A travel journal
to New York by hitara
Quote: If your dad is anything like mine, finding a great restaurant for his visits to New York can be a challenge. Forget "new" anything, anything trendy, ethnic cuisine, or vegetarian ... Dad will take a burger and fries every time. These restaurants should please both New Yorkers AND their guests.
Restaurant | "Banania Cafe (Brooklyn)"
I've taken a variety of guests to Banania Cafe, and they've all declared it to be a wonderful spot for brunch and a good Brooklyn memory. One caveat, though -- at dinner the restaurant turns into just the type of experimental continental restaurant that "Dad types" will try to avoid. I took my (non-New-York) boyfriend there for dinner once, and we wound up elsewhere after one look at the menu. New Yorkers would probably enjoy the evening ambiance, and the dessert list always looks great -- it's just not the kind of food I'm highlighting in this list.
Two more warnings: They don't take credit cards, and, like all the restaurants on this list, they become very busy between 11 and 1 on the weekends. (Between 10 and 11 is the golden hour for getting a quick table -- but don't all show up and take MY place!) If you want to eat earlier or can't wait out the crowd, a second restaurant, Cafe LuLuC, is across the street about a block down and is owned by the same people.
By subway, take the "F" to Bergen Street or Carroll Gardens or the "G" to Bergen Street.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 29, 2002
241 Smith St
Brooklyn, New York 11231
Restaurant | "Bubby's (TriBeCa)"
The food is your basic American staple food, though often with modern touches. Meatloaf, for example, comes in a brown mushroom-y gravy rather than the ketchup stuff that Mom put on top. There's chili, but it's vegetarian. The mac 'n cheese (which is supposed to be wonderful) comes with (ew!) a salad. And so on. But traditional, modern, whatever -- boy, is it good!
Bubby's is also rightly famous for its brunches ... but then again any food tastes good after you're famished from waiting an hour for a table. After a few tries (some successful, some not) I've given up on brunch, but I've never had a wait at lunch or dinner.
I took my parents to Bubby's a few days before Christmas, and as usual we enjoyed our food. On that occasion I discovered, however, that I had been living only half of the Bubby's experience. Yes, on that occasion I discovered the PIE. Apparently Bubby's began as a pie company before it was a restaurant, and turns out they serve some of the best pie my parents and I have ever had. The crust is incredible and is really more of a pastry than the thin, sad little crusts I've had on other pies. We were given certificates for free pie on a return visit, and my parents spent the rest of the Christmas weekend begging for that return. They were obsessed. (Who am I kidding? So was I!)
Bubby's has a sort of farmhouse decor, with white wooden benches along the outside walls. The wait staff can be a bit hit or miss. Be sure to check the chalkboards posted on the walls for the daily specials, as well as the list of the day's pie. Bubby's also boasts a small bar, as its own destination or a place to hang out while you're waiting for your table.
120 Hudson St
New York, New York 10013
+1 212 219 0666
Restaurant | "Comfort Diner (Manhattan)"
One warning: lines are long during the lunch rush and at weekend brunch, and both locations can get noisy when they're crowded. The midtown location is a few blocks from public transportation (Grand Central Station has the closest subways), but the Upper East Side location has a 4/5/6 line at its door.
214 East 45th St
New York, New York 10017
+1 212 867 4555
Restaurant | "Harvest (Cobble Hill)"
The definitive "Harvest experience" for me was one summer dinner I shared with Dad near the restaurant's front wall, which opens to the sidewalk in warm weather. The waiter asked us whether we wanted dessert, and a passing pedestrian yelled "Try the key lime pie!" Turns out they didn't have the pie that night, but it shows the locals' familiar, almost proprietary feeling about the place.
Weekend brunches are tasty but can be a pain if you arrive after noon -- the lines are long and it's hard to plan a late arrival because the restaurant closes for a few hours between lunch and dinner. My only other beef is the low lighting at night. It makes for a romantic, relaxing atmosphere but keeps away those of us who like to eat alone and bring a book.
To reach Harvest, take the "F" or "G" trains to Bergen Street and follow Bergen to Court or take the 4/5/6 to Borough Hall and follow Court Street past Atlantic for a few blocks.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 29, 2002
218 Court Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Restaurant | "Junior's (Downtown Brooklyn)"
If Junior's served only main dishes it would still be famous, but who are we kidding? Junior's does NOT serve only main dishes. As anyone who knows the restaurant will tell you, Junior's is synonymous with "cheesecake." There are many who brag that Junior's makes the best cheesecake in the world. I'm no expert, but I will say it's pretty darn good! If you like chocolate and you're really up for a challenge, try the "devil's food cheesecake," a six-inch-high combination of cheesecake and devil's food cake with fudge frosting. It's so rich you'll feel sick for two days afterward, but it's sooooo worth it.
There's a take-out bakery for those who don't manage to save room for dessert, and they ship cheesecakes anywhere in the country. (My boyfriend once helped me through a long year in Oklahoma with a regular supply of Junior's cheesecakes.) There's even a Junior's cookbook, for anyone who dares to create the magic at home.
Several subway stops converge in the general area -- two possibilities are the N/R to DeKalb or the A/C/F to Jay Street with a walk down Fulton Mall to Flatbush Ave. There's also a second Junior's outpost in the Grand Central Station dining concourse. It's a pale shadow of the original, but works in a pinch (and they DO have cheesecake).
386 Flatbush Ave (at Dekalb Avenue)
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Washington, Washington, D.C.