Planning a trip to NYC this summer and frantically asking friends for recommendations on where to eat? While I am no native to the city, I can share with you some recent spots that left me pretty satisfied on the foodie front. Breakfast
This was a quiet and laid back breakfast, just how I needed it. The Smith has multiple locations, but we found ourselves at the 2nd avenue spot in Midtown. I got the Vanilla Bean french toast with caramelized bananas. I could barely finish one of the thick slabs of bread, but it was delicious. The prices were very reasonable, the lattes were good, and the portions were generous. No wait, no rowdy patrons. Just a chill breakfast.
Saturday brunch plans were quickly halted when we arrived to Jack’s Wife Freda (that did not take reservations) and had a 30 minute wait. I had read great things about this place online, but I could not allow my life to become a Portlandia skit, and seeing that the restaurant was extremely small and cramped with patrons sitting shoulder to shoulder, we opted to look elsewhere and found Café Select on the same block in this Nolita neighborhood.
Much quieter, roomier and relaxed with a European vibe. Described as a casual Swiss spot with European rail-station-restaurant vibe whatever that is suppose to mean. I almost expected the servers to be dressed in all black with turtlenecks and as I ordered they quickly retort "Your story has grown tiresome" in true Dieter fashion.
That did not happen, but my iced coffee was terrible and remained untouched other than the few sips we all shared to confirm my initial horror. At least the other coffees ordered did not share the same misgivings. The food more than made up for the coffee misstep.
I had a generous portion of delicious avocado toast and a quinona chia seed bowl with fresh coconut, mango with some other mixed nuts and berries. It was so good I paid close attention to it so I could try to recreate it at home. I would recommend this place to anyone that doesn't believe in standing on the sidewalk waiting for a table to eat eggs.
You have to get Pizza when in NYC, I do believe there is some sort of law. After a monstrous breakfast and hours spent at the MOMA we wanted to enjoy the spring blooms in Central Park, but first we needed a fuel up pit stop because you never stop eating on vacation as Jim Gaffigan will tell you.
Angelo's Pizza on W. 57th just blocks from the Park was the perfect stop. We decided to make our own pie with pepperoni, fresh arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and peppers. Not only is the pizza insanely good, but it comes out fast, so you don't have to sacrifice to much of your adventure time.
My friend had never been able to check out Chinatown in past trips to NYC so that was our first stop on Saturday morning. She had gotten a tip of where to get some great dumplings, so we stopped at Shanghai Café on Mott Street. This place was packed but we got seated pretty quickly during the lunch hour rush. Within minutes of ordering we had fresh dumplings both steamed and fried, both delicious. We did feel like everyone in the restaurant was yelling at each other in undetected Asian languages, so we ate pretty quickly and moved on. Chinatown can be a hard place to stop and eat, just from the sheer unknown, so if that has kept you from stopping before I would say this place is a safe bet.
The view from Brooklyn overlooking the city is always beautiful, and we had some pretty glorious weather to enjoy it even more as we hunted for dinner on Thursday night. A few blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge Park in the DUMBO neighborhood (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) we found the Atrium. A contemporary French menu with industrial-chic design.
I had cheated and chowed down on a Shake Shack burger just an hour earlier to keep a hunger headache at bay, so I wasn't terrible ravenous, but I still ordered a surprisingly delectable charred Romaine salad. This place had a really nice vibe to it, great service, and everyone enjoyed their food that didn't break the bank. They even had great non alcoholic options, specifically a lavender soda that I could enjoy.
There is no better city to venture into ethnic cuisine territory than NYC. On a previous visit I had some great Ethiopian food at Queen of Sheba on 10th Ave, but this time we were all in the mood for Indian. I pulled out my Yelp app and to my surprise our area in midtown was littered with Indian restaurants. What was funny was that some of the more upscale spots with what looked like cool ambiance and decor were not rated nearly as high as the modest Bengal Tiger Indian I found on W. 58th. Mood lighting and house music isn't everything kids.
It's small and intimate and the staff takes such good care of you. You feel like you might be in someone's rectangular shaped apartment eating a cozy dinner with friends. As soon as you walk in you smell all the spices and you just know it's going to be an enjoyable meal. We all opted on getting the 3 course fixed menu for $17.95 because you can't beat that deal. Appetizer, entree and dessert! Vegetable Samosa (pea and potato turnover) and I got the Tikka Masala (light cream tomato sauce, grilled chicken). We topped it off with a basket fresh cilantro naan, some of the best I've ever had. I can't recommend this place more if you are feeling an Indian vibe while you are in the city.
Where you decide to treat yourself is a top priority when visiting any city. I've walked to Juniors Cheesecake, I've gorged myself on Magnolia's cupcakes; but this visit was all about the Doughnut. After our stroll through Chinatown, we hiked through the East Village with one stop clearly on my radar. The Doughnut Plant.
They had a ridiculous amount of mouth watering flavors that were impossible to choose from. The first one I chose was Wild Blueberry since Blueberry cake donuts are a favorite of mine. This donut has ruined all over donuts for me. Nothing will ever taste that amazing again, I'm sure of it.
I normally try and steer clear of touristy areas, but in all my visits to NYC I had never checked out Chelsea Market, so I decided on it was time to see what the fuss is about.
I'm thankful for the markets that have popped up here in the greater Orlando area, but I was a bit jealous when I saw how much Chelsea Market had to offer in the way of not only food, but lots of other goods.
As soon as I saw that there was a place called The Doughnuttery, this was one of my first stops (after getting some jewelry). They weren't quite the over-sized decadently topped circles of heaven I was looking for, but rather small bite sized fresh smaller spheres of happiness. You even got to choose the flavor of sugar they were dipped in. Ian chose pumpkin and apple and we sat happily treating ourselves yet again.
While in Chelsea Market we also got some pretty authentic tasting tacos, freshly brewed Hibiscus tea for me and a fresh portable mason jar of IPA beer brewed on site from the Filling Station. It's definitely worth a stop.
I'm not the biggest drinker, I like to focus most of my calorie intake on food and not waste it on alcohol, but we did enjoy some wine at Corkbuzz in the Chelsea Market, a Wine Bar/Tapas restaurant. While I didn't eat both Ian and my friend seemed to really enjoy their food, Ian even exclaiming his fish and chips dish was probably the best he has ever had. So keep that in mind fish n chip lovers. It's a pretty small space and our waiter was a bit of a dope, but overall it was a nice place to rest our feet, drink and nosh awhile.
For our last night I had a perfect spot to hang out not too far from our hotel to enjoy good conversation and cocktails (or mocktails in my case); so once we were drunk on Tiki Masala we headed to the Hudson Hotel to grab a corner of the beautiful Library bar. When we arrived were were told some New Yoker had bought out the bar for private event to watch the big Pacquiao vs Mayweather fight. I had this fight in the back of my mind when picking a place that I didn't think would be an issue, so after a long drawn out eye roll, we ventured to the adjacent rooftop bar where we found a nice quiet spot to chat, and the evening was saved. The drinks were ridiculously overpriced ($16 for one glass of wine), but we enjoyed the gorgeous evening under the stars as the people in the next room watched obscene amounts of money being wasted on men beating each other up. Hooray for America.
So if you are planning a trip to the city feel free check out any of these places, based on my humble recommendations. Or choose your own tasty trail to follow, even if it's the Empire State Building of Olive Gardens (if you still don't get this reference it's high time to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Just beware, any places listed on travel sites as the best places to eat, will be difficult to get into at the last minute, or will leave you waiting a half hour to eat scrambled eggs.
Choose wisely my friends, and use Uber. Taxi's are the worst.