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.
I have a friend coming into town to check out Sleep No More at 7 p.m., and I want to take him to a quick place to eat before the show. He’s coming from the Upper West Side, and we both love Thai food. I don’t want to phone it in too much as far as “New York experience” goes since he’s visiting, but we also don’t want to spend too much money. Note: He can’t eat dairy. Any suggestions?
Hosting, Not Sleeping
Sadly, the area around the McKittrick Hotel is kind of a dark hole of decent restaurants. That will change in the next few years as tons of hot restaurateurs open in the immediate neighborhood, but that doesn’t help right now.
Seven is fairly early, so here’s what I suggest: Go check out the happy hour at Porchlight before the show. It’s a Danny Meyer operation — of Union Square Cafe and the Shake Shack empire — with cocktails and a bunch of Southern-inspired bar snacks, and for $9, you and your buddy can grab a bite and a beer. As far as restaurants and bars go, taking a friend to a Meyer establishment ranks high as far as “New York experience.”
You’ll likely be famished after Sleep No More, at which point the best bet is to prepare to walk for food. (Walking is also super New York! Explain this, and then say something smug about how it’s why everybody in New York stays so thin compared to the rest of the nation.) Hike about 15 minutes to Larb Ubol, an Isan Thai restaurant at 480 Ninth Avenue. There, chef Ratchanee Sumpatboon serves a menu with fantastic versions of papaya salad, larb, and kra prao over rice. Most dishes clock in under $15, making it an affordable option, too.
Good luck, and have fun.