Sorry this is so long! I hope it makes sense!
My adult son and I are arriving late on Sunday afternoon Nov 3. We would really like a big deli-style meal, possibly from 2nd Avenue Deli, on our first night in the city. We plan to go to Katz's, Russ and Daughters, and Pickle Guys later in the week, so we don't want pastrami, sandwiches, lox, etc. on Sunday. Instead, we're thinking of ordering a bunch of small plates (esp. little crispy things), snacks, soup, breads, etc. at 2nd Avenue. Is one of their locations better than the other? We're staying in Midtown (53rd St. and 6th Avenue.)
I've read some really off-putting reviews of Carnegie Deli, so I am reluctant to go there, even though it's much closer to our hotel.
Since we'll be taking a taxi, it doesn't matter too much where we go as long as it isn't somewhere we could get stranded with no cab later on. Still, I'd rather not get too far out of Midtown that first night.
I have considered trying to make it to Russ and Daughters before it closes at 5:30 Sunday, then go to Katz's, but, since we'll be going there specifically to get fllled up on smoked fish and huge sandwiches (even a half is big), we wouldn't have the appetite for all the little go-alongs on their menus.
On the other hand, I wonder if Katz's might actually be less crowded on a Sunday night than on a weekday during lunch (?).
Katz's is pretty far to go by taxi, right? If we still need a knish-fix later that week, we might be pretty close to Zabar and Barney Greengrass on whatever day we go to the Museum of Natural History, but we might have to do breakfast at either of those places then.
Sunday is the only night we have completely open for dinner because we have reservations (Jungsik, Babbo, Le Bernardin) the other nights, except on Tuesday when we have Broadway tickets..
We'll probably be hungry again after the play on Tuesday. (We are eating an early-but drawn out-lunch and shopping at Chelsea Market that day after a 9/11 Memorial tour in the morning.)
My daughter and I ate at Junior's in Times Square after a show last summer. It was a total zoo at close to midnight, so I'm pretty sure I want to avoid that! (Plus, I have a whole Junior's cheesecake in my freezer.)
I'm considering trekking out to Veselka after the play. It has many of the kinds of dishes we want (but not all), and it stays open all night, so no rush to get there. Is it far to walk there from the nearest subway stop (at midnight)? Would that be a better destination and day than 2nd Ave.? It's too bad 2nd Avenue isn't open 24 hours! This will be Election Day. I don't know if I should factor in whether places might be more crowded than usual that late.
I've seen other "delis" mentioned on Chowhound. I'm leaning toward 2nd Avenue, mostly because of the variety of dishes on its menu. It is also casual and wouldn't require a reservation. It won't exactly be cheap, but if we pace ourselves and not order too much, it should be affordable.
I guess setting out at 5:00 and heading home 11:00 or later is a long evening, assuming our arrival in New York isn't delayed by weather or something. I'm open to ideas.
Thanks, Everybody! I really appreciate your opinions!