New York City is a city for the dreamers.
In my earlier post about how you can find witness the melting pot of culture in NYC just by roaming the streets, it doesn’t stop there.
The cosmopolitan metropolis has so much to offer, you can draw inspiration from anywhere. Whether it is street art, the ebullience of the salespeople bobbing to music at midnight, or the natter from your neighbour’s dining table, the cacophony of voices and traffic all around will leave you feeling more energetic than ever.
This post focuses on drawing inspiration from NYC’s food. The assortment of food in NYC, the interior design of every food joint I entered when I was there in Dec 2014 (yes that’s how much I’ve been missing NYC), and the innovation behind some of the business concepts of these food outlets that I’d visited left me wondering just how much more the world offers that is unbeknown to me.
It is true to say that I get inspired every time I walk into a coffee shop, or a cafe. They make me want to pick up a pen and note down all the home interior decoration to embellish my future home.
On top of listing the food joints I personally visited and love, this post also includes recommendations from other travellers who vouch for the food here, because well, NYC has too much to offer!
What to eat in New York City (NYC)
1. LIC Market
Experience a true New York City cafe style when you dine at LIC Market. LIC Market is sandwiched between two flights of stairs on the ground floor of an apartment, so you might miss it if you’re not observant enough. We sat at the back-room, an open-air but sheltered little space, filled with wooden benches and walls lined with little plants. The morning light that filled the room made for a cosy ambience.
The look of the eggs done by LIC Market is enough for you to know that when it comes to food pairing and fresh produce, you can count on LIC Market!
Look at that glossy burger with jus!
2. Big Daddy’s
Step into this old-school, hip 80’s-styled American diner where massive burgers, crispy tots, and thick milkshakes lord over. It was one of my most memorable diners I’ve visited because of how much fun and vibrance the diner exuded!
Thank you, Stranger, for introducing this favourite local hangout to us!
Apart from the pretty exterior, you know they know their balls when all they serve are meatballs. Recommended dishes include Buffalo Meatball, Pork Meatball with mushroom gravy and mashed potato, and Meatball Hero on Wheat with Mozzarella.
By far another of my favourite meals in NYC, because it’s Mexican! Come on, find me one soul who doesn’t love Mexican food? Obviously, you can’t miss trying their guacamole. They have over 20 outlets in Manhatten alone, so it wouldn’t be difficult to locate one!
5. Shake Shack
While New York City can be famous for Shake Shack (my friends were squealing when they finally found their outlet), and yes, queues are expected in this fast food restaurant, I found it way overrated.
The burgers were mass produced and I was served with a semi-flattened burger. Aren’t they but another fast food joint selling burgers and fries?
This was a diner we popped in on a whim because it was cold outside and we were feeling hungry after our shopping spree. We were glad to have chanced upon their roast bowls. The interesting twist that sets them apart from a regular salad bar is that you begin your choice by either selecting a hot or cold bowl. They also have preselected mixes for you to select in case you’re overwhelmed by their ingredient choice.
7. Basta Pasta
Basta Pasta is Alaine‘s my favourite restaurant in the city. Italian food with a Japanese twist. Her go-to place for celebrations, date nights, and the changing of seasons, she frequents this lovely restaurant every few months. Begin your meal with a Caesar salad, followed by Homemade Fettuccine bolognese, Spaghetti con Prosciutto e Parmigiano or grilled Bronzino fish (usually a special). Finally, finish off with their beautiful Tiramisu.
If you’re looking for a fine dining location in NYC, Eleven Madison Park’s got you covered. Foie gras is served in a couple different ways throughout the multi course degustation, one of which includes an indulgent, melt-in-your-mouth foie gras in a multi layer jelly, a favourite for Alaine. This restaurant has gained notoriety around the world for being a premiere dining destination.
9. Pocha 32
Koreatown is Tendelle‘s go-to destination for late night dining in NYC. And of all the choices in Koreatown, Pocha 32 is one of her favorites. Not only do they have an amazingly satisfying budae jjigae (Army Stew), they serve watermelon soju, the shop’s bestseller!
A watermelon soju is made of half a watermelon hollowed out, then filled with soju (Korean liquor), watermelon juice and pulp, making it so refreshingly delicious! Like most restaurants in Koreatown, Pocha 32 is open late – at least until 4am, to feed all the hungry party animals in the city.
After a month of Manhattan living, the best tip Alison can give you is to head to Junior’s Cheesecake for – you guessed it – the cheesecake. Although the restaurant serves a variety of hearty dinnertime meals, it’s best to save stomach space and dive into this divine dessert.
Each creamy spoonful of Junior’s cheesecake is really indulgent.. Their cheesecake is the delicious antithesis to the light, delicately whipped desserts of many European countries. There are fruity cheesecake flavours, chocolatey concoctions, combinations of cheesecake and regular cake. Or you can try a plain, classic “New York” style slice.
11. Umami Burger
There are plenty of restaurants in New York City that claim to have the best burgers in town. I’m sure they all have a pretty good claim but for Rosie, the best burger lives in Umami Burger. There are three branches in NYC – Greenwich Village, Brookfield Place and Williamsburg.
Umami Burger takes Premium steak, grind it themselves and then serves the party medium rare in a series of inventive recipes. Her absolute favourite is the Truffle Burger which has truffle everything – truffle cheese, truffle aioli and truffle glaze. The truffle flavours give this burger the most satisfying, earthy and savoury hit. Pair this with the sweet potato fries that comes on the side, and you’re in heaven.
Their signature sweet potato fries come covered in cinnamon powder, but there’s another version that is even better. These are no ordinary fries – they are covered in maple glaze and bacon!
Finally, order one of their Asian-inspired cocktails or an Asahi beer to complete your evening.
12. Serendipity Cafe
This cafe didn’t become a household name by chance. Not only has it attracted thousands of guests yearly on its own merit since 1954, fans of the blockbuster film of the same name, Serendipity, flock to this little eatery for the famous frozen hot chocolate enjoyed by Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack by the fireplace.
With a decadent menu of entrees, mains, and signature drinks, guests do their best to leave room for one of their signature desserts – the ultimate creme sundae…
This restaurant’s menu has something for everyone, even for the posh. If you are thinking of splurging for a special occasion, be sure to check out the “Golden Opulence Sundae.” This ice cream concoction boasts flakes of edible gold within the dish and as such, earned accolades such as a Guinness World Record and massive media praise. Gold speckled ice cream? Yes. You read that correctly. Should you wish to enjoy this indulgent dessert, or need an excuse to spend $1000 on a decadent dessert, reserve your sundae 48 hours in advance. If you do splurge on this once in a lifetime dessert experience, we would love to hear about your experience and whether it was worth the G-note!
Janine highly recommends trying Serendipity at least once on your New York City trip. To avoid disappointment, reservations are essential as tables fill up very quickly. If you are lucky, you just may get to sit at the fireplace booth that was featured in the film!
And of course, how can you miss the little pushcarts selling hotdog, churros and other finger food all over NYC? You won’t miss them. They are cleverly placed outside every iconic tourist spot, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History.
There are also plenty of gluten-free food options around New York City in case you prefer those.