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Secret NYC | T+L Family

Ericka McConnell David Strah, stay-at-home father and author of the book <em>Gay Dads</em>

Photo: Ericka McConnell


The Barber boys love greeting the uniformed doormen at enormous F.A.O. Schwarz (767 Fifth Ave.; 212/644-9400; fao.com). Ginny is more likely to shop at packed- to-the-rafters Mary Arnold Toys (1010 Lexington Ave.; 212/744-8510), where she found padded hockey sticks after Tiki took the boys to a Rangers game.

Tiki is drawn to the Cigar Inn (1314 First Ave.; 212/717-7403; cigarinn.com) not so much for the smoking paraphernalia as for the men's-club atmosphere—there's a lounge area with leather chairs and a flat-screen TV where he often drops in to catch a Yankees game or movie.

Z Baby Company (996 Lexington Ave. at 72nd St.; 212/472-2229; zbabycompany.com) is where local kids get kitted out in polo shirts, quilted jackets, and striped footed onesies from France.


Two things Café Luka (1319 First Ave.; 212/585-2205) has going for it: fresh-turkey sandwiches and unflappable waiters. Says Tiki: "Even if your kids are going berserk, everybody else's kids are going berserk, too."

After Giants home games, Ginny and Tiki used to go to Primola (1226 Second Ave.; 212/758-1775; dinner for two $90) "so Tiki could have his comfort food—veal with fontina and shaved truffles," says Ginny. Another Italian joint for when her folks, who live with them, are babysitting: Mediterraneo (1260 Second Ave.; 212/734-7407; dinner for two $65).

Ginny's mom is from Vietnam, and if she's cooking, the family happily eats in. But when they head out, Vermicelli (1492 Second Ave.; 212/288-8868; dinner for four $61)—which has Old Saigon ceiling fans and excellent pho—meets with her approval.

Ginny's father, who is Korean, leads the family south to the restaurants, bakeries, and groceries on 32nd Street, known locally as Koreatown. First stop: WonJo Restaurant (23 W. 32nd St.; 212/695-5815; wonjokoreanrestaurant.com; dinner for four from $80), a popular barbecue-your-own place.

Grace's Marketplace (1237 Third Ave.; 212/ 737-0600; gracesmarketplace.com) has everything you need for a first-class Central Park picnic.


Han Ah Reum Asian Market (25 W. 32nd St.; 212/695-3283). "We buy mochi, the little desserts made of sweet red bean," says Ginny. "And we always get extra so there's some to take home."

Of course, the ice cream–loving Barber boys have made the pilgrimage to Serendipity 3 (225 E. 60th St.; 212/838-3531; serendipity3.com; reservations recommended), a Tiffany lamp-decorated (and tourist-filled) landmark famous for its frozen hot chocolate. Have a foot-long hot dog before diving into a Golden Opulence sundae—one of which, at $1,000, made it into the Guinness World Records for being the priciest dessert.

If your kids remember just one place they visited in New York, Dylan's Candy Bar (1011 Third Ave.; 646/735-0078; dylanscandybar.com) will be it. Ginny's advice: Grab a couple of rotating lollies—and get out as fast as you can.


Loews Regency Hotel (540 Park Ave.; 212/759-4100; loewshotels.com; doubles from $569) An Upper East Side classic that pulls out the stops for kids, with check-in gifts, a restaurant play area, and even a tuck-in butler who delivers milk and cookies.

Courtyard by Marriott (410 E. 92nd St.; 212/410-6777, marriott.com; doubles from $299) A 16-floor tower that's a tad out of the way but has an indoor pool and is four blocks from the East River jogging path—where you just might spot a certain former football star.


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