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albatravels Apr 4th, 2011 10:01 AM

NYC - My mother's 70th birthday
I am taking my mom to NYC for her 70th birthday. She has never been to NYC and is VERY excited. Here are some details:

We arrive on a Thursday night (April 14th) and will stay at the Waldorf Astoria until Sunday
On Friday we have a pre-theater dinner at the Russian Room and tickets to see Mary Poppins (she LOVES MP!!!!).
We also have tickets for the hop-on-hop-off bus so she can see the city …….we can use it for a couple of hours

Please give me some tips on where to eat…..she talks about walking 5th Ave and visiting Chinatown and Little Italy (not my favorites but the Travel channel sold those to her…LOL)

Some advice PLEASE

jroth Apr 4th, 2011 10:21 AM

First of all- Little Italy has now become -- part of Chinatown - hardly anything left of the Italian community that once lived there - except a few restaurants that cater to tourists and a great Italian grocery.
For a superb lunch and New York's greatest bargain : Bouley in Tribeca - 4 courses prix fixe ($36) - and each one a gourmet delight plus one of NY's most beautiful restaurant environments.

Aduchamp1 Apr 4th, 2011 10:25 AM

One Question

Does Mom tire easily or is ready to go?

Be sure to take her to the Chinatown Ice Cream factory.

When in Little Italy (and as you know there is not much left) take her Di Palo's. It is one NY's great stores for Italian provisions and the smell will make you want to buy every cheese in the place.

albatravels Apr 4th, 2011 12:17 PM

My mom is ready to go.....I may tire faster than her and I am not 50 yet!!!!

Great advice you guys....keep it coming!


bspielman Apr 4th, 2011 12:24 PM

May I suggest that you skip the Russian Tea Room for pre-theater dinner? Its claim to fame is its ornate interior, but the food and service are no better than mediocre at best. Since you seem to be OK with a restaurant not smack-dab in the middle of the theater district (where there aren't any especially good places anyway), why not try, say, The 21 Club, a quintessential New York restaurant with a wonderful interior and excellent food and service. They serve many pre-theater diners, so you won't have any trouble making your curtain. Try for a 5:30 reservation at "21" has a very attractive pre-theater prix-fixe as well.

starrs Apr 4th, 2011 12:33 PM

One of my favorite experiences in NYC was going on the original walking and tasting tour given by That was the Greenwich Village tour but they have others including a Chinatown tour. I've not taken that one, but have taken two of their tours. If your mom wants to experience Chinatown, I think this would be a good idea -

I've taken the hop on-off buses many times over the years and do think they give you a nice overview. You already have your tickets, so you are probably set for an overview tour. But, this company -
has been highly recommended on this board by Fodorites. If they visit an area not already covered by your ticket, you may want to consider them.

I agree that just walking down 5th Avenue is one of the best ways to see NYC. If you go to Tiffany's, go all the way to the top floor. You'll find some less expensive items there that may tempt you as a souvenir. I ordered a monogrammed set of cards in that Tiffany blue on my first ever visit in NYC.

One of my favorite things of all is visiting the Lower East Side Tenement museum. It's not a walking tour, but visits to apartments in a tenement building that tell a particular story. Very powerful and interesting.

My favorite museum has to be the Frick -

What I like best about it is the size. It's small - built as a home to house one owner's collection, with the intent of it becoming a museum after they died. The setting and the art = fabulous, but it's not an overwhelming experience. I love the MoMA and Met too, but the Frick is my favorite.

So many places to go and things to see. You already have the start of a great trip planned. Enjoy!

One last thought - would she be interested in an afternoon tea?

albatravels Apr 4th, 2011 02:06 PM

You guys are so great!!!!

The Club 21 idea is superb....not sure I can cancel the Russian Room because I included it on the reservation I did through AA (UGH)but surely we can eat there some other evening.....I'll look into it.

And yes, we are interested in tea......where should we go?

starrs Apr 4th, 2011 02:41 PM

Here's a recent thread about afternoon teas. Several people shared their favorites in NYC -

bspielman Apr 4th, 2011 03:13 PM

Alba, simply call the RTR and cancel. They won't care how the res as originally made. I'm assuming you didn't somehow prepay, something no restaurant ordinarily requires. The RTR isn't really worth a visit.

albatravels Apr 5th, 2011 07:50 AM

Sadly American Airlines charges for all things booked through them. My husband made this reservation for us. The package he took inlcudes airline tickets, hotel, RTR, Mary Poppins and the hop-on-hop-off bus. Flight and hotel can be cancelled and/or change....non of the others can be cancelled or change ....I'll call them and verufy :(

albatravels Apr 5th, 2011 08:40 AM

Good news....AA told me they could cancel RTR....I will be saving a lot of money and eating better...their dinner was $86, Club 21's is $ that possible??? I wonder if I am missing something

Question on Club the Bar Room ok? That is the only one available through open table

starrs Apr 5th, 2011 09:07 AM

"That is the only one available through open table"
Call the restaurant directly. They may have openings that aren't on OpenTable.

tchoiniere Apr 5th, 2011 09:10 AM

Depending on weather, you could look at one of the Circle Line boat tours of Manhattan, Id do just the one that circles the tip and then heads back

bspielman Apr 5th, 2011 09:48 AM

Re "21": Yes, what's on is what you want. And, yes, their pre-theater prix-fixe is $40, plus, of course, beverages and tip. Even were you to order from the rest of their menu, you'd do better than at RTR.

Many very fine places have reasonable p-t p-f's in the $40 to $50 range (some not restricted to p-t).

Another one is Estiatorio Milos on West 55th, a really outstanding Greek seafooder. But keep away from their fish-by-the-pound or you'll pay dearly. By the way, by "keep away," I meant the menu; the actual fish display is a sight to behold.

owlwoman Apr 5th, 2011 11:20 AM

Also, yes to the "bar room" it's a fun room to have dinner in. We take a lot of out of towners to the 21 club, it's a real traditional NY place (and much, much, much better than the RTR).

albatravels Apr 6th, 2011 08:42 AM

Excellent.....I have my reservation!

Sooo, please help me decide if this is enought.....this is what I have so far:

Thrusday: PLane lands at 3 pm. Maybe a couple of hours on the hop-on-hop off. Dinner at the Waldorf?
Friday : Hop-on-Ho-off for a couple of hours. Walk 5th Avenue. Dinner at Club 21 at 5"30 pm. Mary Poppins at 8:00 pm.
Saturday: Visit China tow and Little Italy. Lunch Bouley in Tribeca. Mass at St Patricks's. Drink at Harry's Bar. Dinner?
Sunday: We have all morning before heading for the airport.....what should we do?

nyer Apr 6th, 2011 09:28 AM

albatravels , the merits of the hop on-hop off buses are debated here endlessly. Without getting into too long a discussion, I'm going to suggest skipping it in your specific plans. One of the issues is that the bus moves slowly and especially on a weekday, for just a couple hours, you won't see much. Thursday you may not get into the city and to your hotel till 5 pm or later, so the bus would really not get you to many places in the time you have. I assume you just wanted to use it then to drive by and see things, since virtually all the "sights" it would take you to are closed by then anyway.
Similarly on Friday morning, for just a couple of hours, you might not get very far. I think you prepaid for the bus , though? May I suggest that instead of spending time (or money, if you can cancel or haven;t prepaid) on the bus, you can take an evening taxi ride past a few sights on Thursday (maybe even after dinner) and on Friday morning you pick a sight or 2 that you want to see and use regular buses,taxis if necessary between locations, The hop on-hop offs don't always take the route that makes sense for getting from point a to point b.

Of course, if you've prepaid for the bus and don't really have specific places you want to get off and visit, I'm sure you'll both have a great trip anyway. I just want you to feel like you're doing what you want to do to have fun, and there are many options to get it all done in a few days

bspielman Apr 6th, 2011 11:05 AM

I'm happy you've taken Joe's and my suggestions and have decided to reserve at Bouley and "21." I'm sure you'll enjoy these two quintessentially New York restaurants. May I also suggest that you skip dinner at the Waldorf? Peacock Alley, the hotel's major dining room, is merely OK. You can do a lot better. Perhaps you should leave it for Sunday brunch, which I imagine they probably do pretty well.

We had a wonderful dinner last night before the Met Opera at a place, new to us, called Graffit, on West 69th Street, just off Broadway. Very pleasant surroundings; fine, attentive service; tapas, if you want that style of food; unique, creative dinner appetizers, entrées and desserts without being "off the wall," so to speak. We really enjoyed it and we'll definitely go back. I recommend it to you.

Another place you might enjoy, if you like seafood, is Estiatorio Milos, on West 55th Street. This is the New York outpost of a highly-regarded Greek-owned Montreal restaurant of the same name. Absolutely terrific fresh fish; a great prix-fixe menu; overall, a great place, worthy of a visit.

And, another of our favorites, a cab ride away, is The Red Cat on Tenth Avenue near 23rd. An extremely good neighborhood restaurant, one of our real favorites.

Check out their websites. Reservations are desirable at all, essential at The Red Cat.

Enjoy your visit!

bspielman Apr 6th, 2011 11:07 AM

Sorry for the repeat shout out for Milos. But, it deserves them.

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