Dear Gad Abouts, Our special guest blogger today is Kathy Biehl. Kathy is the co-author of the up-coming Walk NYC, a walking guide to New York City. Kathy is incredibly knowledgeable about where and how to find the best restaurants in Manhattan without blowing your travel budget.
Gad About Gals are all about traveling light and unencumbered. This is definitely the approach I like to take when it comes to eating in Manhattan. As tempting as the high-profile restaurants may be, I’m not one to make a reservation weeks in advance or pay the equivalent of my electric bill for a meal. (Given my decade-plus reviewing restaurants in Houston and NYC, you might think otherwise, but you would be wrong!) I prefer to show up on the spur of a moment, look in a window or at a menu and follow where my mood takes me. Here are some of my finds.
Anywhere near the theater district, my preference is to head for 9th Avenue
between 43 and 52 Streets, which is a United Nations of restaurants. My usual drinking buddy and I will often meet on a designated corner and eye the intersection to make our dinner choice. Favorites include the sausages and beer at
Island Burgers & Shakes
Hallo Berlin Express, 744 9th Ave. near 50th, the humongous burgers and shakes at the inexplicably surf-themed Island Burger, 766 9th Ave. near 51st, and the paper-thin slices at 9th Avenue Pizzeria, 791 9th Ave. near 52nd.
If you have to eat in the Times Square area, head for Cafe Edison, 228 W 47th Street off 7th Ave. Cash-only, it offers breakfast and Jewish comfort food in low-key digs. Great Matzoh ball soup. If you have time to wait in line, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., smack in the middle of pedestrian insanity at 1501 Broadway, has surprisingly good Southern-style seafood and a wide-ranging menu.
In the Village my favorite spot is
Check out the poetry readings hosted in the basement
Cornelia Street Cafe,
29 Cornelia Street. The menu is light American bistro fare in a comfortably arty atmosphere, and the bar is a welcoming place for a single person to enjoy a meal. The remainder of Cornelia Street is worth a stroll, too. Even though it’s only a block long, it’s got one tiny restaurant gem after another. Terrific pizza abounds in both directions down Bleecker Street
as well. Head towards 6th Avenue
for Joe’s Pizza, 7 Carmine Street. You’ll have to fight your way to the counter and stand to eat your slice, but with pizza this satisfying, you won’t mind. Or head toward 7th Avenue
for John’s Pizza, 278 Bleecker, where you can enjoy your pie seated at a table like a respectable person.
And if you’re kicking around the tip of the island, forget the chain restaurants at South Street Seaport
and wander over to tiny
Stone Street, a historic district near
Lots of history packed in this combination pub, restaurant and museum
Fraunces Tavern with more than a dozen restaurants side by side. Browse the menus, check the crowds and noise levels and pick a place for your meal.
Other fruitful stretches for spur-of-the-moment dining are Second Avenue in the 60s and 70s and around 14th Street, as well as the streets radiating out from Union Square.