New York City is diverse in both culture and cuisine. Comprising of five boroughs; Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Queens, there is a smorgasbord of options to fork your way through this incredible city. Notorious for being a city whose food is laden with cheese, sauce, mayo, sugar and generally all manner of heart-attack inducing foods, this suggested NYC food guide is to dispel that inaccurate generalisation. It is very possible to find nutrient rich, quality produce, memorable coffee (Australia style), and delicious food in New York. Here’s how and where I indulged on my most recent trip.
Lost and Found Traveller Food Favourites
Two Hands Café – Mott Street
Located in the Borough of Manhattan, towards the Nolita end of Mott Street you will find this Australian inspired café. Two Hands is an eclectic, hip, ultra-relaxed café, perfect for both breakfast and lunch. Offering minimal fuss food, which is generous in servings (not quite American size generosity), the cuisine is typical of café food. That being said, the quality is consistently outstanding (based on my experience), the service without fault and the value more than reasonable. Truthfully, of all the many places we frequented, Two Hands actually made number one on my list for the above reasons.
If you are from Melbourne, Australia and need a comparison, this café can be likened to Addict, Fitzroy or Rustica Canteen in Guildford Lane, Melbourne’s CBD.
Bluestone Lane Coffee, Upper Eastside
Housed in an architecturally stunning, Gothic limestone building you will find Bluestone Lane Coffee. Whilst there are several locations to sample the Bluestone Lane Coffee experience, I deliberately chose the Upper Eastside location for it’s gorgeous interior and slower paced end of town. Located not far from The Guggenheim Museum, this Australian-inspired café serves relaxed, quality cuisine, but on the smaller serving side. The service on a very early weekday morning was slow to start, but nothing to gripe about. The wait staff reflect the city’s cultural-diversity as I detected many different accents, some Australian. The coffee deserves an honourable mention (again, if you’re Australian), as this is as close to what you’ll find back home. Bearing in mind that we do in fact travel to embrace and experience different cultures and cuisines, but understandably there are some non-negotiables, like coffee, at least if you’re a coffee addict.
Food offerings are comparable to The Penny Drop in Box Hill or Top Paddock, but on the significantly smaller sized portions.
Chelsea Market– Chelsea, Manhattan
An absolute must see, must eat, experience awaits for any foodie located in this warehouse style, open plan building. You will find a food hall (very up-market quality), shopping mall, office buildings (upstairs) and a television production (also upstairs) to delight the senses. Smell, sight and sound will all be awakened and aroused, and for all the right reasons. But most importantly, taste! Come hungry is of the utmost importance. A plethora of food options from the most incredible, non greasy, flavoursome pizza, gelato, crepes, seafood…. I’m salivating as I we speak. Or should I say, write? Disclaimer, this is not a Michelin palette, “ I-eat-only-degustation-fare” experience. Rather, this is the perfect go-to eatery for those seeking quality food, at reasonable prices in a very authentic NYC environment. It’s a huge favourite of mine, I genuinely loved it.
As I introduce you to Dough, I’ll say a prayer for you in advance, for here you will uncover true Kryptonite, (unless of course you don’t like doughnuts). Funnily, I don’t even like doughnuts, as my experience has always left me feeling ill, bloated or with heartburn. Yet, at DOUGH, this was not the case. With several locations around the city, you will find a relaxed, walk in walk out, (although some places you can sit and eat), bakery production. The flavours are varied from traditional conservative options like, original glazed, orange and poppy seed, caramel with toasted almonds, to vibrant colored ones like hibiscus or matcha tea, (which I gave a wide berth). Think super fluffy and light texture, with size nearly as big as my hand. So very Instagram. So very New York.
Milk by Momofuko
Think cereal. That cold, sweet, milk cereal infused flavoured at the bottom of your breakfast bowl. Quite literally that is how his unique sweet treat tastes. In plain English, it’s a Momofuko soft serve ice-cream unlike any other soft serve. A very walk in walk out affair, but not before stocking up on the other sweet treats also sold here. Like the cookies or granola.
The Refinery Rooftop, Midtown Manhattan
Wow. Just wow. If ever there was an eating experience synonymous with NYC this is it. Located on level 22 of the Refinery Hotel in midtown, come prepared to feast on the Empire State Building illuminated in the distance and surrounded by a concrete jungle. As the city’s tension ebbs from your shoulders you’ll have the bar staff to thank for that with a killer cocktail list, extensive beer menu and what can only be described as the one of the highest quality bar food venue’s I’ve ever eaten at. Here, the food alone is a stand out. Think sliders, top-notch American pizza, fries for days (unlike any other), oh and that aioli. Give. Me. That. Aioli! Word of warning, this place is packed to the rafters, and for good reason. But, I managed to have it nearly to myself on a mid-Saturday afternoon and one very late week night. It’s the happy hour-post work crowd on a Thursday – Sunday that you may have to consider if you value your personal space.
The Wayfarer – Midtown Manhattan
We came for dinner, and returned for breakfast. The Wayfarer can only be described as sophisticated, yet unpretentious. An all American style grille and steak restaurant. The interior is gorgeous. Light, neutral toning’s, in an expansive room with large windows, intimate tables and booths, I was converted on the website photos alone. Then I ate there. First the marbled steak, “Oh Lord forgive me for I have sinned!” This steak will induce gluttony, and a general state of ‘ I’m not sharing’, which is huge coming from me, as I don’t particularly enjoy red meat. This is a steak lover’s heaven. The menu caters widely to many other palette’s, whilst my Salmon was delicious, the fresh oysters were the smallest I’ve ever seen in my life.
Breakfast is the best of clichéd American dreams. Fluffy buttermilk pancakes, with maple syrup and blueberry compote. The service on both occasions was attentive without being intrusive. However, we found that our morning breakfast service was notably superior to our dinner meal service, the night before.
Dean and Deluca – SoHo
Dean and Deluca is an upmarket, gourmet, speciality foods store found in several locations through-out NYC. My personal favourite is in stylish Soho. Reflecting the locale’s charm of white mould trimmings and cast iron facades, it’s easy to blow your budget here with so many must-try items available. From conserves, oils, salad dressing, fresh artisan baked bread, gourmet fresh and pre-packaged cookies, salads… stop! You’re making me hangry! Dean and Deluca is the ideal place to buy easily transportable gifts for those back home, whilst grabbing a little something for your lunch or light dinner on the go. It is also the perfect place to find items for an impromptu Central Park picnic.
If you’re Australian, then the only way to describe Wholefoods is, ‘the Bunnings of food’. For the rest of the world, envision a larger than large, make that HUGE supermarket. Here you will find food vendors within the grocery store itself selling hot food at cooking stations, from Mexican to Salad Bars, Spanish Food, along with aisle after aisle of grocery items. The choice is overwhelming, but so much fun. Wholefoods is the ideal place if on a budget to find meals and snacks for your trip each day. It is also the perfect place to grab-and-go after a long bustling day in the city. We found the perfect Central Park bench one late afternoon, enjoyed an early dinner and indulged in quality people watching. Sometimes, dressing for dinner and the formalities of a restaurant are all too much when travelling non-stop. Wholefoods offers the perfect remedy to that.
Hot Spots and Social Media Favourites
NB: I dined at the below three venues. These definitely make the list as a NYC Hot Spot, especially in social media circles. For reasons that I prefer not to elaborate on, they didn’t make my favourite’s list, but they do with many other people. For that reason I have included them for your consideration in planning.
Jack’s Wife Freda
The Butcher’s Daughter – Vegetarian only
Urban Space – Food Court
Eataly – Vibrant Upmarket Food Court