We packed loads of fun into a 5-day Weekend in New York with Big Apple Hot Dogs. But I can’t lie. The main thing we did was stuff ourselves with tasty nosh.
New York is famous for its fantastic choice of grub, ranging from high end to street food, and our mission was to eat our way around the city. All in the interests of research for my foodiepreneur, of course.
I enjoyed torturing followers on Instagram with mouthwatering photos from various pitstops, and when it came to writing about our trip, I decided to dedicate an entire post to the food we ate.
We discovered most of these spots ourselves, but we also asked for recommendations and what you’ll find here is Our Best Places to Eat in New York, along with tips from some NYC locals. Tuck in.
Best for Brunch
Brunch is one of the best things about a weekend in New York. I remember lazy Sundays at Coffee Shop in Union Square, chowing down on pancakes or waffles, spicy merguez sausages and mimosas. We had brunch somewhere different every morning of this trip, and each place had something special to offer. Our friend had suggested we head to his fave spot, Edward’s in Tribeca. This is an upscale look cafe that’s clearly well-loved by the locals, but I was underwhelmed by my £16 Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwich with fries.
We were totally seduced by Tiny’s and the Bar Upstairs, right across the road, a small but beautifully formed bar/restaurant where I enjoyed the fluffiest, most delectable buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote and creme fraiche. Tiny’s hands down wins our Best Brunch in NYC — but special mentions go to Square Diner, a bustling old-school diner where the strawberry stuffed pancakes with bacon went down a treat. And the equally good looking Kitchenette, a great place to take the kids (see Best for Kids below).
More Brunch recommendations: Buttermilk Channel in Carroll Gardens, Cookshop in Chelsea, Dizzy’s in Park Slope
Best for Dim Sum
I’m actually salivating just looking at this photo. I can still taste the chive and pork dumplings, simply some of the best dim sum I’ve had anywhere, and at $1 a pop, possibly the cheapest too. We’d done a quick search online and found thousands of recommendations on Yelp for Prosperity Dumpling, so
ran ambled down to Chinatown to check it out. The restaurant is literally a hole in the wall shack, with a few chairs and tables outside (by the litter) and chefs/servers etc yelling at you to take your orders – it’s that busy. We also ordered their Dumping Noodle soup which was good, but weren’t a patch on the dumplings. Just. So. Yum.
NB: Just learned that Prosperity Dumpling closed in August for health violations. According to Yelp it’s due to reopen in Nov 2015. Proceed with caution.
More Dim Sum recommendations: Vanessa’s Dumplings in Chinatown, The Bao in East Village, Hakkasan in midtown, Buddha Bodhai in Chinatown (vegetarian/kosher)
Best for Pizza
When I worked on Madison Avenue, there was a pizza shop down the road that had daily lunch queues round the block. Little Italy Pizza was my favourite lunch (until I discovered Dan Dan Noodles at this delicious Szechuan spot nearby). We didn’t make it there this trip (wonder if the pizzas are still good?). But Abiye and I wasted no time in heading to Prince St Pizza, site of the original Ray’s Pizza, a Big Apple institution.
Here you’ll see photos of owner Frankie posing with the cast of the Sopranos and other celeb fans, and you can line up for some of the best pizza in New York. I had a crunchy, deep pan pepperoni square which filled me up for the afternoon. Abiye had what is one of our favourite pizzas anywhere, the classic New York thin crust cheese slice. An NYC lunch staple.
More Pizza recommendations: Rubirosa in Downtown, Lucali in Brooklyn, John’s of Bleecker St in Downtown, Roberta’s in Brooklyn, Franny’s in Prospect Heights, BK
Best for Soul Food
Abiye had been dreaming of soul food so we headed to Harlem for dinner at the popular Amy Ruth’s. I used to get my soul food fix at the legendary Sylvia’s in Harlem or the Soul Cafe midtown (melt in your mouth corn bread), but I was happy to try somewhere unfamiliar. Amy Ruth’s is recommended in almost every good eats guide, and again you’ll see loads of famous faces plastered around the walls. The restaurant itself is fairly simple, but the dishes come stacked.
Entertainingly, everything on the menu is named after someone famous – e.g. Barack Obama chicken, Afrika Bambaataa fried whiting, Ludacris chicken wings. We went all out with The Walter Berry BBQ spare ribs and fried chicken combo, with basket of cornbread, and sides of fried okra, buttered corn, mash and gravy. Soul food TKO. To be honest, the food was nice but it wasn’t as bone-nourishing as I remember at Sylvia’s (or at some spots in New Orleans, where I’ve had the best soul food EVER).
More Soul Food recommendations: Sylvia’s in Harlem, Red Rooster in Harlem, Jacob Soul Food and Salad Bar in Harlem, Billie’s Black in Harlem (live music!), Root & Bone in East Village, Miss Lily’s Jamaican in Downtown
Best for Kids
Ezra and Jed (and their big bro Isaac) weren’t exactly delighted that we were leaving them behind on our jaunt to the Big Apple. I did miss the nippers — sometimes — and I’d love to take them to New York to experience the incredible sights, scenes and flavours. If we come back with kids, I’ll be sure to revisit Kitchenette, a Southern country style diner where breakfast is served all day and the meringues, pies, brownies and other baked goodies will make their little eyes pop. Kitchenette has a sweet, homely, child friendly vibe and is tipped for its comfort food and yummy desserts (they do birthday cakes too). I can imagine the babes sucking their cheeks hollow on the Peanut Butter Blondie Milkshakes.
I also like the look of this place. Get in.
More Child Friendly recommendations: Alice’s Tea Cup (3 locations in Manhattan), Momofuku Milk Bar (multiple locations Manhattan/Brooklyn), Big Daddy’s Diner in Gramercy, Bubby’s in Tribeca (also see Bubby’s Highline), Junior’s Restaurant in Midtown and Brooklyn, A Salt & Battery in West Village (UK represent!)
Best for Ice Cream
I love the sign outside of the door at Odd Fellows in the East Village: Without Ice Cream, there would be Darkness and Chaos. Couldn’t agree more.
Naturally we had to pop inside and sample what’s acknowledged as some of the Best Ice Cream this side of Brooklyn (the original Odd Fellows is based in Willamsburg). Odd Fellows serves up premium ice cream, in a range of unusual flavours (Guinness cone, anyone?) all made from scratch. I can’t even remember what combo I had – something in the vanilla toffee, cookies and cream, caramel crunch, white chocolate neighbourhood – topped with whipped cream. Perfection. Do you want a lick of my ice cream? Well, do ya punk?
More Ice Cream recommendations: Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn, Mikey Likes It Ice Cream on Avenue A, The Original China Town Ice Cream Factory, Sprinkles Ice Cream on the Upper East Side, Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East Village, Melt Bakery (ice cream sandwiches!)
Best for Sandwiches
When you want a Reuben sandwich, there are few better places to go than the historic Katz’s deli. The restaurant is packed with an assembly line of sandwich makers and waiters doing a quick turnover of customers and tables. In case you didn’t know, Katz’s is the deli where Meg Ryan had her notorious ‘moment’ in Where’s Harry Met Sally, and there’s a table marked with a sign to prove it!
I didn’t need to fake a thing at Katz’s, the food was too delicious, all I could do was murmur ecstatically. We shared three sandwiches including the all natural casing beef frankfurter and the Reuben (corned beef or pastrami, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese) that comes practically falling over itself in chunks of meaty yumminess. By the third, you could have spanked me twice and rolled me out of there, I was done.
More Sandwich recommendations: Boomwich in Crown Heights, Drive In Sandwiches in Williamsburg, Mile End Delicatessen in Downtown NYC, Barnyard in Alphabet City, Numpang Sandwich Shop (multiple locations)
Best for Drinks
As we strolled around Manhattan, every now and then Abiye would suggest a ‘detour’ into the nearest watering hole. We stopped in a couple of dive bars, one with undies hanging from the ceiling, Hogs & Heiffers or Coyote Ugly style. For the FA Cup final, we tracked down Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant where they had multiple screens to watch Sanchez blast in the goal that sealed Arsenal’s 4-0 victory. But despite great service and a few Gunners shirts and Brit accents dotted about, it didn’t quite have the ‘match day’ atmosphere we’re used to. For classy cool and an authentic Pimm’s cocktail, I’d pick Soho House for my best drinks spot.
Best for Date Night
After the disappointment of Manhattanhenge, Abiye asked a lady we were chatting with to recommend somewhere romantic to unwind. She pointed us in the direction of the Jade Hotel in Greenwich Village. The boutique hotel features an ultra cool hotel bar, beautifully decorated and catering for a very mixed crowd. We were only staying for drinks (soul food in Harlem was on the cards) but the menu looked good and the restaurant is suitably swish. I enjoyed checking out the dope photography while sipping on a Cosmopolitan, my signature drink back in the day.
More Date Night recommendations: Little Branch in West Village, The Met Roof Garden Cafe and Bar at the Metropolitan Museum, Le Bain at the Standard Hotel on the High Line (swimming pool!), Gallow Green Roofgarden in Downtown, The Cecil Harlem
Best for Street Food
Strangely for a ‘Street Food family’ like ourselves, we didn’t get to sample that much in New York, outside of the dumplings/pizza/sandwich shops mentioned above. I did try a waffle sandwich at Wafels and Dinges, top of this Buzzfeed New York Street Food list. Personally, I can’t say it was anything more special than the waffle carts you find in central London. Abiye also made his way to a famous hot dog restaurant in Brooklyn and couldn’t hold back his disappointment at the quality of the service, branding and buns. Seems like there’s definitely room for an award-winning gourmet dog from London to take a bite of the Big Apple. Ahem.
More Street Food recommendations: Korilla BBQ in East Village, Red Hook Lobster Pound (multiple locations), NY Dosas in West Village, Chelsea Market (multiple vendors), Ramen Burger at Smorgasburg flea market and street food fair
Where are your favourite places to eat in NYC?
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