There are close to 3,000 restaurants in Manhattan alone. It is just plum full of amazing restaurants – a recent article in the newspaper highlighted some of the sweet deals you could get at many fancy and famous ones (ask for prix fixe or sampler menus!). So when my kids are older, perhaps we’ll explore every one of them! That being said, I had no intention of spending my Manhattan days shopping for groceries and cooking meals. A quick trip to The Food Emporium on Third Av. ensured we were well equipped for a nutritious and ample breakfast in the apartment before venturing out (including coffee – especially since I recently heard of a bombing of a Starbucks in the neighbourhood in which we stayed!) and snacks for the road. Plenty of delis and street vendors would ensure we were well fed at lunch. While I did spend some time exploring reasonable and kid-friendly restaurants (ones that I could stomach as well), we still had some trouble finding a place to eat late on Sunday evening and sadly resorted to TGI Fridays after being turned away from several restaurants closing early Sunday evenings. Note to would-be travelers to Manhattan: even though my kids loved it, you can skip TGI Fridays.
I was trying to maintain a pretty strict budget as well, so a trip to Momofuku Ko or Convivio were not on our agenda – nor was Tavern on the Green. Here is my summary (bearing in mind the palates of an 8, 11 and 13-year old):
- ESPNZone on Broadway at 42nd: Yes. Absolutely. A total media circus! However my kids have never been to Manhattan so Time Square was a pretty fitting first outing. Assuming this would be all-sports-pub-grub, I was actually pleasantly surprised with my tasty warm steak salad. Be warned though, if you don’t like watching TV while [actually] going to the bathroom (no, seriously), you better take a Hail Mary pass on this restaurant.
- Monte’s in the West Village is a traditional Italian eatery that has been around for almost 100 years. The walk through this neighbourhood was part of the fun. We walked past dozens of eateries and pubs (including my favourite from many years back, The Back Fence, on Bleeker Street). The service was impeccable. The only thumbs down came from my 11-year old who could not understand how an Italian restaurant could not serve pizza. Suck it up, Buttercup. And he did. He ordered fresh, broiled lobster. Who’s doing the sucking up now?
- By far, our favourite meal was Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway at 51st. If you’re interested in knowing how Broadway wannabees earn their keep… this is a great place to visit. The food is Americana 1950’s but we all found something we loved – especially the most amazing milkshakes. You can’t leave room for dessert!
- My regret? We never made it to Chinatown.
- My other regret? It would appear that NYC menus now post not only the prices but also the caloric value…try not to get the two confused…