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baby-friendly AND good food?


ladydisdain
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We are coming to NY for four days (husband attending a conference part of the time) and bringing our 14 month old. Until we had her we spent a lot of time in the city (we're from Philly) but since have only been on a couple of day trips without her.

We have no idea where to eat now.

Our usual haunts are places like Caracas Arepa Bar and Pomme Frites and Dumpling House and tiny little Middle Eastern places, and I cannot see getting a (relatively small) stroller into any of those nor will there be high chairs. Dumplings can of course be enjoyed on the sidewalk as can things like the Dessert Truck or, frankly, anything we can get from a cart, but we'd prefer not to eat ALL our meals that way.

We're staying at the Marriott Marquis (which should be JOY - Times Square with a stroller. uh, yay?) but don't plan on spending much time there. We eat all cuisines (except Indian, which hates me). The baby can eat anywhere (seriously - you should see this child eat Ethiopian). They need to be subway accessible (or subway/walking) because we won't have a car seat for cabs. We just want some good food in places that A. can fit our folded-up stroller B. will preferably have a high chair although I can do lap if I have to and C. are not so nice and silent that if she occasionally gets a little loud we won't be Those Parents. She doesn't throw food and eats relatively neatly for a toddler, but there's not much I can do about an occasional yell and I really hate to be Those Parents.

I did do a bunch of searches, but "baby friendly" brought me up over 20 pages, most of which were individual restaurant threads. Help?

Cupcake Planet: my (possibly obsessive) cupcake-centric 'blog
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While the hole-in-the-wall places can be challenging with a stroller and often don't have high chairs, the next level of place tends to be quite family-friendly. Pretty much any Chinese, Korean or Southeast Asian restaurant with an actual dining room, for example, will be totally equipped to handle babies. You have a lot of walkable choices from where you'll be staying: if you go over to Ninth Avenue and just start walking uptown, you'll see a dozen eligible choices. Walking downtown, you've got all the Korean places in the 30s as well as the much-buzzed-about Szechuan Gourmet. Just about all of Chinatown is easily walkable from the Canal Street stop on the N/Q/R/W lines, which you get at 42nd Street right near your hotel. I believe -- somebody will need to confirm this -- that there are even elevators on both ends. Also you might enjoy taking the 7 train out to Woodside to eat at Sripraphai -- there's an elevator at that stop as well.

(Just FYI, car seats are not required in NYC cabs and limos.)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I always forget about the Korean places - great idea, and we all love it. My husband will be thrilled by that suggestion. Is there any one favored over the others these days? Barbecue doesn't matter because baby+barbecue does not likely equal crazy delicious. And Szechuan Gourmet sounds great!

Walking up 9th is another good idea (and one we've employed successfully many times); do you have any specific suggestions there? Best for us to be heading somewhere particular if the peckish feelings start to set in. I know there's about eleventy billion Thai places along there now.

(Just FYI, car seats are not required in NYC cabs and limos.)

Sadly, having been in not one but two NYC cab accidents, they are absolutely required by us. But good to know for when she's older.

Cupcake Planet: my (possibly obsessive) cupcake-centric 'blog
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I'm in a similar boat--same hotel, probably same conference except I'm the attendee--being joined Friday by husband, 7 y.o. who will eat just about anything and extremely picky 4 y.o. I'm looking for a Saturday dinner option, preferably someplace we don't need reservations so we can be flexible on time, but also without too much of a wait.

Fat Guy (or anyone else), can you suggest a good Chinese option where the 4 y.o. could get lo mein (the only Chinese she'll eat) and the rest of us can eat well? I'm dying to try Szechuan Gourmet based on reading the thread, but I worry we won't find anything for the kids there. Any Chinatown recs? Or non-Chinese recs?

While I'm at it, I'll probably end up dining solo tomorrow evening. I was thinking about DB Bistro Moderne, but would love other suggestions for an early-ish solo meal.

Thanks!

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Fat Guy (or anyone else), can you suggest a good Chinese option where the 4 y.o. could get lo mein (the only Chinese she'll eat) and the rest of us can eat well? 

Szechuan Gourmet has lo mein, chow fun, mei fun and fried rice in various permutations. Numbers 151 through 156 on the menu.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Szechuan Gourmet has lo mein, chow fun, mei fun and fried rice in various permutations. Numbers 151 through 156 on the menu.

My 5 and 7 year olds enjoyed the lo mein (which looked pretty unremarkable to me) and the scallion pancake. My 20 month old ate the lo mein too, and also all the spicy food. She was born in Chongqing so perhaps it is in her blood. My 7 year old did try the ma po tofu, which is very spicy, and pronounced it the best tofu he ever ate.

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Szechuan Gourmet has lo mein, chow fun, mei fun and fried rice in various permutations. Numbers 151 through 156 on the menu.

My 5 and 7 year olds enjoyed the lo mein (which looked pretty unremarkable to me) and the scallion pancake. My 20 month old ate the lo mein too, and also all the spicy food. She was born in Chongqing so perhaps it is in her blood. My 7 year old did try the ma po tofu, which is very spicy, and pronounced it the best tofu he ever ate.

Excellent! You just made me and my husband very happy campers. I think we'll do Katz's for lunch, SG for dinner and have a very happy eating day indeed. :smile:

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From the way you describe her, I think a lot of places could work very well, assuming you plan to eat early. We've found with our now 17 month old (who is very well behaved and used to being in restaurants) that the more serene and "adult" the restaurant is, the better he will behave as a result. Booths help tremendously, too (we don't do the high chair thing).

Some places we've had a lot of success with are craftbar, chinatown brasserie (more for early dim sum), and both momofukus (the noodle bar gets tons of kids and both aren't quiet, but the food more than makes up for it).

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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These are all excellent ideas, but they're almost all various types of Asian - any non-Asian suggestions? We'll be eating three meals a day together for three and a half days and would definitely like some variety.

Our child is very well-behaved (for 15 months) and as long as we have a high chair she will sit for a good long while - lap sitting I usually have to hoover my food and trying to have her sit by herself in a booth would be disastrous. We will be eating early, and we definitely tend to the falafel/arepa/burger/dumpling type of eating in NY rather than the higher end stuff. We also tend to spend a good deal of our time in the Village (both W and E so anything there or between the two would be good (although it's much easier to wander around and find stuff there) and we'll also be up in the Grand Central neighborhood at some point as well as going to see the Tree (we're moving to St. Louis this summer so it's our last year for awhile) so ideas for those areas as well would be super.

I definitely think we'll be hitting SG (unless I just can't face the hoovering) and one of the Momufukus, probably Ssam as bowls of hot soup are probably not a good idea. She wants to eat what we're eating and is nowhere near ready for soup!

Cupcake Planet: my (possibly obsessive) cupcake-centric 'blog
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not having any children that I know of, I'm probably talking out of my rear here, but when it comes to non-Asian restaurants with highchairs...you're probably going to mostly find them uptown (though I'd imagine that Danny Meyer restaurants would have them). its not that toddlers don't exist downtown (heck, there's a tiny preschool on my street in the basement of a brownstone), but people in the E and W Village seem to be quite a bit more likely to have dogs instead.

(edit: put it this way, there are a fair amount of toddlers in my building...their nannies are coming in as I'm leaving in the morning...but they're definitely not dining in local restaurants in the evening...my guess is that their parents are getting delivery)

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Having no high chairs is not a dealbreaker, and we do plan on spending at least half our time downtown - if we have to hold her, we hold her. Also, high chairs are often hidden in a corner, and parents with small ones (including us) usually eat early, so it wouldn't surprise me if you'd never noticed any - I never noticed stuff like that until I had to!

Cupcake Planet: my (possibly obsessive) cupcake-centric 'blog
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ah...the early part is a good point! in the WV there are lots of neighborhoody places that might be fine at say 6:30 or 7.

August, Bellavitae, Kingswood, Alfama, Snack Taverna, Moustache, Market Table, Barfry would all be good choices at that time. Little Owl is always packed when open but it's quite good.

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Craftbar is not in the least bit asian.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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Otto is very child-friendly and accessible by subway.  I'd suggest getting there by 5:45 or 6:00 at the latest to avoid long waits, though.

VERY child friendly. . . debatable. I take mine too Otto on a pretty regular basis but only under certain circumstances.

I strongly recommend Blue Smoke.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Otto is very child-friendly and accessible by subway.  I'd suggest getting there by 5:45 or 6:00 at the latest to avoid long waits, though.

VERY child friendly. . . debatable. I take mine too Otto on a pretty regular basis but only under certain circumstances.

I strongly recommend Blue Smoke.

Agreed on Otto. When our toddler wasn't yet toddling, we took him for a late lunch at Otto (2-ish, I think it was) and had an empty dining room beckoning to us. That was pretty ideal (though he was well-behaved enough that it wouldn't have mattered if there was a crowd). I wouldn't chance a dinner there unless it was *very* early.

Christopher

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We've taken our kids to Ottos a bunch of times, and even relatively late (we tend to be lateish diners). Once we took out of towners who had 2 small kids, so we had 5 kids under 7 at the table. It is a great place for kids, with tons of choices that kids will eat. They are very experienced with stashing strollers too. The only downside is that it is LOUD, so if you want to actually talk to your kids, you will have to scream.

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