If there is one city in the world that has literally everything you could want to eat, it has to be New York City. When I am in the greatest city in the world, I feel like I have to walk two feet before I run into a different restaurant, bar or cafe. It seems like everyone eats out almost because it’s cheaper than buying groceries. I can definitely believe that you can live in the Big Apple your whole life and never eat in the same place twice. NYC has it all.
Now I am not going to pretend that I’ve spent enough time in the city to sniff out the best, undiscovered places to chow down, but I can give you a list of places that I love to eat at, and I don’t hesitate to return to whenever I am in NYC. Did I also mention there is an incredible website called Seamless, which allows you to order food online from a ton of restaurants all over the city and have it delivered straight to your door ASAP? Or maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it because it encourages major laziness and binge eating (not from personal experience at all, cough cough).
Let’s start with breakfast! Well, actually brunch because, let’s be honest, who gets up early enough for breakfast in New York? Brunch is one of my favorite activities, and J and I got to be experts when I was visiting him in the city. My two favorite places have to the Green Kitchen and the Barking Dog. The Green Kitchen is on 1st Ave and E 77th St, and it is good old fashioned organic diner food, and they’ve been around for 80 years. The Barking Dog is on York Ave between E 77th and 78th, and they serve banging brunches. The only downside is that they are pretty popular on the weekends so sometimes you have to wait for a table. If they have a long line, walk on over to the Green Kitchen and grab brunch there; it is a lot bigger and they have a lot more tables, and it’s cheaper. What I love about the Barking Dog is that they have tables outside for you to sit at with your dog and the waiters even bring over a bowl of water for your pup, not to mention a bomb brunch menu. How awesome is that? Well if you haven’t guessed it, I spent most of my time on the Upper East Side this past year, but hopefully over the next few years, I will expand my horizons and be able to include other great brunch places in the other neighborhoods.
Now if you managed to eat an early breakfast and you are looking for a great place to eat lunch, and if you like burgers (like me), then you must must MUST check out the Shake Shack (if you haven’t already heard of it). This quite possibly is the best burger in the world, and most definitely is the best burger in Manhattan. Seriously, there is a reason this place is so popular; it takes good old American dining to the next level: hot dogs, burgers, fries, shakes, and custards, there is plenty to choose from. It all began as a burger stand in Madison Square Park near Madison Ave and E 23rd St., but now there are a bunch of locations around the city and beyond! It is not a regular greasy burger joint, but rather a very green, environmentally conscious restaurant chain. 100% of their electricity comes from wind power, their grease is recycled into biodiesel, they compost, and they even build their sites from sustainable materials! Even their food is green, with french fries cut from less fatty potatoes, and their meat and dairy comes from local farmers, and it fresh. Pretty cool, and definitely worth the long wait to order!
Now I can’t mention NYC food and not mention the recent cupcake fad. Cupcakes are trendy, and what a delicious trend too! I suppose you could say it all started at a little place called the Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village (you can find the original little bakery on Bleecker St. and W 11th St.) Now if you have already had a yummy Shake Shack burger for lunch, you might as well give up on being healthy for the day, and hop on down to the West Village for a cupcake or two for desert. You can rebuild your appetite while waiting in the undoubtedly long line outside the tiny bakery. Made famous on SNL and Sex in the City, all their cupcakes are baked fresh throughout the day and topped off with a delicious buttercream frosting! It is definitely worth a visit once, but don’t forget there are other places in the city where you can find mouth watering cupcakes. Crumbs is a big bakery chain around the city, and they have a huge variety of cupcakes that are so big they are like a meal! Definitely a good desert choice if you don’t feel like going downtown and waiting in line forever. They have a unique variety of cupcake flavors too, which distinguishes it from the other bakeries, such as key lime, cotton candy, and caramel apple. I went for the dulce de leche cupcake, which was out of this world!! Also in Chelsea Market that I talked about in my last post, has a good, colorful bakery called Eleni’s that prides itself on being nut-free. As someone with a violent peanut allergy and tendency to eat first and ask later, I have got to say I love a place that I don’t have to worry about peanut contamination. Eleni’s has a huge variety of frosted cookies along with a great selection of cupcakes-go for the red velvet; you won’t be disappointed.
You can eat any type of ethnic food in the world in NYC, so how do I even begin to pick? I decided to go with two of the best dinners I have had in the city. First off, I am a seafood girl; I will eat anything from clams to mussels, from shrimp to sushi, from crab to lobster, and from octopus to any kind of fish; I will eat anything seafood related, except for barnacles; I really didn’t like those. One of my favorite dishes has to be Alaskan King Crab legs. Oh man, my mouth waters just thinking about it, but I never get to eat it in Spain, so I have to get my fill when I am in the States. Last summer J took me to City Crab and Seafood Company on Park and E 19th St., and it was incredible! It is not cheap but this place is definitely worth visiting if you love crab and lobster as much as I do.
Another great meal I had in NYC was at a Peruvian restaurant called Pio Pio. They have a couple locations around the city, and we ate at the one on E 34th St. between 2nd and 3rd. I was in Peru in the spring of 2009, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the food (minus the fried guinea pig, cuy. Eww), so I was excited to get to try it again this time in the States, and at a place where I can actually drink the water. They specialize in pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken), and it is juicy and delicious, especially when eaten with their spicy green sauce. They serve big jugs of fresh sangria too, which I am obviously a fan of. In general it is good, cheap food, always a plus in the big city. I think their location in Hell’s Kitchen is more upscale, but for a regular quick bite out, Pio Pio will do the trick.
New York has so many bars and places to go out that I don’t have any idea where to begin, but I felt I had to mention a cool new biergarten-esque place I found this summer called the Lot on Tap. Located at the Lot on 30th St. and 10th Ave, it is a temporary public space under the High Line Park, where Colicchio and Sons have set up a temporary minimalist outdoor bar next to a outdoor roller rink. They serve local wine and seasonal beers from the Brooklyn Brewery, and it is a great place to chill out after spending an hour or so walking along the High Line. You buy drink tickets at the big orange booth ($7 beer, $9 wine), and you grab a seat and chill out with friends in an otherwise industrial waste of space. There are so few places in NYC where you can sit outside and eat or drink, so it’s really nice to discover something like this in Manhattan. The Lot on Tap was definitely one of my favorite finds of the summer.