New York City isn't for everyone. But for anyone who likes food … ITS FOR YOU
NYC is a beast that needs to be tackled with little research and lots of walking in my opinion. My first time going i researched for days about where to eat, what to see and the best places to drink. The second time i only had 2 days there and went off some of my past NYC Chefs recommendations and a few suggestions from my current chef at the time with a few classics like Russ and Daughters in-between. This time i went with almost no research and decided to reach out to locals and go off a few of my favourites. I spent a lot less money, ate at at least 6 different places a day and had some of the best food experiences to date. If you are going to research for your trip hopefully thats what brought you to my blog and now you have all the answers to NYC’s best hidden gems and the classics that are worth visiting.
Once again… IF YOUR GPS SAYS 4 HOURS ITS LITERALLY 8. Always just double it. We thought we were so prepared leaving New Hampshire at 10:30 am when our GPS said “you are 4 ½ hours away from your destination” in a charming voice that was filled with hope. So that meant we’d get there at 3:00pm ! how nice! We arrived at 8pm. Double it people.
IF YOU'RE DRIVING
Park your car at Newark Airport at Wally Parking for only $11 a day ! Everyone else was quoting us over $100 for 3 days and we walked away with a bill of $47 after taxes and fees. Its a gated parking lot outside the airport with 24/7 security and they have a shuttle that brings you to the airport where you can pay $13 to get the NJ train right into Manhattan ! If you text the number they give you when you're at the airport they will get your car ready and a shuttle will be sent to get you. THIS JOURNEY TAKES ABOUT AN HOUR FROM START TO FINISH. For NYC that's amazing time.
We stayed in a hostel because we didn't have enough notice to properly search for an Airbnb and a hotel is always out of the question because its always a ridiculous amount of money. We stayed at HI New York Hostel which was right next to Central Park and had free breakfast so it was perfect. We only stayed for the free coffee and bagels plus a bonus banana. Lets be honest. All the same the showers were clean, the beds were comfortable and the staff were extremely helpful! Its family friendly with a quiet time hour of 11pm i think so its not ideal if your in the city to live that “city that never sleeps lifestyle”. I was always in a food coma by 1 am so it was right up my Alley.
Roberta's is literally at the top of my list. One word. And i bet you can guess it. Pizza. Pizza here is like being kissed by a angel covered in tomato sauce and cheese. This was my third time at Roberta's and it definitely wont be my last. Don't be alarmed that your wait time for a table is always over an hour. They have a outdoors bar next door with snacks and delicious draft beer and Spiked Kombucha for any hipsters kickin around ( yes… i got one… ). Another option is to grab a pizza from their take out shop next door and bring it to the out door bar to eat ! I sometimes debated getting a pizza while i wait for my pizza… Its not out of the questions and theres no judgement passed if this is the angle you take !
We had a few beers and got the stracciatella with baguette once we got in which is something i've been dreaming about since i was there 2 years ago. Its like the inside of a Burrata cheese covered in high quality olive oil, cracked pepper and flakes of sea salt. So simple but so good. Next was the mushroom pizza covered in green onions and pickled shallots. The crust was thin but just thick enough that you could pick up a slice without it slopping forward and all your toppings gathering on your plate with defeat. We tied it all together with a scoop of chocolate ice cream and sour dough ice cream - because apparently bread ice cream's are all the rave now ???. I almost battled the traffic on the way out to get a pizza for the road.
Semi asleep on the subway home we crawled in bed at 1:30 am thinking of tomorrows lunch as i drifted off.
A lot of people require 7-9 hrs of sleep a night to be a functioning human and some even need a comfortable bed. Im usually good with any semi-comfortable surface and solid 4 hrs of sleep. So naturally i was up at 6 am with a coffee in hand and of course the free banana ( i usually steal James banana too ) writing my blog and roughly planning out todays personal food tour. When James finally got up at 9:30 we gathered our belongings and headed out for a walk across central park. Some may say this is a workout but i like to call it a pregame for food.
As soon as we crossed the park i ran for the subway because i knew the sandwich i've been dreaming about for 3 years was just around the corner. Walking down the street towards Harry’s and Ida’s i got more and more excited as my surroundings became familiar and the distance got shorter between me , pickles, mustard and brisket in a fluffy bread. This little shop has only a few stools to sit on which allows them to push limits with things like vinegars, pickles and ingredients like eels. Id recommend getting the classic Pastrami sandwich and sharing it with a friend or just getting one for now and one for later. James had more meet on his half so naturally i reached in and stole some when he wasn't looking. This shop is no joke. I don't even like mustard and pickles and thats half the ingredients !! Even if you hate sandwiches you still need to come here.
Still hungry we decided to walk towards Milk Bar so i could show him where my carrot cake inspiration came from and the only reason why kids are voluntarily eating cornflakes. I wanted to go to the one on 13th street and 3rd because it was next to a restaurant i hung out in for a few months and it was also the size of a closet which added charm. Id recommend getting their cereal milk ice cream with crunch and a cookie for the road. It took everything in me to share. But mom taught me that sharing is caring so i sneakily ate most of the cornflakes and handed it over. Its the thought that counts !
After a long walk in time square and an unsuccessful hunt for a leather jacket i accepted defeat and decided to get some Pho. Thankfully a local Newyorker visited Newfoundland a few months back and she recommended her personal Pho restaurant. In the depts of China Town we entered Chong Ly and tears of star anise and rice noodles steamed down my face as i ate some of the best Pho of my life. We shared the classic Pho with beef and some spring rolls and after i made it slightly too spicy with chili oil we polished all off in record time. This beautiful experience cost $11.
Across the street from the Pho shop was a line up wrapping around the corner which meant i obviously had to go. It was bubble tea! It was called Kung Fu Tea . This big line was for a cup of cold tea and tapioca. I was stoked. I waited my turn and ordered the oolong and honey tea with bubbles ( bubbles means tapioca - don't forget to ask for bubbles !! ). We handed it back and forth walking around china town surprised at how delicious something so simple was and how it seemed to last forever!! This combination of pho and tea was our 4:00 post lunch pre dinner warmup.
We needed a nap
An hour later we were refreshed and ready to tackle more food. -- i feel like theres definitely some judgment at this point for the amount of food consumed --
We followed the only google recommendation we looked up which was The Spotted Pig. once i arrived the wait time was 2 ½ hours and i thought it had to be worth it so we waited. Just a few streets down was a brew house - it was almost like it was meant to be! It was like a gravitational pull that dragged us thru the doors and to a table where someone made us order beer. Weird right ?? Once we were seating at the Upright Brew House I sipped my Unicorn Beer and James got some local pilsner on tap. We ordered truffle fries and debated cancelling our reservation and ordering a second round of the fries. Looking back this definitely would of been the wiser decision. The atmosphere was people 25-35 years old and the beer was reasonably priced with an full menu of options. This is what i'm talking about when i say its best to not research and just walk around. I wish i didn't research and that this was my destination because in comparison The Spotted Pig was disappointing and double the price! We got the Rillette and the Burrata there. After being spoiled by The Townsmans burrata we were a little disappointed but the Rillette was delicious! The meal was clued up with chocolate cake and a class of wine but the value for money definitely wasn't there and i was mad at myself for caving into the internet as i finished my last sip of Chardonnay.
This day started at 7 am so i figured i should sign up for a Soul Cycle class to justify all the food i've been eating! I showed up at 8:00am ready to sweat the past few days away and get ready for the day of food ahead of me. Sadly my visit wasn't what i expected and i found myself awkwardly trying to find my way around and figuring out the bikes without the help of any employees. Im sure if i asked for help i would of gotten assistance but for anyone new or shy it would of been a nightmare. The class was definitely high energy but i found i was getting more of a motivational speech then a workout which isn't what i paid $35 American for. Im used to Bespoke Cycle in Newfoundland where our team automatically greets people and insures anyone new gets a small tour of the place, instruction on sizing their bikes to their body and guidance throughout the class. This is the standard i'm used to so its what i expected! Im a lot more thankful for all the things Bespoke offer such as hair straighteners, dry shampoo, complimentary shoes and so much more ( free coffee for morning rides ?! ). Its literally a place where you can just pack your gym clothes, your daily work attire and have access to everything you need to go straight to the office without bringing your full vanity. Not to mention that Bespoke's classes make my legs burn and make me push myself to limits - leaving feeling accomplished and excited for the next one. Thank you Bespoke. For being you.
Thankfully before leaving i went to a second Soul Cycle class because your first class comes with a free return! I tried a different studio and had a whole different experience. The instructor at West 60th street NYC was all over keeping form and making sure the body was working hard and having fun. He was helpful, energetic and i walked away with sore legs, lyrics stuck in my head and a smile on my face. I still missed Bespoke as i paid for my shoe rental and walked away having to buy a straightener but i'm happy i gave it a second chance.
Leaving hungry i was officially ready to tackle todays food agenda. Starting with the Chelsea Market - i was on a taco hunt. I wanted to try all sorts of tacos for lunch until i turned into a tortilla. Success. The first was from Bienvenidos and we got the Chicken Taco and Beef taco. Both were served on fresh tortilla with onions and guacamole with an arrangement of pico di gailo, limes, hot sauce etc for you to pout on yourself. Everyone was just standing around shovelling tacos in their face with sauce dripping down their arms etc. it was amazing. Ive never been to Mexico but i feel like if i were to go and stand in the streets this is what it would be like. Everyone just hanging out and eating tacos. Next was from Takumi Taco and i got the brisket taco that was sprinkled with green onions. Their tacos had the double shell which i'm not sure i can get behind. Some people say its to pick up everything that falls out the end with so its like getting another taco. some people just eat the taco double shelled. I personally don't like it because it ruins the challenge of eating the whole thing without letting anything fall out and keeping it all in that one small shell. Its the secret taco challenge people all over the world are taking part in. two shells is cheating. Disqualification.
We clued up our market experience with a cheese that was semi blue goat and a bit too strong for myself and some mini doughnuts that kind of tasted like fun dip which was … interesting.
Caesars and bloody mary's arn't the same
We went on a walk to see the World Trade Centre memorial next which was about an hour away. On the way i had a craving for a really good caesar and when i saw a women sipping on a beautiful tomato looking drink with olives at a greek restaurant we went in. I thought i was strange that it didn't have the salted rim but never thought too much about it. I should of saw the warning signs when the women at the counters eyes glazed over with confusion at the word “Caesar” because it was called a Bloody Mary. They . Are. Not. The. Same. don't be fooled !! There was almost no spice, waaayyyy too much vodka and no acidity. It took me almost an hour to finish it. Because it was $15 i felt like i had no choice. At least their cheese and Zucchini pastry was delicious!
New Yorks "Best Cookie"
After searching for the best cookie in the past i decided to see what the internet had to say. They led me to a place called "Levain Bakery" which had a line up wrapping around the corner. Ive had it before but couldn't really remember what made it so special. So naturally i hopped in line and waited 15 minutes to find out! Once i ordered the classic chocolate chip with walnuts i walked outside and bit into the warm cookie. The chocolate melted out and it revealed their semi raw inside that makes them so famous. Those of you who love cookie dough this is your personal heaven !
The Last Supper
Setting out for our last evening of food in NYC i couldnt settle on what kind of cuisine i wanted so i settled on three. The Upstate Craft Beer & Oyster House, Huertas Pintxos Bar and Momofukos Noodle Bar. We put our names down for the wait list at the Oyster house and ran next door to Huertas for their $4 half pint beer special and a pintxos. We got the Croquettes of the day which were cheese and spring peas with their local Pilsner. Our phone call came for the Oyster bar mid order so we ate them as fast as we could and ran out the door. Praying that the next place was as good as the first we headed down the street.
The Oyster bar delivered thank goodness. We started with a Porter and an IPA and ordered 1/2 dozen oysters. We were sitting at the bar so we could watch the man across from us shucking oysters by the dozens and seemingly having a great time! -- when i had to shuck oysters straight for 2 weeks at my first job i had nightmares of shucking oysters at 3 am... but i love it now ! -- Next was the grilled squid on kale which melted in your mouth with the soft kale and fresh lemon. We clued up our experience with some rum cake on the house and headed to the next place. one again hoping that our next experience was as good as our last !
Of course Momofukos always delivers. We were getting full so we ordered 2 pork steam buns and their house kimchi. We waited a half hour for our table and just watched the kitchen work. It was like a machine how these people pumped out tables and made flawless noodle bowls ! We scored the best seats in house - at the kitchen counter - and ate our buns in silence as we watched the chefs make them right in front of us.
Our last night tied the whole experience together and our food coma came at 10:30pm.