RWA 2011: Food & Restaurant Guide

First: This entire guide will be available as a PDF download, in large size and wallet-sized, for your convenience. Right click and download any PDFs, por favor!

Let me begin by cluing you in on the TRUTH about New Yorkers, as best described by Meg Cabot:

Book Cover New York isn’t like Indiana.

Well, you probably knew that.

But I mean, it’s REALLY not like Indiana. In the town where I’m from, you don’t walk anywhere….

In New York, you walk everywhere. Nobody has a car – or, if they do, they don’t use it, except for trips out of the city. That’s because traffic is unbelievable. Every street is clogged with taxis and delivery trucks and limos.

Plus, there’s nowhere you’d want to go that the subway can’t take you. And all that stuff about the subway being unsafe … it’s not true. You just have to stay alert, and not look too much like a stupid tourist with your head buried in a map, or whatever.

But even if you are – a tourist, I mean – people will stop and try to help you. It’s not true what they say about New Yorkers being mean. They aren’t. They’re just busy and impatient.

But if you’re genuinely lost, nine times out of ten a New Yorker will go out of his way to help you.

Especially if you’re a girl. And you’re polite.

Missing You by Meg Cabot

There. That’s New York in a nutshell.

I’ve seen a few folks online worrying a bit about the cost of New York City and how they’ll manage at RWA this year. This guide is meant to help alleviate this fear. This is by no means a complete guide to every eating option in New York City. I don’t think that would fit on the internet, frankly.  I’ve included super budget-friendly options, links to deals that might let you sample some of the best cuisine in the world at bargain prices, and some restaurant menu options – PDF menus included! – that are walkable from the RWA hotel. Shall we get started?

The conference hotel is located on 46th street. Head west and you will never run out of restaurant options, until you get to the river. I wouldn’t recommend drinking it.

The most important thing to know about New York is that You Will Walk A Lot. Be ready. Comfortable shoes are your friend.

If you have any apprehensions about going broke trying to find food, you can get breakfast for under $2, lunch for under $10, and dinner for anywhere from $10 to $100,000.00. Most restaurants have menus, AND most deliver! So if you discover a great food options, grab a menu and share it with friends. The trick is that you’ll have to walk away from the hotel to find food that isn’t affected by tourist markup. The hotel is in Times Square – this is the center of everything, including much of NYC’s tourism. Leave Times Square and the food gets cheaper. To do that, you’ll have to walk.

Now, let’s talk food!


Obvious statements are obvious: Room service is decadent. It’s also crazy expensive. Why not have food delivered, or go pick it up, and eat in your room at a much lower cost?

Unexpected Inexpensive Options


See this guy? He wants to sell you some fruit.Carts are you friends – and there are several different kinds!

Coffee Carts are everywhere in the morning, and often have outstanding coffee. They’ll also have bagels, pastries, fruit, yogurt (some, anyway), teas and soft drinks. They’re the best breakfast deal in town. Some have specials: small coffee and a roll for $1.50. (I have no idea why so many New Yorkers eat a buttered roll for breakfast, but it’s very popular.)

Fruit Carts are also popular this time of year. If you see one, buy some fruit and bring it to your hotel room. Often it’s among the best fruit I’ve had, especially the berries.

Carts are always a good food option, especially on a tight budget. There’s carts that sell sandwiches, gyros, Middle Eastern and Italian food. Among my favorites: Moshe’s Falafel. Falafel is seasoned chickpeas shaped into balls and fried. It can be a little spicy, but my GOSH are they good.

Check out this list of the top 25 from Summer 2010 from New York magazine.

Another great reference web site is the amazing The site’s mantra: 1. An inexpensive (under $10), authentic, unique and interesting quick service lunch, preferably near where you work. 2. An adventure in urban lunching

Their map is amazing. Any cuisine you could think of? It’s in there.


New York has the delis where the sandwiches are piled high with 10” of pastrami – you’ve likely seen those before. But the local corner deli is also a treasure trove of easy to build lunch options, most around $10-$12 unless you go crazy.

Here is an example of a deli menu: Dali-Market.pdf (Right click and download.)

DALI MARKET is located south of the hotel, on 7th Avenue at 35th street – one block away from Macy’s, if that is a destination you’d like to explore.

The advantage to the Dali Market is as follows:

  • It is brand new, and it is away from Times Square, and therefore a bit cheaper.
  • It is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • They deliver if you purchase more than $10 worth of food.
  • They have EPIC OPTIONS for lunch.
  • They have an ice cream bar. It’s delicious.

Have a look at some pics of the Dali Market, and many thanks to the owner for letting me take pictures of his new place.

Want something to drink?

Yay! Ice Cream!

They also have sandwiches and wraps ready made for lunch. Remember – New Yorkers eat, too, and don’t always like to spend a fortune on lunch!

My favorite lunch at any deli or lunch restaurant is the build-your-own-salad. You start with a bowl of greens, and you pick out toppings from a display, and a deli employee will build your salad for you. Your salad is then mixed and weighed to determine the cost. At Dali Market, for example, salads are $6.99 per pound. If you get chicken and tuna and other heavy things, it’ll be more expensive. Lighter vegetables will cost less.

Another salad-building enterprise you might find is the cost-per-toppings option: you start with a base of greens, and then select the toppings you want. Some are .50 or .75 for a scoop, and some, like chicken or fish, are more expensive. Then you select your dressing, the salad is mixed up for you, and the cost is totaled. Select a drink and you’ve got lunch. A very filling lunch, too. I often can’t finish one of the build-your-own salads. 

There are also create-your-own pasta options at different delis, as well as food-by-the-pound hot and cold bars with noodle, chicken, beef, fish, and vegetarian options.


In addition to small local delis and lunch places, there are also local and national chains that specialize in lunches. From bagels to sandwiches, wraps to pasta meals, there are likely several outposts of different NYC chains for you to explore. Here’s a sample, and some names you might recognize:

  • Au Bon Pain-  Bread! More bread! And some soups, salads, and desserts, too.
  • Hale & Hearty – Soups, breads, and salads. The soups are amazing!
  • Bread Factory – Guess what they have?
  • Cafe del Sol
  • Cosi
  • Pret a Mange – PretSummerMenu.pdf
  • Chipotle
  • Burritoville
  • Burger King
  • McDonalds

There’s also major restaurant chains in Times Square, like Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesdays, Olive Garden, Applebee’s, Planet Hollywood, etc. If you’re dying to go to these places, have at it – but they are crowded, often costly, and not always the best option for food, especially when two blocks to the west there is every possible food type you can think of, and often for lower cost.

Upscale Options

There is no shortage of places to try some of the best food in the world, and if you’re coming to NYC with an unlimited food budget, you can have some fun, provided you (a) make reservations and (b) invite me!

But if you’re looking to try some amazing food on a budget, there are great options for you, too.

First, explore the Prix Fixe menus for lunch and dinner. Some of the most popular dinner spots have a prix fixe menu. Prix fixe means “fixed price,” and refers to a menu of several courses, often a limited version of the full menu, served at a fixed (and often outstanding) price.

If you want to treat yourself, some of the best restaurants have 3 course lunches for $25-30. Here are a few options:

Zagats always has a list published in the hard copy of their restaurant guide – though you have to pay for access online.

Trip Advisor has a user-generated list of best prix fixe lunches in NYC, including some at the UN Delegate’s Lounge, Nougatine, and L’Ecole, the French Culinary Institute’s restaurant.

There is also a Trip Advisor prix fixe dinner list as well, though dinner is almost always more expensive than lunch.

I strongly suggest that if you’re venturing out to eat, you make a reservation, particularly if you are with a large party!

Want to make your reservations online? Make Open Table your new best friend and favorite bookmark.

And of course, there is always Yelp, which as a website and as an app can help you find deals, food within 5 feet of your current location, and help you make reservations. Definitely worth downloading to your phone before you leave!

Unique New York Eating Experiences

As I noted, the Marriott Marquis is located in Times Square, which, if you’ve seen it on tv, is exactly as crazy, vibrant, loud and lit-up as you thought. It’s also got a pedestrian mall – a section of the street is now closed to traffic, and tables and chairs are set up so you can relax and sit down… in the middle of Manhattan, literally. This is a good opportunity to grab a take-out lunch and do something truly unique: eat in the middle of Times Square.

There’s also many, MANY parks in New York City, some only a small walk from the hotel. Three blocks south of the hotel, and one block to the east at Sixth and 42nd is one of my favorite of the NYC Parks, Bryant Park. Bryant Park is beautiful, has many tables and chairs, free WIFI, summer concerts, and is located right next to the New York Public Library, which is worth your visit anyway.

And if you want to walk north up 7th Avenue for 14 blocks, there’s Central Park, which is huge and magical and amazing and worth exploring – and easy to get to. If you exit the hotel and walk north, you will run right into it.

46th Street: Restaurant Row

Now, let’s talk about specific places to eat. 46th Street is known as “Restaurant Row” because, well, there’s a place to eat every 2 feet. The farther you go, the more there is. When you get to 9th Avenue, I hope you’re hungry because there’s more food there, too.

I took a walk around 46th and 9th Avenue and collected menus for you, so you could see how much different food items are, what the specials are, and how much you can budget for dinner. I haven’t eaten at all of these places, but they cater to tourists and locals for both lunch and dinner, and there’s a huge variety of cuisine represented. 

Please note: this is just a sampling of restaurants I found in the two-block radius of the hotel. One block north or south on 9th avenue yields a whole new buffet of options – literally. Don’t be afraid to explore. Most restaurants have a menu posted outside for you to look at.

Each menu has been scanned to PDF, so please right click and download whatever you like to see what the prices and food items are like.

Amy’s Bread
Sandwiches and salads, fresh-made bread – and excellent daily specials!
672 Ninth Avenue

Brazil Brazil
Brazilian food
NB: Prix fixe dinner menu included
330 W 46th

Da Rosina
Italian Food
342 W 46th Street

Daisy May’s BBQ
623 11th Avenue at 46th Street
NB: I have postcards good for a free beer or soda with any plate special. Find me at RWA and I’ll give you one!

Kabab & Grill Restaurant:
Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi food
Vegatarian, non-vegetarian
150 W 36th Street

Farmer’s Rotisserie A La Brasa
Meat, meat and more meat, with Latin American specialities
673 9th Avenue
Lunch Special Menu & Dinner Menu Included Below

Sangria 46
Spanish food & tapas
NB: Lunch and dinner prix fixe included in this menu
338 W 46th Street

Mediterranean Turkish Food
358 W 46th

Oyishi Japanese Restaurant
Japanese food – and sushi!
374 W 46th Street

Pergola Des Artistes
French food, adjacent to hotel
252 W 46th Street

Yum Yum 3
Thai and Vietnamese Cuisine
658 9th Avenue at 46th

Zen Palate
Vegetarian Asian cuisine
663 Ninth Avenue at 46th

And of course, I have a map of everything plotted out. It’s open to anyone so if you have a place to add, please feel free!


View RWA 2011 Food Options in a larger map

But wait, there’s more! Patience Smith of the Harlequin New York office also created a very awesome restaurant guide divided by cuisine and price level – available here as a PDF. Thank you Patience! RestaurantList.pdf

Hopefully, knowing where some restaurants are and how much they cost will help you feel more at home when you arrive in Manhattan. If you have any questions, please ask in the comments. Welcome to New York City!

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    Here’s my question: Can someone come cover my day job for a week so I can go? Stupid maternity leave is eating up all my time off this year!

    I also recommend horseback riding in Central Park, if they still have it! I went a few years ago, and though it’s pricey, it’s amazingly fun, especially if you know how to ride. They let you go out without a guide!

    Thanks for the great list. I’m going to save it for when I really do get to visit New York. I hope everyone who gets to go this year has an awesome time!

  2. 2
    Tamara Hogan says:

    The most important thing to know about New York is that You Will Walk A Lot.

    Great lists! And thanks for the tip on restaurant delivery.  I have a chronic pain condition, and for me, RWA National in NYC will be a week of carefully budgeting my energy, and better living through chemistry. ;-)

  3. 3
    Ana Farrish says:

    Wow, what a fantastic guide! Thank you for putting this together, Sarah. I’m so disappointed I won’t be there this year, but I’m already saving and planning for next year. My friend/critique partner is going to be in New York, though, so I will be sure to pass this information along to her.

    Thanks again!

  4. 4
    PJ Ausdenmore says:

    Thank you, Sarah!  This is full of terrific information that will be so helpful.  Greatly appreciate all your work in putting it together!

  5. 5
    Ken Houghton says:

    Simple tip for those doing the salad bars:  always use the small container.

    you can pack it full—I’ve broken a pound with one on several occasions (grape leaves are heavy).  But it makes you more careful than the large trays.  Four ounces of tuna salad looks a lot larger in the small container than it does in the large.  That third spring roll (not recommended, as a rule) requires a different angle.

    As noted above, there’s still a possibility of sticker shock: you’re spending around 20-25 cents an ounce, before 8.75% tax (food is not taxed, but prepared food is, and even if you’re selecting, it’s considered prepared food). But using the small tray will make you think more carefully about how foods blend their tastes together (think spice-stuffed tofu, Sweet and Sour chicken, and veggie dumplings and realise you should NEVER need to add dressing to a make-your-own) as well as understand portions.

    You can always get another round if you’re really hungry—but then you should just go to a good cart—the one at 46th and Lexington is a hike, but there’s a reason it always has a line—or Minar (47th between 6th and 7th, south side of the street) or one of the all-you-can-eat-Indian/Chinese/Mongolian-buffets. (Shout out to Utsav, 1185 Sixth Avenue [a.k.a. Avenue of the Americas], which is near the hotel and around $20/person for lunch—steeper than most places on the recommendation, but a nice treat.)

    Or even the Marriott Marquis’s buffet—not at all inexpensive, but a good selection and less walking required.

  6. 6
    Sandy says:

    My friends and I are arriving early to soak up some NYC life. Thanks for the fantastic information!!!

  7. 7
    awaskyc says:

    I wholeheartedly endorse Amy’s Bread, particularly their black and white cake.

  8. 8
    Lisa Hendrix says:

    Last time I was at the Marquis, I ate several quick lunches at the Roxy Deli, just a couple of short blocks away (Broadway & 47th St). In typical NY deli style, the sandwiches are big enough for two, plus the utterly addictive coleslaw comes by the panful.

    A reminder that Sardi’s is just a couple of blocks away. It may not have quite the same cachet it used to, but it’s still a great dinner joint. There’s nothing quite like having martinis and dinner at Sardi’s while looking at the caricatures lining the walls, then walking over to see a play on Broadway.

    For those who can’t manage a play, I’d still suggest walking over to theater row just before the houses open. The Marquis sits right at the end of Shubert Alley, which marks the heart of the the district (have one of the doormen in the taxi area point you the right way). Stroll over at about 7:15 to catch the excitement as the crowds gather beneath those iconic marquees, then pick up Broadway souvenirs in the store on the Alley.

  9. 9

    That’s a great guide you’ve put together. NY magazine is an excellent resouce. Anther great guide to the city is Time Out New York.

    They have lots of recommendations for inexpensive and free things to do in the City. Just take into consideration the time and expense of travelling to the outer boroughs if you decide to leave Manhattan.

  10. 10

    Mahalo for putting together a great guide!  I only have comfy shoes (slippahs) in my suitcase so I am looking forward to walking around NYC, absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells!

    See y’all in the Big Apple!

  11. 11

    Very cool. Thanks so much for the info. Anyone have any suggestions for a good steakhouse or Thai restaurant? I see YumYum on the list. Is it good?

  12. 12
    AgTigress says:

    That’s an excellent guide!  Wish I were going to New York.  It’s now 7 or 8 years since I was there, sadly.

    I was struck by this point in Meg Cabot’s text:

    It’s not true what they say about New Yorkers being mean. They aren’t. They’re just busy and impatient.
    But if you’re genuinely lost, nine times out of ten a New Yorker will go out of his way to help you.

    This is true, and it is equally true of London, another world city with a wholly undeserved reputation for being full of ‘hostile’ and uncaring residents.

  13. 13
    headgirl says:

    Wow you’re a star! Will there be time for books?! Ok at some point in my life I will cross the Atlantic to eat my way round NY. Have fun y’all.

  14. 14
    Patrice says:

    Wow, TY for taking the time to put this together! I won’t be attending RWA but I am bookmarking this post for when I bring my family to visit NYC. I grew up in the NE so family vists to “the city” are a great memory. I love getting the scoop from a local! Again TY for making time. :)

  15. 15
    Mary Beth Bass says:

    For vegetarians:

    Zen Palate is great (and easily accessible from the hotel) but the best vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the city is Candle Cafe on 3rd Avenue between 74th and 75th streets. 

    It’s worth the cab/subway/very long crosstown walk to get there.

  16. 16
    sara says:

    I’m not attending RWA, but I do live here, and would like to make a modest suggestion. We are happy the convention is here, and Meg Cabot is right—New Yorkers are not all mean. In fact, we are helpful. One thing you all can do to help us is being aware of your surroundings. Not just for your personal safety, but so that you and six of your closest friends do not accidentally become a roadblock as you’re trying to decide where to have lunch.

    If you’re in a large group the politest thing you can do as a visitor is to remember to walk two across at most. Please don’t make everyone else on the sidewalk play Red Rover with your group or walk in the street to get around you. Times Square is where this big exciting convention is happening, but it’s also where thousands of people have to go to work every day. I hope you all have a fantastic time.

  17. 17
    Susan says:

    So I guess the scenes in Sex and the City where they walk around in ridiculously high heels are as fictional as I figured they were.  Huh.  Why spend money on shoes you can’t really wear?  Not my thing.  Anyway, y’all have fun.

    Oddly enough, whenever I’ve had to throw myself upon the kindness of strangers, they really were kind.  I just try not to have to do it.

  18. 18
    Lynnd says:

    I love visiting NYC. I have never found that New Yorkers are any more or less rude than anywhere else.  My hubby and I have found numerous good places to eat when there.  If I could make a suggestion, I’d stay away from many of the chain restaurants on Times Square – we found them to be overpriced and the food and service are not really that great.  I don’t mind paying a bit more for a really great meal, but I get really ticked at paying a high price for so-so food and terrible service.

    Here are a few suggestions of places we have really enjoyed.

    There are tons of restaurants all along 9th Avenue.  Two that we have really enjoyed are Amarone at 47th and 9th and at 44th and 9th, there is a nice little place called Southwest 44 – not too expensive and the food and service is good.

    If you like great seafood – Milos on 55th between 6th and 7th is amazing – it is pricey, but it’s worth it.

    A bit of a hike, but Brasserie at 53rd between Park and Lexington is also fantastic – also a bit pricey, but worth it.

    The Monkey Bar at the Hotel Elysee on 54th between Park and Madison.  Think Mad Men.  This place is cool and the food is great.  It is expensive as well, but again well worth the price.

    A couple of things that we found to watch out for in terms of price – if they ask you what kind of water you would like and you don’t want to pay a fortune, ask for tap water – bottled water (still or sparkling) is ridiculously priced.  Also watch the prices on booze and wine – a glass of wine can run anywhere between $14.00 and up and this can really increase the tab at the end.

    Have fun everyone.

  19. 19
    Lynnd says:

    P.S. Thanks Sarah for doing this guide – I’m going to bookmark it for our next pilgrimage to the Big Apple.

  20. 20
    ev says:

    Can someone please send me some toasted coconut from one of the nut carts? Please??

  21. 21
    Kate Pearce says:

    Weird, having lived and worked in London and visited New York I was totally unprepared for the speed everyone moves at and how impatient the New Yorkers were if you slowed down, asked a question, or took too long to make up your mind in a deli.
    And the Disney store in NY had the rudest greeter in the universe LOL
    But it is still a great city to visit with a great vibe, so I’m still looking forward to it.

  22. 22
    Alpha Lyra says:

    Thanks for this post, it is wonderfully helpful! Can’t wait to see you all in New York.

  23. 23
    Jocelyn Modo says:

    I’ma Kansas grrl so New York City might as well be a different country or, hell, planet. This list will be printed in triplicate and carried w me wherever I wander. Thanks!

  24. 24
    A.M.Lau says:

    For LOADS of delivery options (including restaurants that will cater to your dietary needs, be they diabetic, kosher, halal, whatever) a GREAT site is . The ordering online is SO easy and the email receipt makes it easy to keep track of your spending. It’s completely reliable; many of the big firms /companies in the area use it for their employees.

  25. 25
    Angela James says:

    @JenniferEstep I can recommend this steak restaurant: We went there (we includes Sarah) for Valentine’s Day, with a rather large party. Good food, good service, even on V-Day. As I recall, everyone was happy with their food, and with all of the dishes. And the desserts? Are huge!

    And if anyone is looking for Korean:

  26. 26
    Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for this guide! I just moved to upstate New York and have been planning a trip to the city, but was really afraid of the expense – as I am a poor grad student. Now I have a handy dandy guide of the city! Full of awesome!

  27. 27
    kkw says:

    good steakhouse or Thai restaurant?

    Best steak is hands down Peter Luger’s in Williamsburg.  They’ve been the best in NYC for like 100 years.  They don’t take credit cards (unless you have the Peter Luger credit card). If you can’t be bothered to go to Brooklyn it is very much your loss, but Smith and Wollensky is also considered good (although there was hair seared into my steak the only time I ate there).  And I don’t care what they say, I swear BLT Steak wet ages their steak, it’s extremely disappointing.  There’s also this place: which has good steak but that is your only option.  You get your set menu and you like it.

    In Manhattan my favorite Thai place is Holy Basil on 2nd ave around 10th Street.  Their Pet Kaprow is insanely good, it’s like duck bacon.  Plus it’s romantical (the restaurant, not the duck).  Yum Yum is adequate but nothing special.  You’ll be hard pressed to go 3 blocks without finding a similarly perfectly acceptable Thai place.  But if you care deeply about such things, the best Thai places are generally agreed to be in Queens, this place probably gets the most universal love:

    Also I second the recommendation of Amy’s Bread.  Balthazar on Spring Street is the only better bakery in the city.

  28. 28
    Vicki says:

    Excellent. I will say that the best thing I did for myself when visiting my daughter in New York was buy the Dr. Scholl’s gel inserts for my shoes. It made all the difference. I loved the subway and the museums. I can no longer remember why I put off visiting, just wish I’d gone sooner.

  29. 29
    Anon76 says:

    And for those on a budget, which many are, I offer this one bit of advice for going to a convention anywhere. The coffee maker in your room is your best friend.

    Either pack or buy at a local store some of those noodle soup cups or whatever dehydrated type meal thing that trips your trigger. Then just run clear water through your coffee maker, pour the amount needed in, and you have a quick meal to see you through when on the run, which is pretty much constant at a convention.

    You can then splurge a bit on a restaurant or two without feeling guilt or busting your budget.

  30. 30
    Hell Cat says:

    I’ve never been to RWA, and I wish I could go to it this year. NYC…I’ve always, always wanted to go on a food spree there. Fatty McFat here loves good food nearly as much as good book so it sounds like the best marriage ever. Almost as good as the Romance Book Ultimate Challenge thing on Food Network earlier.

    However! In 2013, I’m so there. That year it’s at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, aka The Sail Bar.

    Group96 – You need 96 people in a room to afford the price of all the food you wanna try and to hire someone to carry you around to panels.

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