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1st time family of 5 food itinerary...thoughts?

  • m

Hello!
My family (dh and 3 kids 11, 8, 7) will be in NYC for the 1st time at the end of this month.
we are looking for:
-some really, really good food! But, travelling with 5 makes budget a bigger concern than usual.
-We want to mostly stick with unique to New York food.
-Cuisine: Four of us are adventurous but we have our DD who doesn't like anything unless very bland...she also never met a chicken nugget she didn't like (I know, I know) so we're trying to keep it simple for my decidedly non-chowhound daughter
-Budget: the per person price before tax, tip, and alcohol is difficult for me to calculate as the kids will likely eat less and eat lower end items so I've just gone through the menus and planned what I thought everyone would order. With that in mind I'd like to keep our food only budget around $250-$300 total for each dinner. We are wine drinkers though so restaurants with decent bottles under $100 would be great)

I'm chowhounding and menupage-ing non-stop so everytime I think I have our food itinerary...I get confused again. So, I'll just post what I'm thinking so far and hopefully some of you will be kind enough to critique.

Breakfasts will mostly consist of something in our hotel as the Fairway is across from our hotel

Lunches:
Gray's Papaya
Shake Shack (to compare with our In-n-Out)
Luke's Lobster
combo of Katz Deli and Russ & Daughters (thinking of sharing some from each)
Kefi (this is a maybe, seems to not get much love here but its near our hotel and I love Greek so thought it might be a nice neighborhood joint with decent food?)

Dinner:
Day 1:Keste for pizza
Day 2:Basso56 for pre-theater
Day 3: want this to be a little more special was originally thinking Balthazar but also thinking Keen's (I realize completely different food and atmosphere but they both appeal to me and seem similar in price) Maybe do one on this night and the other the next before we leave? Or do you suggest something else?

Thanks in advance I'd really appreciate advice

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  1. that looks like a tasty itinerary, one that i've certainly guided guests through parts of. the katz/russ combo is particularly nice. i'd perhaps eat at katz's and get something for a late night nosh from russ, providing you have a way to keep items cool. also, while you're down there, grab dessert from il laboratorio de gelato, which has amazing gelato, in some unique (and some trad) flavors.

    the only thing that i'd swap out is Basso 56. it's not bad by any means, but i've never found anything about it to be unique or interesting or....i dunno, great. are you looking to sample italian in that area, or just have pre theater in a welcoming spot of any ethnicity?

    1 Reply
    1. re: debinqueens

      Thanks for that debinqueens. We will try out laboratorio gelato as well. I'd read about it, but wasn't sure where it was. Now that I know its near Katz, I'll hopstop it. My kids will love you for that suggestion!

      We'd be happy with pre-theater in a welcoming spot of any ethnicity especially if it means better food! I just focused on Italian because I didn't have it on my list (i thought we'd stick with pizza at Keste) but I'm very open for the theater night. Thanks!

    2. Kefi is great, lunch is less hectic. In the neighborhood- Levian bakery, Bouchon Bakery( the sit down lunch)Lincoln, Telepan are vavorites, maybe the last 2 for lunch could work. Many places have prix fix lunches, which could make higher end places work for you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rkaene

        Wonderful suggestions thank you rkaene! I've put them all on my list. Good to read a positive on Kefi.

      2. Also, in looking up the 2 that replied to see if they've already recommended alternatives to Basso56 to others, I came across a reco for Kashkaval. A quick look on MP had me drooling and very happy about the prices. However a look on Yelp showed me its called a cheese and wine bar. Is it wine bar enough that it would be inappropriate to bring bigger kids? It would be a weekday early dinner say 530ish. If its ok, would this be a better choice than Basso 56? Thanks!

        3 Replies
        1. re: MelB5

          It's a very casual place and children would be fine. Cases of cheese and prepared foods up front and casual cafe style tables in back. I'm not a huge fan of their food, but it's a warm little space.

          1. re: rose water

            That's too bad to hear you're not a fan, but thanks for your honesty. Do you have another suggestion not too far from theater district that you think would be better? I've given up on mind-blowing (especially given our budget) but I'm looking for a darn good meal. I've done my research (or so I thought) and thought that Basso and Kashkaval got decent reccos here but I'm open to suggestion. Thanks!

          2. re: MelB5

            Like rose water, I don't like Kashkaval.

          3. Get takeout from Katz & or Russ &D and walk over to the Wah Mei Bird garden to eat. The kids will love the birds. It's a bit of a NY secret place. I'll bet 99% of native New Yorkers don't know about it. Great fun!!

            Donut Plant for dessert!!!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Motosport

              Great suggestion! Hadn't heard of it. I will look it up now. Thank you Motosport!

              1. re: Motosport

                In the area of Katz's/R&D... check out Economy Candy 108 Rivington St. I'm willing to bet the kids love it, and it's a lot cheaper than going to Dylan's Candy Bar or some other touristy candy joint.

                If you are staying near the Fairway on the Upper West Side, then Zabar's is just a short walk from there (Broadway and 80/81st). It is one of the premier grocery/specialty food shops in the city. A great place to grab some breakfast fixings and a cookware souvenir.

                If not Kefi, then perhaps Gazala's on 78th and Columbus?
                http://www.gazalasplace.com/

                1. re: iluvcookies

                  Thanks for the address of Economy Candy iluvcookies. I'd heard of this one too but again wasn't sure where it was. My kids will be properly sugared up! Thanks!
                  I was aware of Zabars too and since I love gourmet foods and cookware I will definitely be making that a stop. Appreciate it!
                  I'll look into Gazala's too. Hadn't come across that one. :)

              2. Thanks for all the input. So, I guess I'm still on the elusive search for a good dinner near the theater district. But, I do realize there are at least a million topics on this so it must be my error that I haven't been able to settle on one.

                Also, even though they're completely different, if we could only do one, would you choose Balthazar or Keens for a special not too expensive meal for a family with kids?

                Thanks!

                2 Replies
                1. re: MelB5

                  I think both places might be wasted on young children and a bit expensive.
                  How about Chinatown or one of the many good Thai restaurants on 9th AVE close to the theater district?

                  1. re: Motosport

                    Thanks Motosport. I do see what you mean. But, since most this trip is geared towards the kids including the food I'd like at least one very good meal that's a bit more special. Still obviously where children aren't frowned upon but where us grownups will enjoy a night out in NYC as well.

                2. like Kefi and easy with kids, but lots of options on UWS.

                  Near theater district, like Uncle Nick's for Greek or ElCentro for Mexican - both in low 50s on 9th Ave.

                  1. Some comments:

                    I haven't been to Kefi since I moved out of the Upper West Side last September, I think, but prior to that, I had found it consistently very good, with the one exception that the walnut-based dessert should be avoided (walnut shell-flavored ice cream, and occasional bits of shell in the walnut cake).

                    I don't like the papaya places at all, but it wouldn't kill you to try one once and see what you think.

                    For a good pre-theater place that has some interesting photos and such to look at on the walls and good food, you could consider Ariana, an Afghan restaurant on 9th Av. between 52nd and 53rd. It does cost significantly more than the Thai restaurants in the neighborhood, though: A full dinner could cost as much as $35, though it doesn't have to, and your family I think would not spend nearly that much because you could share appetizers and side dishes to good effect. You can find menus here, but keep your speakers off because annoying music automatically plays all over their site: http://www.ariananyc.com/

                    I've so far found Dafni, a Greek restaurant on 42 St. between 8th and 9th, to be very good, and definitely better, overall, than Uncle Nick's. So that's another option for pre-theater, and it won't kill your budget.