It was our first night in New York, and after an 8-hour journey all we wanted was to get to our East Village apartment on the 14th, leave our luggage and grab some food. It was very late at night and we wanted to rest as we had a very busy week ahead, so we decided to give Joe’s Pizza a try, a little corner location right next to Union Square, close to where we were staying. Well, speechless. Not bad for our first taste of New York style pizza. Unfortunately, we don’t have any visual material of this little pleasure but you should check their website and stop by if you are in town.
After a good sleep, we headed to Café Select on Lafayette Street for breakfast. We’d had dreams of Select’s Uovo Ticinese for weeks and it didn’t disappoint. However, our surprise at this cozy café was the coffee – one of the best ones we’ve ever had. Highly recommended. Frankies Spuntino was our choice for our first dinner in Manhattan. Open in 2004, the two Franks offer seasonally-inspired Italian dishes prepared with the freshest possible ingredients and a high level of attention. Definitely a great place for its value. Apart from their amazing cavatelli with sage butter and spicy sausage, it is worth highlighting their Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese house red, excellent.
Uovo Ticinese at Café Select
Stage Restaurant was our next spot on the list. We wanted to have breakfast at an old school NYC diner, so what better than this Ukrainian American staple? Ukrainian immigrants have been present in New York since the 17th century and their area a.k.a. “Little Ukraine” is located within the East Village neighborhood, two blocks from our apartment. We’d heard wonders about their home-made corned beef hash so there we went. We also had delicious banana pancakes and a cream cheese and blueberry blintz. After several hours crossing the city, we headed to Chinatown where Joe’s Shanghai is. A good friend from NYC told us about their soup dumplings and we didn’t want to miss them for the world. Another essential dish if you are in NYC. We tried not to eat much, since we had a table booked at the legendary Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn later that day. Open in 1887, this establishment has been rated the top steakhouse in New York for 28 years and running, earning itself a Michelin Star. Their porterhouse for two was one of our top 5 dishes in New York. We made sure we left some room for their classic key lime pie, which came with a humongous portion of their homemade Schlag (whipped cream). The best part of the dinner was the service: far from ‘gruff’ as some reviews say, the waiters were some of the nicest, funniest and most genuine people ever and made our dinner an experience to remember.
Porterhouse for two at New York’s legendary Peter Luger
As if we’d not eaten enough already, we couldn’t resist trying Momofuku Milk Bar‘s compost cookies the next morning. Delicious! We spent the rest of the day visiting lots of art galleries and bookshops in Chelsea, after a marvellous walk through The High Line and right before the worse snowstorm we had ever witnessed. The whole city turned white in two seconds. Despite the freezing weather, it was beautiful. To protect ourselves from the cold, we couldn’t help but continue with our feast. Katz’s Delicatessen‘s pastrami sandwich – despite its quasi ‘pornographic’ appearance – made our top 5 list. It turned out everybody was right. Their Jewish-deli red meat (cured in brine and seasoned with a spice rub, slow-smoked, and then steamed) is sliced and then piled between two slices of rye. The menu dared us to finish one per person. And we did.
The pastrami sandwich at Katz’s
To start off the weekend we decided to cross the Brooklyn Bridge with our visiting friend Kory, and discover the two sides of the city on the other side of the river: Old Brooklyn (immigrants and classics) and Williamsburg (hipsters and foodies). After doing some research, Best Pizza was our choice for lunch. And it lived up to the hype, with its 20 inches of crunchy thin pie topped with top-notch pepperoni and home-made meatballs. There are some truly special record shops and cafés in the area so we walked until the dusk brought us back to Manhattan, where our friend Jacobo was ready to take us to Bare Burger. This eco-conscious burger chain offers organic patties with beef but also exotic meats that are all super-customizable with an incredible array of toppings. Afterwards, we went for a few drinks at Bua Bar and Barcade (if you were born in the 80s and ever played a videogame, this is an essential stop) before calling it a night.
Pepperoni and home-made meatballs pie at Best Pizza in Brooklyn
On our second-to-last day, we went to Parm in Little Italy. The place is known for their chicken parm hero, but their Italian Combo sub was just as good. We only wished they had fresher bread, although still pretty good for the price. Danny Bowien’s Mission Cantina with its metallic surfaces, triangle mirrors and neon lights was our Mexican choice for the trip. It has a very unusual menu and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately we couldn’t try it all – so many different and appealing dishes. We ordered sunflower seed guacamole, mole spiced chicken wings and stuffed porchetta (their special that night). So flavourful and tasty. The latter was juicy and the skin perfectly crispy. Don’t expect a traditional Mexican restaurant, but come here for original takes on classics and top quality food. Alexander Wang and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (who were both present) apparently agree.
Biscuits and chicken gravy with poached eggs at Sweet Chick
It’s hard not to fall for New York City. Its diversity, its hustle and bustle and its essence. We’re glad we had more time to discover the other side of the river, one day was not enough. We went to Sweet Chick in Williamsburg (we avoided the weekend and its waiting times) and enjoyed some soul food classics with a modern twist. Their signature fried chicken and waffles and their mac and cheese were excellent, but it was their amazing combination of biscuits and (American) chicken gravy with poached eggs – that made our top 5 list. Very special meals and great music here.
On our last night before heading back to the UK we booked a table at Rubirosa in Nolita, where they do a great take on old school red sauce classics. We decided to go for their famous lasagna, apparently the best in NYC. It was well balanced and incredibly tasty, but not as good as Roberto’s mum’s I must say (sorry, I can’t help it! Some of you know what I’m saying).
On Tuesday we took a taxi to JFK, but only after a quick stop at The Meatball Shop in the West Village for some heroes for lunch (don’t miss their classic tomato sauce).
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit all the places on our list, but we will make sure notable misses like Prune, Carbone, Clinton Street Baking Co., Roberta’s and Mission Chinese Food are on top of it on our next visit.
What are your favourite places to eat in NYC? Let us know in the comments section!