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What's a Restaurant That Will Convince Tourists to Leave Times Square?

A visitor wants to eat well, but needs to please tourists

Old Tbilisi Garden
The dining room of Old Tbilisi Garden
Photo via Old Tbilisi Garden

Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater New York where the site’s editors, reporters, and critics answer specific or baffling restaurant requests from readers and friends. A new question and answer will run every Thursday. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form.


Dear Eater,

When we’re in New York City next month, my cousins are also going to be in town for one of their birthdays, and they want to go out to dinner on Saturday to celebrate. Do you have recommendations for a place that IS NOT IN TIMES SQUARE?? This is what was suggested, and I am doing my best to undo this damage since I am also attending this dinner and visiting from out of town and do not want to waste a meal. What would appeal to people who would deign to consider eating in Times Square? Possibly Italian, but it does not have to be — think things that people from Buffalo would like.

Birthday in Times Square

Dear BNITS,

Since Italian cuisine is traditionally the dominant one in the Nickel City, I think we need to show your cousins a little more of what makes our city unique from theirs, though don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of splendid Italian restaurants. Also, I appreciate that you want to lure them out of Times Square, so how about a jaunt down to Greenwich Village?

In your request that it appeal to Buffalonians, I’m going to assume you mean people with traditional tastes and good appetites, so have steered clear of twee little places with small dishes and expensive wine lists. My choice is Old Tbilisi Garden.

Located right on Bleecker Street and hence convenient to subway lines, it possesses an elegant dining room with a limestone waterfall, a commodious bar, and serves the food of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The menu will be new to your guests, but also strangely familiar. A Saturday night reservation is also possible within a week or two of the target date — and this is much harder than you might imagine. (I’m assuming your party doesn’t want to wait an hour or two at one of our many “no reservations” places.)

There are delicious charcoal grilled kebabs, nicely dressed salads of compressed vegetables, meat-filled dumplings, tummy warming stews of pork and veal, and a bread called khachapuri that does a good imitation of a cheese pizza, only better. The servings are voluminous, and the food is rich. After dinner, take a postprandial stroll around nearby Washington Square, through streets Bob Dylan made famous.

Let me know how the dinner goes!

Robert

Old Tbilisi

174 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012 212-470-6064

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