off the regular menu or the more casual pub menu (which includes smaller versions of some of Keens's classics).

          If your nephew is a burger guy, consider the burger joint at the Parker Meridien Hotel. No need to debate whether it is or is not the best burger in NYC (it's not, but it's a really good burger nonetheless); it's just a great place to bring a kid. My daughter loved it at that age. (We called it the "secret hamburger place," even though it's always crowded!) For a more upscale burger (and a much more extensive menu) at a place that accepts reservations, consider 5 Napkin Burger.

          Forget Eataly. I can't imagine many 10-year-olds will get the place. I don't either!

          Also think about Serendipity. There are lots of things to hate about the place, but it's hard to find a 10-year-old (including a foodie 10-year-old) who doesn't love the place.

          The best place for hot dogs and french fries in NYC -- and a great attraction to boot: Katz's Deli.

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

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

          Arturo's
          106 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

          Keens
          72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

          John's Pizzeria
          278 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

          Serendipity 3
          225 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022

          Lombardi's
          32 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

          Five Napkin Burger
          630 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10036

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

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

          Eataly
          200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

          5 Replies
          1. re: Blumie

            i'm not sure but it seems like jan might be just a tad late for christmas in ny? when do the decorations start coming down? are the christmas windows still up? of course, nyc is worth it at any time of the year as long as his expectations are not dashed!

            1. re: betsydiver

              I don't believe the decorations come down immediately after New Year's. Certainly, if you at least visit in the first half of January, I'd think the decorations would still be in place.

              1. re: betsydiver

                Unfortunately we can't make it any earlier. We are really just looking to experience NYC in winter. If Christmas stuff is still up that will be great, but not imperative. Is the tree at Rockefeller Center still up in early January? That would be nice to see.

                1. re: antzona

                  Last year the last day to view the tree was January 7.

              2. re: Blumie

                I agree heartily with everything Blumie said above.

              3. Thanks for all the great suggestions so far. It looks like we have some tough decisions to make. I'm always afraid that time and geography will end up making a couple choices for us.

                I forgot to mention that we are going to Katz's. I love it and I am sure he will too. We live in southern California and we just don't have places like that. Although, Langer's in downtown LA is pretty close, but that's another topic. The last time I was at Katz's I wasn't eating beef at all. I still don't eat it much, but I'll have a pastrami, instead of the turkey I had last time. I've regretted it ever since. My nephew will love their hot dogs.

                I have been to the John's near Times Square. It's the same as the Bleecker isn't it? I thought it was okay. I used to love the Famous Original Ray's of Greenwich Village but the last time I had it in the mid 2000s it had really gotten bad. I love Arturo's too, but when I've gone it has been really crowded and they have live jazz don't they? We'll see what he thinks of that. I haven't been to Joe's but it looks like my nephew's style of pizza. I need to look at South Brooklyn. I also forgot to mention Grimaldi's. I have never been, but I have always read good things. Is it worth the trip over the bridge?

                Wolfgang's looks interesting. I have to admit when I first saw it mentioned on Yelp I thought it was Wolfgang Puck and wrote it off. I'll have to let my nephew decide if we do Keen's or Wolfgangs.

                Thanks again for all the suggestions. Keep 'em coming.

                PS- I am an uncle, and Eataly is a selfish choice, because I am curious. I think he would find something of interest too. We'll see...

                -----
                Eataly
                200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

                Grimaldi's
                47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

                10 Replies
                1. re: antzona

                  Grimaldi's now has a Manhattan location (in the old Limelight space). But the Brooklyn location hasn't been worth the trip in years--poor attention to detail, sloppy pies made without love for teeming masses. The trip across the bridge is lovely in and of itself, and the ice cream and Jacques Torres near the Brooklyn Grimaldi's is great (but you can get that in Manhattan too).

                  -----
                  Grimaldi's
                  47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

                  1. re: antzona

                    The John's on Bleecker is much better than the one in Times Square, especially of you order it with green bell peppers and get it well done. Minimal toppings, as for most NY pizzerias, is recommended.

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

                    John's Pizzeria
                    278 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                    1. re: antzona

                      Wolfgang's is actually a spinoff of Peter Lugar by the former headwaiter. I'm sure it's great but I think that Keen's would be magical for a 10-year-old. Here is an interesting article on Keen's and its history:
                      http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/07/...

                      1. re: City Kid

                        Wow "magical" ? you do realize these kids have likely been to Disney World tons of museams and have iPads at their disposal.

                        1. re: princeofpork

                          The day the ipad becomes the height of experiencing the magic of childhood, I think we're in trouble.

                          1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                            Agreed but my point was using the term Magical for a 10 year old in relation to Keens was a bit of a stretch

                            1. re: princeofpork

                              Having been to Keen's with kids, I maintain "magical," the old-fashioned, use-your-imagination, low-tech kind...the trip back in time, the pipes, the Lincoln memorabilia, paintings, etc. And the food ain't bad either!

                              1. re: City Kid

                                I can see that, and my nephew is the type to appreciate the history and magic of a place like Keen's. We will have an iPad with us on the trip though, for some more modern magic.

                          2. re: princeofpork

                            I kind of agree w/ princeofpork - I'm trying to think back to when I was 10. I was a pretty inquisitive kid, into history and all that stuff, but I don't think Keens would have fascinated me that much as a ten-year-old. Old pipes, sure, Lincoln, okay, then what? (ten-year-old talking) Of course, the OP's nephew may be totally more mature and intelligent than I was when I was ten.

                            ten-year-old me however would have loved Crif Dogs - all the different kinds of DEEP FRIED hot dogs, CHEESY TATER TOTS, cool tunes (usually) and if it's later in the evening, good people watching and the phone booth trick!

                            -----
                            Crif Dogs
                            113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                        2. re: antzona

                          Definitely, definitely do Keen's.

                        3. I live close to your hotel. My suggestions:

                          Breakfast: Scotty's Diner for a nice inexpensive diner experience (better than Murray Hill or Bloom's which is awful) or go to Penelope's for something more creative. For a great bagel experience try Vic's Bagels on 3rd ave just North of 36th St. If you head down to SOHO early try Ceci-Cela for fabulous croissants and cafe au lait. It's a little slice of Paris in Manhattan.

                          Junior's in Grand Central for cheesecake. My favorite is the strawberry cheese pie. You can also get it to go. If your 10 year old is adventurous try Grand Central Oyster Bar. Sit at the bar. The space is amazing. Have some oysters if you like oysters or just some chowder or bisque. The rest of the menu is not memorable. We use it as a jumping off spot (appetizer) before we move on to serious eats.

                          Just down 37th ST is Dukes for good BBQ/burgers/brunch. Above Dukes is El Rio Grande for good Tex/Mex. Just down 3rd Ave is Sarge's open 24/7 great pastrami sammiches but not as good as the Katz's experience.

                          If you like authentic Asian walk up Lexington to Mapo Tofu or the Hunan place across the street. Both are excellent. The Hunan place is a bit more adventurous.

                          Rare @ the hotel is good but not much of an experience.

                          Patsy's pizza on 3rd Ave is good and not too much into the gourmet pizza trend. There is also a pizza place down Lex on the SW corner that I hear is good but haven't tried.

                          For old style red sauce Italian try Rossini's on 38th just West of Lexington. They even have an opera singer one night.

                          If you like middle eastern food: Ali Baba on 34th St East of 3rd or Sip Sak on 2nd Ave but my favorite most authentic middle eastern place is Al Bustan uptown just East of 2nd Av. Walkable if the weather is nice. Actually, most of Manhattan is walkable if the weather is nice. I've often said "they should charge a fee for just walking and watching"

                          Eataly may be a bit hectic for a meal but you have to walk around.

                          Near Eataly is City Bakery which has some unique breakfast items. Carmelized french toast and some of the best hot chocolate you will ever have. It's rich so get a small one and get a home made marshmallow too.

                          For a nice cup of coffee skip the hotel and go about 100 feet up Lex to the Lucid Cafe.

                          Don't miss Chinatown!!! Lots of suggestions on CH.

                          Morgan Museum is just up the street. There is a nice movie theater on 2nd Av and 31 St.

                          You can walk over to the East River on 29th ST and ge a great view.

                          ENJOY!! Hope you have good weather.

                          -----
                          Ceci-Cela
                          55 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                          Grand Central Oyster Bar
                          89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

                          Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine
                          212 E 34th St, New York, NY 10016

                          Al Bustan
                          319 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

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

                          Sarge's Delicatessen
                          548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Penelope
                          159 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Junior's
                          45 Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY 10017

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

                          El Rio Grande
                          160 East 38th Street, New York, NY 10016

                          Patsy's Pizzeria
                          509 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Duke's
                          560 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10016

                          Rossini's
                          108 E 38th St, New York, NY 10016

                          Scotty's Diner
                          336 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Mapo Tofu
                          338 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Vic's Bagel Bar
                          544 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Eataly
                          200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

                          Lucid Cafe
                          311 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Rare Bar & Grill
                          303 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Hunan Manor
                          339 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Motosport

                            Wow, thanks! I'll definitely try out some of your suggestions. I appreciate you taking the time to give me such a thorough guide to the area.

                            1. re: Motosport

                              Can you tell me more about what you like about Ali Baba? We were at the 2nd ave location recently and got a lot of hostility for only ordering a bunch of appetizers (despite the fact that the place was only about 1/3 full, and that we were in and out). The bread was reheated and hard, but the new basket of bread we requested, and all the rest of the food we got was delicious. That being said, I don't know that the food made up for the attitude enough that we'll ever venture back.

                              1. re: rose water

                                That's odd! We've been there many times and mostly order appetizers (Mezze in Arabic) and share an entree or two. There are usually 6-8 of us. Don't know what to say about your experience.
                                Lately we've been going to Al Bustan since it's a bit more authentic Arabic than Turkish. Check it out.

                                -----
                                Al Bustan
                                319 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

                            2. Ed's Chowder House is great for kids. Very close to Lincoln Center and Columbus Circle.

                              -----
                              Ed's Chowder House
                              44 W 63rd St, New York, NY 10023

                              1. Well, we just got back on Sunday night from our little vacation in NYC. I really appreciate all the advice in this thread. As most vacations go, we weren't able to hit everything we planned, and our food choices were often dictated by timing and location. We had to settle a couple times, because I had a hungry ten year old to take care of, when alone I would have hopped on a train for 30 minutes to get to something better.

                                Here's what we had...

                                Breakfast:

                                Some diner near Time Square (Evergreen or something)- Totally forgettable

                                Doughnut from a street cart

                                Bagel and Fruit from Murray Hill Market

                                2nd Ave. Deli- Bad choice for two bacon eaters :)

                                Lunch:

                                Joe's Shanghai- Nephew loves dumpings and soup- Those were fine but the rest was blah

                                Natural History Museum- He loved the slice of pizza, I was in pain

                                Joe's Pizza- We both really liked the slice and had some gelato at Grom a couple doors down, which was good but way too expensive.

                                Dinner:

                                Royal Pizza- I loved my slice and my nephew seemed to enjoy his (Our doorman recommend it, and I forgot someone had here too)

                                Giuseppe's Pizza- We had another slice here the same night as Royal. Not as good as Royal, but not bad

                                Sarge's Deli- Pastrami/Corned Beef with slaw and Russian Dressing was good but not as good as Langer's in LA (ouch!) Nephew loved his Chicken Noodle soup

                                Keen's- Steak was really good. My nephew seemed to really like the history of the place and the pipes. Our waiter was nice and gave us a little history lesson on the restaurant.

                                Papaya King- I think this was my nephew's favorite meal of the trip. They are some pretty tastey dogs.

                                I also got a snack from Desi Shack on 39th and Lexington. I had an aloo roll that was awesome and fresh. Really great flavors that reminded me of my trips to India.

                                Oh yeah, we also went to Junior's in GC for some cheesecake, which was awesome, well to me at least.

                                Thanks again for all the advice and helping making this vacation better in the food department. We'll have to go back soon to hit the other places we missed.

                                -----
                                Keens
                                72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

                                Joe's Shanghai
                                24 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                                Sarge's Delicatessen
                                548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                Second Avenue Deli
                                162 E 33rd St, New York, NY 10016

                                Junior's
                                45 Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY 10017

                                Joe's Pizza
                                7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                                Royal Pizza
                                592 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                Grom
                                233 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                                Evergreen
                                145 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                                Giuseppe's
                                341 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                Murray Hill Market
                                136 E 34th St, New York, NY 10016

                                Desi Shack
                                331 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                Museum Food Court
                                Central Park West W 79th Street, New York, NY 10024

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: antzona

                                  Hold on, couple of follow up questions;
                                  you can get bacon anywhere, why was the meal at 2nd ave deli dependant on bacon? Then you go to Sarges where they offer bacon and not get any? I am confused on that one.Why were you in pain from a slice of pizza? Too Hot?
                                  Did you get the Scicilian at Royal?
                                  Why go to Sarges if you just had 2nd ave deli?

                                  1. re: princeofpork

                                    Haha, the meal at 2nd Avenue wasn't dependent on bacon. I wanted to try it out since it was close to our hotel and recommended, and we had already eaten at Sarge's. It was our last morning in NYC and we needed breakfast and I decided to go to 2nd Avenue. I knew they wouldn't have bacon or any pork, but I thought it would still be worth it. It was fine, but it would have been much better to have lunch or dinner. My nephew just had eggs and I had a pastrami omelette. After the meal I just thought it would have been better to eat there at lunch or dinner or go to a diner for breakfast.

                                    The pain at the meal at the museum was the terrible chicken stromboli I ordered. I should have just had a slice of pizza like my nephew. It wasn't terrible, but it was museum food. Sorry for being vague and confusing.

                                    I just had a slice of cheese pizza at Royal and my nephew had pepperoni. I am not a big fan of Sicilian, although it would have been nice to get some variety. When I am in NYC I normally just get cheese, and then add some garlic and red pepper.

                                    We had dinner at Sarge's the second night we were there, and had 2nd Avenue the last morning. They were both close and convenient. 2nd Avenue was good but I should have thought it out more and not gone there for breakfast or just had a pastrami sandwich for breakfast.

                                    I love Katz's and would have gone there too, if we had the time and we were in the right area around meal time.

                                  2. re: antzona

                                    A+ on Sarges, Papaya King and Junior's. I love that strawberry cheese pie!! Good to hear you liked Desi Shack. I have been wanting to try it.

                                    1. re: Motosport

                                      I can picture some people not really liking Desi Shack. It is basically Chipotle with Indian food. I liked the novelty of having Indian food at a cheap take out place. Where I live, Indian means either lunch buffet or full-on dinner. We don't have cheap Indian take-out places. When I have been in India I love what they call aloo, lamb, or chicken rolls. It is just an Indian burrito- potatoes or meat wrapped in paratha. Desi Shack satisfied that craving. I would imagine some of the carts I saw around the city probably have some pretty good affordable Indian food too. I liked the toppings Desi Shack offered and the choice of chutneys. It all seemed really fresh too. Give it a try.

                                      -----
                                      Desi Shack
                                      331 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                      1. re: antzona

                                        Thanks for the info. Come back soon. Try Scotty's for breakfast next time. It does not look memorable but they have great breakfast and it's cheap. Also Penelope's just down Lex for a more creative breakfast.

                                        -----
                                        Penelope
                                        159 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                        Scotty's Diner
                                        336 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                        1. re: Motosport

                                          Yeah, we walked by Scotty's quite a bit. I remembered the recommendation, but it just never worked out. My nephew isn't a huge breakfast food fan, but we should have gone there instead of just eating from a street cart or the market. Maybe next time.

                                  3. Thanks for reporting back -- glad you had a great trip!