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Bus of college students who need cheap and delicious lunch on a Saturday

I'm leading a field trip for a bunch of college students to NYC. We're chartering a bus and will arrive in the city around 11am; I'm planning on taking them to museums on the Upper East Side all day long, so I want to ensure that they have a real lunch beforehand. I was thinking about taking them to the Chelsea Market, but I'm open to other food hall/food court alternatives. I'd like for there to be a variety of different things to choose from; there should also be some inexpensive dining options. Many thanks!

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  1. Grand Central Terminal has a terrific food court on the lower level. Plus the building is world famous.


    Where are you coming in from?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pbjluver

      I second GCT, its a good food court, and I have decided that the main terminal is my fav tourist attraction in the city, it really is amazing, if they havent seen it, it will impress...

    2. Hester Street Fair.

      Your timing is impeccable. This weekend is their opening weekend.

      8 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        weather report says rain for Saturday

        1. re: pbjluver

          ABC7 Accuweather just said "bookend showers" on Saturday -- i.e., make your plans for midday.

        2. re: ipsedixit

          Waiting in those lines would be such of waste of time-not that food is bad-but due to their limited schedule,

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Was there today and thought the food vendors were "meh" compared to past years.

            1. re: loratliff

              So was I.

              I agree, it was a bit of a letdown.

              I think the whole food fair things is sort of, over.

              1. re: loratliff

                I went there specifically to get lunch, and the only thing I saw that I wanted was an ice cream sandwich. Which wasn't even that great. Malted chocolate rum ice cream was missing the malt and the rum.

                I think the vendors haven't changed much. We've just become bored with them. I still like food fairs, though.

                1. re: small h

                  '"Malted chocolate rum ice cream was missing the malt and the rum."

                  Typically deceptive street fairs! I hope you replenished your tube sock stock, though.

                  1. re: Phil Ogelos

                    No tube socks at Hester St. Fair. But if you need to stock up on vintage reading glasses or artisanal hand cream, you've come to the right place.

            2. You might overwhelm the place but my choice for your requirement would be Num Pang; we only go to the Broadway (Nomad) location but their sandwiches (based on bánh mì) are soooo good, so filling, and a bargain, I do not think location would change the quality at all. I cannot imagine a college student NOT liking this and the selection has something for everyone including vegetarians.

              1. You don't say which Saturday....

                Two things come right to mind - the Food Court at the Plaza Hotel and Eataly. The Plaza is 1 mile from The Met and close to The MOMA. Eataly is def a train ride away but both are easier access than Chelse Market (while that is a GREAT place, the logistics are tougher)

                9 Replies
                1. re: dyrewolf

                  Note: There is no place to sit down and eat food purchased at Eataly. Only restaurants. For example you can't grab cheese and bread, or a sandwich from the roticceria area and eat it there. There is a broad range of options but they are service restaurants nonetheless.

                  1. re: thegforceny

                    You could buy at Eataly and eat at Madison Sq Park, which is adjacent.

                  2. re: dyrewolf

                    Eataly on a saturday would be the best way to lose a couple of the kids! I think its too crazy to manage in a group

                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      Eataly is a bit mad but these are college kids not 6th graders... if they use the buddy system and have count offs they should be alright :-)

                      Eataly vs Gotham West and Chelsea Market... From Eataly it is 2 blocks to the 6 train at Park and 23rd which goes to 77th and Lex, near the Museums or right on top of the R train that will take them to 57th and 5th Ave. Gotham West and Chelsea Market don't have that convenience factor... 40 kids is a lot to load into cabs or on a city bus

                    2. re: dyrewolf

                      Feeding an entire group of kids in those places sounds like a problem that's waiting to happen.

                      1. re: dyrewolf

                        Could you tell me a bit more about the Plaza food court? What are the prices like? And seating? Many thanks!

                        1. re: khornstein


                          There are a lot of choices.. it does lean a little fancy pants...

                          Gotham West which someone else mentioned is another good choice. A Less fancy but further away and no train to cover the distance.

                          1. re: khornstein

                            Chelsea market will have the best variety at a college kid budget of all the options IMO. Lots of seating at various areas inside or if its good weather you could picnic on the highline.

                            1. re: khornstein

                              I went to the Plaza Food Court last Monday. And except for Luke's Lobster and the Japanese confectionery/pastry store, I was not impressed. Really hot and humid. The sushi was looking kind of haggard (in both sections) and it was just meh in general.

                          2. Where are you guys coming in from?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: David11238

                              Ah yes...I should be more precise! We're coming down May 10th from New Hampshire. These are all great suggestions. If you have any more, I'm all ears!

                              1. re: khornstein

                                This means you're probably entering NYC via the I-95 to the I-87 and then on one of the avenues: IE you'll be close to Harlem, which in my opinion, has really delicious food. Plus, you won't have to backtrack from Manhattan south.
                                I'm a big fan of Puerto Rican food.


                            2. I'm guessing you'll be hitting The Met and The Guggenheim so you might want to think about Shake Shack. It is of course way too dependent upon weather (and lines) but you could always get it and eat in the park.

                                1. re: thegforceny

                                  This is a fabulous idea! I love the idea of a Korean food court. Do you know if there is seating?

                                  1. re: khornstein

                                    Ha! I was just going to recommend the same. Yes, lots of seating upstairs. The neighborhood itself is interesting and you will be very close to Macy's if of interest. An easy walk as well from/to Grand Central.

                                    1. re: khornstein

                                      Food gallery 32 is a good idea...they should be pretty efficient and should have enough food options for all kids.

                                      1. re: Monica

                                        I agree, I would go to Food Gallery 32

                                        1. re: AubWah

                                          i forgot about this place - yeah i rec it over chelsea mrkt or eataly.

                                  2. Madison square eats happens all may, lots of reasonable options and shake shack is also super close, you can eat in the park

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                      But the lines are crazy long and it will take the whole day to feed an entire group of kids. Which is why I stopped going to these food events.

                                    2. i'd suggest eataly over chelsea market for you needs. definately has something for everyone.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: mrnyc

                                        I like Eataly, specifically the focaccia (and I also like Le Verdure, when I want really good vegetarian cuisine and am willing to pay a bit for high quality), but most of the items there are quite expensive.

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          yes: expensive, and, as mentioned above, it's mostly restaurant seating, which will be a logistical and economic nightmare for a group of kids...

                                          Chelsea Market isn't as convenient in terms of location if the group is short on time to get to the Met, but foodwise and vibewise, going to Chelsea Market and the Highline would be much more fun...

                                      2. Shake Shack on East 86 between Lexington & 3rd Avenue would be your best bet as it within walking distance to the museums ( Met & Gugenheim ) that you plan to cover.

                                        1. If yesterday was an indication on how busy and popular it gets I wouldn't take a large group to Madison Square Eats.

                                          The best suggestion here IMO is Gotham West Market. Its like a mini Chelsea Market or Eataly with none of the crowds. And there's something there for everyone including burgers, great chicken sandwiches, Ramen, the pork head cuban at Cannibal alone is worth the schlep. By the way just to give you an indication, Cannibal is also at MSE. I couldn't even get close to it to see what they were offering, that's how busy it was.