Savoring NYC, family-style

Once Upon a Tart

Once Upon a Tart

With more than 17,000 restaurants New York City is a foodie mecca. It made perfect sense to me to organize our itinerary not only for sightseeing but for eating. To navigate our way I relied on a friend’s recommendations, magazine reviews and Yelp on my iPhone to hedge our bets.

Here are the highlights of five days in Manhattan:

Friday:  First stop – Times Square and Virgil’s BBQ.  The Brisket Melt, smoked beef with grilled onions and melted cheese on rye with fries — deadly. By 9 p.m. we were finally hungry again. We headed out to dinner in Chinatown, aiming for Doyer’s, a renowned Vietnamese restaurant, but found it shuttered.  A few steps further we landed at Old Sichuan, not spectacular but certainly tasty. Egg drop soup with corn, steamed pork dumplings, pork with peking sauce and crispy shrimp with the tiniest baby bok choy I’ve ever seen.  We dubbed it “infant” bok choy.

Barney Greengrass

Lox and more at Barney Greengrass

Barney Greengrass

Blintzes for the Boys

Saturday: Armed with a chef’s picks for his favorite stops on the Upper West Side, we headed for Barney Greengrass. A classic  bagel with lox for my husband; I opted for the smoked sable and eggs.  Our friendly waiter suggested latkes and blintzes for the boys. Smiles all around. An excellent experience worth the price. Lunch found us in Little Italy enjoying lunch at Grotto Azzurra, a freebie as part of our our double-decker bus tour. My rigatoni alla vodka was satisfying and the boys’ chicken parmesan looked even better. This place reportedly was a fave of Sinatra and others in the Rat Pack.

Sunday: A turn of plans instigated a day of meandering. Hoards of people waiting in the rain for the ferry to Ellis Island convinced us to buy tickets for another day.  Instead, we wandered northward. The guys had grabbed a hot dog while I hustled through Century 21 for a new handbag. By the time we hit Greenwich Village, they were hungry again.

Once Upon a Tart

Tempting display at Once Upon a Tart

As we wandered up MacDougal, I had a vague recollection of sharing a falafel sandwich with a client years ago. I sensed we were in the right spot for a filling snack. The boys dug into their falafel sandwiches (a deal at $2.50 each compared to the $5 hot dog at the World Trade Center site). I held out in hopes of finding the perfect Village cafe. It worked. On Sullivan, I lucked into Once Upon a Tart for an amazing carrot ginger soup and mushroom spinach tart.

Breakfast on the Run

Monday:  Breakfast with the worker-bees at Bagel and Bean. Next, a highlight of our NYC trip was seeing the Tim Burton exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. For a light lunch, I enjoyed a delightful antipasto spread at MoMa’s Cafe 2 .

Cafe2 at MoMA

Chickpea citrus salad with shrimp, roasted red pepper, brussels sprouts with chestnuts at MoMA's Cafe2

Our museum day ended with a stroll through Central Park, lovely and quiet. I was told THE BEST burgers and shakes could be found nearby at the Shake Shack. We agreed. (Check out the Shack Cam on Madison Square Park location. We hit the Upper West Side location about 6:15 with no wait at all.)

Tuesday – A very wet, cold day at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty ended with four delicious soups from a great spot in Rockefeller Center — Hale and Hearty — the precursor to the Soup Man on Seinfeld.

At this point in the trip I had “fries with that” three times in five days. Not a good trend.

A few asides:

M&M store NYC

M&M custom blends in Times Square

Maybe it’s no surprise, but we managed to hit two candy stores on our first day — M&M’s and Hershey — both in Times Square.  But our fave was on the Lower East Side at Economy Candy. Son #2 scored a giant gummi rat and the Easter Bunny was able to sneak some Lindt bunnies and Peeps when the boys weren’t looking. The treats survived the trip to DC for a fun surprise six days later. Also, we were able to trim our food budget by eating in the room for a few meals.  Near the hotel were several options: Dinner take-out from Great American Health Bar and Pizza Villagio Cafe. For breakfast Morton Williams supermarket provided the fixings.

Up next: A few highlights from the D.C. leg of our trip.

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