SF visitor lookin for quintessential NY food experience
Visiting for 3 days (midweek) in April. Looking for breakfast and lunch spots from cart/street food,to cheap ethnic joints,to pizza,deli Q,hot dog etc to maybe one fine dining experience. Keep in mind I'm traveling alone and only around during morning to afternoon. Need some help on a good well mixed NY food itinerary. Thanks in advance.
For the greatest hits of NYC, my list would probably be:
Bagels and smoked salmon
Black and white cookies
Halal chicken and rice
Pastrami on rye with mustard (Katz's)
Pickles (including quarter sours, half sours)
Recession special with papaya juice from Gray's or Papaya King
A beer from McSorley's (light or dark, you only have 2 options)
Egg and cheese sandwich from a street cart (not gourmet or of great quality but the everyday breakfast of many a New Yorker)
Freshly baked bread (Sullivan Street, Grandaisy, etc.)
Lunch at Jean Georges (not on Sundays, make sure you are in the formal room and not Nougatine)
Shack burger from Shake Shack (don't order the plain burger!)
A properly made cocktail (fresh juices, fresh garnishes, etc). from Death & Co
One of Mario Batali's restaurants (Otto or Lupa for the budget minded, or dinner at the bar at Babbo)
One of Danny Meyer's restaurants (maybe the front room at Gramercy Tavern, or $28 lunch at EMP if you don't hit up Jean Georges)
Street food/cheap ethnic: chicken and rice on 53rd and 6th, Dessert Truck, Wafels & Dinges truck, Treat truck, and there's tons more in the Outer Boroughs. Checkout midtownlunch.com. A lot of the street carts cater to office workers, though, so I'd try to avoid the weekday lunch rush.
Asking about pizza is kind of like starting a holy war on these boards sometimes. There are a few distinct styles of round pizza found in NYC: New York style, Neopolitan style, and a hybrid style of the two. Then to throw a wrench into things, some places are known more for square pies (like Artichoke). As a solo visitor, you'll probably want just a slice unless you have a big appetite for pizza. A lot of famous places like John's of Bleecker, Grimaldi's, and Lombardi's are pies only. My favorites in Manhattan are Co., Una Pizza Napoletana, and Patsy's of East Harlem (117th street), but the first two are pies only and Una Pizza is pretty expensive on the pizza scale ($21 for a pie that is on the small side). (My favorites outside Manhattan are Di Fara and Totonno's Coney Island but both are a trek and should also be discussed on the Outer Boroughs board.)
Deli: Katz's. Pastrami on rye. End of story!
Hot dogs: Papaya King for something very NY. I personally like Crif Dogs better, they are deep fried (no batter), but that is technically NJ style.
Smoked salmon and bagel: Get a smoked salmon sandwich to go from Russ & Daughters. If you want sit down service in a time warp atmosphere with gruff waiters, go to Barney Greengrass.
First Time NYC Visitor From SF
San Franciscans visiting New York - 3 Dinners
Eats for visitors:
I'd also suggest you do RGR's Gustatory Tour: Katz's Deli, Russ & Daughters, Yonah Schimmel's, Ray's, Kossar's, The Donut Plant, Gus' Pickles, Il Laboratorio de Gelato, and Economy Candy. Add in some Chinatown flair (dumplings) and cupcakes from Sugar Sweet Sunshine.
How inexpensive is inexpensive? If it's < $30pp for a meal of nigiri, I tend to be skeptical.
Ushiwakamaru and Kanoyama are good for less expensive sushi. But sushi is never a "cheap" meal for me!
Nori Sushi on 2nd Ave and St Marks does, however, have a $1 nigiri piece special but it is only for certain types of fish. Not super exciting selections but the quality is usually fresh.
I think JiSLi hit some good spots. I'd add a pizza experience (I'm partial to Grimaldi's (just over the Brooklyn Bridge), Il Laboratorio del Gelato in the LES, Bamn! in the East Village and Eisenburg's Coffee Shop near the Flatiron Building. Also, do a search on here for "lower east side walking tour" or something like that, and you find a wonderful self guided food tour that New York 'Hound RGR put together.
Some of my low-budget favs for breakfast, lunch, treats:
Shake Shack, go to Madison Square Park location if good weather, or next to Museum of Natural History if not
Doughnut Plant-they have their own location but also sell their amazing doughnuts at Dean and Deluca stores
Katz Deli is not entirely cheap, but still well worth the experience and clearly meets the quintessential NYC requirement
Moustache has great and very affordable Middle Eastern in two cute sit down locations, don't miss the lentil soup or the fresh pita
Treats Truck is worth tracking down for yummy and cheap afternoon treats
Kefi has what I would argue is the best quality to price ratio in the city, and they now have lunch (I've only been for dinner which is still a great deal)
Silver Moon Bakery has amazing baked goods for a breakfast on the go
Chelsea Market is a fun place for a foodie to visit, as is Zabar's and Fairway, all have groceries as well as prepared foods (Chelsea Market is like a mall for foodie type places)
H&H bagels provides a quintessential NY bagel
Seconding Shake Shack. Save room for custard!
Doughnut Plant donuts at Dean & Deluca often seem not quite so fresh to me. It's more fun to go to the actual Doughnut Plant. The earlier you go the better. They run out of things quickly.
Katz's pastrami is big enough for two, BTW.