Midtown Manhattan eats?
February 14, 2007 12:59 PM   Subscribe

In Midtown Manhattan, can you recommend a nearby and decent: 1) Indian restaurant; 2) Jewish or Italian deli; and 3) a place to get a good egg cream?

My wife and I are going to be in New York for a few days next month, staying at the Hilton on W. 53rd & Avenue of the Americas. We won't have a car and are unlikely to want to take the subway to get a sandwich, so can you recommend walking-distance eateries as listed above?

(My wife says she wants the deli to be "New York-y" -- I'm not entirely sure what that means. If they serve egg creams [which neither of us have ever had, and I'm not sure what sorts of places sell them], then I guess that's a two-fer super-bonus!)

Thanks! Aces!
posted by Karlos the Jackal to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The Carnegie Deli is at 54th & 7th Ave. Get your sandwich there.
posted by mattbucher at 1:17 PM on February 14, 2007

Bombay Palace, on West 52nd between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, is a great Indian restaurant very close to your hotel. Or for delivery to your room, Bengal Express has excellent food at great prices.

Your hotel is right by the famous Carnegie Deli. Get take out from there and eat outside somewhere, people-watching. Or walk (for about half an hour or 45 minutes) or take the M104 bus from Eighth between 52nd and 53rd to Artie's Delicatessen at Broadway and 83rd.

Not sure about where to get a good egg cream.

I lived a couple of blocks from your hotel for eight years.
posted by sueinnyc at 1:19 PM on February 14, 2007

I know that the amusingly named Brooklyn Diner (57th b/t 7th and 8th) has egg creams, although I can't attest to the accuracy of the experience. Decent enough place for upscale-ish diner food, though.
posted by Remy at 1:30 PM on February 14, 2007

Vatan - Awesome $22.95 prix fixe is the only thing on the menu. The entire restaurant is vegetarian, and I was skeptical being a proud carnivore, but the food here is excellent, the wait staff is polite and attentive.

This might be a bit of a walk from where you are. I don't know why but I thought the hotel was on the east side when I initially read your post.


Thirding the Carnegie Deli recommendations.
posted by zackola at 1:32 PM on February 14, 2007

The Carnegie Deli is good, but for the best Matzo Ball soup in the city, go to the Cafe Edison, on 47th between Broadway & 8th.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:34 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Your hotel is probably in one of the least interesting areas of New York to eat. I know, I work a few blocks away.

Please don't go to the Carnegie Deli. Compared to Katz's its bad food at crazy prices, and Katz's (Houston and Ludlow) for lunch from midtown isn't crazy assuming you aren't in town for work. Its actually on the F and V lines which also stop a few blocks south of your hotel.

Check out chowhound.com and mouthfulsfood.com. For places specifically close to your hotel - midtownlunch.com
posted by JPD at 1:51 PM on February 14, 2007

Well, if you do take a subway ride downtown for a sandwhich try Katz's. It's worth it. That place is CRAZY New York. It's where Sally did her moan in "Where Harry met Sally".


The other best deli in Manhattan was the Second Avenue Deli, but I think they went out of business. :-( Carnegie Deli is also well known.

A fun thing to do (and incredibly cheap) for Indian is to walk down Sixth street between 1rst Avenue and Avenue A. The entire street is Indian restaurants decked out in fun, amazing, lights and furnishings. The article below says they've changed a bit, but I imagine that's still a really fun street.


Also - You are about a block away from the MoMa. Believe it or not, the vendors outside serve great Knish's (these are a little harder to find now) and Indian.

If you go downtown for any reason, these restaurants would be in walking distance.
posted by xammerboy at 1:54 PM on February 14, 2007

If you're feeling really brave, get on the Subway and LEAVE Manhattan behind for Brooklyn. Take the 2/3 to the Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn Museum stop; exit the subway via the left exit; walk straight ahead until you reach Washington Avenue; turn left onto Washington and walk down a few blocks until you reach Tom's Diner.

Tom's opened in the 30s and has pretty much stayed the way it was back then. Egg Creams, Cherry Lime Rickies, a gazillion types of pancakes, etc. It's only open for breakfast and lunch.

posted by grumblebee at 1:57 PM on February 14, 2007

Eisenbergs on Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street. A classic.
posted by thinkpiece at 2:00 PM on February 14, 2007

If you go downtown stop at Gem Spa on 8th st and 2nd avenue for your eggcream. It's just chocolate syrup, seltzer and milk, btw. You can make your own with Fox's U-bet. Make the trip to Katz's, it's worth it.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:13 PM on February 14, 2007

Please try the subway. It's efficient and easy, and Midtown New York is not all there is to see. Katz's is a block from the F train's 2nd Ave. stop. The F also stops right near your hotel , at Rockefeller Center on 6th Avenue (don't call it Avenue of the Americas, no one does.)

This is really the only place in Manhattan that should fulfill your need for a good Jewish deli, which is sad but true. For good Indian, try Curry Hill, which is really in Murray Hill.

Sorry to not be directly helpful to your question, but trust me, I work in Midtown. Good eats are few and far between here. If you have the time to venture out, please do.
posted by raconteur at 2:15 PM on February 14, 2007

I'll second Tom's. If you want the real egg cream---go there. Also a great Indian place is Sapphire at Broadway & 60th.
posted by mattbucher at 2:30 PM on February 14, 2007

You're not going to leave midtown? Why not? Unless you're being cooped up in a conference or something and only getting an hour to eat lunch, it's a little unreasonable to refuse to take the subway or a cab around the city. Believe me, it's more than worth it.

Anyway, I'm very familiar with the neighborhood in question, and I've eaten at all the upscale Indian restaurants, and many of the not so upscale Indian restaurants in the city. On a daily basis for Indian we do Balucchi's on 57th Between Broadway and 8th. It's not great--it's affordable and hits the spot when you feel like Indian for lunch. Utsav, on 6th between 46th and 47th is more upscale and pretty good, same for Sapphire on Broadway between 60th and 61st. These two are high quality, but not the best you can get for the prices. They're just closest to you.

My favorite Indian restaurant (nay, my favorite restaurant period) is Tamarind on 22nd Between Park and Madison. If you change your mind about leaving the neighborhood and you're willing to spend a little more, definitely go there. Get the bhel poori for an appetizer. If you change your mind about leaving the neighborhood but you're concerned about price, head on over to Curry Hill and try Pongal (vegetarian) on Lex between 27 and 28 or Copper Chimney (not veggie, same owners, a little more pricey) on 28 between Park and Lex.

Delis--in addition to the Carnegie Deli, you're also very near the Ben Ash and Stage Delis, which are both on 7th between 54 and 55. These three delis may not be as good as some others outside the neighborhood as mentioned above, but no one can say they're not "New York-y." You don't have to worry about that. Loud, busy, huge sandwiches, clinking silverware, the works. And I can't imagine they don't have egg creams.
posted by lampoil at 2:35 PM on February 14, 2007

It's kinda far from midtown, but at 26th and Lex is Saranvanaas. If you want Indian food in Manhattan, you should go there -- there are about twenty Indian restaurants condensed in a one-block radius. I mean, hey, the New York Times likes it; so should you!
posted by suedehead at 3:39 PM on February 14, 2007

seriously, get out of midtown. Subway is warm, easy, clean, and ok except at rush hour.

You need to head downtown for a good sandwich + egg cream (the recommendations above are spot on) and you need to head out of midtown to see New York, man!
posted by cloudscratcher at 3:43 PM on February 14, 2007

If we're talking strictly midtown, there's the Kati Roll Company. It's Indian street food and extremely tasty. I usually go to the one on MacDougal, but there is one on 46th between 6th and 7th.
posted by kkokkodalk at 3:54 PM on February 14, 2007

Ummm, I have to disagree with the above recommendation for First Avenue Indian food. DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT waste your time there for Indian food. It's for folks who don't know better. Horrible. HORRIBLE.

The other restaurants mentioned here are fine. Baluchi's is a good mix of reasonable prices, good food, and an array of locations all around Manhattan.

If you really want it done properly, you'd hop the train out to Jackson Heights, Queens or hell, to Edison, New Jersey, where actual Indian people live and eat. But I'm guessing that's not a viable option. So the other restaurants mentioned above should do just fine.

I second the vote against Carnegie Deli; I don't think any actual Tri-State residents go there, aside from the staff. Katz's should be good, though honestly, if you want a "real New York place," most of the random corner delis that don't have a lot of pomp and circumstance will, in fact, be "real."

Egg cream? Hell if I know.
posted by CommonSense at 4:25 PM on February 14, 2007

OP here. Thanks for all the answers so far!

My wife is attending an academic conference at the hotel, and I'm just tagging along (I've never been east of the West Coast). So, much of the time she'll be busy with the conference.

There's not a lot of time left over (two evenings and, I think, one full day) and we're packing that time full of other planned activities (MoMA, Broadway Show, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty).

Therefore, leaving midtown for great food is, in many ways, less appealing than staying in midtown for merely *good* food. (also: I am not particulary picky.)

Boring! I know! But it's less a real "sightseeing" trip and more of a trip of convenience kind of deal.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 5:01 PM on February 14, 2007

Thanks for asking this question. I am going to be at the NAEA conference next month and I was going to ask the same type of question.
posted by nimsey lou at 5:20 PM on February 14, 2007

One of the best (and incredibly expensive) Indian restaurants is Dawat, on 58th and 2nd. It's not midtown, per se...more like Upper East Side. But it's a very fast cab ride from your hotel. If price isn't an issue, you should absolutely go there.
posted by veronica sawyer at 5:25 PM on February 14, 2007

Gem Spa (at 2nd Ave./St. Mark's, not exactly next door to your hotel), the place Divine_Wino mentioned, is very frequently recommended for egg creams. It's a little shop on the corner and you'd probably never think to seek egg creams (or any other comestible, actually) there if you hadn't received a recommendation. I've also (further back) had them at Andrew's Coffee Shops (several around Manhattan; some in or closer to midtown). Egg creams are rare enough, I think, that suggestions like these are unfortunately more of a simple listing of sightings than a recommendation. (If in fact there is a vast semi-secret world of New York egg cream-vendors I'm open to enlightenment.)

Chowhound is also a very good forum (or was, anyway; I haven't checked it all that much lately or forgiven them for redesigning the site a few years ago).
posted by yz at 6:03 PM on February 14, 2007

Nthing the recommendation of Baluchi's.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:34 PM on February 14, 2007

A Junior's opened in Times Square; another is in the food court in Grand Central. Good egg creams there.

Just a heads up, across the street from your hotel is one of the most famous food carts in the country. They serve halal chicken and rice. There after 6pm or so, you won't be able to miss it.
posted by deadfather at 7:04 PM on February 14, 2007

If you like middle eastern food, walk west to Azuri Cafe, 51st St between 9th and 10th aves. The owner is gruff and the place is small but it is wonderful. They have fantastic schwarma falafel, etc. Worth going out of your way for.

If you are not in the mood to walk that far, I second the halal chicken and rice cart that deadfather mentioned.
posted by dudeman at 7:12 PM on February 14, 2007

Nthing: Katz's, Eisenbergs
Also nthing: DON'T GO to Carnegie... it's an overpriced tourist trap that has had to close for health code violations on occasion.

Egg Cream recommendation: The Cheyenne Diner (scroll half way down). It's a great relic, the free-standing diner at 33rd and 9th. Fabulous eggcreams... so fabulous that Jerry Lewis stops there to get one whenever he's in NYC (that's how I met Jerry Lewis!)
posted by kimdog at 7:44 PM on February 14, 2007

Very strong second for Dawat. Outstanding Indian, the best I've found in NYC.

More generally: Try walking down 9th Avenue from 53rd through 45th; there's a huge range of restaurant choices including Yum Yum Bangkok (Thai), Zen Palate (health/vegetarian), Burritoville ("very New York" in that there are a dozen well-loved locations in Manhattan), and the restaurant row on 46th between 8th & 9th Aves. You're also within easy walking distance of Whole Foods (huge grocery store with a very large, restaurant-quality buffet), on the ground floor of the Time Warner Center, southwest corner of Central Park.
posted by allterrainbrain at 8:00 PM on February 14, 2007

Reading this thread I see a lot of Baluchi's recommendations. Baluchi's is a (local) chain -- dependable, friendly, high-quality but not knock-your-socks-off. Dawat is one of a kind -- intensely interesting and subtle flavors, the freshest ingredients, truly peaceful atmosphere. I've only been there a couple times but that's only because I can't afford to go more often. I think it's perfect for you.
posted by allterrainbrain at 8:10 PM on February 14, 2007

For my money the best Indian restaurant in town is Tamarind at 41 E 22nd St. Worth a trip.
posted by dudeman at 8:39 PM on February 14, 2007

nthing the Carnegie. Seriously, it is brilliant.
posted by crayolarabbit at 10:04 PM on February 14, 2007


(A) 1rst Ave Indian places: These are great for a neat evening. I've brought friends there from out of town to eat while watching the bellydancing. That said, it CAN be a bit seedy, so it depends what you're up for. Do think it's kind of a unique New York experience though.

(B) Totally agree the BEST Indian places are an hour or so out of Manhattan in Queens. If you live in New York, plan an outing to one of these places, and expect to have your world rocked. So worth it.

(C) Disagree on Katz's. This is not a tourist trap. The other boroughs like it too, but that's just because it's that good. Take a look at that sandwich on the website. They will cut you pieces of pastrami to taste before you eat the sandwich. The meat is like butter.

(D) Eggcreams can be had at the icecream place on A and Thomkins square park. Egg creams are delicious. They're basically sodas with egg whites. Love them.

I moved out of New York about 2 years ago, and this question is making me cry with hunger :-)
posted by xammerboy at 10:17 PM on February 14, 2007

I eat at Minar Indian food on 31st between Broadway and 5th Ave 3-4 times a week. It's nothing fancy [mostly a place for the office workers in the area] but it's damn tasty. There's also one on 46th between Times Square and 6th Ave.
posted by yeti at 7:04 AM on February 15, 2007

Yes, egg creams at the soda shop on Tompkins Square Park. For the record, though, there are no egg whites in egg creams.

Interestingly, there is an age-old debate over how to make an egg cream. Some say it goes Fox's, Milk, Selzer. Others say Selzer goes second. I am in the former camp.
posted by veronica sawyer at 8:14 AM on February 15, 2007

Hi, though it doesn't really fit your criteria, but since you want to stick with Midtown:

You mentioned going to MoMA, if so, don't miss out a chance to eat at The Modern.

Also, there'sAquavit. It's a Scandanavian place. Good cocktails. They have a dining room, a cafe and lounge areas with slightly varying menus, so try to check that out and choose accordingly. I'd recommend making a reservation.
posted by kkokkodalk at 10:17 AM on February 15, 2007

Just FYI, not that you asked, but if you want a real New York experience, the halal food cart on the Southwest corner of 53rd and 6th, right where you are going to be, happens to be the best in town. It doesn't open until 7 p.m., goes all night serving cabbies and always has a 15- 20 minute late, even at 3 a.m. Just look for the crowds, cold or no cold. I thought it was just pretty good, but they won an award last year for best street food and are enormously popular.
posted by poxuppit at 3:59 PM on February 15, 2007

Also, hidden behind a curtain in the lobby of the swanky Parker Meridian on 57th is a cramped little faux roadhouse called the Burger Joint. You can get good burgers at home, but the location makes these special.
posted by poxuppit at 4:09 PM on February 15, 2007

And duh, that cart's been mentioned twice already. Sorry.
posted by poxuppit at 4:15 PM on February 15, 2007

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