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What’s a Relaxing But Still Exciting Restaurant for a Hangry Tourist in New York?

A visitor needs something approachable for her mom and young nephew

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Union Square Cafe’s dining room has a wooden bar, wooden chairs with dark leather seats, and stairs that go up toward another level
Union Square Cafe’s dining room
Nick Solares/Eater

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. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form.


Hi Eater,

My mom, nine-year-old nephew, and I are coming to New York in October. I live in Chicago, go to several restaurants weekly and prefer a laid-back neighborhood vibe or to check out whatever the hype is currently about. But in general, I want to eat with locals since the rest of our time will be spent taking my nephew to very touristy spots.

My nephew is an adventurous eater and will chill as long as we want to at the dinner table, but I still wouldn’t take him anywhere where we’re going to get side-eye for bringing a kid — we want him to feel welcome! And my mom says “whatever you want” but really prefers to know exactly what she’s getting into with the food (nothing too abstract or experimental) and perhaps having a reservation made in advance. And we’ll both want plenty of wine. My mom and I have been to NYC about a dozen times together, but I feel like we end up at a lot of the same Midtown restaurants because we get tired / hangry after a day of walking all over the city. Where should we go?

Windy City Tourist

Hey WCT,

Welcome back! First, I’m going to direct you to our visitor’s guide, which will have plenty of inspiration for your trip; this map from our critic Robert Sietsema will point you towards lots of restaurants around Times Square that locals dig.

But for one specific reservation, you should give local icon Union Square Cafe a try if you haven’t been yet. It’s big enough where having kids in there will be no problem, yet adult enough for you and your mom to not feel like you’re downgrading on vibe to accommodate for the under-10 set. The restaurant is also known for its service — which I’m sure will be welcome in your exhaustion from romping around town.

For food, the seasonal menu is kind of American and kind of Italian and entirely approachable without being boring, hopefully an ideal compromise between your taste and your mother’s. And perhaps most importantly, as the name suggests, the restaurant is near Union Square, a big transit hub that will be easy for you to get to from Midtown. It’s a reliable place to bring parents that won’t make you feel like you’re wasting a meal in New York. Remember: Tip is included in all the prices.

Have fun,

Serena

Union Square Cafe

101 East 19th Street, Manhattan, NY 10003 (212) 243-4020 Visit Website

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