It’s safe to say that I took a very big bite out of the Big Apple to on my recent break New York with my mum and sister. As well as filling my days in the bustling city with shopping, sightseeing and trips to galleries, I couldn’t help but fill my face at every available opportunity. And the opportunities were plenty. Food is everywhere in New York; from hot dog vendors on street corners, to tempting hot buffets in the middle of grocery stores, to the endless rows of restaurants with their iconic neon lights all competing for your attention. With so much food to choose from, it can be hard to know where to turn for your next food pit-stop so I thought I’d put together my foodie highlights in the ultimate New York menu. (If you’re planning on visiting the city any time soon I recommend trousers with an elastic waistband!)
George’s New York, 89 Greenwich St (on the corner of Rector St)
On the first day of our trip we were heading for a boat cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and decided to have breakfast near Battery Park. We caught the subway to Rector Street and quickly huddled into George’s New York cafe to escape the biting cold. The cafe is a no-frills, laid back establishment that, according to my guidebook, is popular with Wall Street bankers. We naïvely ordered three plates of pancakes in a variety of flavours for our breakfast and were left open-mouthed when dinner sized plates stacked sky high with thick fluffy cakes piled with fruit arrived. It was like trying to eat a gateaux for breakfast. They were honestly delicious and the individual jugs of hot maple syrup went down a treat. You’d think that this would have taught us just how big the portions are in New York, but a whole week of over-eating was still to follow!
Papaya King, 179 E 86th St (on the corner of 3rd Ave.)
Five Guys, 43 W 55th St (between 6th and 5th Ave.)
It’s impossible to choose between my two favourite spots for lunch so in the name of gluttony I’m including them both on my menu. My first lunch highlight was Papaya King, which I’d read about on The Londoner blog. I dragged my mum and sister all the way from the Museum of Natural History, across Central Park and through the swanky buildings of the upper west side for a taste of what I’d read were the ‘best hot dogs in New York’. In spite of the rain, our long trek was worth it when I sunk my teeth into my ‘Side on Top’ frankfurter. This glorious ‘dog’, decadently topped with chilli, cheese and curly fries (don’t judge me) was mouth-wateringly delicious.
Equally gratifying was the burger and fries I had at Five Guys after enjoying dazzling views of the city from the Top of The Rock. There are a number of Five Guys outlets dotted across the city but the one I visited on west 55th street was conveniently located near the Rockefeller Centre and was a perfect spot for lunch. The walls of this stripped-back burger joint are plastered with quotes and clippings of rave reviews for the Five Guys burgers, and after I bit into my perfectly juicy beef burger topped with pickles, relish, jalapeños and mustard I understood why they receive such reverent accolades. I loved the fact that all the toppings were free meaning you can custom-make your perfect indulgent burger and try a new combination on each visit.
For an afternoon treat…
Magnolia Bakery at Bloomingdales, 1000 3rd Ave. (between 59th and 60th)
It’s amazing how draining fantasy shopping in Bloomingdales can be; all the ooh-ing and aah-ing really takes it out of you. After cooing over Kate Spade purses and Marc Jacobs bowlers, my mum, sister and I needed an afternoon reprieve so headed to the store’s mini Magnolia Bakery for a pick-me-up. I gorged on a lighter-than-air pistachio cupcake while the others devoured a slab of chocolate and banana heaven. I know the Magnolia brand is over-hyped thanks to a certain Ms Bradshaw but I definitely enjoyed my visit and am considering purchasing the Magnolia Bakery cookbook to see if it can better my now dog-eared copy of Hummingbird Bakery Recipes.
Carmines, 200 W 44th St (off Times Square)
After enduring a deathly cold but mesmerizing night time open-top bus tour of the city, our guide recommended us her favourite Italian restaurant to head to for dinner; Carmines off Times Square. We thought we’d listened to her advice that the portions were large when we ordered two dishes between the three of us but were once again left picking our jaws up off the table when our choices arrived. Our Ragu rigatoni and chicken Parmigianino were both to die for but were ridiculously over-sized. We saw other tables share one lasagne between four so if you ever go to this Italian haven pay better attention to our tour-guide’s advice!
The Brooklyn Diner, 155 W 43rd St (off Times Square)
One evening after visiting a carbon-copy Chinese restaurant, we decided to head somewhere a bit more exciting for dessert. We meandered back to Times Square where our hotel was located and headed into The Brooklyn Diner. We took our swivel bar-stools at the counter and feasted our eyes on the dessert menu. After a lengthy internal debate I decided on a classic chocolate milkshake which was delicious, but instantly regretted my decision when a fellow diner a few stools down was served an epic slab of red velvet cake topped with perfectly rosy strawberries. The fact that the gentleman devoured the entire serving and then unfathomably ordered seconds only made my error in judgement harder to swallow. There’s always next time (sob).
After five solid days of over-eating my waistline is certainly suffering the effects of my New York Menu, but having enjoyed an epic smorgasbord of delicious, Instagram-able treats, the extra inches are certainly worth it. Where do you recommend eating in New York?