NYC Restaurants - 4 days/nights in Manhattan

Hi all, and greetings from the UK.
I’m new to this site, visiting NYC with family in August 22, including 2 pretty well food-trained kids aged 14 & 11. Staying near Times Square but keen to explore and indulge in a selection of what NYC has to offer food wise.
Will be the family’s first time in New York, usual approach around the world is to ask the locals and avoid the tourist heavy eateries.
Not looking for blowout £££, but any recommendations for gems we shouldn’t miss would be greatly appreciated. Cuisine wise, we like a bit of everything, but places that would capture the essence of NYC I guess would be a great starting point.
In the unlikely event that anyone reading this has any trips to Wales (UK) planned, then happy to reciprocate with any tips and help.


I often visit Manhattan for 4 days at a time.

In terms of the essence of NYC, I see most visitors heading in 3 main directions, in terms of the foods they’re choosing to seek out.

Some people would mention Pizza, Bagel, Katz’s Pastrami or Corned Beef on Rye, a NY Steakhouse like Peter Luger or Keen’s, a hot dog from a cart, the shawarma from a cart, the cheesecake, a Black and White cookie. I think the Black & White cookie is a iconic cookie, but then again, so is Levain’s chocolate chip cookie (only eat half at once if you get a Levain cookie)

Others would mention all the regional foods from across the States and around the World that you can find in NYC.

Others focus on restaurants or chefs with a following, winning Michelin stars, James Beard awards, mentions in Food & Wine.

I tend to focus on regional foods, adding one or 2 restaurants recommended or chosen by friends, a few NYC iconic dishes and a visit to a historic or legendary restaurant.

Near Times Square

For a solid restaurant close to Times Square, I have liked Don Antonio for Neapolitan pizza, and Benoit for good quality French food, as well as a cinq à sept happy hour special last time I visited.

If you want a cheap and quick bite near at Times Square (tourist trap central), I recommend Real Kung Fu on 8th Ave or Shake Shack. One other restaurant I enjoyed that is close to Times Square is a Brazilian restaurant on 9th, I think Samba Kitchen .

West 50s, fairly close to Times Square, and near The Museum of Modern Art

For a special splurge meal (for me), I like to do lunch at the Bar Room at the Modern, on street level at the Museum of Modern Art. The Bar Room is the more economical part of The Modern, so it’s a way to have some upscale food at a somewhat lower price. My Bar Room splurge lunch pre-pandemic was running around $50 including tax, tip and a drink.

Upper East Side, near the Art Museums

I like having soup and a dessert at Café Sabarsky inside the Neue Galerie, if you’re planning to head to see the Neue Galerie, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Frick or the Guggenheim.

In General

I would recommend trying a NY Bagel, with Nova (smoked salmon- lox is cured and saltier) and a shmear (cream cheese), from Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side (near Centrale Park and the Natural History Museum) or from Russ & Daughters .
Both have dine-in or take-out. The Russ & Daughters Café is in a separate space from the Delicatessen.

Van Leeuwan has some very good NYC ice cream, worth the splurge, more than one location.

Taxis are cheap relative to other cities, so I hope you plan to travel in every direction from your hotel to enjoy what Manhattan offers.

Please read this excellent thread


Are there any types of food you are interested in trying? There are about 10,000 restaurants here; it’s hard to recommend without knowing your price range (what’s the most you will pay for an entree?), how far you’re willing to travel, etc.


To expand on @small_h’s point, I usually suggest that tourists who don’t have a specific list of must-try restaurants set their sightseeing itinerary first, and work their restaurant itinerary around it. Getting around NYC is not fast, and it makes no sense to travel from one end of the island for a meal when there might be a gem right next door to whatever else is on your itinerary that day.


Note that Russ & Daughters Cafe is currently not open though that could change by the time the o.p. visits. Best to check the website. (The flagship store is open.)

I think there are far better options for hot dogs than a street cart. If they go to Katz’s (and they should as the pastrami is a must!), there’s a fine hot dog there, as well as knishes and egg creams, both quintessential NY. Other places: Gray’s Papaya and Papaya King.

While I agree with you that the Neapolitan-style pizza is excellent, I would recommend they have NY-style pizza. My favorite is Joe’s. The flagship is in Greenwich Village, but they have an outpost near Times Square.


Thanks for initial responses, really helpful. We’re happy to do a lot of walking, and whilst we haven’t firmed up on itinerary, would like to include The High Line, SoHo, Central Park, NoLita, Lower East Side, Chrysler Building & Billionaires Row (my son loves art-deco architecture and skyscrapers). I’d happily spend most of the time around smaller independent shops, cafes and restaurants in different neighbourhoods.
Acknowledge that we need to set an itinerary day-by-day and pick places to eat that fit with the locations we’ll be visiting.
Budget wise, will be 3 meals a day for the whole family, so ideally perhaps an average total of $50 a day on breakfasts (or less if just quick take-outs), $100 a day on lunches, and $200 a day on dinners (total, not per person), but happy to spend less on some meals and more on others. In terms of cuisine, we’ve travelled pretty extensively to different countries, and I’ve lived in a few, so would rather focus on restaurants that capture New York - I guess some Italian, what else? Thanks!


Thanks @Phoenikia, that’s super helpful.

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Thanks for posting this, @RGR.

If your son also like Art Deco art, as well, definitely visit the Neue Galerie. It has some beautiful Jugendstil art work in its permanent collection.

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I’m going to recommend the iconic egg on a roll aka BEC (bacon egg cheese) for at least some of your breakfasts. They’re sold from carts, and are a breakfast sandwich on the go for many people. Convenience stores/ bodegas, delis and diners also sell them.

I think you may need to budget a little more for breakfasts at restaurants with table service, or plan to have some breakfasts in your room, or have a coffee & pastry in a park. Most breakfast and brunch mains tend to be in the $15-$20+ range in Manhattan.

I like the breakfast sandwich at the Sullivan Street Bakery, which has a location in Hell’s Kitchen, that isn’t too far from Times Square.

Most of these places mentioned in the following Eater List are still in business. I can’t find a more recent listicle. It’s just to give you a start.

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If you want to do Italian that captures NY, aim for what’s known as “old school red sauce”restaurants (as opposed to contemporary Italian). In Manhattan, Emilio Ballato and Gene’s are two good choices. However, our favorite is Paul & Jimmy’s, on E. 18th St., just off Irving Pl. (walking distance from our apartment).


That’s a tough question to answer, and you’re going to get responses ranging from high-end Michelin stars to hole-in-the-wall outer boroughs places. Both are correct. :wink: With your budget for four, high-end is out. I agree with @Phoenikia that you will need to increase your budget if you want to sit down for breakfast, but unless that is one of your favorite meals I probably wouldn’t bother - stick to bagels and egg on a roll to keep it cheap AND as NYC as you can get. Food carts (aka street meat) can be great for cheap lunches too.

Pizza, Italian, Chinese, deli, a bustling theatre district bistro, etc. will all be in your price range. These are commonly associated with NYC - are they what you had in mind? Do you have any intention of visiting any of the outer boroughs?

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If you go to Katz for pastrami, you have to know that the left side of the room is waiter service, the other two rows are self-service. If you take self-service, as we always do, you have to stand in line for everything you want, usually sandwich and drinks. If you stand in line for a sandwich, you are expected to tip the carver 2 or 3 dollars. The carver will offer you a taste of the pastrami, to see if it’s fatty enough for you. One sandwich is easily enough for two people.

I recommend Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown for soup buns.

Thanks @biondanonima yes, I agree and being from the UK, eating out for breakfast is a rare event for most people and if we had 3 restaurant meals each day I think we’d explode based on a lot of the US portion sizes I imagine we’ll see :grinning:
Very happy to do takeouts/carts for breakfasts and some lunches and also taking on board the very fair questions of having a bit more clarity on which areas we’ll be in, here’s a proposed itinerary, which mirrors one I’ve read on line in an earlier thread and would see us capture a lot of key sights in a fairly efficient route (we are based near Times Square as a start and end point each day). NB: I’m sure we won’t do everything below, but might be helpful to those who know the areas in terms of any food recommendations, as hopefully they won’t require much detours):-1:-

Morning – From Times Square (breakfast on the go?) through Central Park, finishing near The Met (lunch near the Met?)
Afternoon – North Midtown (MoMa/St Patrick’s Cathedral/Atlas/Saks Fifth Avenue/Rockefeller Center.)
Evening – Times Square Top of the Rock? Restaurants within walking distance of Times Square?
Morning – South Midtown Empire State Building/Broadway/Union Square/Strand Book Store
Afternoon – Chelsea Chelsea Market/Meatpacking District/High Line/
Evening – Central Midtown Hudson Yards/Edge/Macys
Morning – Lower Manhattan Statue of Liberty/Financial District
Afternoon – Lower Manhattan Oculus / One World Observatory / 9/11 Museum
Evening – SoHo & maybe Greenwich Village
Morning – Dumbo Brooklyn Bridge/Manhattan Bridge
Afternoon – Williamsburg
Evening – Brooklyn

Happy to do cheap on the run breakfasts (with one classic sit down American Breakfast to sample your crazy combos of bacon and syrup instead of brown sauce, etc!) and quick lunches, either take-outs, or one course quick stops, unless there are any recommended higher end places that do really great lunch deals. Evenings, I guess with a 14 and 11 year old, unlike in the UK, we won’t be able to take them into any bars, so evenings would be best for sit down 3 course meals, locations as per above.

For budget(ish) breakfast/lunch near Union Square, Breads Bakery:

For lunch in Hudson Yards, Spanish Diner:

To get you started.

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They both look good options, thanks @small_h :+1:

Day 1
Lunch near the Met: Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie You don’t have to go into the museum to eat there. But I strongly urge you to visit the museum if only to see Gustav Klint’s magnificent painting Woman in Gold.

At Rockefeller Ctr. : Lodi

Re: Restaurants near Times Square. Since there are so many, you need to be more specific as to cuisine preference(s).


I will post later about eating options but would ask that you strongly reconsider staying anywhere near Times Square. Based on your sample itinerary, you don’t plan on doing much around TS. TS is a wasteland of tourist dreck and offices where most people are not coming in. Unfortunately my office is there and as a supposed critical senior manager I am in the area 5 days a week. Stay someplace further downtown. You will be closer to places that you seem to be more interested in going to and where real NYers live and shop and eat as opposed to the over priced places targeting misinformed tourists.


Thanks @RGR I will check those suggestions out.

Hi @BKeats yes I think you may be right. Sort of took the firs thing that our travel agent offered without thinking too much about it. I guess the kids will love the bright lights, etc, and the hotel is pretty basic as far as i can tell (its called RowNYC) but it just seemed a good idea at the time to be somewhere fairly central. We also need one family room, which limits the options at some hotels. Any recommendations on other hotels in other areas which are likely to be at a similar budget would be gratefully received. As we’re not travelling until August, I assume it won’t be too late to make a change there.