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Inexpensive french near midtown for tourists on a Monday?

nyscpa2be Aug 2, 2013 06:27 AM

I will be heading into Manhattan soon for a bit of shopping. My mother has requested French food, but we will be in shorts and sneakers. The itinerary is Port Authority Bus Terminal, walk through Times Square, Rockefeller Center, St. Patricks, Macy's, and back to the Bus Terminal. Could someone please suggest a French restaurant in the vicinity that we would meet the dress code for? I would prefer to avoid the commercial restaurants in Times Square - we can get most of those at home, and are looking for food we can't get here, which includes French food. Hoping to keep it around $30pp. Thank you.

Edit to add: I also just realized it is NYC Restaurant Week when we will be there. I searched that website, and Brasserie at 53rd and Lexington looks amazing, but I'm wondering if going a little fancier would still work as tourists. Blouse instead of tee, possibly pants rather than shorts depending on weather.

  1. Monica Aug 2, 2013 06:57 AM

    That's a lot of waking if you are thinking about PABT to Lexington Ave and 53rd. La Bonne Soupe on the midtwon west might be something you are looking for.

    1. b
      barberinibee Aug 2, 2013 07:08 AM

      I am pretty sure Chez Napoleon will take you, but even the most super casual drawstring pants and dressy tee probably would be better than shorts no matter where you go.


      You might start at the far end of your itinerary and work your way back.

      4 Replies
      1. re: barberinibee
        kosmose7 Aug 2, 2013 08:12 AM

        To O.P... FYI, Chez Napoleon.
        I am sorry it's all written in Korean, but please refer to the photos only.... LOL

        1. re: kosmose7
          barberinibee Aug 2, 2013 12:42 PM

          Here's the link to the NY Times article about Chez Napoleon pictured in kosmose7's blog


          The article was written in 2008, for Bastille Day, and begins by quoting the chef: "Normally, we are closed on Mondays" -- so obviously you need to check about this Monday.

          1. re: barberinibee
            kosmose7 Aug 2, 2013 01:12 PM

            Wow! You are so detailed and considerate! :)

            It seems to be open on Mondays now though.

            1. re: barberinibee
              rrems Aug 2, 2013 09:22 PM

              Yes, they are open Mondays. We were there on Monday last week. They close on Sundays.

        2. r
          rrems Aug 2, 2013 07:59 AM

          Chez Napoleon was my first thought too. You can't get more authentic French food than that. As long as you dress neatly, I don't think shorts would be a problem.

          1. Motosport Aug 2, 2013 08:39 AM

            If you feel like walking try Le Parisien a nice French bistro on E 33 just off Lexington.

            1. c
              City Kid Aug 2, 2013 11:24 AM

              A Parisienne friend of mine says Jubilee -- a few blocks east of Brasserie, which BTW is not a favorite of mine -- is the best French bistro in NYC. They're known for their mussels and if you order carefully no need to break the bank. Informal is fine I suspect.
              Disclaimer: I've never been myself.

              2 Replies
              1. re: City Kid
                Monica Aug 2, 2013 11:36 AM

                Funny, you mentioned this place because I was passing by this place last week and wanted to find out about it. Now I know.

                1. re: Monica
                  City Kid Aug 2, 2013 12:05 PM

                  Yes, Monica, I've been wanting to try it. My French friend, who knows good food, says it is totally authentic! If you go please report back.

              2. Phil Ogelos Aug 2, 2013 12:22 PM

                +1 to the posters who worry how far east 'nystate *.* certified public accountant to be, maybe?' is being sent. I don't know 'Jubilee', but it's at 52nd at First, for heaven's sake -I mean, why not get her on the ferry to LIC, while we're at it?

                'Marseille' at 44th & Ninth is pretty reliable, too, as well as that wine bar 'M-something' on Rockefeller Plaza.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Phil Ogelos
                  City Kid Aug 2, 2013 12:39 PM

                  The OP said she was going to be around Rock Center and was considering Brasserie. Jubilee is a few minute's walk from there, hardly LIC, but that's up to her. Merely suggesting based on criteria of non-commercial, informal, authentic, and rough geographic area.

                  1. re: City Kid
                    Ttrockwood Aug 2, 2013 12:59 PM

                    For awesome french food i would manage another four blocks too.

                2. j
                  JeffOverley Aug 2, 2013 02:08 PM

                  Matisse in Midtown East has always been a favorite of mine. Affordable, very traditional, not too stuffy, amazing live jazz some nights.

                  1. ipsedixit Aug 2, 2013 07:28 PM

                    Would Pigalle work?

                    1. p
                      pbjluver Aug 2, 2013 07:42 PM


                      1. prima Aug 4, 2013 06:11 AM

                        I was really happy with Benoit last summer. Plenty of tourists eating there and I'd feel comfortable dining there in jeans or shorts. I'd think you could keep it to $30pp at lunch.
                        La Bonne Soupe is another good option in Midtown.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: prima
                          Sneakeater Aug 4, 2013 08:06 PM

                          As someone who eats in BENOIT a LOT:

                          PLEASE don't go there in shorts.

                          I'm sure they'd permit it. But have pity on the other people who eat there.

                          1. re: Sneakeater
                            prima Aug 4, 2013 08:17 PM

                            I would feel comfortable dining at Benoit wearing whatever tourist clothes I happened to be wearing while seeing a show on Broadway, touring MoMA, shopping or doing any other tourist activity in Midtown. I haven't worn shorts in Manhattan since the late 90s, but if I was going to wear shorts in Midtown, I wouldn't hesitate to dine at Benoit while wearing them. Some Chowhound tourists (and some Chowhound locals) are going to be able to pull off some shorts better than others.

                            If a local dining at another table doesn't like the outfit I'm wearing, too bad. Last time I dined at Benoit, there were plenty of customers wearing comfortable and relatively non-fashionable clothing. Some people were wearing suits and business casual clothes, others were working the American tourist look with jeans, sneakers and a camera. Benoit is not the type of restaurant that gets patrolled by the Fashion Police.

                            Are other customers allowed to wear Dockers at Benoit when you're dining there? What about stirrup pants? Jeggings? I love NYC T-Shirts? Fake Louis Vuitton handbags made in sweatshops? LOL.

                        2. m
                          Mike C. Miller Aug 4, 2013 08:59 PM

                          Cafe Un Deux Trois near the Theater District might be a useful address to have. It's a pretty restaurant inside. Food is neither great, nor bad. But instead on the better side of serviceable. Order simply prepared items and you'll be fine. Service was good when I ate there last a few years ago. It's not the sort of place I'd go out of my way to eat, but I'd be happy to eat there is I was nearby at mealtime.


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