As I sat here at Balthazar waiting for D to join for breakfast, I was exhilarated to be back in NYC. It really does have an unparalleled energy, a nonstop buzz, a sense that anything is possible—even, that the impossible just might be imminent.
One of the best things about NYC is that there is an endless array of delicious food priced for a reasonable budget. Sure, you can’t eat at Jean Georges every day (in fact, I haven’t even been at all, yet), but you can taste some of New York’s best whether you visit a hip new restaurant, a fancy establishment or stumble upon a hole-in-the-wall.
The restaurants represented here are far from exhaustive, but as much as I could cram in (both in terms of time and stomach capacity) in four days. If you are planning a NYC trip, do feel free to ask for more recommendations! My inner foodie has been sorely deprived in London, but my NYC list of places to eat is long indeed!
|8am: Balthazar, 80 Spring St. @ Crosby St.
Eggs florentine with artichoke & cafe au lait
|9.30am: Coffee cart, Spring St.
Breakfast at Balthazar was incredible. I’ve only been here twice, but the first time I came signaled the beginnings of what is now a full-fledged love for French cuisine. One of these days, I really might take a day trip to Paris just to eat!
After breakfast, I just couldn’t resist having a plain doughnut from a coffee cart—I treated myself to these often as a pick-me-up to start the long workday, and old habits die hard!
New American cuisine, in a chic restaurant hidden away on a quiet street. So hidden, in fact, that I yanked on the wrong door for several minutes before someone pointed me in the right direction.
|6pm: Ippudo, 65 4th Ave @ 10th
Shiromaru Hakata Classic
|8pm: Max Brenner, 841 Broadway @ 13th
Hazelnut Cream Chocolate Milkshake
I love Japanese ramen. It’s my most incessant craving—the hearty broth, the delicious pork, the noodle soup… so satisfying. There’s a debate over whether Ippudo or Totto is the best, but Ippudo is my personal fave. And the wait at Totto makes it impossible to go there with a party larger than 2, unless you want to wait all night.
Max Brenner is famous for chocolate, but I was so full after a day of nonstop eating that I couldn’t handle the idea of anything chocolatey rich. The hazelnut milkshake was not too heavy, with a slightly amaretto taste.
9am: Hungarian Pastry Shop, 1030 Amsterdam Ave @ 111th St.
English Breakfast tea, Croissant with apricot jam
I used to come here at least once a week—I lived just two blocks down last year—and it hints at why London suits me so well. I love the croissants at the Hungarian Pastry Shop; they have a lightly sweet glaze and are perfect with some freshly made apricot jam and a pot of tea.
2pm: Wondee Siam V, ordered in to SIPA
Pad see ew with beef
I also used to order Thai food from Wondee Siam at least once a week, to keep me going on those long days and nights studying away at SIPA. I never really noticed the building from this angle before—doesn’t it just look dreadful? More like a penitentiary than a center of scholarship. And yet, being there made me realize how much I miss it. The friendships, study groups, latenight commiseration, long sessions in the computer labs, the cookies from the 6th floor cafe. I really do miss it, and it felt great to be back! Getting back to the pad see ew, I love the Chinese broccoli, which freshens up the dish.
7pm: Momofuku Noodle Bar, 171 1st Ave btw 10th & 11th
Pork buns & Spanish mackerel tataki
The pork buns literally melt in your mouth. The mackerel was good, but a teeny tiny dish considering the price. And don’t order the ramen here. If you’d rather not wait around all night and get stuck with an overly salty bowl of ramen, you can also go around the corner to the Momofuku Milk Bar. If memory serves me right, they sell the pork buns there, even though the main menu is for desserts. But I don’t think the desserts are all that great—go to Levain Bakery if you’re looking for NYC’s best cookie. Or….
9pm: Tarallucci e Vino, 163 1st Ave @ 10th St.
Tiramisu & peppermint tea
Tarallucci e Vino has the BEST tiramisu I’ve ever had, without a doubt. I haven’t been to Italy yet, so maybe I’ll be proven wrong there. But until then, this one’s at the top of my list. I also love the European-style hot chocolate they have here, but it would have been overkill paired with the tiramisu.
9.30am: Kitchenette, 1272 Amsterdam Ave @ 123rd St.
The Lumberjack: two eggs sunnyside up, bacon and gingerbread pancakes with pumpkin butter; peach iced tea
The gingerbread pancakes with pumpkin butter were mouth-wateringly good. As you can tell, I was so hungry I tore into my breakfast before remembering to take this picture. And within thirty minutes, there wasn’t a crumb left on that plate!
|1.30pm: Charm, 722 Amsterdam Ave @ 95th St.
Pad kee mao with chicken
|3pm: Pretzel cart, somewhere in Midtown East
An overpriced pretzel with mustard
The pad kee mao at Charm was disappointing, but this luncheon was all about the company. One of my favorite things about Sundays was the luncheons after church when a group of 20+ of us would completely take over the local restaurants on the UWS. I miss everyone at TGC so much!!
I didn’t actually eat that pretzel, but took a picture anyway since it’s a “quintessential NYC” experience. The last time I bought a pretzel from a street cart, it was pretty awful stuff, tasted smoky like it had been sitting on the burner all day.
I stuffed myself so full on all this stuff, I could barely walk. And there wasn’t even any space left for dessert!
8.30am: Ess-a-bagel, 831 3rd Ave @ 51st St.
Sesame bagel, toasted, with lite veggie cream cheese and a coffee
Ess-a-bagel and H&H are some of the most famous bagel places in Manhattan, and they are definitely good. But still, nothing beats Bergen Bagel in Brooklyn. If I’d had time, I would have gone all the way to Brooklyn to have my fave, the cinnamon raisin bagel toasted with walnut cream cheese. *Mouth watering* I do miss those bagel and coffee mornings, even if they are calorie bombs.
1pm: German House, 49th St & 1st Ave
Butternut squash risotto, sparkling apple cider, chocolate cake with fruit compote
UNICEF kindly treated us to lunch at the restaurant housed within the German Mission to the UN, which has intense security to get in, but beautiful views and delicious food once you make it inside. I think that you have to be hosted by a UN employee to get in at all, so it was a great experience.
7pm: Mad for Chicken, 325 5th Ave @ 32nd St.
Kimchi jun & soy garlic chicken
Nom nom nom. I still resent that you now have to pay for radishes as a side dish, but I love this place all the same.
9pm: B’s pad
Warm walnut brownies with homemade cookies & cream ice cream
How did B know I had been craving a fudgy brownie for months? There are only a few bakeries in London that have legitimately fudgy brownies, but they always cost about £3 for a small square. Paying that much is inconceivable to me, since for half the price I could buy a box of brownie mix yielding an entire 9″x9″ pan. So when the smell of brownies greeted me when I got to B’s place, I knew I was in for a treat.
Warm brownies topped with cookies & cream ice cream? The perfect finale to a delightfully fattening trip.