When Melanie May told us she was going to New York for an eating adventure, we wouldn’t rest until she promised to write us a piece about her favourite places. Make sure you have a snack while you read this – it is guaranteed to make you ravenous!
New York, the Big Apple, you see New York has always been associated with food, well in my mind it has and every trip I take to the city that never sleeps means I never stop eating. No, seriously, I munch my way through that apple as if every meal is my last.
New York is a food lover’s adventure island. The City of New York’s cultural diversity means you are never far away from an exotic morsel to tempt your taste buds. So if you are planning a trip to NYC whilst you are adding the ‘must sees’ to your list start adding the ‘must eats’ there too.
Going to the Empire State building? Stop for kimchi in Koreatown, which is right nearby. Heading to Central Park? Make sure you grab a $2 warm salty pretzel to savour as you wander. Locals to this too and as the saying goes ‘when in Rome’…
Speaking of Rome, if heading to Little Italy, do yourself a favour, skip the tourist trap restaurants and grab yourself a cannoli from one of the street stalls. What? No pizza! I hear you cry. Of course you have to try pizza when you come here, New York pizza is famous the world over but head over to Brooklyn for a slice. Walk the 30 minutes it takes to across the Brooklyn Bridge and join the enormous queue outside Grimaldi’s for a slice of their pie. The queue is quicker if you get it to go, which is a fab idea as you can sit on the boardwalk under Brooklyn Bridge and look at the Manhattan skyline. What is also handy about this spot is that the Brooklyn Bridge Ice Cream Factory is here. Set inside an old fireboat house the ice-cream is one of the most divine I have ever tasted. The peaches and cream flavour is the showstopper for me.
Out for the night? Maybe some cocktails? Once you have wiped the ice-cream from your chin pop over to The River Cafe and have a meal or drink in what I think is one of the most romantic settings ever, under Brooklyn Bridge in the shadow of the twinkling New York Skyline.
Back in Manhattan and looking for an eating adventure? Head to Chinatown and go off the main strip. Seek out the Mei Li Wha and join the locals queueing for a portion of their steamed roast pork buns. Get them to go and explore this heady, intoxicating maze of crooked streets. Dumplings are a must try here as they are all handmade in the traditional way. Prosperity Dumpling is excellent and frequented by Chinese people, which is always a good sign. Looking for something you cannot find at home. Soup dumplings are little parcels with your choice of meat, fish or veg fillings that have soup inside them. Try eating them without getting the liquid all over you. 456 Shanghai Cuisine is a nice sit down restaurant that does good soup dumplings. The food in Chinatown is cheap so it is worth indulging in everything you fancy and sampling something different from as many places as you like.
Looking for the sweet stuff? That sugar hit? Head to Doughnut Planet in Chelsea and try the square, filled, peanut butter and homemade blackberry jam doughnut. I defy you to eat this and not want to do a Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Speaking of which, ‘that scene’ was filmed in Katz’s Deli and it’s well worth a visit, especially to try their hot pastrami on rye sandwich, into which they cram three quarters of a pound of meat! Bring your fat pants.
But it’s cool, don’t worry about all the calories you consume, you will be doing so much walking anyways that you will burn it off, and if you go in winter when I usually go, you will need those extra few pounds to keep you warm as it is freezing.
To keep warm those native New Yorkers have their hands permanently clasped around coffee cups. Make like a native and head to Blue Bottle Coffee, Gorilla Coffee and Ninth Street Espresso for your caffeine fix, or if you are craving a cuppa Argo Tea will satisfy that need. However, if you want something a little stronger, try the sumptuous Victorian establishment Lillie’s Union Square for their hot Jersey Toddy made with Jack Daniels Honey Bourbon, cloves, lemon and honey.
After all that eating and drinking, I hope you have some time for sightseeing. My top sightseeing tip; take the free Roosevelt Island Tram across the East River and walk along the waterfront marvelling at the New York skyline. It really is quite mesmerising, especially if you do it at night.
Melanie’s Top Tips
Eat from any of the numerous food trunks along 6th Avenue but, if you can tolerate the queuing, The Halal Guys do a great falafel sandwich.
Coffee and sticky cinnamon bun in any New York bakery (Blue Sky Bakery in Brooklyn is my favourite).
Grab an American diner breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon (Andrews Coffee Shop by the Empire State Building has an authentic Americana vibe).
A Reuben sandwich from any Italian deli, this should be served with pickles and ‘slaw and be bigger than your head.