Triumphant Return to NYC!

We’re finally taking our first vacation since COVID and our first return to NYC as a family in over 5 years. I’ll have wife and two teenage boys in tow. Coming from SF / LA, we’re probably not that interested in Chinese, Japanese, Mexican or Korean, although we are making a couple exceptions to revisit some old favorites!

Plan is 5 full days in NYC, staying near Hudson Yards. We can travel throughout Manhattan but wife is unlikely to want to leave the island. Here’s what I have in mind thus far but would love thoughts on alternate recommendations as well as any additions that I’m missing.

Rezdora - have wanted to try this for years and we’re planning to do one nice Italian meal. It feels like a good balance of being upscale but not too fancy…
Spanish Diner at Mercado Little Spain - close to our hotel and we definitely want a tapas / Spanish place. That said, I don’t love Jose Andres and am definitely open to recommendations.
Balthazar - my kids want to do steak frites and I’ve always loved the scene-y bustle of Balthazar.
Grammercy Tavern - would love to hit up one of the “classics.” Probably in the outside area as we want to keep it casual but open to other ideas here as well!
Van Da - I’m throwing this one in as a placeholder. We’ve always loved more refined Vietnamese. Found this on one of those silly “best of” lists, but figured it could start the conversation!

Lunches / Brunches / Breakfasts
Clinton Street Baking Co. - Is this still worth it? And is there going to be a wait on a weekday?
Locanda Verde - this was our favorite brunch spot in the city back in the day… loved the lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes, the shrimp and grits. But have no idea whether it’s held onto its past glory!
Hawker Stalls in midtown - worth a trip? Seems exciting? Any other recommendations for food halls? We loved the underground one at the Plaza Hotel but it looks like it closed, sadly
Lombardi’s - this was my wife and my favorite back in the day. But what’s the rec nowadays? We don’t want NY slices but also want to avoid the neopolitan / single serving size pizzas.
Best Bagel and Coffee - close to hotel so seems like an easy spot
SuperTaste - God, have i missed those q noodles, the delicious broth and the woman owner orders while the man owner slams noodles. Is this still the place for lan zhou la mian?

How am I doing and what am I missing? Also, desserts… what shouldn’t we miss!!!

Sorry, as you can tell, we’re pretty excited for the trip and want to make sure we maximize it. Thanks in advance for the help!


I love Jose Andres places, but Spanish Diner is the least interesting, so given that you don’t like his food all that much in the first place, I can’t see why you’d bother. Despite the convenience.

I suggest calling Anyway Cafe in East Village and see when they have live music. Or just drop in, pre-pandemic you could usually count on Thursday nights at about 9pm. Russian cuisine (though that might not be popular right now). Blini, peasant style beef, beet salad. I’ve taken my kids here, though at a much younger age than yours. Jeans or tuxedos, this is a unique vibe. You will have to look on Yelp to view a more recent menu.

If you are staying around Hudson Yard, try Txikito for Spanish. Or go real classic at the redone El Quijote.

Though you said no Korean, you might want to check out one of the new high end Korean places that have opened. For some reason fancy Korean now seems to be the rage in the City.

I’ve gone to the Hawker Market a few times. It’s ok. Nothing special. Fine for a work lunch to eat at my desk but not a destination place in my view. If you want to try something different, check out Empanada Mama.

An alternative to Gramercy (only one m) Tavern would be Meyer’s real classic Union Square Cafe. Ci Siamo has been getting a lot of buzz as his new Italian place. I do miss Maialino a lot though.

I am a big fan of Balthazar but it think the food is merely meh these days. Frenchette where the former chefs of Balthazar opened is a very fun spot. We went there right after they reopened in 2021 and were one of the first places that had a vaccine requirement before the State imposed one and it was like being back in 2019. Jam packed, no masks and everyone dressed to the 9s.


I loved Van Da when I went a couple of years ago.

If you are looking for another food hall, consider Chelsea Market for lunch. The tacos are the best I’ve had anywhere, and there are many, many other choices. Big Gay Ice Cream is different if you like softserve (the kids might). And of course GCOB is always worth a visit in my book :slight_smile:

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Maialino has reopened as Maialino (vicino), in the Redbury Hotel. Same place as Marta but on the E. 30th St. side of the hotel (in the spaces of two now closed Danny Meyer spots, Caffe Marchio and Vini e Fritti.)

Le Rock, the new restaurant at Rockefeller Crnter from Frenchette’s chefs, is getting excellent reviews. (Haven’t been because we are not doing any indoor restaurant dining.) Since @Fattydumplin is staying near Hudson Yards, Le Rock is more convenient than going downtown to Frenchette.


@Fattydumplin Perhaps, you might want to consider trying Jose Andres’ newest restaurant, Zaytinya, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, on Broadway, at 28th St. The cuisine is Mediterranean. We haven’t been because, as I’ve said in other posts, we aren’t doing any indoor restaurant dining. But everything I’ve heard about it has been positive.

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Thanks all! Super helpful. Used to love zaytinya in DC many many years ago!!!

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Le Rock is more convenient to Hudson Yards but the Rock Center atmosphere is nothing like what is happening on that stretch of West Broadway. Since the OP was thinking of Balthazar I figured Tribeca wasn’t much further. I’ve been to both. The crowd at Frenchette is so much more interesting to watch. People out for the evening on their own dime for a good time rather than the expense account crowd that would rather be home than drinking fine wine with a client. After dinner, there’s oh so much more to do and see than the barren stretch of 50th.

Just curious then. At what point will you be comfortable eating in? Fortunately I am healthy and have no particular concerns about Covid. Been vaxed and have had Covid and my symptoms were very mild. So I have been eating out and traveling without much thought about it. If you’re not able to do that now at what point will you be willing and able?

Frankly, I have no idea when we’ll go back to indoor restaurant dining. However, we have been able to do a lot of outdoor dining both in NJ where our house is located and in Manhattan where we have an apartment. So, we don’t feel terribly deprived.

With regard to Frenchette, we had dinner there once not long after it opened. While the food was very good, the noise level was insanely high; therefore, we never went again.


Interesting. We’re going to be there between xmas and new years so we do love that area around Rock Center during the holidays. Really appreciate the various thoughts.

@RGR I feel you on the indoor dining. My wife really struggled with COVID and we went for a long time basically living like hermits, almost entirely cooking at home or getting takeout. Even when it seemed to make sense to start eating out, my wife just couldn’t do it. For us, the flashpoint came when our kids’ schools removed the masking policy. At that point, it was like the lightbulb went off because they were getting exposed every day anyways and so we started eating out… all this to say, I have no idea what your reasons are for not being comfortable eating out, but I know we all have our reasons, that may not make sense to outsiders, and you’re not alone in that.


Are there some nice restaurants near both your places, that will keep winterized patios this winter?

I also have only been dining outdoors, but there are only 2 winterized patios I would want to visit in Toronto after November 1st/ below 60 ° F. I have a feeling less places in Toronto that had patios the last 2 falls & winters will offer winterized patios this winter because most people are comfortable dining indoors.

Some places in my neighbourhood have even stopped offering takeout. They want everyone dining inside, I guess.

Thanks, @Fattydumplin, for your kind and understanding post!

Unlike you, we are senior citizens. We are fully vaxed and recently got the latest tri-valent booster as well as our flu shots. Definitely not hermits, we food shop regularly (always masked) and take care of other errands. As I said above, we’ve done a lot of outdoor restaurant dining while the weather has been conducive (from mid-April until just last week).

I enjoy cooking, and we do take-out at least once a week. Since we have many, many years of restaurant dining under our belts (pun not intended), often doing so several times in a week, it is no hardship for us to not dine out until next spring.

I hope you and your family stay healthy!


Hi @Phoenikia, Several of the restaurants we like in NJ that have outdoor dining do have heaters either overhead or stand alone. But dining that way doesn’t appeal to us at all. In Manhattan, there are restaurants with overhead heaters. Others have winterized huts. But those are so enclosed, it would be like dining indoors. Obviously, a no-go.

While many restaurants in our area of NJ no longer do take-out, there are those nearby that have always offered it, e.g., our favorite bbq spot, Turkish and Greek restaurants and, of course, Indian and Asian places. In Manhattan, take-out has always been ubiquitous.

It’s been ages since we visited Toronto. Enjoyed our visit there. We used to go regularly to Canada. For many years, we stayed annually in August at the Auberge Hatley, in Quebec. A wonderful place with superb cuisine. That ended when, sadly, in 2006, it was destroyed by a fire.


Likewise! Stay healthy!

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I feel the same way about most heated patios in Toronto. I had a couple drafty meals in Oct and Nov 2020 and 2021, and a few meals where the patio space felt too airtight for me to be comfortable.

I’ve narrowed my takeout orders down to a few favourites I revisit monthly, and I keep trying new places.

Welcome back, @Fattydumplin! Take a gander through past nyc threads for ideas too - there’s been a fair bit of discussion on people’s trips in recent months.

Some thoughts on your list:

  • Italian: take a look at Marta, Il Buco, Il Buco Alimentari, and L’Artusi
  • Spanish: Boqueria is fun with a broad and tasty menu, multiple locations. Alta I’m the village strangely still thrives, though I haven’t been post-pandemic so check recent reviews.
  • GT: I’d go for drinks before, or with kids in tow, dessert and a drink after dinner.
  • Viet: Look at Madame Vo / Monsieur Vo / Saigon Social. You may want to venture to Thai - look at Thai diner and Wayla too. Worth a cab ride out of your radius.
  • Balthazar: hard to argue with ambience. Frenchette is good, but is not Balthazar. Pasties reopened, it may also fit the bill and be a throwback.

Forgot about them. The garlic noodles with softshell crabs (a special) are excellent.

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I think you mean Pastis. Very much enjoyed our one meal there pre-pandemic.

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“Balthazar: hard to argue with ambience. Frenchette is good, but is not Balthazar.”

What Saregama said!


Autocorrect :woman_facepalming:t2:
More like auto-incorrect.

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