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Restaurants near Lincoln Center?

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I'll be in New York next week with my daughter and two of her friends while they are attending a Summer Intensive. We will be seeing ABT at the Met on Sat. July 15, and were hoping to have dinner beforehand. Can anyone recommend a reasonably priced restaurant within walking distance of Lincoln Center?

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Leigh's picks are all refreshingly non-chain, unlike some of my quick standbys right near Lincoln Center (no culinary paradise), so you'll eat better if you venture into the area he describes. Still, right across the street from the plaza is a respectable sushi place, Sushi A-Go-Go.

Since I'm congenitally late and on a student budget, compromises are necessary—though there are star sightings! In that vein, there is the salad bar and an extensive selection of prepared food at the Whole Foods Market in the Time Warner Center, a few blocks away, with food court–type seating. I walked past Irina Dvorovenko today as I entered the building. Sometimes I go for a sandwich or dessert at Le Pain Quotidien on 65th. David Hallberg picked up some takeout while I was eating there the other day. My favorite thing to do is take the train up to 72nd Street and buy two hot dogs and a papaya drink from Gray's Papaya for $2.75 and then walk down. It feels quintessentially New York to me. But I've never seen a dancer eat there!

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If you order carefully and just get water, Cafe Frida on Columbus between 77th and 78th is romantic and delicious Mexican. To keep it in budget category, just order a salad or an entree and no dessert, but I loved the place right before I went to see NYCB sometime back in February. Beautiful lighting and decor; it's a restaurant I'd call neither very expensive nor at all cheap, but definitely not a long walk. Charming service, not that surly sort.

Or here's a 9th Avenue update I just found in the Times:

March 26, 2006

Good Eating

Ninth Avenue: Thinking Outside the Circle


If the Metropolitan Opera season or Jazz at Lincoln Center lures you to the Columbus Circle area, you may be looking for an alternative to the neighborhood's pricier restaurants. These alternatives, along Ninth Avenue in the West 50's, are both satisfying and affordable.


(646)-763-6585; 824 Ninth Avenue (54th Street); $; $25 and Under: 3/15/06.

The cheery, kitschy dining room at this new Mexican spot says less "this is a really authentic Mexican place" and more "this is a really fun place to drink margaritas." But the restaurant is worth a visit just for the dishes and drinks that it gets right, like posole, any version of chilaquiles with meat, and ample margaritas.


(212) 698-9008; 763 Ninth Avenue (51st Street); $; $25 and Under: 12/14/05.

Empanada Mama has nearly 40 empanadas to choose from. The simple beef filling is available in three casings: fried wheat flour dough, baked wheat flour dough or fried corn flour. Straight-ahead options like chicken, beef and pork are reliable. Dessert empanadas, particularly one stuffed with figs, caramel and cheese, are beyond reproach, but order with great reserve if you want to have appetite enough.


(212) 247-5500; 746 Ninth Avenue (50th Street); $; Article: 5/14/03.

This appropriately named cafe has sandwiches, salads and main dishes that wander the globe. Entrées currently include Tuscan chicken breast stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese and a parmesan sauce, Thai marinated grilled rack of lamb; sashimi peppered tuna; and goulash.


(212) 582-5599; 741 Ninth Avenue (50th Street); $$; Article 5/11/05.

This year-old Italian place is named after its chef, a co-owner who was the chef at Le Zie in Chelsea. The menu includes slow-braised rabbit in peppers with kalamata olives, tomato and grilled white polenta; and herb-marinated grilled red snapper with steamed vegetables and cilantro dressing.


(212) 315-0088; 889 Ninth Avenue (58th Street); $$; Article: 1/25/06.

This spot (whose name is pronounced whim) offers trendy American fare. Its owners, Evan Kushner and Sean Connolly, own Eatery down the street. The current menu includes wasabi pea-crusted tuna; five-mushroom tortellini; chicken pot pie; and duck ravioli.


(646) 289-3010; 785 Ninth Avenue (52nd Street); $$; Diner's Journal: 3/18/05, Article: 1/25/06.

After renovations, Xing recently reopened with a new look and a new chef, Lulzim Rexhepi, formerly at Kittichai in SoHo. The new menu, more fusion than Chinese, offers dishes like black truffle, galangal and scallion-crusted black cod and wok-fried foie gras.

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Don't forget Old John's - a diner on 67th just east of Amsterdam. It may be a bit more expensive that your average diner but the menu goes from soup & salad to burgers to entrees - and it's just minutes from the back entrance to Linclon Center!

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