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Mar 2, 2012 07:21 AM

Family Trip to NYC

We are taking our children (ages 18, 15 and 9) to NYC for Spring Break. All of the children are well-behaved and like pretty much everything so I don't want to pick restaurants that are necessarily kid friendly. That being said, with the 18 year old going to university in the Fall, I don't want to break the bank. I thought Spice Market would be fun, maybe one "ethnic" restaurant (we live in North Florida and the ethnic choices are limited) and maybe an old fashioned Italian restaurant. We are staying in mid-town but don't want to be limited to that area. Would love some suggestions/recommendations!

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  1. How big is your proverbial bank?

    It's easier to give recommendations if you can name a dollar figure per person, for food only (before tax, tip, drinks/wine/etc for the adults).

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      I honestly haven't a clue as it has been years since I have spent a lot of time in the city...maybe $200-$250 without wine?

      1. re: basicg

        So about $40pp before tax, tip, wine/etc? How big is your group?

        1. re: kathryn

          There are five of us, two adults, two teenagers and one 9 year old....We all love good food but are not big "eaters". Of course in the city, the portion sizes are more appropriate than in the deep south where we live!

    2. Chinatown - Oriental Garden, Amazing 66, Great NY Noodletown, Dim Sum Go Go
      Italian - Parm, Bar Pitti (cash only) - both are no reservations, also Da Andrea, Picolo Angolo
      Pizza - Motorino, Keste, Co., Don Antonio
      Thai - Wondee Siam - several locations

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

      Amazing 66
      66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

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

      Piccolo Angolo
      621 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

      Da Andrea
      35 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

      Oriental Garden
      14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

      Bar Pitti
      268 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014

      Wondee Siam
      792 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

      230 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

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

      349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

      248 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

      Don Antonio by Starita
      309 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chuck Lawrence

        According to what a waiter at the original location of Wondee told me, I would not like any of the other locations, which serve sweeter, American-style Thai food. For Thai in Manhattan, I recommend Wondee, but really only the so-called "secret Thai" menu or dishes on the actual Thai-language menu, if they're willing to even admit its existence. But you have to like really spicy food that's not in an oversweetened American-Thai style and ask for it - if you can handle it.

        More advice for the original poster:

        The other Thai restaurant in Manhattan that I give an overall recommendation to is Zabb Elee in the East Village. I've had mixed experiences there, but their larb, som tom (I stay away from the pickled fish, though), soups, and sausages are generally very good. But there, too, you have to ask for as little sugar as possible, or you may be eating a som tom with limeade instead of lime juice plus a pinch of sugar. They also have a 1-5 spiciness scale, and I usually ask for a 3 or 2/2 1/2 (depending on whether I'm by myself or with my girlfriend). I have a much higher than average chili tolerance and don't think I could handle more than 3 too easily, but less than 2 is really not hot enough.

        Oriental Garden is a banquet restaurant to me, and a damn good one. I had my birthday banquet there this year, and it was excellent except the orange-flavor beef my cousin wanted (weird, with lots of salty soy sauce).

        Noodletown is very informal but has consistently good food. You can have really cheap meals of noodle soup or congee, perhaps with a side of steamed Chinese vegetables with oyster sauce, but to get the most out of your trip, don't neglect the less-cheap items, such as casseroles, dishes with pea shoots or yellow chives, and salt-baked items. But make sure you get some barbecue. I particularly like their roast duck - some of the best you can get in Chinatown - but their roast pork is also excellent.

        Dim Sum Go Go serves the best dim sum in Chinatown, but in the past, I've found their buns to be disappointing, so I tend to stick to dumplings and other items, such as the tripe in pepper sauce and the chicken feet. They also have some very good dessert items (I particularly like the tapioca/kaya dumplings), and some of their regular menu is worthwhile, too. Not extremely cheap at all, but a fair value.

        If you want Indian food, I thought Chennai Garden was overall the best vegetarian Indian restaurant in the part of Murray Hill we call "Curry Hill." If it's on the same level since it reopened, I'd recommend it for utthapams, masala dosas, and Gujarati dishes. Saravaana Bhavan may be a touch better for utthapams and masala dosas, and perhaps for desserts, but I've found the service much slower, to the point of annoyance.

        Another option is to try some Korean food. Koreatown is in Midtown, primarily on 32nd and 35th Sts. between Broadway/6th Av. and Madison Av. The best places there, though, aren't cheap - they're Korean barbecue restaurants. Madangsui is best, overall, but really strictly for barbecue. Don's Bogam is also excellent and has lovely galbi marinated in hot sauce, but it's also a full-service restaurant that has other very good items. Both restaurants also serve excellent banchan (side dishes that are free with the meal and refillable), with a bit of an edge to Madangsui in quantity and variety but probably on par in quality. Each order of barbecue will cost you around $25 or so, but the orders are big and you'll have a lot of food from side dishes, so it might not bust your budget much and it would certainly be interesting. It really helps if you like spicy pickles, though if some of your kids don't like them, there are other side dishes.

        It's late, but I'll check this thread again and try to think of more ideas for you.

        81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

        Chennai Garden
        129 E 27th St, New York, NY 10016

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

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

        35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

        Don's Bogam
        17 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

        Oriental Garden
        14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

        Wondee Siam
        792 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

        Wondee Siam II
        813 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

        Wondee Siam V
        969 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

        Wondee Siam III
        641 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

        Zabb Elee
        75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

        1. re: Pan

          I was similarly skeptical about other branches of Wondee. I recently went to the outpost on Tenth Ave and 46th St and found it as good as the original. And yes, they have both "secret" and Thai language menus. They also have beer and wine, and charge $10 corkage.

          Wondee Siam III
          641 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

      2. Carmines. Its family style. One serving can feed four of you! 44th St.

        200 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

        1 Reply
        1. re: Itsajerseything

          I would emphatically recommend John's of 12th St. over any branch of Carmine's, for family-style Italian-American food. John's is not a chain, it's over 100 years old and oozes history, and in my experience there in a few trips, it's honest and mostly solidly good food, with pretty good wine and very helpful service. I've found my trips there enjoyable.

          John's of 12th Street
          302 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

          1. re: kathryn

            Thanks for all of the great suggestions and i have my work cut out for me!