Chicago Hound would love your NYC ideas
Hello. I will be in NYC from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday morning in mid-September. Many of the meals, including Wednesday and Thursday dinner and Friday breakfast/lunch, I will be dining alone, as my husband will be working. I am looking for casual and low-key. We loved many tasting menus in the past year, including Next, e, WD-50, and El Ideas, but are not desiring those for this trip, so please no EMP, Per Se, Ko, etc, even for lunch. Two meals a day, breakfast or lunch plus dinner, and perhaps some snacks along the way, will generally do it. We will be staying in Chelsea part of the time then UWS, but I enjoy walking and am comfortable with public transit so location is not a factor. In fact, if there is a street or neighborhood you recommend for exploration or food shops, I'm all ears (eg, I love strolling and grazing along Bleeker Street, and going window shopping in Zabar's). I am especially interested in places NY is proud of, and cuisines that aren't strong in Chicago. Places I'm considering: Ippudo, Momofuku Noodle Bar or SSam, Minetta Tavern, Shake Shack, Barney Greengrass, Russ & Daughters, Katz's (I mistakenly ordered corned beef the first time there and coveted my husband's pastrami, so to speak), Motorino, Empellon Taqueria, and Big Gay Ice Cream. I would love to try a hand-pulled noodle shop in Chinatown, one where I can watch the noodles being made, and appreciate recommendations on both place and dishes. Also, if there is somewhere to stop for a craft beer or cocktail where there wouldn't be a wait for a barstool and it wouldn't be creepy going solo, that would be fantastic. Thank you very much! Go!
Great list, but do Ssam over Noodle (try their duck over rice for lunch), and I'd swap out Empellon Cocina for Empellon Taqueria. Chicago has creative tacos but I don't think it has something closer to Empellon Cocina. Big Gay Ice Cream is good but it's more about the toppings than anything else, it's still soft serve and we have a stronger gelato culture here. Try Il Laboratorio de Gelato, Grom, Otto, L'Art de Gelato, etc.
If you're staying in Chelsea, I'd also add on Txikito, a Basque restaurant that is excellent. I also don't see an April Bloomfield restaurant on your list (The Breslin or Spotted Pig would be my picks). I also love Xi'an Famous Foods for food from Shaanxi province in China. Cumin lamb hand pulled noodles! Do you like spicy food? If so, Mission Chinese NY is unlike anything else I've had here or in Chicago's Chinatown.
NYC is extremely solo dining and drinking friendly, so I wouldn't worry about being seen as creepy. I have female friends who go out solo to the nice cocktail bars frequently. There might be a short wait for a barstool (many places are no standing a la Violet Hour) but not too bad. My favorites:
If you want places that are more uniquely NY:
Pegu Club -- a modern classic and rightly so
PDT -- for their Benton's old fashioned
Mayahuel -- a temple to tequila and mezcal
Amor y Amargo -- bitters focused and they make their own vermouth
Booker & Dax -- next to Ssam Bar, a more experimental take on cocktails, but very different from Aviary, they use a lot more rotovap stuff
Gin Palace -- gin and tonics...on tap, and more
Lani Kai -- a Hawaiian themed, serious cocktail bar
For snacks, maybe one of our many fine pastry shops:
For food/grocery shopping, I like also Chelsea Market, Despana, Union Sq Greenmarket, Kalustyan's, Murray's, and Eataly. For Eataly try to visit on a weekday. Mornings are best, and least crowded. The Greenmarket is M, W, F, Sat, and busiest on Saturday. Not a ton of cooking vendors, but lots of great stalls. Too bad you're leaving Sunday morning, as the New Amsterdam Market might be good, too (Sun only).
You might also like RGR's Lower Est Side self guided noshing tour.
What about an East Village crawl? You could also combine your Big Gay Ice Cream visit with a stroll down 7th St's food shops. Porchetta, Butter Lane, Luke's Lobster, Caracas Arepa Bar, the Big Gay Ice Cream shop, go sit in the park a while, and when you're done you can hit up PDT, Death & Co, or Mayahuel right when they open.
in the West Village:
Washington Square Park
Mille-Feuille Bakery for plain croissants
Third Rail Coffee or Prodigy Coffee
Blue Ribbon Bakery Market for their housemade matzoh
Victory Garden for goat milk soft serve (salted caramel!
)Famous Joe's for a gas oven, plain slice
Grom for gelato - especially any flavor with coffee or chocolate in it
Rocco's - freshly filled cannoli
Amy's Bread - slice of cake
Faicco's Pork Store
Bosie Tea Parlor for cookies/macarons/scones/etc
Blind Tiger for beer
Joe the Art of Coffee
Jeffrey's Grocery - oysters and beer
Taim for falafel
Magnolia Bakery for ice box cake
dell'anima for a Negroni Sbagliato cocktail
The High Line
Make sure also you get some only in NY type foods. In addition to bagels and smoked salmon, and pastrami on rye, get some, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, and try a halal cart (especially since Chicago hasn't got the food cart/truck culture other cities have).
In addition to that, you might want to look into the Hester St Fair Thursday nights at the Eventi, or Smorgasburg on Saturdays.
Best breakfast/brunch in NYC:
It is (IMO) at the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern.
My first thread and an immediate response from Kathryn! Thank you so much for your thorough and thoughtful response. Point taken on BGIC; gelato is much more my speed, or Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. I love spicy foods, although if beyond "American spicy" I'll need the establishment's preferred carb or drink to soften the blow. Have been to the High Line, Chelsea Market, Murrays, Rocco's and Amy's, but everywhere else would be new. Given that we're coming home in time for Rosh Hashanah (no, I don't keep kosher), a box of black and white's or rugelach might be the perfect hostess gift for my cousins.
Not sure when your last trip here was but Murray's has expanded into running a wine bar down the street now. As well as taking over the old Lobster Place store. And they've recently added a large beer shelf.
The vendors on the High Line have changed too, with the addition of a taco stand, hot dog stand, Northern Spy Co's stand, and Terroir now runs the wine bar.
Since you have two weekday afternoons, have you considered going to Eatly? It's a lot of fun and I think it's actually more fun to go there alone than with the guy. I once spent about 45 minutes tasting olive oil and vinegar one day and I swear he was going to leave me. Lol
You can bounce around the food emporium: tasting, smelling, a little shopping and seeing some ingredients that are not available in most places. When you get a bit parched there's a few bars with tastey snacks scattered everywhere. I'd go there Wenesday when it's less crowded.
Would definitely go to Russ and Daughters for bagels and lox and they have some great sea salt caramels. Then for more snacks walk to Essex Market and try some of Roni Sue's chocolate bacon. Also on the LES is the Meatball Shop which is good for a mid-walk recharger.
For black and white's, I'm addicted to Moishe's - they are a bit cakeier with a light taste of lemon.
For handpulled noodles, try Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles - it's a very inexpensive hole in the wall (lives up to its name.) If you get seated upstairs, you can watch the man ply his noodle magic. Get the thinnest noodles possible with beef soup.
I would skip Shake Shack - it's Danny Meyer's take on Chicago fast food and I'm not into the burgers or dogs (Chicago does it better.) And there's better frozen custard in Chicago and 2 hours north in Milwaukee.
If you are up for venturing out to Queens and are into Asian food, I recommend Sripraphai Thai and also the New World Mall Food Court by the Flushing subway. It's like being in Asian food heaven - they have Taiwanese small eats, and so much more. Also there's terrific empanadas at Mama's and Papa's.
Hello, again. Thanks so much for your wonderful recommendations. I'll post a detailed trip report later, but here's the list of most of the spots I hit: Rub BBQ, Txikito, La Maison du Macaron, Russ & Daughters, Katz's, Yonah Schimmel Knishery, Chop Shop, Donut Plant, The Breslin (drinks only), Momofuku Ssam, Milk Bar, Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Francois Payard, A Voce Columbus, Barney Greengrass, Fraunce's Tavern (beer), Fatty Crab, Amy's, and The Red Rooster. Pretty good for a 4-night trip, huh? Thanks to probably 4-5 miles a day of walking, I even managed to lose 1.5 pounds. Thanks again, everyone. Can't wait for my next trip!