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Need the ambience says "Wow! We're not in Kansas anymore!"

Going with teens & adults from rural US, that have never been to NYC. Please help us plan, by giving names of restaurants that will cause us to say, "Wow! We're not in Kansas anymore!"

Food type & quality is not as important as ambience. Most of these kids are pizza, chicken finger type… so I'm not worried about the food bring back memories as much as the ambience leaving a lasting impression.

Lower price would mean we could do more of them… so that would be great! Not looking for ultra fancy, they will not be impressed by that. Not looking for Mars either, they've been to Rainforest type.

I've tried to search… Tao, Ellen's Stardust Diner, Charthouse Weehawken nj, seem like places I'm looking for. Maybe would like one with awesome view, one with cool decor, one with off the wall fun, one for China town experience… ???? (FYI we are also going to try to go to places that will hit their palate, like Shake Shack, Katz deli, John's pizzeria or another pizza place or two or three. Right now I seem to be able to find those in searching… just need help on the "Wow" ambience type)

Thanks for helping me out. I'm hoping to pack in memories for a lifetime in 5 days.

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

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

Ellen's Stardust Diner
1650 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

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

Tao
42 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

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  1. I'd suggest depending on the size of your party, to snag a table at one of the high end places for lunch. Lots of places will offer good lunch deals (Del Posto being prominent) that are top tier food and luxury NY at much lower price point (I think 3 courses at less than 30 bucks). I mean, if Tao was within your range, skip that and go somewhere else. I think everyone will be impress with the amuse bouche, extra desserts, and the room (at Del Posto, among other choices). Plus the Highline, Meatpacking, and Chelsea Market is also right there.

    -----
    Del Posto
    85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

    8 Replies
    1. re: villainx

      How many of you are here?

      I would go to places like yakitori totto, momofuku noodle bar, Mile End, etc. But if you are a large group, that just isnt going to work.

      -----
      Momofuku Noodle Bar
      171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

      1. re: villainx

        Thanks Villainx! Will check it out!

        Thanks nmprisons! There will be up to 26 of us… but lots of times we will be in much smaller groups up to 6. Like the thought of yakitori totto.

        Please keep 'em coming!

        -----
        Yakitori Totto
        251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

        1. re: want2go

          Go to Chinatown, nothing like that in Kansas

          1. re: AubWah

            AubWah, would love to eat in Chinatown! What restaurant do you recommend?

            1. re: want2go

              Well for a group of 6...I would suggest Shanghai Cafe, Great NY Noodletown, South China Garden..

              -----
              South China Garden
              22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

              Great New York Noodletown
              28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

              Shanghai Cafe
              100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

              1. re: AubWah

                Thanks AubWah! Looks yummy! Love the name "Great NY Noodletown". Maybe we can try several of these, because of the lower price!

                1. re: AubWah

                  The Great New York Noodletown is awesome. Make sure to have the salt baked sr=hrimp and the roast pork!

                  1. re: laurabfriedman

                    A+ for Noodletown. If you are nightowls go there @ 2-3AM. The place will be packed and definitely not like Kansas!!!

        2. Ippudo for ramen. The space is very cool and probably very different from what you have back home. There's also a few conveyor sushi places. If the kids can do Indian, look at Panna II. It can get wild at night, but lunch could be ok with young ones.

          -----
          Panna II
          93 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

          Ippudo
          65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

          2 Replies
          1. re: coasts

            Thanks coasts! Our kids love ramen. It would be good for them to enjoy something like the real thing! I have no idea what "conveyor sushi" means, but it sounds interesting. I'm not sure they can do Indian, but just saw a picture… Wow! Does it always have all the lights? That is something they would love! Any tips on Indian food for the not so adventurous?

            1. re: want2go

              Ippudo is one of New York's favorite ramen shops. you can't book it online, but you can make a same-day walk-in reservation. expect a long wait if you don't reserve, even at off hours.

              conveyor sushi involves a conveyor belt on which maki rolls and sushi are delivered to consumers sitting at the counter or surrounding booths. basically, the sushi "chefs" are preparing rolls in the center of the room and placing them on the belt, where color-coded plates determine the cost. a low value cucumber roll might be on a white plate and priced at $1.25/3 pieces. a more expensive spider roll will be on a gold plate and priced higher at maybe $6/3 pieces. the quality is not the highest, but it's cheap, fun, and fresher than many other places. we like East in Murray Hill.

              as for Panna II, they do always have the lights and the place is just fun - no question. it's cheap and BYOB, so even a failed meal wouldn't be a disaster. kids could eat tandoori chicken with basmati rice and naan, a fluffy warm bread that everyone loves. tandoori chicken is basically roasted chicken with indian spices, but it's fairly approachable.

              make no mistake - neither East nor Panna offers great food. however, the experience is worthwhile. of all of the other suggestions, i would say definitely go to Tao, which again only serves mediocre food. the food at NY Noodletown is more authentic, but might freak the kids out.

              -----
              Kaiten East
              366 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

          2. I'm pretty sure there are no places in NYC that screams "we're in Kansas!"

            So I think you're safe just about everywhere in NYC if that's your criteria.

            1. If you want atmosphere and chinese food, I will suggest Chinatown Brasserie. It's not the best food, though they have pretty good dim sum, but the feel of the place is Chinatown fantasy. The basic place in Chinatown is all about food and not ambiance with all the harsh lighting but CB is the kind of place that you would construct from your imagination of a Chinese place. Seating for 26 will be tough in most places but here they could put you at those tables for 10 in a cluster. Also would throw in Baltazar for another place full of atmosphere and pretty good food. It's the fantasy image of a bistro gone crazy. Great bar too. Keene's for old time NY though if you're from Kansas, the steak may not be anything special. But I doubt there is anything that looks like it back there.

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

              Balthazar
              80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

              Chinatown Brasserie
              380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

              2 Replies
              1. re: Bkeats

                Thanks Bkeats! You go us right, Chinatown fantasy sounds ideal! Will check out the others too.

                1. re: want2go

                  you and another adult may want to enjoy Keens, but be aware a recent LUNCH there cost myself and a companion almost 200 dollars. i am from boston, which is not cheap, but was still surprised when the bill came. great place but probably not for your group.

              2. One sort of place they don't have in Kansas that would be great even with a large group is one of the banquet-sized places in Chinatown like Jing Fong. Larger than a football field and if you do go for dim sum, women will be going around with carts of steaming food that should please everyone from the pickiest eaters to the most adventurous. A real NYC experience that even New Yorkers love!
                http://www.jingfongny.com/

                -----
                Jing Fong
                18 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                11 Replies
                1. re: City Kid

                  WIth due respect to Bkeats, Chinatown Brasserie shouldn't be an option. There's no fun in that.

                  If you want to hit Chinatown, dim sum is an option, but do it during the weekdays. Most places are fairly busy during the weekdays (but manageably so), on the weekend, it's going to be a long long wait. Almost any place is decent, but I'd say focus on the bigger banquet style places: Jing Fong, Golden Unicorn, or Golden Bridge (among probably others). If you need a primer on dim sum, just ask.

                  In Chinatown is also Chinatown Ice Cream factory that has cool (and real good) flavors like Almond Cookie, Lychee, Mango, and so forth that is pretty good. Bubble Tea and egg custard tarts at the bakery and tea shop are good walking around snacks too. Finally, either downtown/Wall Street or Little Italy/Soho are accessible from Chinatown, if you want to plan out your visit a little better.

                  Aside from dim sum, you can check out Aubwab's recs. Dinner and lunch is ideal in Chinatown, cheap, accommodates large parties, and plenty of atmosphere.

                  -----
                  Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
                  65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                  Golden Bridge
                  50 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                  Chinatown Brasserie
                  380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                  Golden Unicorn
                  18 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                  Jing Fong
                  18 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                  1. re: villainx

                    Chinatown Brasserie was not that bad a choice, although the OP would be better off going to China town. Great NY Noodletown, i think is a weird choice. It isn't impressive, you cant really fit 26 people, the food is nothing to write home about, and i doubt if Kansas people will enjoy that place at all, unless they are Chinese. My Chinese friends like that place. Jing Fong, 88 Palace, or Golden Unicorn are the best places to go for a Chinatown "feel" and food.
                    Katz's is as NYC as you can get. Buddakan is big enough to accomodate a big party and it's a "wow" atmosphere.
                    Jung sik would be really different totally worlds apart from anything i've ever seen in Kansas.
                    Lombardi's pizza is a good idea,there are so many seats that 26 people would not be difficult if you call ahead.
                    The Modern is a wow kind of place and it will be memorable. Cinque is NY italian and they have a back room for large parties. Takahachi Tribeca has a back area that would work also.
                    Kutsher's will surely be different serving "jewish" food, you won't get that in Kansas.
                    I would suggest a ride to Coney Island and check out Nathan's.it's fast food but it is totally a New York experience. I won't recommend steaks because kansas has real good steak and real good bbq. Big Nick's might be a good place for a New York feel and great burger, Walker's is another idea for a burger. Ippudo was a good suggestion for Japanese ramen. 32 West 32nd street for Korean Bbq right there in Ktown might be different. Balthazar was a good suggestion for the feel of Soho.
                    and as another poster suggested, walk around and get the NYC feel . E. 7th street and st marks place and MacDougal St are good walking places as well as Ludlow St. You have Porchetta, Luke's Lobster Rolls, Mamoun's, Taisho, and a cannolli and cappuccino for dessert Veniero's is real New York

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

                    Great New York Noodletown
                    28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                    The Modern
                    9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

                    Balthazar
                    80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                    Big Nick's
                    2175 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

                    New York Kom Tang Soot Bul Kal Bi
                    32 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

                    Walker's
                    16 N Moore St, New York, NY 10013

                    Chinatown Brasserie
                    380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                    Golden Unicorn
                    18 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                    Jing Fong
                    18 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                    Veniero's
                    342 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003

                    Yakitori Taisho
                    5 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                    Takahachi
                    145 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

                    Mamoun's Falafel
                    22 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

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

                    Ippudo
                    65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    Porchetta
                    110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                    88 Palace
                    88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                    Trattoria Cinque
                    363 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013

                    Luke's Lobster
                    93 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                    Jung Sik
                    2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

                    Kutsher's
                    186 Franklin St, New York, NY 10013

                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                      Thanks Foodwhisperer! So Chinatown Brasserie is not in Chinatown, I've got so much to learn! I really like the looks of Golden Unicorn.
                      I know Katz is a definite. I think Buddakan is too, seems definitely WOW!
                      Love the thought of riding to Coney Island for Nathan's… since we can buy them in the grocery store.
                      Got to put Luke's Lobster Rolls as a definite too!
                      And Veniero's!!!
                      Looks like at this rate, we will not have any time for anything but eating!

                      1. re: want2go

                        if you go out to coney island, Totonno's has some of the best pizza in NYC.

                        1. re: hyde

                          The one on 2nd ave and 27th street closed about a year ago. No idea why but its too bad.

                          1. re: princeofpork

                            Why? Because the pizza was mediocre at best. I recall reading somewhere that the only connection to the flagship was the name, and they were not involved in running it.

                            http://thewizardofroz.wordprss.com

                            1. re: RGR

                              Very interesting. The fact that a "famous" NYC pizza place would lend its name and not have anything to do with the quality of the product is curious. Imagine Johns or Patsys doing that?

                              1. re: princeofpork

                                I'm not sure the Totonno's situation is unique. There are a lot of people who think the pizza at John's near Times Square is not as good as the flagship G.W.location. I can't say since we've only been to the flagship, and that wasn't exactly a stellar experience. However, that goes back more than five years, and we'll be trying it again there in a couple of weeks when we do the uhockey pizza crawl.

                                As for Patsy's, there are quite a few locations with that name. I don't know whether any are related to the Patsy's in E. Harlem which, I gather, is the "original." I've only been to the Patsy's on 3rd near 34th (though not recently), and the pizza was nothing special.

                                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                    2. re: villainx

                      Thanks Villainx! Will put Chinatown Ice Cream Factory down as a definite! Will also look in to the others you mentioned.

                      1. re: want2go

                        speaking of Ice Cream(gelato) , try Amorino on University Place it's so good. I've been to the one in Nice, France and it's pretty much the same. Also in that neighborhood, go to Nam Peng ( in the garage or parking lot) a small place for Cambodian sandwiches. The coconut shrimp sandwich is great, so is the pork belly ,and the pulled pork sandwich.
                        In Chinatown , i do go to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

                        -----
                        Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
                        65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                        Num Pang Sandwich Shop
                        21 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                        Amorino
                        60 University Pl, New York, NY 10003

                    3. re: City Kid

                      Thanks City Kid! Restaurant larger than a football field would be wild to see!

                    4. Here is a link to an update of RGR's Lower East Side food tour, with additional info from kathryn (both posters are well regarded on this board and the suggestions are excellent):

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/808573

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: iluvcookies

                        iluvcookies, Thanks for the compliment and for providing that link. :) In case the o.p. has not seen the tour, which is self-guided, here's that link::

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

                        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                        1. re: RGR

                          Ah... did not realize the link to the actual tour wasn't there :)
                          And you are welcome... I have visited most of the places on your tour and liked or loved them all.

                          1. re: RGR

                            Wow, RGR! Thanks for posting your tour!!! A food tour is right up my alley!

                          2. re: iluvcookies

                            Thanks iluvcookies! I WILL definitely have to study that! :)

                          3. Another reminder -as if one were needed- of how despicable the murder of The Plaza was.

                            1. In my experience, tourists tend not to appreciate true neighborhood gems, small and quaint places. They think GLAMOUR and putting on their JC Penney sequin cardigan when they think NYC. Thus, Buddakan, Morimoto, Megu (though the menu might scare them - Japanese), STK, Standard Grill, Beauty and Essex, Stanton Social, Sushi Samba even.

                              -----
                              Buddakan
                              75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                              Stanton Social
                              99 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

                              STK
                              26 Little West 12th St, New York, NY 10014

                              SushiSamba 7
                              87 Seventh Avenue South, New York, NY 10014

                              Morimoto
                              88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                              Megu
                              62 Thomas Street, New York, NY 10013

                              Standard Grill
                              848 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014

                              Beauty & Essex
                              146 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: thegforceny

                                We all experience some culture shock when we travel, don't we? When I visit relatives who don't live near a big city, they see me as "overdressed" when I wear black pants, black boots and a sweater (sans sequins). And when they visit here, I give them the benefit of the doubt. Will the JC Penney sweater wearers be treated like tourists? Perhaps, but so do I when I visit places dressed like a NYer. Not every city has a Bloomingdales and Saks, and not every tourist is going to be afraid of a menu in a foreign language.

                                To the OP, just have fun. As long as you are aware of your surroundings, you will be fine.

                                1. re: iluvcookies

                                  Can you share your dining suggestions?

                                  1. re: thegforceny

                                    I did... I posted RGR's LES tour along with suggestions from kathryn.

                                2. re: thegforceny

                                  The above places called out by thegforceny will blow any mid America visitor away. The prices might scare them but the ambiance will stick in their memory for ever.

                                  1. re: princeofpork

                                    Thanks princeofpork. I am concerned about the prices! yikes! Any way to do a progressive dinner?

                                    1. re: want2go

                                      From thegforceny's list, Megu TriBeCa (Not Megu Midtown, which has less impressive ambience) offers Restaurant Week dinner menu for $35/ person.

                                      If you are a man or a lady who eats relatively a lot, you may feel still somewhat hungry after the meal, it is still a fairly good deal. Megu's interior is also impressive.

                                      However, the Restaurant Week runs till Feb. 10th, so if you are in NY on or before then, you could try it.

                                      Megu TriBeCa menu:
                                      http://www.nycgo.com/restaurantweek/m...

                                      Megu TriBeCa ambience (this posting happens to be about this year's Restaurant Week menu) :
                                      http://blog.naver.com/kosmose7/901340...

                                      -----
                                      Megu
                                      62 Thomas Street, New York, NY 10013

                                      1. re: kosmose7

                                        The bar at Megu Tribeca is really nice , and you get a fantastic view of the restaurant below. You will love the ice Buddah in the middle of the restaurant. I like the cooked dishes at Megu i.e. lamb chops better than the sushi and sashimi. But its a beautiful place and huge. I think it was 8 million bucks to do the renovation for Megu.

                                        -----
                                        Megu
                                        62 Thomas Street, New York, NY 10013

                                  2. re: thegforceny

                                    Thanks thegforceny. You are right about neighborhood gems, small & quaint places… maybe, because we have plenty of those at home. I do like the looks of Buddakan & Morimoto! Hoping that people will not prejudge me in my JCPenney sequin cardigan, if I'm lucky enough to have one!

                                    Thanks iluvcookies for your kind words too. I'm thankful to be from a town where most folks could careless if it's JCP, Walmart or Goodwill. We like to take the time to see the person inside. :)

                                    1. re: want2go

                                      Hi want2go: don't get the idea that New Yorkers are judgmental or unfriendly. We are proud of our city, happy to share ideas about restaurants, and very happy to welcome tourists who spend their hard-earned money to visit. I do hope that, especially with the large group and the kids, you will give one of the banquet places a try for dim sum. So much fun, so delicious, and a real NY experience. Have fun planning and report back to let us know what you enjoyed!

                                      1. re: City Kid

                                        City Kid, that's one thing I love most about travel, seeing that the world is actually full of nice people! I can tell there are plenty of friendly people in NYC. I'm thankful to all of you for caring enough to post for the benefit of our group experience. We will have fun! And I will report back! Thanks! (Watch out, more questions coming!)

                                  3. Go to Takahachi in the East Village on a weeknight. It's a bustling neighborhood Japanese restaurant with nothing fancy for tourists -- just reasonable and good food -- thus, people who actually live in the neighborhood frequent it all the time. You will see actual New Yorkers and it will not feel like Kansas. Plus there are enough teen-friendly items on the menu. Afterwards walk around the neighborhood and drop in anywhere that looks intriguing for dessert or coffee.

                                    Most of all walk as much as possible --this is how you will see the "real" New York -- and work off all that good food you're going to eat. Have fun!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: visciole

                                      Thanks Visciole, Sounds wonderful and nice to have teen-friendly items too. Like the thoughts of dropping in the neighborhood for dessert & coffee too!

                                      One thing for sure, we are going to have fun!

                                    2. I think John's Pizzeria is a good bet with a large group. The space is unique and the food is pretty good.

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

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ukitali

                                        Thanks ukitali, I'm thinking about John's for the first night, after the hectic day of flying, checking in, and shock of the city, the group will enjoy some pizza for comfort food!

                                      2. tourists seem to love Rice to Riches in Soho. you'll likely be nearby shopping at some point, so put it on your map for a midday dessert.

                                        -----
                                        Rice to Riches
                                        37 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                                        1. How about Vietnamese in Chinatown, Nha Trang Centre is great, very informal, and if you go for dinner, probably not a zoo. ( Do they have vietnamese in Kansas?

                                          -----
                                          Nha Trang
                                          148 Centre St, New York, NY 10013

                                          1. Just a warning, a fair number of places getting listed aren't known for easily handling sizeable groups, and you might want to factor that in to your final itinerary.

                                            John's for example always has a line, and most of the tables are grouped into 4 tops. I think Lombardi's is the better choice. The style of pizza will be a little more unique for your group, and it's larger.

                                            Chinatown Brassarie was a good suggestion. I agree that the food is second to the room, which is the cartoon version of old Chinatown motifs. Chinatown itself may scare some people, as some of the favorites might appear dirty, loud, and sometimes crowded. You have to have a high tolerance for weird smells, and the quality of ingredients can run the gamut. Since the idea isn't to give your group a Fear Factor experience, I would error on the safe touristy locations rather than worry about the cities best, or most authentic food. Chinatown Ice Cream factory is a goodie, it's just small.

                                            The Jaquess Torres factory for hot cocoa could work.

                                            -----
                                            Jacques Torres
                                            350 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                                            Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
                                            65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                            Chinatown Brasserie
                                            380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

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

                                            20 Replies
                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                              Thanks for confirming my suggestion on CB sugartoof. I know CB is not at all authentic and its not the best food though its isn't bad. But for a big group from the midwest, I think it has the right feel and ambiance based on what the OP asked for. A while back, we had some friends who came from Ohio. So we took them for a real chinatown experince and they hated it. It was loud, the food wasn't what they were expecting, they couldn't understand the waiter and they weren't at all comfortable. It was too much for their mid-western sensibilities. CB and Balthazar on the other hand were big hits. Nobu got the serious thumbs down due to all the raw/semi cooked seafood.

                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                We have taken many out-of-town, including foreign, visitors to Chinatown and it has always been a hit. Most impressed were a couple of post-college kids from Wisconsin, who were totally wowed. Just the new and exciting sort of experience they came to NYC for. That said, there are provincial people everywhere and some even live in Manhattan. Dim sum would be a pretty safe meal for the OP with no need to communicate with the waiters beyond pointing to what you want on the cart. The visual presentation makes it easy to steer clear of the chicken feet if that is too much of an experience!

                                                1. re: City Kid

                                                  I don't anyone is saying Chinatown isn't a fun destination for tourists, or a fun part of New York, but it also deserved a disclaimer for this request.

                                                  Also, let's be honest here... New York dim sum is mediocre, and prone to grease and grizzly mystery meats. I haven't tried Golden Unicorn (looks good), but I wouldn't consider any dim sum here a safe meal by a longshot.

                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                    To each his or her own but I totally disagree. I have enjoyed dim sum at Jing Fong, Red Egg and other places. I choose what I like and have avoided "grease and grizzly mystery meats." And I think a variety of dumplings is a very safe bet for virtually any group.

                                                    -----
                                                    Jing Fong
                                                    18 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                                                    Red Egg
                                                    202 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013

                                                    1. re: City Kid

                                                      Red Egg isn't in Chinatown, for the record.

                                                      The Happy Hour dim sum there isn't a bad option, and it's fairly safe at that...but I wouldn't call it stellar, or very interesting in a New York way.

                                                    2. re: sugartoof

                                                      I'm not a huge fan of Manhattan Chinatown dim sum, and while it's mediocre compared to Asia, Toronto, outer borough, or some other cities. But it's pretty much a revelation when the comparison is Midwest (no offense Midwesterns).

                                                      And it's such an overstatement to say it's greasy or has grizzly mystery meat. It's not like that at all.

                                                      I think the point that needs stressing is that the original poster expressed a desire to explore Chinatown, and the recommendations were made with that in mind. Yeah, there's some culinary navigation involved if one wanted to be adventurous in Chinatown. But like I added above, the OP can ask on the board for help with that. But saying it's not a safe meal by a longshot, that seems too broad.

                                                      1. re: villainx

                                                        I can't think of a single dim sum place in Chinatown that doesn't serve at least one item that is strange with unidentifiable filling...and that's when you know roughly what should be in them.

                                                        So...what do you recommend?

                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                          If the criteria is that at least one item has strange or unusual filling, then pretty much any ethnic or high end restaurant is going to taboo or requires a disclaimer, right?

                                                          But come on, you can go to any dim sum place and stick with the standards and not have to stress. Get the spare ribs, shrimp hagow, beef rice crepe, spring rolls, pork buns, and so forth. Round it off with seafood lo mien or fried rice. If diners are adventurous, get clams or fried taro or egg custard tarts or whatever. I know for the un-initiated there are land mines with the chicken feet and intestines and so forth, but ain't like you can order those by accident.

                                                          But I guess my point is that if the OP expressed interest in trying, then he or she should give it a go. Especially since it sounds like it's going to be a large group, heck, their ruckus likely will match the usual Chinatown cacophony. And the big banquet dim sum places will have more experience catering to non Chinese clienteles.

                                                          1. re: villainx

                                                            Hopefully they'll have someone who can guide them to the standards, but that doesn't guarantee a tendon free or mystery meat free experience.

                                                  2. re: Bkeats

                                                    +2 on Chinatown Brasserie and please don't feel like you need to apologize for the food at Chinatown Brasserie. I disagree with many of the posters on the quality of food at CB. I've had excellent food at CB, much better than some of the raved Chinatown restaurants that don't have the same level of ambiance or hygiene.

                                                    As for authentic, some dishes are not terribly "authentic" but what does that even mean? I've eaten at many restaurants across China and Taiwan... there is variety in dishes that would astound... Sure cream cheese is not authentic but their roast pork buns are spot on, their bass with black bean sauce is spot on, their peking duck is spot on, their sticky rice in lotus leaf is straight from Taiwanese potlucks only elevated, etc.

                                                    Just want to roll my eyes at this weird reverse pretension about CB. It's so polarizing. Yes it's not perfect, there are misses but that can be said of any restaurant. I've eaten at Cafe Boulud multiple times and I've had sloppier food there but no one bats an eye. French food with bok choy and soy sauce is somehow ok? Nobody comments, "oh Cafe Boulud is so inauthentic, you should go to Le Veau D'or" "Cafe Boulud doesn't have French speaking waiters" etc. etc. eye roll eye roll eye roll

                                                    -----
                                                    Chinatown Brasserie
                                                    380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                                      +1

                                                      I enjoyed Chinatown Brasserie. I'd happily pay the premium for the ambiance and cleaniness. And I'd take my own parents there too (my mom refuses to step foot in Chinatown).

                                                      1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                                        Oh, I'm not knocking Chinatown Brasserie. From what I know and tried, it's pretty good. But parents avoiding Chinatown isn't the same as tourists with teens trying to get a sense of the NY vibe. That (and the higher price point) is mostly the main reason why I would hesitate with regards to CB.

                                                        I mean, if OP was focusing more on food, and the group was more manageably sized, CB would be a nice place for Chinese food. The chef there is Joe Ng, and he's the real deal.

                                                        1. re: villainx

                                                          i also like Chinatown Brasserie and have taken mixed groups there with great results. it's often bookable at 30% off through savored.com, which helps keep it affordable.

                                                          1. re: coasts

                                                            Coasts, 30% off at savored.com that's awesome! What other restaurants have you booked through them?

                                                            1. re: want2go

                                                              Dinosaur BBQ occasionally has discounts, but you might not be looking for barbecue if you're coming from the heartland.

                                                              Havana Alma de Cuba is on the list and always reliable. it's a fun restaurant with live music at certain times and great cuban food. i'd say it's among NY's best cuban in one of the nicer settings. certainly an option for your group.

                                                              many of the deals may have limits as to what you can save. i've read where it looks like you'll have a very large group, but i'm not sure how many. savored will allow you to book up to 8 guests.

                                                              elsewhere, I've booked Devi, which is higher end Indian, and Fatty Crab, which is Malaysian/fusion. Both are interesting, but i wouldn't recommend either to you.

                                                              -----
                                                              Devi
                                                              8 East 18th Street, New York, NY 10003

                                                              Fatty Crab
                                                              643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                                                              Havana Alma de Cuba
                                                              94 Christopher St., New York, NY 10014

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

                                                          2. re: villainx

                                                            Red Farm would probably be the better choice for a smaller party, but with large groups, and tourists, CB is a great option.

                                                            -----
                                                            RedFarm
                                                            529 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                              i heard Red Farm has a black truffle xiao long bao. it's not on the menu. is it true?

                                                              1. re: coasts

                                                                http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/din...

                                                                "RedFarm, 529 Hudson Street (Charles Street), is introducing a soup dumpling with black truffles for Chinese New Year, on Monday, and will continue to serve it throughout the truffle season, which ends in late March. The truffles are from France, not from China or the Himalayas. The soup dumplings are $18 for two; no reservations."

                                                                -----
                                                                RedFarm
                                                                529 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                                                        2. re: Pookipichu

                                                          I agree. CG has excellent dim sum and a wonderful Peking Duck.

                                                    2. I'm gonna suggest an easy trip to Queens for a real, "Are we still even in America?" experience. Take the 7 train to Main St. (it's the last stop), and go to New World Mall. There's a food court in the lower level w/ all different kinds of food, almost all of which are different kinds of Chinese although there's some other ethnicities available like Korean or Vietnamese (I think). Here's a link to the food court guide.

                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785435

                                                      It's pretty inexpensive and everyone can choose whatever catches their eye.

                                                      21 Replies
                                                      1. re: GoodGravy

                                                        I'm gonna disagree with this. i take the trip to Flushing every sunday and it's never easy. the train is packed and slow, at best. once off the train, the streets are filthy and totally off-putting. you have to be hard core to have an appetite after walking through Flushing. between the two hour round-trip train ride and the horrifying conditions of the neighborhood, i strongly suggest tourists do not make the trip for what is only a slightly better meal. and New World Mall? it's a food court! i'm not saying the place doesn't have merit, but to send a group of tourists from Kansas out there for a cheap meal is, in my opinion, irresponsible. no offense intended. just stating the other side of the story here.

                                                        1. re: coasts

                                                          Here is my 2 cents on this matter. Don't go to Chinatown Brasserie, trust me. Thats fancy pants food, not a real chinese experience you would want having come from kansas being unfamiliar with chinese neighborhoods. Coasts, I really disagree. The ride to flushing is great for me...its under an hour even on the local from time square. I don't find Flushing streets "filthy and off-putting" at all. Its the best Chinatown in America other than San Gabriel Valley....wise up. New World Mall-no.

                                                          1. re: AubWah

                                                            Not a real Chinese experience? That's a little offensive. Chinese food is not limited to what you're familiar with.

                                                            1. re: Pookipichu

                                                              To me a "real chinese experience" is in Flushing, or Manhattan Chinatown. Or Sunset Park 8th avenue. Not Chinese Brasserie

                                                              1. re: AubWah

                                                                To you, but that's a certain type of Chinese experience. Chinatown Brasserie is similar in feel to the upper mid-level restaurants in China. The decor reminds me of a beautiful and very real restaurant in Suzhou that served elegant food in a semi formal environment. Chinese restaurants are more than hole in walls or banquet halls. The experience at DiFara's is no more authentically Italian than eating at Del Posto.

                                                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                  The fried rice at Chinatown Brasserie reminded me of Panda Express, so I have a hard time thinking it's a replication of high end food in China. I still think there's a strange inclination to champion some very mediocre food with low quality ingredients because it's in Chinatown.

                                                                  The OP's request was never to find the most authentic hidden gems it was to find rooms with wow factor, and an experience that couldn't be duplicated outside of New York.

                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                    What can I say, not every dish is a hit, I've personally never had the fried rice at CB. But when I'm in China, HK, Taiwan, I'm not the night market type, especially since it's not expensive to eat at the upper mid tier and CB compares favorably to some very nice places. Is it as good as the best in Shanghai/Taipei/HK? I wouldn't be so foolish as to argue that. But CB does some great Chinese food and is as good as it gets for dim sum in Manhattan.

                                                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                      For my sanity, I need to add that the fine restaurants in China are EXCEPTIONALLY clean and are world class. Having questionable sanitation is NOT something that adds to an authentic Chinese experience. Cannot stress that enough.

                                                                2. re: AubWah

                                                                  Flushing is way better than Brooklyn. But Flushing is overrated too. Some good restaurants some lousy ones. Manhattan Chinatown I think is on the upswing with more new good restaurants. Flushing wins for Taiwanese food though

                                                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                    What are the new good restaurants in Manhattan Chinatown?

                                                              2. re: AubWah

                                                                AubWah, i would expect you to disagree. you are like the authority on chinese cuisine on the New York board and i have benefited greatly from your recommendations. but i live here and my time isn't limited. i'm willing to ignore a dingy room and an unkempt staff for what could be great food, but i wouldn't send a tourist with kids to flushing for duck tongue.

                                                                1. re: coasts

                                                                  I'm no authority but thank you. I agree I would never suggest they eat duck tongue or anything else crazy. But for example a restaurant like Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan. Or a number of others in Flushing. Not to mention the salt and pepper chicken at Maple and Main courts. Food crawl....they could do it and have time of their lives if they were informed on what to get ahead of time.

                                                              3. re: GoodGravy

                                                                The OP wants ambience over hidden gems, and with a large tour group, it's best to stay practical. Why do they need to hit up every corner of the city to do that?

                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                  What's so impractical about a bunch of people yakking it up on the 7 to Flushing? Traveling w/ a group means they'll be laughing and conversing the whole trip, making it less of a hardship and enjoying the shared experience.

                                                                  But if Queens is too far away, hit up Food Gallery 32 in Koreatown. Yup, it's a Korean food court. I don't know if Kansas has one, but if they don't, it might be a fun place to experience.

                                                                  As for ambiance, both places have it. Quite simply, they're both different and not normally found, even in big cities. Both are new, neither are filthy and while they're not fine dining, they're not TGIF/Applebees/Bennigans/Chilis, etc.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Food Gallery 32
                                                                  11 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

                                                                  1. re: GoodGravy

                                                                    I'd say the Koreatown food court is the much more suitable choice, in my opinion. Not that they're going to know what to order, but there's always frozen yogurt, and bags of kettle corn if they can't find a picture menu that appeals,

                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                      I'd go a step further, a meal in Ktown should be fun whether it's at one of the proper restaurant or at the food court. It's centrally located where Macy's and other shopping would be convenient. And as far as good and ambiance goes, table top kalbi (short rib) grilling is pretty cool. Again, if that's where the OP plans to go, ask here (preferably in a new thread) and I'm sure folks will have suggestions on which place and what to order.

                                                                      1. re: villainx

                                                                        I think I would pursue a sit down situation in Koreatown over the mall, or Worjip options. It would still take research, or arranging for a package deal meal (are we really talking about a group of 26 people as some have mentioned?) and the menus will have some challenges for them (oxtail, etc). They can expect clean places, a lot of young Koreans on the town, and a unique experience not found too many other places (almost every big city has a Chinatown).

                                                                        It's still a very different "Where am I" experience than Katz's or Kossar's, if the idea is to take them on a New York city theme ride.

                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                          The OP said it's 26 people, but they likely will be breaking out to smaller groups for different activities.

                                                                          I'm thinking it's usually going to be between 6-12 for most of the places I've been recommending.

                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                            most the "chinatowns" in america are shit. have you seen washington dc chinatown? philadelphia chinatown? even boston chinatown is serving some sloppy stuff. New York City chinatown is the real deal, historic chinatown, and the food is second only to SGV

                                                                            1. re: AubWah

                                                                              I don't know what SGV stands for but the food in Chinatown runs from the very worst to very, very good. I'm not sure there's fine dining in Chinatown now that I think about it (you would know better than I do), but while it's certainly a New York experience, I don't think it's an only in New York experience.

                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                SGV = San Gabriel Valley in California, where many upper-middle-class Chinese have settled.

                                                              4. Did anyone mention Asiate yet? There is no better view of NYC from above (in a restaurant) that I know of and is decidedly not Kansas. Oh wait, that's probably too pricey. Joe's Shanghai is definitely not Kansas, but it's also not necessarily a great example of NYC but fits the budget. Hmm. I think Buddakan might work for you. That's flashy and fun.

                                                                -----
                                                                Buddakan
                                                                75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                                                                Joe's Shanghai
                                                                9 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                Asiate
                                                                80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: dkstar1

                                                                  dkstar1, Asiate does have a beautiful view… and I'm all about that! Sadly my pockets aren't NYC deep. I'm beginning to think Buddakan is the winner for flashy, fun & expensive!

                                                                  1. re: want2go

                                                                    You'll have fun at Buddakan for sure. Another option - Spice Market. You can even get a private room if you want for a group. That's a lot of fun and there's something for everyone on the menu + it's a Jean-Georges restaurant so you got the NYC angle (moreso than the Stephen Starr-Philadelphia angle that is Buddakan). Re: Asiate - I've only been there for lunch and the prix fixe is affordable but limiting. Just as an aside.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Buddakan
                                                                    75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                                                                    Asiate
                                                                    80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

                                                                    Spice Market
                                                                    403 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10014

                                                                2. want2go, just a quick note to say thanks for taking the time to reply and show gratitude to so many posters. it's both refreshing and hysterically cute. you'll do fine here.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: coasts

                                                                    Coasts, Awww… I'm blushing… JCP sequins and all! I"m sure to plenty I'm cluttering this post. But for some reason, I feel the need to thank those folks that have gone out of their way to help me. Guess my Mama would be proud if she could read your post! :)
                                                                    And I'm glad it gave you a smile. We sure can use all of those we can get!
                                                                    So thank you for your thank you :)
                                                                    (PS I don't know how to jump in on the Chinese/Chinatown discussions… but thank each of you for your expressions. I can tell there are some heavy & passionate thoughts!)

                                                                    1. re: want2go

                                                                      Too late want2go, you instigated a chow board no hold bar battle royale! Just kidding.

                                                                      Sometimes that's how these discussions go.

                                                                  2. Leave the kids at the hotel with a pizza. Then take the adults to Bemelman's Bar in the Carlysle Hotel on the Upper East Side. It absolutely screams upscale New York. Drink a martini while the piano plays and scan the walls painted in murals by Ludwig Bemelman, the author of the Madeline children's books. It's expensive but magical. You will feel like you are living in a Woody Allen movie.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Bemelmans Bar
                                                                    35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                      EarlyBird, thanks… that does sound wonderful right now!

                                                                    2. Current thoughts:
                                                                      Buddakan
                                                                      maybe Morimoto as well
                                                                      Panna II
                                                                      Chinese (Chinatown Brasserie, Gold Unicorn, Jing Fong)

                                                                      John's Pizzeria
                                                                      Katz (does location matter?)
                                                                      Luke's Lobster Rolls (what location)
                                                                      Shake Shack (where?)
                                                                      Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
                                                                      Veniero's
                                                                      Jaque Torres Chocolate factory
                                                                      Rice to Riches
                                                                      Ellen's Stardust Diner
                                                                      Candy place… Economy Candy? Dylan's?

                                                                      If we can get to Coney Island: Nathan's and Totonno's Pizza

                                                                      Also have to further study RGR's tour.

                                                                      Whew, additions & revisions will certainly be made. Haven't even put down bagels & figured out cheesecake!

                                                                      Now, how I'm I going to get to see any sights along with all this good food????
                                                                      I've got to figure it out. I've eaten a box cookies while I've been studying this post and thoughts of all this delicious food… and I'm on a diet! ugh

                                                                      Thanks for your help. Still open for advice!

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

                                                                      Jacques Torres
                                                                      350 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                                                                      Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
                                                                      65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                      Buddakan
                                                                      75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                                                                      Ellen's Stardust Diner
                                                                      1650 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

                                                                      Chinatown Brasserie
                                                                      380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                      Golden Unicorn
                                                                      18 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                                                                      Jing Fong
                                                                      18 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                      Veniero's
                                                                      342 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003

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

                                                                      Morimoto
                                                                      88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                                                      Panna II
                                                                      93 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                                      Rice to Riches
                                                                      37 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                      Economy Candy
                                                                      108 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                      Dylan's Candy Bar
                                                                      1011 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021

                                                                      Jacques Torres
                                                                      30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: want2go

                                                                        there's only one Katz and it's in the Lower East Side.

                                                                        Shake Shack Upper West Side is very nearby to Museum of Natural History, if you plan to go.

                                                                        Luke's Lobster can get expensive quickly. a lobster roll is upwards of $14 and it's gone in 60 seconds.

                                                                        you can't compare Economy Candy to Dylan's. EC is like a thrift store that only sells candy. Dylan's is like a candy wonderland. Of course, the treasures are always found at the thrift store, but the lights are brighter in wonderland.

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

                                                                        Economy Candy
                                                                        108 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                        Dylan's Candy Bar
                                                                        1011 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021

                                                                        Shake Shack
                                                                        366 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

                                                                        Luke's Lobster
                                                                        426 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                                                                        1. re: coasts

                                                                          Also, Luke's Lobster probably means eating on the street. Might as well hit up the food truck at that point, but I agree, it's pricey for such a quick bite.

                                                                        2. re: want2go

                                                                          I would switch out Jacques Torres for Kee's Chocolates or Minamoto Kitchoan or Doughnut Plant
                                                                          Veniero's for Payard Patisserie
                                                                          Luke's Lobster Rolls with Pearl Oyster Bar
                                                                          John's Pizzeria with Motorino

                                                                          FYI I've gotten sick at Panna II I would switch that with Nirvana or Junoon or Tamarind Tribeca

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Kee's Chocolates
                                                                          80 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                          Pearl Oyster Bar
                                                                          18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

                                                                          Doughnut Plant
                                                                          379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                          Minamoto Kitchoan
                                                                          608 5th Ave, New York, NY 10020

                                                                          Nirvana
                                                                          346 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10001

                                                                          Tamarind
                                                                          99 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

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

                                                                          Francois Payard Bakery
                                                                          116 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                          Junoon
                                                                          27 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010

                                                                          1. re: want2go

                                                                            I would go to Economy Candy over Dylan's. Economy is a small place, so all 26 of you can't fit at once, but the prices are amazing. Dylan's is pretty pricey, but definitely prettier.

                                                                            Economy also has my favorite, chocolate covered jelly grahams at a bargain price, as well as hard to find stuff.
                                                                            www.economycandy.com

                                                                            1. re: want2go

                                                                              Katz's only has one location, on Houston St. From there, you can check out Russ and Daughter's (wonderful smoked salmon and other "appetizings," classic NYC place), and Il Laboratorio di Gelato (incredible gelato with wonderful flavors) on the same two block stretch.

                                                                              There are now many Shake Shack locations. You can choose depending on where you'll be for other activities. The original, in Madison Sq Park, is the only outdoor location, tends to have very long lines, and is right across the street from Eataly (another food tourist destination in its own right, and which engenders strong love it--the selection!-- or hate it--the prices! crowds! mall-ish-ness!-- reactions). The Upper West Side location tends to have much shorter lines, but the competition for seating can be intense and unpleasant. Never been to Times Sq or E 86th.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Russ & Daughters
                                                                              179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

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

                                                                              Shake Shack
                                                                              366 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

                                                                              Il Laboratorio del Gelato
                                                                              188 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                              Eataly
                                                                              200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

                                                                              1. re: want2go

                                                                                I second the suggestion to swap in Doughnut Plant, but only the one in the Lower East Side. The Chelsea one can be brutally unfriendly.

                                                                                With regards to Chinatown, I skimmed the many responses you got and am not entirely sure why Noodletown fell off the list, but it definitely is a good choice, pricewise and foodwise (get the roast pork lo mein). I just took a large out of town group to Joe's Shanghai and it was the runaway hit of our 9 stop food tour. There's a place called Fried Dumpling on Mosco street where you can watch them make dumplings by hand and buy 5 for a dollar. If you want to try bubble tea, Vivi's on Bayard is one of the best places (they have the giant Homer Simpson outside their door) and very patient with questions (grapefruit and taro are the flavors my out of town friends like the most). Chinatown Ice Cream factory has amazing flavors. Note that NY Noodletown, Vivi's and Chinatown Ice Cream Factory are all on the same street and within steps of each other.

                                                                                For dim sum, I haven't seen anyone recommend Sunshine 27, which is my favorite place, but with relatively long waits. You are almost guaranteed to be the only non-natives if you go there. However, the service can be downright rude by western standards which is exactly why I'm putting it on the list. i.e. I once got yelled at in rapidfire Cantonese for not speaking fast enough to the waiter :-) Ambiance? It's in spades here.

                                                                                Village Yokochu in the East Village has been patient with the large groups I've gone there with, has a wide variety of kid-friendly food (yakitori, fried rice), and has awesome atmosphere.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
                                                                                65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                Great New York Noodletown
                                                                                28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                Doughnut Plant
                                                                                379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                                Joe's Shanghai
                                                                                9 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                Vivi Bubble Tea
                                                                                49 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                Village Yokocho
                                                                                8 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                Fried Dumpling
                                                                                106 Mosco St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                27 Sunshine
                                                                                46 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                                                                              2. Hi want2go: If you are exploring around Chinatown (one last plug!) and want something to grab and go -- especially if the weather is nice enough to eat outside -- visit the remaining classic, century+ old places on Grand Street, namely Aleva Dairy and Di Palo's, for outstanding Italian antipasi and hero sandwiches. They are both fabulous, and Aleva has the best homemade smoked mozzarella anywhere, made fresh everyday! May be interesting alternatives to pizza and chicken fingers.
                                                                                http://allevadairy.com/
                                                                                http://store.dipaloselects.com/contac...

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Di Palo's Fine Foods
                                                                                200 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                Alleva Dairy
                                                                                188 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: City Kid

                                                                                  Plus these aren't far from the Lower East Side spots, and seeing Little Italy is usually a thrill for first timers to the city.

                                                                                2. Grand Central Oyster Bar!! Totally unique Manhattan atmosphere. Make sure you sit at the bar and only order oysters and chowder. The rest of the menu is not memorable. Check out the "Whispering Arches" near the entrance and be sure to see the main part of Grand Central Station and it's fabulous ceiling.

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

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Motosport

                                                                                    As perhaps one of the few (only?) out-of-towners here, I'll second GCOB; I love a Chinatown excursion as much as the next foodie, but I think there's a supposition going on here that "the rest of America" shares our passion for authentic, regional Chinese cuisine. I might be even going too far with seconding a seafood place, but many of the people I know from "non-urban", "not from the liberal northeast" areas of the U.S. just might not be too interested in "ethnic" food, period. I don't mean that to be condescending, or to suggest that someone from Topeka couldn't appreciate the "Ma La" of Szechuan peppercorn, but for someplace "Holy Smoke! This is SOOOO New York!", Grand Central is hard to beat, IMHO. Chinatown is "New Yorky" to New Yorkers, less uniquely so to Bostonians like me, and probably outsiders like the OP's people as well. I could be totally wrong though, the OP'd know their group better than me!

                                                                                    Oops! Missed the request for a Chinatown suggestion, still think GCOB is among the most uniquely NYC experiences in town, especially for someone from the boondocks.

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

                                                                                    1. re: BrettLove

                                                                                      I see your point about less accessible Chinese regional cuisines, but dim sum is pretty nonthreatening and mild, even to those who have only experienced their local Chinese restaurant in the hinterlands; every town has one. I wasn't suggesting highly spiced cuisines. Most people find it's a great experience, even for small children who are picky eaters and sensitive to strong tastes...The Oyster Bar is a real NYC institution, for limited items, but maybe a bit pricey for the OP.

                                                                                      1. re: City Kid

                                                                                        You're totally right, and I missed the OP's specific request for a Chinatown option. I have had mixed results, historically speaking, when taking out-of-towners to Boston's ("my") Chinatown - I think that I've "overestimated my audience's culinary adventureness level", and been stuck with people insisting on "ordering the wrong thing" (at least in Boston, most C-Town rest.'s have a huge menu that goes well beyond what they specialize in, or "are good at", and I've had people insisting on ordering General Gao's chicken in a Hong Kong seafood restaurant, etc.). Also, many "outsiders" are used to a (superficially, at least) sterile, corporate, chain-restaurant environment, and I've spent the better part of a meal listening to someone bitch & complain about how "filthy" my beloved (now defunct) Chinatown Eatery complex was. I was trying to play a little devil's advocate, lest Chowhounds were giving a teeny bit too much "credit" to the ambition of (the rest of) America's palates. But, that's also why I qualified it with a "The OP knows her people better than me"; I just wanted to potentially spare someone the disappointment of bringing a group to one of your favorite Chinatown spots, only to have them collectively "not get it", which has indeed happened to me. The flip side of that, of course, is potentially providing a friend/guest with a culinary epiphany for short $$$. If the OP already knows that her group would be cool with Chinatown, "warts and all", then yeah, go for it!
                                                                                        Respect,
                                                                                        B.

                                                                                        1. re: BrettLove

                                                                                          i stopped bringing people to the second floor beach street food court for this very reason. it was the first place i "got" asian food, but freinds were always horrified by eating with whole families at long tables.

                                                                                          i think this is a major reason my favorite pizza anywhere is Luigi's (686 5th ave, brooklyn), it felt like a movie set with a clientele sent over from central casting and then they brought me the pizza and boom!, totally hooked.

                                                                                          in the seventies i took a protected white girl from my sheltered white boston suburb high school into boston for dinner and a show. Bob the Chefs was a soul food place in what was then a very dodgy part of the city, then off to the jazz workshop, an old school subterreanean club, where we saw elvin jones, and got high out back with the bass player from the band. she never dated me again. saw this same girl a couple of years ago, 35 years after that night, the first words out of her mouth were "do you remember that night you took me to..."

                                                                                          sometimes the dirty, questionable joints are the ones that change you, that you remember, that stretch you to become bigger.

                                                                                          comfort zone= dull

                                                                                  2. One place I could recommend given your criteria is Tribeca Grill for lunch, being more cost effective vs. dinner. Given the size and age range of your group, I think it would really hit the note you're looking for in terms of scale, price, neighborhood, familiarity with menu choices and noteworthiness since it's got Robert De Niro's name attached to it. De Niro has a few restaurants but this one would probably be best for your group.

                                                                                    Really, any place can accomodate 26 people, even smaller restaurants, as long as you give ample notice. They can just block off an area or rearrange a section of the dining room for a big group. It happens all the time and I see it all the time when I go out so I wouldn't worry about causing an uproar or upending service with 26 people as long as you call in advance and let the place know.

                                                                                    For a Chinatown experience, Jing Fong for a Saturday or Sunday dim sum is perfect. I just went recently with a mamouth group for Chinese New Year and you actually can reserve tables for dim sum for giant groups. As far as cleanliness or not, it's part of the adventure and chaotic charm. We wound up sitting in an elevated stage area so it's def. doable.

                                                                                    For those big theater district family style Italian dinners, the aforementioned John's, Carmines or Tony Di's are popular places.

                                                                                    I've been to the Charthouse in Weehawken and it def. has a great view of the city skyline for the view alone but at the same itme, it's kind of an odd place foodwise (macadamia nut crusted fish?) to bring 26 people other than for the view and it's probably easier if you had a car, or bus in your case. ;) Actually, there's a number of large waterfront restaurants on the NJ side of the river but I think Charthouse happens to be directly across from the Empire State Building.

                                                                                    Another big restaurant that might work well for your group is the Metropolitan at Union Sq. W. Nice soaring atmosphere. Food is another story. Not bad, not great, just kind of...there.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Carmine's
                                                                                    200 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

                                                                                    Tony's Di Napoli
                                                                                    147 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

                                                                                    Jing Fong
                                                                                    18 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

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

                                                                                    Tribeca Grill
                                                                                    375 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                    1. When I entertain out-of-town guests, they're almost always most interested in the standard destinations and restaurants that could be considered classics. All the trendy neighborhood places beloved by chowhounders aren't really unique to NYC - most every mid-sized city these days has decent farm-to-table cuisine, etc. So with that in mind, Chinatown is a must. It almost doesn't matter what restaurant you choose. Just walk around, enjoy the ambience, buy some tea cups or slippers, and then look for a restaurant with a good review posted in the window. And do try to have dim sum. We like Chatham Square on the weekends. Dim Sum a go go serves dim sum at all times, unlike most of the other Chinatown places, and it's clean and modern. Might be a great option.

                                                                                      Also try Grimaldi's for pizza. It doesn't always get much love from this board but it's really very good pizza, almost certainly much better than anything outside of NYC. But the best part is the location. It's at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge . Depending on the weather, walk across the bridge, enjoy the spectacular views of Manhattan and the funky/interesting sights of DUMBO and top it off with some pizza. Jacques Torres is just a couple of blocks from Grimaldi's so end up there for dessert and hot chocolate.

                                                                                      Katz's is a must. You can swing by Economy Candy afterwards if you want since it's only a couple of block from Katz's. But even though I love buying my Halloween candy there, I don't think it's special enough to warrant going out of your way for it. Dylan's has the glitz and glamour that might be fun for visitors, even though I wouldn't necessarily shop there.

                                                                                      Definitely try some old-school Italian. We often go with extended family to La Mela on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. The food is good, is served family-style and is really typical of old-school Little Italy.

                                                                                      I love the suggestion to hit up Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle (sans kids) and Balthazar is a great suggestion as well. I would skip Luke's Lobster Rolls unless you're dying for lobster. It's good but there's nothing uniquely NY about it whatsoever. In fact, it says on the web-site that he's trying to create a Maine-type experience.

                                                                                      Enjoy!

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

                                                                                      Chatham Square Restaurant
                                                                                      6 Chatham Sq, New York, NY 10038

                                                                                      Dim Sum Go Go
                                                                                      5 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

                                                                                      Balthazar
                                                                                      80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                                      La Mela
                                                                                      167 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                      Economy Candy
                                                                                      108 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                                      Dylan's Candy Bar
                                                                                      1011 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021

                                                                                      Bemelmans Bar
                                                                                      35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021

                                                                                      Luke's Lobster
                                                                                      93 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: angelhair

                                                                                        For Chinatown, I'd suggest Nom Wah Tea Parlor. Dim Sum any time on one of Chinatown's most atmospheric streets.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Nom Wah Tea Parlor
                                                                                        13 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                        1. re: eeee

                                                                                          Great old room, but the dim sum there is a third rate greasefest. There were literally pools of grease on the bottom of the serving plates. The previously mentioned Dim Sum a Go Go lacks the atmosphere, but it's better, even for mediocre dim sum.

                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                            I wouldn't do dim sum, I would do more lunch and dinner stuff

                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                              Have you been since the reopening/reno? It's definitely improved. Another place that's pricier but might be fun is Artisanal. They can seat large groups and fondue is always a crowd-pleaser. it's very non-Kansan, too.

                                                                                              1. re: eeee

                                                                                                I visited Nom Wah about a month ago based on the reviews after the reno. I had high hopes.

                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                  Nam Wah is the first dim sum in Chinatown. They used to only hve Dim Sum on Sunday. I liked Nam Wah way back when they were the only one. Hong Gung, which used to be at 30 Pell had the best dim sum i've had in NYC. But they are long gone and even though the place looks the same, 30 Pell St has changed hands like 6 times, i havent been back in about 4 years, it might be worth a try.. Golden Unicorn and Hop Shing are my dim sum go to places now. I hate Red Egg and Dim Sum Go Go.

                                                                                        2. So ... whatever happened on your trip? Did you go? Where did you end up eating?

                                                                                          I've just came across this thread, and now I'm dying to know how everything went. ???

                                                                                          Dee

                                                                                          1. WOW! It happened!!! Thank you for all the suggestions.

                                                                                            foodwhisperer & dkstar1 and others that suggested Buddakan,,, it was a huge WOW! We loved the food especially the moo shu pork! It will be a dinner that my family willl remember forever! Especially my youngest… since she saw the Jonas Brothers there! AWESOME! decor, food and extra bonus! :)

                                                                                            We enjoyed several of your suggestions:
                                                                                            Coasts: our next favorite was conveyor belt sushi!!! What fun!!! Never have seen anything like that! East Japanese Restaurant, 366 3rd Ave, was wonderful, the hostess and head waiter so helpful in our rookie experience. ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! (We tried to go to Sushein, but closed on the 4th of July)
                                                                                            Ellen's Stardust Diner, wonderful sandwiches and great entertainment. A perfect experience of our group! So much fun!!!
                                                                                            Donna Belle's Bake Shop, for our NCIS fans, and our group being from the south… high expectations were met and exceeded on 3 out of 4 items we ordered. Lemon Squares- perfect, brownie bar- awesome, chess square-wonderful, chocolate chip cookie-didn't pass our test.
                                                                                            Carlos Bakery, Hoboken for all our Cake Boss fans. We ordered in advance and by passed the 2 block long line… YES!! LOVED the chocolate cannoli and the lobster tails. We got a picture with Buddy's sister Lisa. Worth the trip! (and got to see Buddy earlier in the week at Time Square on Good Morning America show)
                                                                                            John's Pizza, Was good, we also really enjoyed pizza spur of the moment at Uncle Mario's Brick Oven Pizza in Hell's Kitchen
                                                                                            Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, lychee ice cream was yummy
                                                                                            Junior's Cheesecake to go was WONDERFUL!
                                                                                            Tony's DiNapoli was perfect for our group! Enjoyed every dish!
                                                                                            Impromptu stop at PJ Moran's, an Irish Pub near 5th Ave on 48th, good food and fun! Lucky our whole group got seated and near each other too!
                                                                                            Brooklyn Diner, food was good, guess it was late in trip and got annoyed that they add automatic tip for our group of 8, but wouldn't split the check in any way. Large servings… sharing charge $6ish. Favorite from our table was chicken and waffles.

                                                                                            Still MISSED so many places!

                                                                                            Thank you all for your help!!! It was a wonderful trip!!!

                                                                                            1. OOPS, just realized this post is old.

                                                                                              A place that can probably handle large groups of kids is Cha Cha's in Little Italy (not much Kitchy Mob Italian in rural Kansas I would imagine...although Kansas City was mob central at one point).

                                                                                              Little Italy is a shadow of its former self in that it has become largely a disnified parody of itself, but based on your post, this might fit the bill.

                                                                                              I can't vouch for the food being great, but the waiters were nice and there are pictures of celebrities like James Gandalfini and Frank Sinatra everywhere. (The owner had a minor role in Goodfellas). There is a nice large patio out back that is loaded with kitchy Italian American stuff.

                                                                                              It's on Mulberry just north of Canal (surrounded by Chinatown).

                                                                                              http://www.chachasfamousfoods.com/