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Saturday, June 11, 2011

RWA 2011: Times Square Restaurants

For the past month, I've been searching around for great restaurants within walking distance of the Romance Writers of America 2011 conference hotel, the Marriott Marquis in Times Square (at 45th and 7th.)

It's not the best neighborhood for amazing food, but there are some gems, and some spots I'm excited to try! So here's my list. If you live in the city and have more knowledge than I do about what's hot and happening in the Times Square area, feel free to add to the list! I'd love some more recommendations. This is where I'm planning to eat while I'm in town for the conference:

Esca: Mario Batali's fancy new coastal Italian place that's getting raves all over town. (Ruth Reichl tweeted about her experience there!) I've never been , and am thrilled to be taken there for my editor/agent dinner. Will report back!

Ruby Foo's: We used to go to the one on the UWS all the time. so when a group of us rowdy, raucous romance authors plan to get together for dinner, I knew it would be the perfect choice. Solid pan-Asian cuisine, fun atmosphere, very group-friendly due to the family-style menu of shared dishes, and all the silly drinks you can imagine. So it won't matter how lively the party gets...and this one is just three short blocks from the hotel, straight up Broadway, so it'll be easy to stumble home afterward!

Tenpenny: Two and a half avenue blocks from the hotel is this little spot that the NYT gave a star, and that showed up on Eater NY's list of top pasta dishes to taste in the city! Also, they have an afternoon cocktail list. How perfect is that for a conference lunch?

DB Bistro Moderne: The 'DB' in the name stands for Daniel Boulud, so you know this is going to be good. I've never been to this place, but I've eaten at a bunch of the other restaurants in his empire, and never been disappointed. This is where I'm taking my agent for a fun catch-up/strategy session lunch; we'll chow down on updated bistro classics like steak frites and salade lyonnais, but with Daniel Boulud's signature touch. Can't wait for this one! And at 44th and 6th, it's super close by.

'wichcraft (46th & 5th): If I get a chance to leave the conference for another lunch, but need to be quick about it, I'm going to try to make my way to this sandwich joint. Yes, it's technically part of a chain, but when the head of the business is Tom Colicchio, I'm okay with it. ; ) I've never been to a 'Wichcraft, but my husband swears by them. And it's convenient, only two avenue blocks away, just a little closer than Tenpenny. Or if I don't have time to walk over, I could always place an order online and have a sandwich delivered right to the hotel. Good God, I miss New York!

And then there's St. Andrews Restaurant & Bar. Which used to be (maybe still is?) the only true Scottish pub in the city. The food is...not great, although there are some wonderfully wacky UK imports like buffalo calamari and curry fries, and the cocktails are just so-so--but the atmosphere! Pure gold. And on Fridays and Saturdays? Free, live celtic music that will make you feel totally transported to Edinburgh! So it makes the list, because my friends and I used to be regulars, it's a fun place to grab a drink, they have a great Scotch list if you're into that, and it's literally around the corner from the hotel.

That's my list so far! Please feel free to add anything you think of, only keep in mind that many of the ladies who will be using this list will most likely be wearing incredibly stupid high heels and aren't used to walking the city in them. And for my fellow conference attendees, I hope you'll let me know if you try any of these places! I'd love to compare notes...


I'm so excited I can add to this list!

I think this should be walking distance; it's in Times Square anyway, and thy have really delicious Shepherd's Pie.

Great list!

I asked a bunch of my New Yorker friends, as well as my dad (whose office is just a few blocks away) and they all agreed that Becco (Lidia Bastianich's place), Carmine's, and Virgil's BBQ should be added to the list.

Thanks for the additions! Although I'm not sure, as a native Texan, that I can sanction the inclusion of any Manhattan bbq place. ; )

Well, I'm not sure what style of BBQ it is, but several of the people who recommended it went to school in North Carolina, so I'm going to guess it might be Eastern NC style BBQ, not Texan. ;)

It looks like a range of BBQ styles :) but wow--ten dollars for an ala carte hotdog? Are there any bakeries near by? I've heard good things about NY blackout cake. :)

Virgil's BBQ has been endorsed by my husband - a Texan. So has Dallas BBQ in the Theater district ( I think 46th St.). How about some touristy fun? Try the Ellen's Stardust Diner at 51st and Broadway. Don't go for the food - the entertainment is the key. All the wait staff are aspiring Broadway actors. They take turns singing all through your meal.

Oh yeah! Don't forget Junior's on 45th btw Broadway & Eighth. A short walk from the hotel. I hear the cheesecake is to die for (I don't do cheesecake so I can't vouch for it) but I can vouch for the pastrami sandwich. To die for!!

There's also Ruby Fruit's Restaurant and bar on Hudson St. in the West Village, Hong Fats on Mott St. China Town, and Katz's Deli on the Lower East side.

Roz, Junior's is a GREAT addition to the list! Theirs is the only cheesecake in pretty much the entire world that I DO like. The perfect dry, crumbly, rich, not-to-sweet cheesecake.

Local NYC author Sarah MacLean added this place to the list in a Twitter conversation:

Looks delicious to me!

I just looked at the Virgil's menu and it appaears to be a variety of BBQ styles, from NC to Memphis to KC to Texas. I'll personally probably skip it just because I don't immediately think NYC when I think BBQ, but it really does come highly recommended.

Oooh, thanks for the reminder about Junior's! I agree that the pastrami on eye is to do for, as is the cheesecake!

Er, that should read "pastrami on rye". LOL, "eye."

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