Where to Eat When Your Parents Come to Town, Part 1

by Zoe Baker-Peng

New York City – one of the greatest places to find good food with a range of price tags. As college students, we know how to find delicious food and the best deals at reasonable prices. But what about when Mom and Dad come to visit and say they want to take you out for dinner? The choices! The cuisines! The neighborhoods! “Where do you want to go?” they ask, “any suggestions?” Suddenly, this opportunity is of the highest importance and your price bracket for dining just increased. Where should you eat on this coveted night? Here are just a couple of suggestions and brief reviews to prompt your decision-making and hopefully set you on the right path to a wonderful meal.

Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse N.Y.C.

Dining in Grand Central is the height of New York class.

Tired of guessing what mystery meat you’re eating in the dining hall? Why not head down to Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse for a wonderfully cooked and high-quality steak? The New York Strip steak is delectable – when I ordered it medium rare, it arrived juicy and flavorful and the succulent meat had a rich and intense flavor. Accompany your dish with thick steak fries which are perfectly crisped and buttery golden. If you want to pretend to be healthy (but really just want an excuse to eat creamy goodness), order the Black Truffle Creamed Spinach which seems to melt in your mouth. There are also many other entrée choices, but I recommend the steaks as the highlight of this restaurant. If all this culinary raving doesn’t sell you, I should mention that you’ll be dining in Grand Central Station. Can you dine in a more quintessential New York location?

Grand Central Station, 23 Vanderbilt Avenue, NYC, 10017, phone: 212.655.2300 
Reservations: Recommended 
Price: $$$, range ~ $31-60 per person, steak from $30

Almost as beautiful as the food.

Rosa Mexicano
If you’re looking for a fun and lively atmosphere, try Rosa Mexicano, serving fantastic Mexican food. You should definitely order their famous guacamole which is fresh and zesty and made in front of you at your table. The Baja taco is delicious; the mahi mahi is tender while the slaw and tartar sauce spice up the dish and refresh your mouth. The Alambre de Camarones dish (wild jumbo shrimp over rice with tomatoes, onions and chilies) is tasty – the shrimp are hearty and have fantastic flavor while the roasted tomato-jalapeño caper sauce complements the garlic vinaigrette and adds a tangy bite to the rice. Try the Churros en Bolsa for dessert; the churros are light and moist and come with three dipping sauces: warm, thick chocolate; sweet, gooey caramel; or tart, fruity raspberry guajillo.

Union Square (9 East 18th Street, NYC, 10003), phone: 212.533.3350 
First Avenue (1063 First Avenue at 58th Street, NYC, 10022), phone: 212.753.7407 
Lincoln Center (61 Columbus Avenue at 62nd Street, NYC, 10023), phone: 212.977.7700 
Reservations: Recommended 
Price: $$$, range ~ $31-60 

Elephant & Castle

Come here for an iconic New York brunch.

Elephant & Castle has a wonderful brunch menu and is a delightfully cozy place to start your weekend. You must try the Eggs n’ Apples Benedict on French Toast – it is a mouthwatering concoction with perfectly poached eggs and an amazing taste fusion of sweet and salty flavors. It is so popular that some of the servers even call it ‘life-changing’. The poached eggs with pureed spinach, melted cheese and potato pancakes is another winning dish; the pancakes are soft yet springy and again, the poached eggs are wonderfully cooked. Be sure to try the strawberry jam that accompanies the bread basket as it is also a treat. I would recommend trying a dish off of the ‘Brunch Favorites’ part of the menu as these are the most interesting and taste rewarding. The one drawback is the slightly cramped and crowded seating and the potential wait, but the delicious food more than makes up for this.

68 Greenwich Avenue, NYC, 10011, phone: 212.243.1400 
Reservations: No 
Price: $$, range ~ $11-30 (for brunch) 

Barbecue as it was meant to be enjoyed.

Fatty ‘Cue
If not just for the great name, you should try this funky Asian fusion restaurant for the innovative and tasty dishes they serve. The menu is meat heavy (this restaurant may not be the best choice for vegetarians) and is designed for ordering several dishes to share amongst the table. Highlights include the meltingly tender Pork Ribs and also the Fatty “Mcrib” Bao – a modern take on traditional Chinese bao with soft, smoked pork ribs sandwiched in the bao (steamed bun) with fresh pickles and mayo dressing. Also consider the ‘Cue-Rean Fried Chicken which is crispy and has a subtle maple flavor, as well as the Isaan Spiced Larb which is refreshingly spicy and simple.

50 Carmine Street, between Bleecker and Bedford, NYC, 10014, phone: 212.929.5050
Reservations: Recommended
Price: $$$, range ~ $31-60 

The Sea Grill

Rockefeller Center as it was meant to be enjoyed.

The fish at The Sea Grill is, as you would expect, wonderfully cooked and prepared. Although the menu offers a couple of meat dishes, I would recommend choosing from the plentiful seafood dishes. The Sea Grill chowder may be a little heavy but it is indulgently creamy and has a healthy serving of tender lobster, shrimp, and clams. The crab cakes are light but have an intense flavor, while the prawns a la Scampi with pasta are perfectly breaded. There are also many sushi choices on the menu. The Sea Grill’s location is the final winning feature – it is the same level as the Rockefeller ice rink. Be sure to try and get a table near the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and, as you eat, watch the ice skaters glide (or stumble) past you.

Rockefeller Centre, 19 West 49th Street, NYC, 10020, phone: 212.332.7610  (closed on Sunday)
Reservations: Recommended
Price: $$$$, range ~ above $61

The perfect end to a Union Square excursion.

Union Square Café
USC is a charming restaurant with a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere and delicious food. Always keep an eye on the specials for the night as they are often intriguing and just as good as the favorites on the menu. The fritto misto appetizer is a healthy portion but the breaded exterior of the calamari, monkfish, and peppers could be crispier. The beef carpaccio is beautifully prepared with crispy artichokes and is well-seasoned. The gnocchi dishes are favorites at USC; the gnocchi is moist and both pasta dishes offer wonderful blends of hearty flavors. The New York Strip steak is a great choice as are the braised pork cheeks and the lamb chops – all of which are perfectly cooked and tender. If you still have room for dessert, try My First Birthday Cake or the renowned USC banana tart, both of which are creative and sweetly satisfying.

21 East 16th Street, NYC, 10003, phone: 212.243.4020 
Reservations: Recommended 
Price: $$$, range ~ $31-60 

Zoe Baker-Peng is a sophomore at Barnard and Managing Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Yelp, Best Restaurants in Your City, Dublin Hot Spots, Glenwood, nycgo, and Midwestern Masticatory Musings.


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