Dear Grub Street, I have a friend in town Thursday night and want to take him out for dinner. Cuisine and/or price is not really an issue: sushi, tapas, seafood, Asian/Thai-fusion, Italian, Mexican/Spanish — any and all will do! But my friend is in a wheelchair and I am stumped about some spots that are still fun, cool, delicious, and can accommodate entry/exit as well as restrooms for him. I think Stanton Social might be accessible, but am not sure. If you could offer up any great suggestions, I would be so grateful! I'd prefer to stay somewhere below the 40's if possible.
It’s a great question. A lot of places that are technically “handicapped accessible” are actually a huge hassle for someone with a wheelchair to navigate, particularly the crowded downtown spaces most buzzed about in foodie circles, though Allen and Delancey is a notable exception. Generally, we'd suggest going someplace big and visiting it ahead of time to make sure it's what you're looking for. Since neither cuisine nor price is an issue, we suggest Morimoto, Del Posto, and Craftsteak — they're all spacious, spread-out, wheelchair-accessible restaurants. And since they’re all next to each other, you might consider heading down and looking around at each one. All three were built with wheelchair access in mind: Morimoto has everything on one level, Craftsteak has a lift to the bar and main dining areas, and Del Posto its own separate wheelchair entrance.
Another suggestion comes by way of Frank Bruni, who wrote a thoughtful article last year on the subject. Bruni turned to Anne Davis, the program director for legal services at the New York City chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and, among her suggestions, the one that seems most ideal is Gramercy Tavern, which besides being accessible is also one of the best and most enjoyable restaurants in town.