Don't Leave NY Without Eating...
I'm going to be in NY for four days in June and of course I'm going to be planning my visit around the food. I know I can't do anything, and I do plan to be back in the future, but what are the must eats I can't leave NY without trying. I have a general idea, but I would be indebted to anyone willing to fill in the blanks for the following items listed below to help me do some planning.
THE NOT TO BE MISSED LIST
Best Non-Bagel Quick Breakfast:
Best Hot Dog:
Best NY Diner:
Best Food from a Cart:
Hmmm... anything else you'd add go right ahead.
I don't know if there's a specific Katz's thread, but I feel compelled to write this somewhere because I'm so bummed right now after having my first horrible pastrami on rye there. The pastrami was cold and had an almost rubbery texture when I bit into it. First time I've ever said, "Blehh!" out loud after eating a Katz's sandwich.
Has anyone else had a similar experience, and more important, how can I avoid this in the future? I don't think time of day had anything to do with it, because the previous 4-5 times I'd gone, I went at the same time (around 7 p.m.), and the pastrami was always hot and moist.
Grand Central is the ONLY good location for the "Best" Hot and Crusty B/W cookie. Very fresh and probably nearest to their central kitchen.
I've had them from everywhere in NYC. Sometimes the icing is too hard. Sometimes the "cookie" is actually cake. The Italian bakeries put some off flavor in them (Rocco's). Zaro's is not that good. Only H&C takes me back to the NYC coffee shops of my youth.
I'm the original poster and I just noticed this thread suddenly came back alive. Regarding this comment on B&W cookies, I did have a spur of the moment one that I got from Zabar's. Did I like it?
Let's put it this way. I spent the entire day eating WAY too much and I had no intention of eating the entire thing so I cut off a corner...then I cut off another corner... then another... and before I knew it I'd eaten the entire thing.
My god I was full that day, but it was totally worth shoving that cookie in my face. Out of everything this I ate the entire trip this single B&W cookie was high ranking.
Best Slice: If you're downtown, Artichoke will seriously live up to the hype. The Sicilian slice blows the other options away, so try for that if you make the trip. If you're uptown and don't mind your pizza on the salty side, I would highly recommend Sal and Carmine in the Columbia area. A great no-frill slice with really flavorful, chewy crust and a distinctly delicious cheese- I don't know what it is about that cheese, but it has a much fuller flavor than the cheese I've had on any other slice.
Best pie/slice: If you have time for the pilgrimage, go to Di Fara in Brooklyn. Google the name and you'll read plenty about its merits. As long as you don't go during a high traffic period, it'll be more than worth it.
Best Doughnut: Peter Pan Bakery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is not too far from the city and serves outstanding, cheap doughnuts of all kinds. They taste good even when they've been out for half a day, and only a couple varieties tend to run out, so you won't have to get there very early. I recently posted about this place on my blog, so you can check that out for details if you'd like.
Best Polish: One of my favorite restaurants, Lomzynianka, is a few blocks away from Peter Pan in Greenpoint- it's a BOYB family Polish joint that serves the best Polish meals I've had outside of Poland itself. Try the zurek (fermented rye soup), fried sauerkraut pierogi, bigos, golabki... anything that'll fit will be amazing :) One of my best friends went on a whirlwind food tour while visiting recently and he said that this was his favorite meal of the entire week.
Best Ramen: shio ramen at Ramen Setagaya on 1st Ave (not to be confused with the new Ramen Setagaya on St. Mark's). Unless you entirely abhor seafood, this is an incredible bowl of ramen that you don't have wait an hour for (now that people are flocking to Ippudo/Momofuku, the OG Setagaya is almost awlays a convenient trip). Again, more details about Setagaya on my blog.
Best Dog: I'm a Papaya King+Gray's Papaya believer. Crif Dogs are also a solid choice.
Best Cart: Lamb at 53rd/6th with a healthy amount of spicy sauce. Have you seen midtownlunch.com? That's a great place to look up more details about food carts.
Best dessert: A ton of stuff to cover here, but I'll throw out a few favorites. Sugar Sweet Sunshine makes my favorite style of cupcake (cupcake less dense, more spongy - frosting less sweet, more buttery). They also have a GREAT banana pudding. On the West side near Madison Square Garden, D'aiuto's serves a nice, cheap slice of straight-up cheesecake. Perfectly layered and textured without taking things overboard. No crust, even, which didn't hurt as much as I thought it would.
Best Lox: Russ and Daughters! No argument from me there, but I think their bagels are terrible. I'd buy the lox and cream cheese there, and get a bagel elsewhere.
Best Burger: Yep, I'm a Shake Shack loyalist. I'm also a big fan of Five Guys, but don't know if they already post in your town.
If you're into beer, I would highly recommend that you visit Radagast Bier Hall in Williamsburg. Hell, I'll meet you for a beer there if you want; I live five blocks away. They have PALM, my favorite beer in the world, on tap (some local delis import bottles of Palm, but they're the reject expired boxes that the brewery in Belgium won't sell to its own people). They also have a great selection of German wheat beers that blow Pyramid/Widmer/what have you completely out of the water. You can get a pitcher for $20 and food from the grill from $10 (a variety of sausages with french fries, a fantastic sauerkraut and a variety of mustards).
Best Chinese food: Are you planning on visiting Chinatown or Flushing Chinatown in Queens? There's plenty of great stuff to be had. I'm far from expert on these locations, but I do love the fried dumplings at Prosperity Dumpling, walnut shrimp at Big Wong, and the steamed dumplings and spicy beef hand pulled noodles at Super Taste. I've heard lovely things about Grand Sichuan and some other places but have yet to try them myself.
I hope this helps a bit. Have fun, and make sure to overdo it wherever you end up eating!
Try bureks: there are traditional Albanian flat pies (flaky dough, fillings: spinach, pumpkin, cheese or meat).
Two awesome ones in the Bronx:
Tony & Tina's Pizza and Burek
2483 Arthur Ave. (at East 189th STR)
758 Lydig AVE (near Wallace.)
Best Slice: Patsy's Uptown
Best Bagel: Bagel Corner in Riverdale (Bronx) (great Jewish deli-Liebman's- down the block)
Best Sandwich: Katz's Pastrami on rye with mustard, sour pickles and can of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray
Best Hot Dog: Gray's Papaya for price and ease but prefer a Hebrew Nat at a BBQ
Best NY Diner: Tibbett Diner in Kingsbridge/Riverdale (closed due to fire)
Best Dessert: See doughnut below
Best Lox: Murray's Sturgeon King on UWS
Best Donut: Doughnut Plant "Blackout"- strawberry glazed cake donut is the truth too
Best Burger: Shack Burger at Shake Shack, Piper's Kilt close second
Best Cheesecake: S&S on 238th St. off B'way
Best Slice: Artichoke Basile
Best Bagel: H&H
Best Non-Bagel Quick Breakfast: Saravanaas dosas (weekdays)
Best Sandwich: Toss-up between Banh Mi Saigon and the chorizo torta at Taqueria Fonda y la Mexicana
Best Hot Dog: Shake Shack
Best Pretzel: Café Katja
Best NY Diner: The Waverly Restaurant
Best Dessert: Café Sabarsky
Best Food from a Cart: Tacos El Idolo
Best Lox: Barney Greengrass
Actually, I believe Artisanal's cheesecake is made from cream cheese as opposed to ricotta. But I can understand why one may think it's ricotta based as the texture is much lighter than your typical NY style cheesecake. It's probably also my favorite as well. S&S is a close second.
You can certainly get just a slice of cheesecake at Junior's. There are two locations in Manhattan. (The original location is in Brooklyn.)
If you don't want to have a whole meal at Artisanal, sit at the bar to try a slice.
My reaction would be: No, don't. But as they say, that's what makes horseracing.
Do keep in mind, though, the following inarguable point: Italian pasticcerie do not specialize in New York Cheesecake with cream cheese. So quite apart from judgments as to the quality of their Neapolitan or Sicilian cheesecake, as good or bad as it may be, it's not New York Cheesecake.
And for that, while I haven't tried Artisanal's, the best I've had in New York at least since the 80s (when Miss Grimble's used to have a shop) was from S&S. If their cheesecake is as good as it was a few years ago - and repeated stories about them as old-school master cheesecake makers suggest as much - it will wow you!
re: Chuck Lawrence
Will only add things that haven't been mentioned (I think)
I don't see Barney Greengrass on the UWS getting much attention on this thread, though it probably deserves a mention on the smoked fish/appetizing list.
And as for a quick breakfast: I'd say the classic is the "egg & cheese on a roll" (with bacon, or taylor ham in NJ). If you're lucky it's an egg on a kaiser roll that's soft and chewy inside and good crust. Maybe it's common elsewhere, but I've always thought of it as a very NY/NJ thing....pretty much any deli will do an OK version.
Would also make sure to hit up Il laboratorio del gelato if you go to Katz's....worth the trip!
Best Slice:If you're not going to make the trip to Difara, then spring for a whole pie - Johns, Lombardis for old school. Co. for more modern
Best Non-Bagel Quick Breakfast: the Momofuku McMuffin at Milk Bar
Best Sandwich:Pastrami at Katzs
Best Hot Dog:Grays Papaya
Best Pretzel: why bother
Best NY Diner: Me
Best Dessert: black out cupcake from two little red hens
Best Food from a Cart:Rafiqqui
Best Lox:Russ and Daughters or Fairway Gaspe Nova
Best Donut:Donut plant
Best Burger:depends on what setting - quick i'd go shake shack, pub i'd go molly's, dive bar i'd go corner bistro, after food shopping i'd go upstairs at fairway....this is an endless topic...
I second the vote for the blackout cupcake from two little red hens.
As for the donuts in NY, well, they're not that special. I do like the Tres Leches from Doughnut Plant, but am not too excited about many of their donuts-i have tried about a dozen of their flavors, and generally find they don't hold a candle to your local stripmall mom and pop LA donut shop.
The pork buns from momofuku ssam are pretty great. You can also get them to go from the milk bar next door.
There are a number of things that are done so well in LA that can generally be skipped here in NY in favor of quintessential NY treats like pizza, bagels, and Katz's pastrami. Among them i'd include bahn mi, sushi, burgers, dim sum, donuts, and Mexican food.
Best Slice: Joe's Pizza (but you can get a much better slice at DiFara if you venture out there)
Best Bagel: H&H
Best Non-Bagel Quick Breakfast: not sure what this means...breakfast taco???
Best Sandwich: Katz's Pastrami, Market Table's Turkey Club, Banh Mi's, Ssam Bar's pork buns
Best Hot Dog: Nathan's at Coney Island or a PDT/Criff Dog selection (I prefer Chang Dog)
Best NY Diner: Tom's in Brooklyn
Best Dessert: Momofuku Milk Bar's Candy Bar Pie or Passion Fruit Chocolate Chip Cake
Best Food from a Cart: Too many spots, in Manhattan and Queens
Best Lox: Russ & Daughters
Best Donut: Donut Plant
Best Burger: Shake Shack hands down
Best Steak: Peter Lugers
I've never been to Minetta Tavern, but I don't like Peter Luger at all--overcooked oversalted overbuttered porterhouse. How about BLT Steak or BLT Prime? I also like Porter House at TWC.
113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012
Porter House New York
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
111 East 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010
106 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022
Wowza! Talk about "ask and though shall receive." Thanks for all the suggestions everyone and KEEP 'EM COMING. This is proving extremely helpful in my planning, though what I am learning quickly is that I'm gonna be missing important things no matter how well I plan. I'll have to throw together more and more trips including this same list but with the blanks filled in with different options each time around.
The only clear lines I'm seeing so far is a love for Russ & Daughter's, Donut Plan, and Katz.
Oh, and to the above regarding cream puffs. Beard Papa's are plentiful here in SoCal but yes, they do suck. Even though we still have other go to options for this particular dessert.
Best Pancakes: Clinton St Baking Co
Best French Toast: 202, Jane
Best Lox: Russ & Daughters
Best Slice: Di Fara's
Best Hot Dog: Crif
Best Burger: Burger Joint
Best Sandwich: Porchetta
Best Vietnamese Sandwich: Ba Xuyen
Best Salumeria: Salumeria Rosi
Best Steak: Peter Luger
Best Cookie: Levain Bakery
Best Gelato: Otto
Best Donut: Tres Leches at Donut Plant
Best Slice: L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn
Best Bagel:Esa Bagel
Best Non-Bagel Quick Breakfast:BH Dairy on 2nd Ave in the Village
Best Sandwich:Katz's Pastrami on Rye or DeFonte's Roast beef, eggplant, mozzarella
Best Hot Dog:Nathan's only at Coney Island
Best Dessert:Junior's Strawberry Cheese Pie
Best Lox:Russ and Daughters
Best Donut:Donut Plant
Moral of the story: You will never leave New York because there is too much stuff to try at too many places. Just move here, already! ;)
Best Bagel: Absolute Bagels (UWS)
Best Non-Bagel Quick Breakfast: tamales (see this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/514388 ; i've tried the one of 110th and Lexington. it's really darn good.); however... since you're from CA, it looks like, perhaps cream puffs from choux factory
Best Sandwich: bahn mi at saigon bakery
Best NY Diner: Second Ave. Deli
Best Dessert: green tea and black sesame truffles from Sakagura... but since you have that stuff in LA, do a dessert tasting menu at WD-50
Best Food from a Cart: the above-mentioned tamales from 110th and lexington or the halal chicken and rice cart at 53rd and 6th ave.... actually i haven't eaten at the chicken rice cart for more than six months, now, since the lines have gotten too long for me to want to deal with, so no guarantees it hasn't gone downhill
Doesn't CA have lots of Beard Papa locations now, though? I'd skip the cream puffs, personally.
I've been to the chicken and rice cart in the last few months, and I still give it a thumbs up. Although maybe any food tastes really good after you've been in line, in the cold, for a while.
Hopefully you've seen these threads:
I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour:
Best Slice: Di Fara in Brooklyn, Patsy's in East Harlem in Manhattan, the square slice at Artichoke, or just go to Company (aka Co.) for lunch, and get a neopolitan sized pie.
Best Non-Bagel Quick Breakfast: How quick is quick? I think it's worth sitting and taking your time, sometimes.
Best Sandwich: "Sandwich" is such a broad category. But you gotta get a Katz's pastrami on Rye.
Best Hot Dog: Papaya King and Gray's are "only in NY" things with papaya juice. But I prefer the taste of Crif Dogs' deep fried dogs (no batter).
Best Pretzel: Most street vendors have crappy pretzels, the frozen and reheated kind you can get at Costco. I'd pass unless you can get a freshly made version at a good restaurant.
Best NY Diner: Pass. You're looking for a Greek diner? (Relatedly: RIP Florent.)
Best Dessert: There are so many! NYC is a pretty big cake, cupcake, and composed dessert town. Not quite so big a pie or donut town. There are also some dessert bar (Chikalicious) and nouveau/experimental dessert options (WD-50, Tailor).
Best chocolate chip cookies
Best hot chocolate
Manhattan chocolate tour
Desserts at sit down restaurants and dessert bars:
Best Food from a Cart: Combination plate from halal cart at 53rd and 6th, waffle from Wafels and Dinges, anything from the Dessert Truck. Aw, hell, just look up midtownlunch.com :)
Best Lox: Russ & Daughters smoked salmon with cream cheese on the bagel, it's a slice of NY history.
Best Donut: Donut Plant. Cake donuts ONLY. Blackout. Or Tres Leches. See also the beignets at the Bar Room at the Modern. Note that NYC is not a huge donut town.
Best Burger: It REALLY depends if you like thick patties or thin patties. What kind of bun you like. Are fancy toppings and sauces ok? Do you prefer cheesy or cheeseless? I'm partial to Shake Shack because it has a nice salty crust and the famous Shack Sauce, with a buttered potato bun. See also http://aht.seriouseats.com/
Hi ReelMike...great list. Here are my suggestions. Enjoy!
Best Slice: Joe's Pizza on Carmine
Best Bagel: H & H Bagel
Best Non-Bagel Quick Breakfast: Coffee and a slice of pizza bianca
Best Sandwich: Katz's Deli (I like turkey on rye with mustard)
Best Hot Dog: Gray's Papaya
Best Pretzel: tough one, my guess is any pretzel guy in the 5th avenue (around 55th street area, make sure it's hot)
Best NY Diner: Veselka (it has a ukrainian twist to it)
Best Dessert: The Black & White at OTTO (it's like an adult's version of a sundae)
Best Lox: Blue Ribbon Bakery Market (14 Bedford St.)
Best Burger: Paul's Place
Best lox: Russ and Daughters
Best Donut: Mark Israel's genius PB&J donut at Donut Plant can't be beaten
Best Slice: Best I've had so far is the square at Artichoke Basil. The sauce is super tasty and the fresh basil is really fragrant.
Best Burger: Have yet to have a great one in NYC. Burger Joint was pretty good.
Hi, ReelMike--I see you are also from LA. I've visited NY 4 times this past year and still haven't tried everything that I wanted try. Here are a few things that I really love and can't find anything like it in LA:
Best Bagel: Ess-a-Bagel with whitefish or lox smear (LA just don't do bagels right)
Best Sandwich: Katz's Pastrami on Rye with mustard (get both sour and half-sour pickles)
Best Hot Dog: Crif Dogs "Spicy Redneck" (deep fried dog wrapped in bacon, with chili, coleslaw and jalapenos)
You can't really get ONE best dessert because there are so many good desserts. Here are something different but amazing:
Best Rice Pudding: Rice to Riches (chocolate chip is the best, anything with tangy fruits like lemon, raspberry and apple are also great)
Best Dessert Bar: Chickalicious (3-couse dessert tasting)
Best Brownies: Fat Witch in Chelsea Market (Original Witch Babies, Blonde Babies, Red Witch)
Best Green Tea Cupcake: Amai Tea and Bake Shop in the East Village (AMAZING!)
Best Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes: Alice's Tea Cup (you may consider this as breakfast or dessert)
Best Chocolate: Pierre Marcolini
Best Cookies: Amy's Cookies (I always get them at Dean & Deluca)
Best Millefoglie: Sant Ambroeus (layered puff pastry like a Napoleon with vanilla cream and shaved chocolate)
Best Rugaleh: 2nd Ave Deli
Things worth trying that you didn't mention:
Best Pork Buns: Momofuku Noodle Bar or Ssam Bar (also must try kimchi apple)
Best Smoked Mussels: Zabar's (not in the cafe but in the market side)
Best Izakaya: Sakagura (they also make the best green tea ice cream)
Rags to Riches is incredible rice pudding. I can't understand complaining about the portions being too big. Small is pretty small. I love their flavors, plus the caramel sauce is super (I guess I don't get the "too sugary" idea either, but there is really a range of flavors there).
Rice to Riches
37 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
At Shake Shack, the cost depends on which burger you choose. Prices are on the website. At Blue Smoke, the burger with fries is $11.95.
"High end" would be the burger at dbBistro Moderne, owned by 4-star chef Daniel Boulud. The db burger is stuffed with short ribs and foie gras. Cost: $31. It comes with fries.
Pamplona's "hamburguesa" -- composed of beef, pulled pork, and chorizo -- is superb! Served with fries and a small mesclun salad. I think the cost is around $15. It's not listed on the website menu, but it is on the menu in the restaurant.
I agree with the Russ & Daughters for lox. Note that it's take-out only.
Best sandwich? Definitely Katz's pastrami would be my #1 pick. However, Lamazou makes a variety of fancier sandwiches, all of which are first-rate. Take-out only.
Interesting you mention that, kathryn. I agree that the burger is huge. So, the last time my husband and I were at Blue Smoke and ordered the burger, we told our server we intended to share it. Turned out that instead of one large burger, the kitchen prepared two small burgers, each in its own mini-bun. Plus, each plate had a heaping pile of fries. The burgers were prepared as we requested, medium-rare, and were delicious.
My best burger choice is Blue Smoke or Rare Burger. Shake Shack is good for fast food, but it's a thin burger that can't really be cooked to order. I love the custard items at Shake Shack and just had a concrete today (vanilla w/ caramel, peanut butter, and shortbread). I've read that The Lion and Minetta Tavern have good upscale burgers. I tried the one at DB Bistro Moderne, and I didn't like it (overcooked and not so good).
Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010
DB Bistro Moderne
55 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036
113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012
116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016
Rare Bar & Grill
152 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001
Rare Bar & Grill
303 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016
Best Bagel: TAL BAGELS
Best Non-Bagel Quick Breakfast: CLINTON ST. BAKING COMPANY'S BISCUIT SANDWICH
Best Sandwich: KATZ'S PASTRAMI
Best NY Diner: SKYLIGHT DINER
Best Dessert: OTTO'S OLIVE OIL OR MILK CHOCOLATE GELATO, PATE DE FRUITS FROM LA MAISON DU CHOCOLATE
Best Burger: PETER LUGER STEAKHOUSE
Clinton Street Baking Company is not really a quick/to-go breakfast. You could wait 2 hours for a table on the weekend... or you could get the sandwich to go but it falls apart so quickly.
Otto's olive oil gelato is awesome but I think it has enough butter/fat to not be considered gelato any more.