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Manhattan neighborhood eating and walking with elderly parents

Hi folks, I love this site and thanks in advance for any advice. My dad- 78 years young- is going in for major surgery in 2 weeks and he has told me that he would like to "see the city" instead of doing the usual: a great home cooked meal in Sutton Place. After the surgery he will be immobile for quite a long time. Here is some criteria I am having to juggle:
1) My mom- 73- is a fantastic home cook so the competition is stiff.
2) A recently retired workaholic, my dad "cant remember" the last time he has been to the Village, Soho, LES, Meatpacking, Alphabet City, Chelsea, Harlem, Upper West Side, etc. so he/we are really looking for restaurants in neighborhoods that we may be able to walk around before and after, and hopefully see something interesting. We will not be doing any late night walking. Maybe even a meal by a great museum or a botanical garden, the zoo, the aquarium, etc.
3) My parents are frugal. Not cheap, but they certainly enjoy a good value. $30- 50 or less pp not including tax, tip, or wine is certainly doable. $100 pp not including tax tip and wine is probably not. Funky hole-in-the-walls are great (as long as theyre clean). His favorite upscale places are Le Bernardin (he loves seafood) and Jean-Georges. But he is equally comfortable at Charles' Southern Fried Chicken and bar eating at Dinosaur BBQ. Now that he is retired he will not be doing upscale too often- he is a very casual guy. And thrifty :)
4) My parents are early birds- 6PM dinners are perfect- so an early prix-fixe works well.
5) My mom loves her wine and they have a small decent cellar- BYO/low corkage/very reasonable wine list would be a big bonus.
6) My dad will try anything but he does not enjoy sushi ("Raw fish has no flavor!") nor steakhouses ("Your mom buys Costco Prime and cooks better than this for two dollars!"). He likes interesting food. Not too spicy. He loves saucy things. Grilled whole fish is great. Composed meat dishes. Pot of mussels. Caribbean food. Italian pastas (but he doesnt like pizza). He doesnt eat lamb but a friend told me about an Israeli place on the West Side that does whole fish and is byo that might work perfectly although im not sure if there is anything to see in that neighborhood.
7) I am looking at Monday September 9th to Saturday September 14.
8) Lunches would work too but dinners would be optimal since it would feel more "special".

Thanks for any help- Im not from NYC but having visited them over the years, I have grown to love this great city.

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  1. There are restaurants fitting your description all over the city, all within walking distance of major sights of interest, so maybe the way to go about this is to discuss with your dad what he would like to see on his walks in the city, and then come back here for advice of nice places to go within walking distance.

    If you plan to stay connected during the time you are in NYC, you can usually get a fast turnaround on answers. Sounds like some wine bars and tapas places might be really great for an early dinner that your mom would enjoy too, and give everybody lots of flexibility.

    Add the High Line and Bryant Park (and the NY Public Library) to your list of walkarounds).

    4 Replies
    1. re: barberinibee

      Ok I will try and narrow down the areas. I appreciate the advice. Definitely the highline- he has lived in the city for 71 years and really hasn't seen anything other than midtown, the upper east side, and the inside of a car unfortunately.

      1. re: NongfuSpringer

        Hey, I've never been to the statue of liberty and I was born in NYC. I'd probably get lost walking around Sutton Place. (I think I was there once. Not sure.) Every corner of NYC is a universe unto itself (and you aren't even talking about leaving Manhattan :)

        This place might amuse him if you are around Herald Square, and you can definitely eat dinner 5pm, with views of the Empire State building


        1. re: NongfuSpringer

          PS: It is such a lively scene around Lincoln Center, and it has changed so much in recent years, maybe eating at Lincoln would be a lot of fun. They start serving at 5.30, but your dad would have to be in the mood for a splurge


          1. re: barberinibee

            Thanks for the tip!

            Lincoln looks great.

      2. Do my West Village walking tour but backwards. Start on the High Line, come out in the Meatpacking District, see Chelsea Market, then walk down Bleecker St, end in Washington Square Park.

        Then dinner at somewhere like Perilla. Maybe Pearl Oyster Bar right when they open at 6.

        If this is for a Saturday, how long are you/they willing to wait for a table at dinner?

        9 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          That's a great idea Kathryn!

          We will definitely do this- probably in stages.

          On waiting for tables... 15 minutes? Patience is not one of my dads virtues. I would rather take them for a 5:30 or 5PM meal rather than have them wait.

          1. re: NongfuSpringer

            5pm will be a bit early for a lot of places downtown.

            1. re: kathryn

              I know.

              M & D are on Florida schedule nowadays...

              1. re: NongfuSpringer

                Perilla opens at 5:30pm, so that should work, especially if you make the reservation soon.

                1. re: kathryn

                  The Monday Beer Dinner at Perilla looks great. I will see if we can get a reservation.


            2. re: NongfuSpringer

              It's a great plan, but having just done a similar route, I'd warn you that depending on the weather, it can feel like a lot of walking.

              1. re: sugartoof

                True - hopefully the weather is nice and you can sit and rest on a bench on Bleecker St, Washington Sq Park, or on the High Line. Getting a seat somewhere in Chelsea Market is doable but more challenging.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Are there good sit down places in Chelsea Market and do they take (early) reservations? I think high line---> Chelsea Market is a good "stage one". Then we could walk as close to first as possible and I can put them in a cab for that 8PM curfew :)

                  1. re: NongfuSpringer

                    Cull & Pistol takes reservations and opens at 5pm (closed for Sunday dinner):

                    The Green Table also takes reservations and opens at 5pm (Sunday supper is communal seating):

          2. At 73, your Mother is NOT elderly.
            My parents are 99 and 94...THAT is elderly.

            Saturday 9/14 is Yom Kippor.
            As it is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar,
            some places might be closed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pbjluver

              I stand corrected.

              Thanks for pointing out the upcoming holiday.

            2. For a very casual great middle eastern meal i would suggest to take the 6train to tribeca, wander thru the park around city hall and eat at nish nush:

              Afterwards a walk along the river going south has some good people watching and great views if you're there near sunset.

              (Ps the description of your parents is amazing and hysterical!! Esp the costco comment- i may have heard my own father say the same thing!)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ttrockwood

                Thats perfect, thank you. I havent been to Tribeca in many many years so that will be a treat for all of us.

              2. Your parents can find great deals on www.savored.com
                Some great restaurant plus a discount. How good is that!

                1 Reply
                1. re: UES Mayor

                  Just signed them up for savored and also travelzoo. Thanks!

                2. I'd vote for the LES, or Nolita, because they're condensed areas that are booming with a lot of life.

                  I'd also look into the idea of getting a Zip car type day rental and going out to Brooklyn. That should blow their minds. Eat Williamsburg or Smith Street.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: sugartoof

                    I'd like to do that on my next NY trip. Where do I check out the Zip car day rental? Thanks

                    1. re: conniemcd

                      Zipcar is a membership based car sharing service. There is a $25 one-time application fee (non-refundable) and after that it costs $60/year, at least in NY/NJ. Then you pay an hourly or day rate to reserve a car on top of that.

                    2. re: sugartoof

                      Can you recommend a suitable place in the LES? There seems to be so many places to choose from. Maybe something Italian? "Latin"?

                      Im also looking at Bar Jamon for a light snack @ 2PM and then a walk around Union Square (Greenmarket?) and then.....

                      Agreed on Brooklyn and WIlliamsburg- that would definitely blow their minds.

                      Baby steps....

                      1. re: NongfuSpringer

                        I think a trip to Russ & Daughter and Economy Candy is on order. Seeing something that still resembles the NY they know, within this revitalized hip neighborhood would probably be a good idea.

                        For Latin food, Cibao is good, but it's too grungy for this occasion.

                        Sorella is around for Italian.

                        If you do Bar Jamon, you can stop into 71 Irving after, for coffees to take with you on your walk. Sort of unrelated, I've found old New Yorkers to be very impressed the first time they walk into Stumptown at the Ace, but I'd bet the West Village location would have the same effect. Eating in the Ace lobby is no bargain, but I think it's an essential experience for the new New York, that's still captures some essence of what makes the city fun.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Sumptown at ace has been crazy crowded when i go- as in at 3pm today there was literally not one place for me to sit.... Just wouldnt count on finding three seats together. Love the place but looks like i'm not the only one.

                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                            You're right, especially this time of year. I've always found a seat, but it can get awkward wandering around trying to nab a seat. I've also been there when it was 3/4's empty, so it's unpredictable.

                            1. re: Ttrockwood

                              Stumptown at the Ace doesn't have any seating, unless you mean the seating in the lobby of the Ace Hotel. Weekdays it always seems packed to me with the number of people who use it as psuedo office space.

                              1. re: kathryn

                                To clarify for others reading this, the lobby seating is available to Stumptown customers, or you can stand at the window railing inside the shop itself. People sit on the ledge outside, just under the shops windows, for additional seating. The Ace also has 2 restaurants, and a a sandwich shop, for alternatives.

                                Easy to run into the same potential problems with seating at just about any of the top coffee spots in the city.

                      2. Based on the above. I recommend Knickerbocker in WV.
                        They will feel comfortable with crowd there and the menu seems to fit their taste.