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New York flavor

We are planning to make full use of a Saturday 10 am to 4:30 pm Newark layover this summer. Plan is to see the Statue of Liberty (possibly from the Staten Island ferry), tour the tenament museum, and buy my Mom's birthday present at Brown's Pens. We'd love to get some iconic New York food while we are there. I'm thinking of Katz's deli and some NY pizza, but that sounds so cliche I'm not sure it will even be good anymore. My 9.5-yr-old son is loosing his chow pup nature, but might be enticed with something simple. I love Mediterranean and African foods. What quick and yummy places would you suggest in lower Manhattan?

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  1. I say, go to Katz's deli for pastrami sandwiches. You won't regret it.

    1. Katz's, cliche? To each his/her own taste, but that does not compute to me. If it's a cliche, what makes it trite?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Pan

        Katz's could be perceived as cliche because if this were Family Feud and the question was what's most popular restaurants in NYC Katz's might be #1 most popular answer

        1. re: AubWah

          Carnegie Deli. Remember where most tourists hang out.

      2. You day sounds pretty packed and of course you'll want to leave plenty of time to make your connecting flight.

        I think Katz's would be a great idea since you'll be near the LES anyway if you want to go to the Tenement Museum (buy tickets in advance).

        From there you can also walk to South Brooklyn Pizza in the East Village for a very good slice of pizza.

        Pastrami sandwiches and slices of pizza in NY? It's not cliched, it's delicious!

        1 Reply
        1. re: kathryn

          I agree. You don't have a ton of time. If you want to do the tenement museum, then certainly go to Katz's. It's iconic because it's really quite good. You'll also be right near Il Laboratorio Del Gelato for a great gelato fix, and Russ and Daughters to pick up wonderful smoked fish to go.

        2. In case you'd like a little dessert after Katz's, about a 1 minute walk from there is IL Laboratorio Del Gelato, on Ludlow St.

          1. Definitely go to Katz's, eat the food, look at the pictures on the wall, don't lose your ticket that they give you when you walk in, or you will have a 'real New York" experience. i like the gelato rec across the street from katz;s , I second Laborotorio Del Gelato. Try some pizza at either Motorino or Grand Daisy. Grab a falafel at Mamoun's on MacDougal or St Marks. A hamburger at Big Nicks, Cornerstone Grill, or Corner Bistro. Get a rugalach at Russ and Daughters , up the block from Katz's. Meatballs at the Meatball Shoppe. Italian Ice at De Roberti's Paticceria on 11th and 1st.They have been there since 1904. Great pastries too. Then get a Sabrett's hot dog with everything on it from the hot dog umbrella carts. Oh , I almost forgot , get a NYC egg cream drink at Gem Spa ( St Mark's and 2nd ) or B&H Dairy a few doors down.

            5 Replies
            1. re: foodwhisperer

              Mostly good recommendations, but just because Di Roberti's is old doesn't mean they are good. When have you found them good, and for what?

              1. re: Pan

                I found their pistachio gelato, and Italian Ices excellent.. I also found their pasticiotti and sfogliatelle delicious. The oldness of the place is just something I enjoy to see i.e. tin ceilings , tile floors, etc. Veniero's I used to like, but it has changed drastically. I like Rocco's gelato too. Also, Amorino.
                When did I go to Di Roberti's last , i think you asked, About a week ago.

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  OK. I was there about 2 or 3 years ago and had things that were mediocre. I don't actually really remember what.

                  1. re: Pan

                    Recently, I brought a few sfogliatelle from DeRobertis to my grandma. She thought they were delicious, with the right amount of filling, and asked me why I didn't bring more than just 2. I also got some biscotti and rainbow cookies that were delicious.

                    And, as foodwhisperer said, the oldness, tile floors, the atmosphere is something I also enjoy very much.

                    1. re: iluvcookies

                      The place is pretty; that's not an issue for me at all.

                      Since it's in my neighborhood, maybe I'll try something there at a whim some time to see if you and foodwhisperer are right. I always thought it was a bit less good than Veniero's back in the days in the 80s when Veniero's was actually good, though, and it's never impressed me.

            2. Definitely hit Katz's. I've been going there for 55 years and it still rocks. It's quick and easy too. Close to the tenement museum. Did you make a reservation?
              Statue of Liberty from the ferry is a great idea. Otherwise an actual trip there is a half day adventure.
              My best guess is that if you hit the tenement museum and Katz's you won't have much time for anything else. If you do I suggest just walking around the Lower East Side and taking in the sights.

              1. I'll pile on with the Katz's recommendation. Every time we go to NYC, it is at the top of my kids' list of places to eat. It may be my 11 y.o.'s favorite place to eat (he gets the pastrami) and my very picky 9 y.o. loves the hot dogs. The gelato down the street is also a big hit all around. Quick, easy, delicious, and classically NY. Sounds perfect for your day.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  ;) Economy Candy is absolutely on the contingency "if there's time and you've behaved" list!

                  The gelato sounds delicious too!

                2. Also in the area--Economy Candy on Rivington St (very short walk from Katz's). A great place for a 9 year old. A small, packed shop with tons of reasonably priced and hard to find candy (as well as staples like jelly beans, tootsie rolls, chocolates etc.)

                  1. Post script for me on Katz's: I shared a pastrami sandwich there with a friend tonight. I asked for "juicyish." It was great, just as good as the other best times I've gone.

                    1. Can I get some clarification around the time you will have? Are you saying that your incoming flight lands at Newark at 10 and your connection out is at 4:30 so that the time you have is 6 1/2 hours? I think you will be rushed with everything you point out that you want to do. If you land on schedule and get into a cab and head to whitehall first, I would say you might be able to catch the 11:00 ferry. It's about an hour round trip so that gets you back at noon. You should be heading back to Newark around 2:30 to give you time for travel and security. So that gives you 2-3 hours max for everything else. I agree that Katz will give you some great NY flavor, but if you are planning on seeing the museum and shopping, then the quintessential NY experience for you might be a dirty water dog or a slice of pizza with the few minutes that you will have to spare.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Bkeats

                        I agree with Bkeats. In the interests of full disclosure, I'm one of those "never be late, never cut it close" types who always arrives at the airport at least 2 hours early. Having said that, your itinerary sounds fairly ambitious to me. I don't think I would enjoy a trip to NYC under those circumstances; I'd spend the whole time stressing about hitting traffic or otherwise being delayed and missing the outbound flight. I might be able to get comfortable with a limited itinerary (maybe one tourist attraction and a reasonably quick meal), but trying to fit in everything you're proposing would stress me out too much.

                        Whatever happens, though, I really hope you have a great time here.

                        1. re: Garlic Guy

                          I've been getting schooled on this itinerary in Fodor's forums. The new plan is to go to our airport insanely early and try to get on the 5:30 flight standby, so we can at least do lunch and the Tenement Museum, then add on more as time permits--Pizza, Candy, maybe head up to Art Brown's Pens... then back to EWR via Penn Station. What are good, quick options up that way?

                          If we can't get on the earlier flight, then we'll cancel the tix at the museum and go to Liberty Park. If we can't get on the earlier flight and it's bad weather, we'll go to the science museum in NJ. Any good eats around either of those locations (same criteria: quick, tasty, appealing to both a 9-yr-old and a chow hound)?

                          Food whisperer, you're dangerous--I want to try nearly every place you mentioned!

                          1. re: saacnmama

                            Not a whole lot near Penn Station but these should help:

                            I'm pretty sure that FoodParc at the Eventi has closed, though.

                            For NJ you need to post on the NJ board:

                        2. re: Bkeats

                          Not to depress you but on one flight out of Newark the line for security was so long they had to improvise and invent new lines for everyone, it was horrible. And getting to and fro from Newark isn't as easy as it seems. Give yourself PLENTY of time at the airport.

                            1. re: saacnmama

                              May I suggest you think about skipping the Statue of Liberty: I know, I know, but the time drain could be significant, depending on the crowd and the security check (yes),and you've already got a great view from the battery. Once you're on Liberty Island, well, it's all just looking up. But that's just me. Or hop on a free SI ferry ride for a quick 40 minute out and back harbor tour. Second Katz's and Economy Candy and the Tenement Museum, and maybe a snack stop in the Essex St Market.; if you do get to the Battery, Adrienne's on Stone St nearby just NE of Whitehall has good brick oven pizza.

                        3. Given the ridiculously short amount of time you'll have - assume it'll take you an hour minimum to get to any location in NYC, plus add an extra hour (just in case) to get back through security on the return, and you're looking at three hours of your days subtracted right off the bat. Probably more - you could spend, say, fifteen minutes waiting on train on one end or the other or both, etc.

                          The easiest way into the city - and the only way in which traffic won't affect your travel time - would be to take the train the whole way. Forget cabs, the ferry, etc - theoretically, you could take a cab the whole way (if you're willing to spring the $$ for it) and be in NYC in a half hour by cab, if you take the Holland or Lincoln Tunnel - but on a Saturday, there's no chance in hell I'd risk it. You're just asking to get locked up in traffic, and suddenly your leisurely (but expensive) half-hour ride becomes a frustrating mess.

                          The train commute, on the other hand, is an hour give or take a few minutes, and will drop you at Penn Station, much closer to Art Brown - maybe a 20 minute walk, and you can window shop and check things out along the way. You could do dirty-water dogs, some excellent Korean food in K-Town, Mediterranean / Turkish at Akdeniz or Ethiopean at Meske, great falafel at Azuri Cafe... it's not THE BEST part of town for eats, but for lunch stops there's good stuff to be found in the style(s) you're looking for.

                          Were you to go straight to Art Brown to take care of what you need to... they're conveniently near an F Train, which is exactly the train you'd want to take you to the Lower East Side - about a 20 min ride. There you could do Katz's, all kinds of other iconic and/or famous NYC places (hit The Pickle Guy for pickles to go, Kossar's Bialys, The Donut Plant if you've got a sweet tooth...)

                          OR... take the same F Train a shorter distance to 28th St, walk a couple blocks East and you'll find Eataly, Shake Shack, and Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop all within a block of each other. Plus if you want to shop for things like exotic spices, Kalustyan's is a short walk from there.

                          Another option would be to walk to Grand Central from Art Brown and take the 5 Train to Union Square - from there you're on top of the East Village, and any number of great places at your disposal. For something new and hip, Momofuku Ssam Bar's now-legendary Duck Lunch, and then sweet treats from Momofuku Milk Bar to go to take on the plane with you. Funky, creative hot dogs at Crif Dogs. There's a good amount of African/Moroccan (Awash, Nomad, Zerza) and a few solid Mediterranean choices as well.

                          You won't have a TON of time, regardless which part of town you go to - but stick to one area, keep an eye on the time to get back to Penn Station, and you can have a fun, productive (if quick) layover. You might find you're spending more time travelling and checking your watch than actually relaxing anywhere, but hey... that's the nature of it.