What to avoid in NYC. Tip #2: dining options

If you walk north on Seventh Avenue, just before you enter Times Square at 41st Street, you’ll be greeted on the northwest corner by this:


[Edit: Jason made an astute comment that‘s worth mentioning. Do you see that giant plastic illumined lobster? It slowly rotates! It’s simply awful. It’s hard to be tacky in Times Square but they’ve managed.]

And by on the northeast corner by this:


First, let me state that I am neither anti-chain restaurant, nor a “foodie“ (I hate that word). I am as far away from a food snob as you could possibly get, which is a shame since some of the finest restaurants on the planet can be found here. I have nothing against the Red Lobsters and Ruby Tuesdays of the world. (Or McDonalds’s, for that matter.) They all serve a purpose.


If you’re going to spend the time and the money to come all the way to New York City, for the love of GOD, please don’t eat at the Red Lobster. I beg you. Save it for the mall. There are hundreds, nay, thousands of places to get a good cheap meal in the city. And this notion that you have to be a “local” to know where the good joints are is a load of horseshit. Get yourself a decent guidebook.

I know that familiarity breeds comfort and it‘s always easier to go with what you know. But if all you’re going to do is eat at the TGI Fridays on 48th Street in Times Square, then you’re wasting your vacation time and dollars. You were courageous enough to come to NYC, so step out of your comfort zone. Don’t eat at the Red Lobster!

In New York freedom looks like
Too many choices

New York

20 thoughts on “What to avoid in NYC. Tip #2: dining options

  1. Sad thing is I wouldn’t even know what were chains and what weren’t most of the time!However, you have my word. When I get to NY next year, I will not eat at the Red Lobster or TGI Fridays or Ruby Whosdays. But that means I will need a comprehensive, backpacker friendly list to work with. Get on it. You have 8 months.

  2. AFM: Actually, I’m not a big fan of chain restaurants either but I didn’t want to sound too judgmental.TH: You wouldn’t believe it but every time I walk past those places they’re packed.Sid: I’ll bet you have the equivalent of Red Lobster. You should/must NOT eat there.Jo: I gladly accept my assignment from you and will endeavor to not disappoint.Nurse: I don’t have enough material for a full-blow traveler’s blog. Everyone will have to settle for these occasional bon mots.MP: You don’t know what you’re saying! Please reconsider.

  3. The amazing thing about NYC is you can get a fantastic meal with great ambiance and excellent service for much less than you’d pay at a chain restaurant in the burbs served to you by resentful teenagers(I know because I’m the mother of one of them.) The food is one of my favorite parts of visiting NYC or any city for that matter.

  4. Please don’t eat….Forget the guide book just hang with Unbearable and you will have the time of your life. You must however go to Johnny’s Pizza!MT

  5. i’ve actually eaten at ruby’s tuesday’s. it’s pretty good actually for some good quick eats and drinks after a crap day of work if i’m in the immediate area.i however have not (nor will i ever) eat at red lobster. every time i walk past that place it’s a fucking mad house and for the life of me i cannot understand why. and the rotating neon lobster is kinda gross and tacky. if ruby’s adopted a rotating neon mascot i ‘d stop going on principle.an easy stroll down to 9th ave will easily give you dozens of restaurant and bars to choose from outside the chain eatery biz.kinda surprised you didn’t mention the bubba gump shrimp company in this food post. that certainly is nyc’s most OFFENSIVE of the tourist trap eateries.

  6. Cat: You’re right! It’s not that hard to spend less on better food. Is it fear of the unknown or laziness?MT: Still waiting on your return so I can work my magic again. The youngest of us will be here in a few weeks.Jason: It is virtually impossible to say who is the most offensive. What about Dave & Busters around the corner? Or Applebees?

  7. I’m not at all a food snob either, but yes yes yes I agree with you. NYC is an exciting food town. I’m always hoping a tourist will ask me where to eat so I can direct them to the Middle Eastern restaurants in my nabe, or the delicious bun shops or dim sum in Chinatown. Or any number of other delights. And yes a guidebook does the trick too. Now I might say that for a local it could be a funny adventure to go to Times Square and eat at one of those horrifying honky tonk chains.Okay maybe not.

  8. I am a foodie, but I acknowledge that chains have a place in world. (BTW, Ruby Tuesday started in Tennessee.) That being said, give me the dive serving local produce any day over the prepackaged chain servings. Next time I’m in MYC, I’m emailing you for recommendations.

  9. looking forward to pestering you for restaurant recommendations next time i’m out there. my bad habit is eating in hotels for convenience when on travel… gotta break that one before i get back to NYC.

  10. Leah: Have you been to Peter Luger’s? It’s as good as its reputation. What was the name of that old elegant restaurant on Fulton Street that closed a few years ago? Beautiful. But I can’t recall its name.HIF: Dives are for me! I’m not a tablecloth kind of guy. I happiest when the utensils have water spots on them.Daisy: You are forgiven on business trips. I’m referring to vacations. No excuse then!

  11. You are soooo right! You can eat so well and so afford-ably in NYC. That is where London and NYC diverge; extremely. A fancy place in London can be shite. A shite looking place in NYC can serve the tastiest meal ever.

  12. Are you thinking of Gage and Tollner on Fulton? I loved that place. It was so sad when it closed. A friend of mine had her wedding there, best wedding I ever attended. I haven’t been to Peter Luger! Maybe that’s where Sarge and I’ll go for our anniversary.

  13. Ellie: There’s nothing more satisfying than a scrumptious meal that didn’t break the bank. It happens all the time here.Leah: Yes, it was Gage and Tollner. I remembered the name after I wrote that comment. Peter Lugar is very manly and not the most romantic spot in town, but if you’d like a nice steak for your anniversary, that’s the place. Just call way ahead of time.

  14. this is exactly what’s wrong with Phoenix. It’s all there is. Which makes me wonder why anyone would ever want to come to visit when they can just go to their nearest strip mall in town.

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