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Feb 6, 2013 07:34 PM

First trip to NYC with kids in June need recs

We are taking our two eigth-graders to NYC for their graduation gift and we are in need of recommendations on places to eat that are tasty but not overly adventurous. The kids love Italian, American, Japanese, sandwiches and of course pizza. They would be fine eating Subway and pizza all week but since we're in NYC we want to expose them to some nicer establishments and tastier food. Places with good desserts would be great as well. We are staying near Central Park but are planning on going all over town and also seeing at least one Broadway show.

Thanks so much for your help.

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  1. John's pizzeria in the Village is a must, about the oldest in the city. Check out dim sum in China town, and you must go to Katz's deli on Houston for the most classic deli in the USA (Yonnah Schimmel's is the inventor of the knish, and is just down the street from Katz's) Get to t he American Museum of Nat History, the 4th floor dinosaurs are a must for 8th graders.

    8 Replies
    1. re: law_doc89

      Yonah Schimmel's - OK, I haven't been in years, but the last few times I was there it was awful. Has it made a comeback? (Decades ago it was good)

      1. re: law_doc89

        Come on, Yonah Schimmel invented the knish? Do they make such a claim? I doubt it. They always claimed the bageleh (spelling?), not the knish. And otherwise, I would have the same question as plf515. I remember them being very good in the 70s when I was a little kid, but not more recently (like in the late 90s).

        1. re: Pan

          You do not know the history of the knish. It IS a NYC invention, not a European one, like vichyssoise, which is also not European. Schimmel's wife invented what we know as the knish in the 1890's and the original was a push cart.

          As to what the place looks like, it was like that when I was first taken there by my father who told me it looked like that when he was a kid!

          Unfortunately, what most people think of as a knish is the commercial, fried disaster. YS has used the same recipe and kitchen for a over a century, and that is the original deal.

          Just was there in December, and it is exactly as it has always been.

          Perhaps, too many of you are not old enough to remember the lower east side when it was still lingering as the LES of the great wave of immigration from 1880 to 1920. 60 years ago this was like a time capsule, there were still push carts selling cooked sweet potatoes, for instance, and men with giant cameras with back hoods walking the streets with ponies.

          So, what you call "awful" is authentic.

          If you would like to learn more:

          You may also want to check with (or better visit) the Museum of the City of New York, or the Museum of the New York Historical Society.

          I stand by what I have said, and I stand by my recommendation.

          1. re: law_doc89

            No, I don't remember 60 years ago, as I am 48. I do remember that Schimmel's was equally ramshackle in the early 70s, but I enjoyed their dumbwaiter.

            1. re: Pan

              Speaking of which:


              Kids love the dumbwaiter.

              Too bad, lower Manhattan has changed so much. One could do authentic Jewish, Chinese, Italian, Polish, German in a few blocks' walk, then go to a Gilded Age hold out restaurant. No more.

              But anyone visiting NYC with kids must get down to Houston St.

              1. re: law_doc89

                I miss Ratner's, the way it used to be in the 70s (at least to the child version of me, it was delicious comfort food) and some of the Ukrainian and Polish restaurants that used to be in the East Village as recently as the late 90s and later, but I'm really glad Chinatown has grown and that there are now a couple of good Sichuan-style restaurants right in the East Village. As my grandma used to say: "You give a little, you take a little."

                1. re: law_doc89

                  Thanks for the article. I enjoyed it.

              2. re: law_doc89

                I was there in the 70s and I was there in the 90s.

                Maybe the recipe was the same, but the preparation was not.

                And while I am not old enough to remember the 1920s (much less 1880!) I do know what a knish is.

          2. What's your budget for the nicer restaurants? Don't forget that tax is nearly 9% here and with a 20% tip, costs can quickly escalate.

            What activities do you plan to do while you're here? Besides the Broadway show (have you bought tickets yet), that is. Museums? Shopping? Sightseeing? A lot of our tourist attractions can be spread out all around town (UWS, UES, Times Sq, Union Sq, Chelsea, etc) and you probably don't want to be spending too much time in transit just to eat.

            I'd recommend having a plan or list of options in your back pocket so you don't end up starving and tired and wandering around (and June weather can be fickle with sudden rain).

            Also if you give the cross streets of your hotel, we can try to recommend quick things close by for breakfast or snacks. Central Park is pretty big so saying that you're staying near by doesn't really narrow it down!

            In addition to Italian, American, Japanese, sandwiches, and pizza, would they be willing to try French, Mexican, Chinese?

            How about burgers or a steakhouse?

            We also have a variety of Japanese food here: ramen, sushi, yakitori, soba, kaiseki, and more. Maybe we have something here you can't find at home?

            Some common tourist inquiries:

            Near MoMA:
            Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and Whitney and Guggenheim, ish):
            Near the American Museum of Natural History:
            Near Macy's/Herald Square:
            5th Avenue shopping:

            1. Near Central Park - well, OK, but which side? Central Park is *big* and has 4 sides, although you are probably not staying on the north side of it.

              1. Ok, to be more specific it seems we are staying in the Hell's Kitchen area, around 9th.

                For a nice meal out I'm thinking about 60-70pp averaged out since the kids won't be drinking.

                3 Replies
                1. re: vegan73

                  9th and where?

                  HK is a few miles long. Are you in Clinton proper?

                  1. re: vegan73

                    Hell's Kitchen is not really considered close to Central Park. When you say "near Central Park" I think most people assume UES or UWS.

                    Kid friendly near Hell's Kitchen:
                    Don Antonio
                    Shake Shack
                    Szechuan Gourmet

                    There's probably more I'm forgetting.

                    Since your kids are teens, most places should be OK.

                    See also:

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Doesn't Hell's Kitchen extend to 59th St.?

                  2. OK, for Japanese, take them to Ippudo. Go for lunch on a weekday, and it'll be less of a wait. There are numerous pizzerias to choose from, but a trip to either Patsy's in East Harlem or Arturo's in the Village would be a kick for them. And make sure to go to Katz's for pastrami. Anyone who doesn't want pastrami can get brisket and ask for it juicy (otherwise, it's too dry). Their corned beef is also good, and juicy turkey will do in a pinch, but it's really their pastrami that is by far the best thing to get. How long are you all going to be here?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Pan

                      We will be in town for 7 nights

                      1. re: vegan73

                        I think you should consider going to Momofuku Ssam Bar. Yes, it has the word "bar" in it, but it's more of a restaurant than a bar, they don't card at the door, and I don't think it would be at all inappropriate for 8th-graders to go there and sit at a table (if I'm wrong, someone will doubtless pipe up). Go for lunch or a weekday dinner, because waits are likely to be a problem on weekends and they take no reservations. You can be adventurous there and your kids can be less so, but the menu is a combination of really elevated versions of common dishes and interesting, creative eclectic dishes. The atmosphere is informal and relaxing but the food is serious. Have a look at their menus and see what you think:

                        After your meal, you can go across the street to Momofuku Milk Bar and have some cookies, etc.

                        1. re: Pan

                          I've seen strollers and toddlers in Ssam Bar before, so they should be totally fine.