New York City: Where to eat

When I was planning our trip to New York City, I went all out with the food planning. Three epic meals a day, plus a list of bakeries and pizza slice joints in the areas we were going to be in for snacks... it didn't quite work out that way, but we did have some awesome meals along the way. (Warning, this is going to be a long post.)

We didn't make it to any of the bakeries or pizza slice joints on our list - so gutted about this! - purely because we were too full from the meals we ate. (Joe's Pizza, Bipple & Sip, Milk Bar, Levain Bakery, Bleecker Street Pizza and Schmackary's were a few on my hit list.) So, where did we eat, and which places would we return to the next time we're in New York?

Our first breakfast was at Pershing Square, which is right by Grand Central Station. After about a twenty minute wait to get seated, we both went for "The New Yorker" - orange juice, tea or coffee, eggs any way, potatoes and toast, for $24 (pictured above). It was pretty average and overpriced for what it was - not one to revisit. If I could do a do-over, we would have prioritised Clinton Street Bakery, which was on our list but we never made it there.

The other place we had a full breakfast was George's (top left), just off Wall Street, so perfect if you're exploring the Financial District or visiting Ellis Island and the State of Liberty. I had the breakfast special #2 with bacon; Olly had the Southwestern Eggs Benedict - more affordable and also tastier food than Pershing Square ($40 versus $62, in total, with tip). George's is a great shout if you're in this area and need breakfast.

On our other mornings we grabbed bagels from H&H Bagels, Best Bagels and Coffee and Pick A Bagel - H&H Bagels was the most "locals" place. I came away a big fan of the everything bagel (top right; ordered at Best Bagels and Coffee) - literally, it's all the possible toppings on one bagel (likely a mixture of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion, dried garlic and salt). Yum! Expect to pay between $13-20 for two bagels and two hot drinks (Olly had a filling in his, such as eggs and bacon, whereas all mine were literally buttered bagels; you're looking at $18-25 if two of you have a filled bagel each and a hot drink).

The other place we ate at in the Financial District was Xi'an Famous Foods (pictured above), though they have other places around Manhattan. We went for the spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles - one dry, one in lamb broth - and both versions were delicious. Highly recommend eating there for a cheap and extremely flavoursome lunch ($26.65 for these two dishes and two soft drinks).

Katz's Delicatessen is a must. It's an amazing deli that will keep you full for a long time - we went for a late lunch and were too stuffed to eat dinner so didn't mind too much that we spent $76.82 (ouch) on two sandwiches and two drinks. Take a ticket when you enter (don't lose it), order at a counter (you can try the meats if you're unsure), wait whilst they make it for you (they'll mark your ticket), then enjoy. Pay as you exit by handing over your ticket (card payments need to paid by the dessert counter). I really enjoyed the salt beef on rye with the most incredible mustard (top right); Olly loved his Reuben (top left). We'll be back!

Another epic place is Shopsin's General Store, located in Essex Market - you'll find a variety of food joints there. Olly enjoyed the Monte Cristo (a turkey, ham, Swiss cheese and jam sandwich on French toast), whilst I had an amazing Cuz sandwich (grilled duck breast with bacon guacamole). Hel-lo! Would definitely return. (These with one peanut butter malt, one chocolate egg cream and tip came to $65.73. Again, we were pretty stuffed after eating here.)

Similar to Essex Market is Urbanspace, where we had lunch at Black Iron Burger - it was nice but expensive for what we had. There's also the Time Out Market New York (we didn't visit) and Chelsea Market, where we ate at Cull & Pistol - see below. (Bareburger was also on our list to try an Impossible/Beyond Meat burger but we never made it there either - breakfast at Ellen's Stardust Diner became a late lunch because of a Top of the Rock delay and then the queue at the diner. Plan to revise your plans!)

Would that 75 minute queue stop me from going again to Ellen's Stardust Diner? Definitely not but I'd go as soon as it opens to have breakfast there. If you are a fan of musicals, this is the place to be as the incredibly talented waiting staff there take it in turns to belt out Broadway hits in-between serving you. Such good fun. I enjoyed their Lenox Avenue style chicken and waffles with tater tots, pictured above left; Olly had the Philly cheese steak.

Above to the right is the yummy "tres ninos" combo plate from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que - we headed to their Brooklyn restaurant before a basketball game at the Barclays Center. Great BBQ food! (Olly had the combo plate but picked his own meats; the tres ninos combo is set.)

Now for pizza. We headed to the East Village's Numero 28 Pizzeria with friends (there are a few dotted around New York City) and found the food to be tasty and surprisingly cheap. It was a Saturday night though and, because of this, it was LOUD. (Sign of old age, right?) I didn't have pizza, but they all loved it, and I enjoyed my spaghetti and meatballs. The other pizza place we ate at was Beebe's, which was the restaurant at our hotel. I did eat pizza there and can confirm their Hot Italian pizza is yum.
Next up (told you this would be long!) is Veselka, a 24-hour Ukrainian restaurant located in the East Village where we headed for dinner. Make sure you try their homemade pierogi (they might not look much, but they are delicious - we had short-rib beef ones) which are dumplings served with sauteed onions and sour cream. I went for the chicken schnitzel burger for my main, whilst Olly went for the mixed Ukrainian grill (pictured). Would eat there again (have you noticed a theme here?!).

As mentioned above, we headed to Cull & Pistol in Chelsea Market where we had our most expensive meal in New York City ($210 for two courses each, a nice bottle of wine, beer for Olly, plus tip). If you want fresh, delicious seafood though, it's where you need to go. I had the most amazing New England clam chowder (pictured above) whilst Olly had their Spanish octopus for his starter (equally delicious). We both had a Connecticut-style lobster roll for our mains (pictured below) - Maine lobster rolls are the traditional ones which is chilled lobster meat, whereas a Connecticut-style one is warmed through in butter. Beautiful flavours.

Finally, let me tell you about where ate on our first night in New York City - the Michelin-star Mexican restaurant, Casa Enrique, which is located in Long Island City. It was perhaps a mistake going here on our first evening as when we got to the restaurant we had been awake for 20 hours and we probably didn't appreciate it as much as we should have.

Jetlag aside, what about the food? Well, their guacomole with totopos is super yum, and we had the most amazing crab tostadas there (above left). Seriously, the best I've ever had. If you ever find yourself there, order them, and don't order to share! We also had pork belly tacos (above right), market fish tacos and the chicken mole de piaztla (pictured below) - out of these I enjoyed the pork belly tacos the most. But, by the time the chicken mole de piaztla came out - it was the last dish brought to our table - I needed my bed. One to return to when we're not battling jet lag.

I would say, all-in-all, we were pretty lucky with our restaurant choices in New York City. But, there were definitely a lot of places that I had to leave off our list, and some on that list we didn't make it to... I guess we'll just have to return! x

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