I recently visited Manhattan with my elderly Mother and two siblings. My self and one sibling are open to experience, my Mother doesn't want anything "weird" (Ameri-Chinese good, authentic Chinese bad), the other sibling has a rather bazaar list of likes/dislikes which no one can keep track of...
I wanted some meals that would make me happy. I also wanted places that would satisfy everyone and provide a distinct "NY" experience too. Here is what worked:
2nd Ave. Deli: Was close to the hotel, had something for everyone, portion size/prices within groups comfort range. This became the go-to place for easy & soothing after being out in the hellish weather site seeing. Had enough character to feel "NY" to a visitor.
Veselka: Menu had plenty of variety for our group, tasty and modestly priced. Neighborhood was fun to explore. They were not happy with me since I had failed to mention the bald guy chocolate place across the street...It doesn't call to me & I had read less than stellar reports about it here, so had forgotten all about it. They were too full to eat there - I suspect they would have been happy to have the chocolate offerings in lieu of dinner...
Il Vagabondo: I had not been there for 15-20 years, but the recent reports here indicated that it was still good. It was. Food was nicely prepared, service was flawless but not stuffy. Only the bread basket could have been improved. The bocce ball area was a big hit and once the staff learned my family had never seen such a thing, they graciously gave us the nickel tour after our meal.
Russ & Daughters: We got bagels & a variety of smoked fish to bring back to the hotel for a last brunch before we left to catch flights home. They were impressed with the variety, appreciated a few samples to determine their choices, and enjoyed the overall experience.
It was just too hot to walk to Katz or the knish place.
MOMA: We split up in the museum. My sisters took my Mother to the cafe to rest and shared a few salads which they enjoyed very much. I had a quick cup of coffee there later - the menu looked good, but I wasn't hungry enough to try anything then. I'd be inclined to try it in the future, everyone I observed seemed happy and the options seemed nice. I like to take a break during a museum visit to mull over what I've seen, then go back for a second look at a few favorites.
Orens: I love their house blend! Picked up a pound to brew at the hotel in the mornings.
Momofuku Ssam: I was able to leave the picky ones to their own devices and introduce my adventurous sister to one of my favorite NYC restaurants. It was hard to choose, but watching the kitchen preparing dishes while we sipped our wine until seats were ready helped her get a better idea of what she wanted to try. Our best surprise was the Chawan Mushi - sort of a savory custard garnished with snails - it has raised the bar on my definition of comfort food! I think this was the eating highlight of the trip for her. You can't find such inventive, delicious selections in many areas of the country, so it is always a treat to visit this place.
Gem Spa: After the above meal my sister & I split a chocolate egg cream. Neither of us had ever had one - just read about them in Harriet The Spy as children. It was nice to finally taste one! (Thanks to CH : BarmyFotheringayPhipps who explained to me that egg creams are light & refreshing on a past thread!)
Since your board gets so many queries from visitors looking to please both chowhounds and non-chowhounds I wanted to relay what worked for our group.
Thanks to all of you who help us visitors have a more memorable & delicious visit!