Reader Questions: Graduation Dinners, Kid-Friendly Spots and Top-Tier Salads

It’s reader questions time again! This month I’m responding to emails that may at first seem specific to their senders, but will surely apply to a good share of Where to Eat readers, including where to take a crew with lots of dietary restrictions and how to introduce a 10-year-old to the world of New York dining. If you have a restaurant question — or your own recommendations — send an email to, and you may see your response here.

I am looking for a plant-forward restaurant in N.Y.C. to celebrate my daughter’s graduation from medical school! Eight people, two gluten-free, one of who (the graduate) is also allergic to almonds and walnuts, and prefers plant-based dining. The rest of us are more omnivore, but not super-adventurous diners. We are all Covid conscious, so outdoors would be a bonus. I would like to make this special for her. — Barbara H.

This isn’t the only graduation email I received (for another reader, Lori G., Hwa Yuan in Chinatown is a great idea) but it’s a refreshing challenge. Congratulations to your daughter on her graduation, and congratulations to you for the outdoor dining reservation you’re about to make at Bar Primi in the East Village (I called and, yes, they can seat eight outside). The only sign of walnuts or almonds is in two of the salads, and vegetable-centric options are all over the menu: beets with pistachio pesto; burrata with peperonata; broccolini with Italian dressing. Best of all, there are gluten-free versions of their many, many pasta dishes. Adventurous or not, who doesn’t love pasta! (If you want to go all-in on plant-based dining, check out my list of vegan dining recommendations.)

I have a friend who is taking her 10-year-old son to N.Y.C. for the first time. She’s asked me for food recommendations, but I don’t have children and can’t tell her the best kid-friendly places. Any suggestions? — Kari S.

I recently enjoyed brunch with family friends and their 7-year-old at Penny Bridge in Long Island City, Queens, where the elementary schooler in question loved the double chocolate waffles with caramelized bananas and the silky scrambled eggs with cheese. (There’s also a kids’ menu that comes with colored pencils!) And if going to Queens isn’t an option, your friend can always rely on the pancakes and breakfast platters at Bubby’s in TriBeCa.

As for dinner, any kid or adult will like the brick-oven pizza at John’s of Bleecker St., open since 1929, in the West Village. That’s pizza with a side of history! There’s also the option to dig into a heaping bowl of ramen at Hide-Chan in Midtown East. And I’m going to assume that a visit to the incomparable American Museum of Natural History is involved, so I recommend getting lunch or dinner at Han Dynasty on the Upper West Side, where there are plenty of kid-friendly favorites like fried rice and scallion pancakes alongside adult-friendly options like mapo tofu.

I’d love to know: Where do you go to eat a great salad in the city? — Yaniv K.

My first thought: the insalata verde at Via Carota in the West Village. But there’s also what Pete Wells called “the One True Kale Salad” at Barbuto, also in the West Village. And I’ve never, ever had a bad chopped salad at Leo in Williamsburg. Pietro’s in Midtown East is still serving the platonic ideal of a Caesar salad after all this time, and at Regina’s Grocery on the Lower East Side — across the street from the vegan Caesar at Scarr’s Pizza — you can still make any of their sandwiches into a well-above-average salad. Genius! And one of the editors on this newsletter, Tanya Sichynsky, said I’d be remiss not to include Thai Diner’s baan salad with crispy rice, avocado and a showering of herbs, which you can find in NoLIta.

  • “This is not food you settle for when you don’t have a better idea,” writes Pete Wells in his review of the new fast-casual restaurant Rowdy Rooster. “It is the better idea.”

  • Openings: Prepared foods and a buffet are the draw at Ana Bar & Eatery, which has replaced Citarella at Hudson Yards; Flatbush Central Caribbean Marketplace, a new Caribbean-focused food hall, opens in Brooklyn; Oiji Mi offers a Korean fusion tasting menu near the Flatiron district; and more.

  • The celebrity chef Mario Batali was found not guilty of indecent assault and battery in a 2017 encounter with a woman in a Boston bar, Kim Severson reports.

  • Victoria Petersen reported on the bush pilots who deliver Uber Eats and DoorDash orders, along with packages and supplies, to people living in remote parts of Alaska.

  • Is the Dirty Shirley the drink of the summer? Becky Hughes reports on the drink’s proliferation across New York City bars.

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