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NY with kids...

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houstoncrimlawyer Aug 4, 2012 01:44 PM

I will be back in NY this month although, with the kids in tow this time (9 & 5). We can take them most places without any problems, although would likely stay away from places like Babbo and others similar in terms of atmosphere and ambiance.

Mostly I am looking for some local CH takes on the following:

- best Chinese (or some of the same recommendations for good, authentic Chinese) - I don't mind ordering back to the hotel if it is a delivery only place (we will be staying in Mid-town).

- best Italian (here I am looking for more of a comfort food place versus a Batali joint). Location is not an issue. We will go wherever we need to go to.

- best Pizza (don't want to go back to Brooklyn for Grimaldi's - even though we enjoyed it last time)

- best Steakhouse (have previously been to Luger's - looking for something that is unique to NYC, like Keen's - as we have every other chain in Houston that you have in NY...so something local and unique is the key.)

How is Eataly? Have been meaning to go several of the last times I was in town, but never made it.

Open for any suggestions. Kids are well behaved when we dine at nice places, so that is not an issue for us.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. r
    RebelWithaCause RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 4, 2012 02:48 PM

    'the best' is tough to answer around here, but I would reccomend ( and I have considered you wil be dining with children):
    Rubirosa for pizza and Italian. Lombardi's for pizza. Otto for pizza (you say no batali places, but this batali joint is way more toned down than say babbo).
    Szechuan gourmet or wu Lieng yu for Chinese.
    Eataly is great. Crowded but great. Definitely worth visiting. Don't know if you want to eat your way thru or shop your way thru though....

    3 Replies
    1. re: RebelWithaCause
      k
      kathryn RE: RebelWithaCause Aug 4, 2012 04:38 PM

      Otto is good and kid friendly. IMO their strong points are the meats, cheeses, pasta, vegetable sides, and gelato. The pizzas are grilled and the crust is just OK in my opinion.

      1. re: kathryn
        r
        RebelWithaCause RE: kathryn Aug 4, 2012 05:54 PM

        The clam pizza and aglio olio pizza are two of my favs..ymmmmm.

      2. re: RebelWithaCause
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        Pan RE: RebelWithaCause Aug 5, 2012 03:37 AM

        I wouldn't recommend Lombardi's. Otto is a better idea, but make sure you get some apps, not only pizza.

        To the original poster:

        If your kids can't handle really spicy food or/and want some non-spicy Chinese food, go to Great NY Noodletown for some excellent Cantonese food in a really informal setting. Get the roast duck, the beef stew, the sauteed pea shoots, or/and any of the main dishes that strike your fancy. They do a good job, they're cheap, and they certainly don't mind kids.

        Your kids might also enjoy dim sum. Manhattan isn't the strongest for it (Flushing would be better, and for all I know, maybe Houston has killer dim sum), but I'd recommend Dim Sum Go Go, though you might want to stick with items other than buns there. Red Egg has a little more decor and ambiance and is also pretty good, with some different items, though I think Dim Sum Go Go is better, overall. Red Egg does sometimes have some carts, if that matters to you.

      3. k
        kathryn RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 4, 2012 04:37 PM

        Szechuan Gourmet, Cafe China, and Lan Sheng are all in Midtown. All are Sichuan though, so the best dishes will be the authentic (and often spicy) ones, not sure if your kids will want that or Americanized Chinese (which is not the strong point).

        Rubirosa is a good call, but it's on the popular side (I've seen lines on weekends) so make reservations. Parm is a possibility if, say, you're shopping in Soho, and want lunch, but lines can be very, very long, especially for dinner. Both are actually quite close to each other.

        I would do John's of Bleecker (not the Midtown one) for NY coal oven style pizza. Make sure you get it well done and don't get more than one topping, otherwise, the crust can't really support it. I like the green bell peppers, myself. No reservations, everybody stands in line outside. Afterwards you can get dessert at Rocco's (freshly filled cannoli).

        For a steakhouse, are you saying you're considering Keens or have already done Keens and are looking for something else? Something local and unique would be Minetta Tavern but it is not kid appropriate.

        Eataly is good but crowded and can get kind loud, especially the wine bar area. It's great for shopping or ingredients, but the setup and layout makes it very congested during prime dining hours. It's awkward to wait for a table in the aisles of a poorly laid out grocery store. I would maybe do a walk through during off hours on a weekday, but fine elsewhere if you haven't got a lot of time here.

        1. h
          houstoncrimlawyer RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 08:11 AM

          I have not done Keen's, so I made resos there to make it this time. This is not a shopping trip or a tourist trip either (as we are there several times a year and have done the tourist stops way back when). Mostly I am planning on handling a little business and of course the Yankees/Red Sox game, but otherwise I plan on eating good local food I cannot get anywhere else.

          As I mentioned before, I am not real worried about kid appropriate places as my kids act surprisingly well when we take them to nice places. I am mostly looking for places where the food and atmosphere will be good.

          I like spicy, but the kids are not huge fans of spicy Chinese, and as "Pan" pointed out, that must be something to consider. I understand the "best" is really a comical question, as there is usually never a "best" but rather a list of places that would all vie for the "best". Eataly sounds like it will be too crowded to enjoy with the kids, so I am thinking some of the other places mentioned.

          Oh, I forgot to ask for a place for breakfast/brunch on Sunday. We are big fans of Todd's at the plaza and the kids really like that place as well, but I need another spot for Sunday morning. Thoughts???

          2 Replies
          1. re: houstoncrimlawyer
            k
            kathryn RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 09:20 AM

            For weekend (Sat and Sun) brunch, no reservations taken:
            Prune
            The Breslin
            Joseph Leonard
            Public
            Spotted Pig

            Reservations taken:
            Minetta Tavern
            Locanda Verde
            North End Grill
            Union Sq Cafe

            Best weekday breakfast:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8330...

            Best weekend brunch:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831766

            1. re: houstoncrimlawyer
              c
              City Kid RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 6, 2012 08:30 AM

              They will love Keen's and so will you. In addition to top-notch food and service it is something of a museum of NYC. If you ask the hostess, they are very gracious about showing people around the place and pointing out items of interest. Unique New York.

            2. h
              houstoncrimlawyer RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 03:07 PM

              Places we have chosen thus far:

              Clinton St. Bakery

              Rubirosa or John's on Bleeker for pizza

              The Spotted Pig

              Minetta Tavern

              Todd's at the Plaza

              Liang Sheng or GS for Chinese...

              Any other places I "must" go to that I am missing?

              18 Replies
              1. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                p
                Pan RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 04:01 PM

                Someone else can address this: Aren't there long waits for a table at Spotted Pig? I also wasn't too impressed with the food there, and it's a gastro pub, so possibly not an entirely appropriate place for kids.

                What's Liang Sheng? Never heard of it. (I read upthread: Lan Sheng, which is a Sichuan place.) Grand Sichuan (which I assume is what you mean by "GS") does have some good non-spicy items, but which branch were you planning on going to?

                I don't know which places you "must" go to. If your kids like red meat, you could consider going to a Korean barbecue place like Madangsui or Don's Bogam. Some of the items there are spicy, but others are not. At Madangsui, they have excellent marinated galbi that's not marinated in hot sauce and doesn't have to be spicy (it is if you add raw green chilis, etc., but that's up to you).

                1. re: Pan
                  h
                  houstoncrimlawyer RE: Pan Aug 5, 2012 05:43 PM

                  Thanks Pan. I think I will wait on Spotted Pig. Gastro has been the way to go lately (at least in Houston anyway) and for lunch you can take your kids, but I would not take them for dinner. As for GS/SG/Lan Sheng, I really am not sure which to go to. I like spicy food, but the kids don't like it too spicy, so I guess I need to steer clear of anything too spicy.

                  Thanks again.

                2. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                  k
                  kathryn RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 05:04 PM

                  For Clinton St go on a weekday or show up by 8:15-8:30 on a Sunday, otherwise the wait is like 2-3 hours.

                  Rubirosa is thin crust but not really chewy or airy like classic NY pizza, BTW. Go to John's for that.

                  Spotted Pig might be OK for weekday lunch. Brunch can be packed. Same for dinner. The atmosphere is not really kid appropriate.

                  Minetta would be good for lunch or brunch. Maybe an early dinner. I've never seen kids there except for infants at brunch. The atmosphere is Mad Men/Rat Pack.

                  BTW, it's Lan Sheng, not Liang Sheng. GS is what, Szechuan Gourmet? Or did you mean Grand Sichuan, another popular Sichuan mini chain?

                  What about Katz's or takeout from Russ & Daughters?

                  1. re: kathryn
                    h
                    houstoncrimlawyer RE: kathryn Aug 5, 2012 05:39 PM

                    Great intel btw. I appreciate that. Sounds like John's is the place I want to go to.

                    I planned on being at Clinton St. right at 8. I do not like to wait for any meal. I surely will not be waiting 2-3 hours, great pancakes or not.

                    What do you mean Spotted Pig might be "ok"? As in, Ok for quality or ok for a lunch? I am confused. But if it is not kid appropriate, then I may need to skip it for later when I am back and sans kids.

                    I figured as much about Minetta. That is another place I must wait to go to without the kids.

                    Yes, I meant Lan Sheng. I did mean Grand Sichuan. I read a lot about both GS and SG. Which is better and why? Is Lan Sheng still the over all place to go to between the three or are they all pretty comparable?

                    We have Katz's in Houston. There is also a location in Austin as well. Will look into Russ & Daughters. What is good there?

                    1. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                      s
                      Sneakeater RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 06:09 PM

                      The Katz's delicatessens in Texas are not in any way related to the famous New York City institution.

                      As for Russ & Daughters, smoked or cured fish.

                      1. re: Sneakeater
                        h
                        houstoncrimlawyer RE: Sneakeater Aug 5, 2012 06:20 PM

                        Sneakeater...you are not correct. Katz's son is the owner (or was) of the Houston location. The Austin location is owned by M&M Katz Inc. (i.e., Marc Katz). Check out

                        http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/sto...

                        I think you are mistaken. They are in fact the same place, albeit though different locations.

                        Thanks for the tip at Russ & Daughters.

                        1. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                          s
                          Sneakeater RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 06:23 PM

                          First, I don't see where that article says anything about Mark Katz being part of the family that started the New York Katz's deli. In fact, there haven't been any Katzes involved at Katz's in New York for years. (Trust me: there are A LOT of unrelated Jewish people named Katz.)

                          Second, even if he were -- and I'm skeptical about that -- that wouldn't make the Houston and Austin operations related to the New York one. Different corporations. (I'll note that Katz's in New York is very far from going into bankruptcy.) Different production facilities. If Andre Soltner's son opened a restaurant in Houston, it wouldn't be Lutece. But, even if Mark Katz were related to the New York Katz Deli family, this would be more like if some great-grandson of Charles Kreuz (whose family no longer owns Kreuz Market) opened a place called Kreuz's in New York. It wouldn't have anything to do with the famous institution in Lockhart.

                          As for Russ & Daughters, I should add: it's one of those food stores where the quality is so uniformly high -- it really is the best at what it is -- that you can safely get whatever seems appealing. Moreover, they give you tastes, so you can try things before you choose.

                          1. re: Sneakeater
                            h
                            houstoncrimlawyer RE: Sneakeater Aug 5, 2012 06:57 PM

                            You could be right about Katz's. I have been to both the one in NY and the ones in Houston and Austin. I agree that they are worlds apart. My only point was we have one here and while it is not the same, its close enough that I don't want to go while in NY again. As for the bankruptcy, I agree that NY is never going to see the inside of a Bankruptcy court...at least not in either of our lifetimes.

                            I'm impressed with your Kreutz's comparison. Have you ever been? It really is a very good place. Nothing else in that town except BBQ. But it is worth a stop if you are anywhere remotely close to Austin (as Lockhart is only 30 miles away). I make stops a couple times a year when I am in Austin for clients.

                            I am excited about Russ & Daughters. The more you tell me about it the more excited I get to go there. It sounds like a place you cannot pass up.

                            1. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                              s
                              Sneakeater RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 07:07 PM

                              For an out-of-stater like me, Kreuz's was kind of a religious experience. It wasn't just good, it was beyond anything similar I'd ever experienced.

                              And I'm told it's not even the best . . . .

                              1. re: Sneakeater
                                h
                                houstoncrimlawyer RE: Sneakeater Aug 5, 2012 07:26 PM

                                Lockhart has a deep BBQ history - essentially you have Kreutz's Market, and their family feud has their nemesis, Smitty's Market (much better BBQ ambiance and authenticity IMO), and Black's (haven't been there yet). Those are the big 3 in Lockhart. I am impressed with the attempt that Dinosaur BBQ (only went to the Syracuse location) has tried. It is certainly not "BBQ" but they have made it quite a place for people to park their money.

                                I have often wondered if a true BBQ family could take their trade up to the city and open up a place. I doubt it b/c BBQ does not have "flare" or "pizazz" - it is meat - smoked meat and some simple sided. You cannot make it trendy or "upscale" bc that very thing defies the logic of what BBQ is.

                                1. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                                  s
                                  Sneakeater RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 07:30 PM

                                  There's a place in New York called Hill Country that is a very explicit attempt to imitate Kreuz's. It even uses Kreuz's sausages. It's not run by family members, though.

                                  It's good. It's even very good sometimes.

                                  But it's no religious experience.

                                  ETA -- Also, a famous Kansas City barbecue guy named Paul Kirk opened a place in New York named R.U.B. It's excellent. But it's not nearly as great as the best barbecue in Kansas City is.

                                  1. re: Sneakeater
                                    h
                                    houstoncrimlawyer RE: Sneakeater Aug 5, 2012 07:34 PM

                                    Interesting. I have a general (although not always) rule: you will be hard pressed to get good Mexican food outside of Texas or Southern CA. You cannot get good BBQ outside of Texas/Kansas City/Memphis/and maybe a couple of other places. You cannot get good authentic Italian outside of the tri-state area. These are generalities, of course. I know there is an exception to every rule, but just something I am accustomed to typically speaking, and therefore I try to get local flavor depending upon where I am.

                                    1. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                                      s
                                      Sneakeater RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 07:44 PM

                                      I know. Visitors to NYC often ask on this board where to go for Mexican. And everybody is like, just don't.

                          2. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                            k
                            kathryn RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 07:47 PM

                            If you want some "spoilers" for Russ & Daughters, look into a recent episode of Louie, or the Disappearing Manhattan episode of No Reservations. Also: to prevent your bagel sandwich from spilling out onto your lap, eat it open faced. Preferably outside on a nice day. ;)

                        2. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                          k
                          kathryn RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 06:20 PM

                          Spotted Pig is ok with the kids for lunch but for not dinner, I think.

                          Szechuan Gourmet is the best for variety of authentic Sichuan dishes & if you like to eat spicy food. Especially their specialty appetizers and less common proteins.

                          But since your kids do not, I would do Grand Sichuan either in Chelsea or on St Marks. I like the cucumbers in scallion sauce, scallion pancakes, and tea smoked duck for non-spicy dishes. The soup dumplings are also decent and not spicy at all. For spicy dishes, the gui zhou chicken, dan dan noodles, wontons in red oil.

                          1. re: kathryn
                            p
                            Pan RE: kathryn Aug 5, 2012 09:49 PM

                            I know the menu of the St Marks location very well, so houstoncrimlawyer , if you decide you're going there, I can recommend more non-spicy (and spicy) dishes there. For example, their pumpkin with ginger and scallions is quite good. I also know the menu at the Chelsea location somewhat, but don't frequent it too much.

                          2. re: houstoncrimlawyer
                            loratliff RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 5, 2012 07:02 PM

                            Spotted Pig is not kid-appropriate, but is one of my favorite places food-wise, so definitely keep it on your list for the future.

                            I'm from Texas and can tell you, affirmatively, that Katz's in Houston and Austin has absolutely no relation to the one here. If you notice on their site, they don't even claim an affiliation to the original, other than a mention of being one of Texas's first "New York-style" delis. But I digress... it is a good stop for a lunch with kids and a NY classic.

                            Grand Sichuan is personal my favorite Chinese delivery place. Kathryn listed some good dishes, and they do have small section of Americanized Chinese food, which while not great, might satisfy your kids. If you want to eat in Chinatown, the above rec of Great NY Noodletown or Joe's Shanghai (maligned here as being a tourist trap, but totally serviceable, IMO), would both work.

                            Definitely do John's of Bleecker.

                            1. re: loratliff
                              p
                              Pan RE: loratliff Aug 5, 2012 09:47 PM

                              For Shanghainese, don't you think going to Shanghai Cafe is better than waiting on line with a bunch of tourists at Joe's?

                      2. c
                        cvisco RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 6, 2012 07:22 AM

                        I have kids who love to eat and eat well also. We visit NY often and I actually just hopped on here to look for somewhere new to go. Best steak house - I say BLT steak which is unique to NY. I love it there. A must do in NY in my opinion is Balthazar. Great vibe, something for everyone, must have a reservation. Breakfast, lunch or dinner is fabulous. Two other wow places for kids TAO on 57th. Asian fusion, was once a movie theater. They dropped a giant Budda inside. Upstairs has a glass walk way. It's an impressive space with great food. I just took my kids to Otto also, very good. Lastly, my kids love Artisanal, it is a fondue restaurant (real, not like Melting Pot). Very fun. I also highly recommend for outdoor dining River Park. 3 course lunch $20 on the East river. Enjoy!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cvisco
                          s
                          Sneakeater RE: cvisco Aug 6, 2012 08:19 AM

                          Actually, BLT Steak -- which is no longer associated with Laurent Tourondel, the noted chef who gave it its name -- is not unique to New York but has become a nationwide chain.

                          For touristic value, I would recommend the steakhouses that really ARE unique to unique to New York, like Luger's and Keens. (Sparks Steakhouse is unique to New York, but isn't very good.) Although its turned itself into a chain, I'd also recommend the original two Palms on Second Ave., which maintain their unique character (and, I believe, get better meat than the other Palm branches) or even the original Wolfgang's on 33d St.

                          BLT just strikes me as so damn corporate.

                          1. re: Sneakeater
                            h
                            houstoncrimlawyer RE: Sneakeater Aug 6, 2012 09:24 AM

                            I agree. I try to stay away from chains if possible. Lugers I have taken them to and I was not very impressed. It was good. But not "great", IMO.

                            I am taking them to Keen's this time.

                            I am a big fan of the Palm but you can go to them in almost every major city. The ambiance may vary but it is still "corporate".

                        2. Motosport RE: houstoncrimlawyer Aug 6, 2012 09:51 AM

                          If you are staying in Midtown East:
                          The Palm for steak
                          Mapo Tofu or Hunan Manor across the street for authentic Chinese
                          Penelope for breakfast
                          Rossini's for Italian, opera singers on the weekend

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Motosport
                            s
                            Sneakeater RE: Motosport Aug 6, 2012 10:18 AM

                            I'll just add that if you look into Palm and Palm Too (across Second Ave. from each other) you'll see that they don't look anything like any of the chain branches.

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