Most honeymoon-ing couples spend their time at exotic and secluded locales, snuggled under blankets, away from the crowds. My husband and I are an absolutely different breed. We put ourselves through one of the most hectic holidays of our lives through the East Coast of USA, filled to the brim with activity, exploring the streets, chatting up the locals, and of course eating up all the delicious food New York City has to offer.
This post is an ode to all that wonderfully sinful food we devoured while in NYC, but in no means is a listicle or a guide to NYC eats. This list is the microscopic pointed end that sits atop the tip of an iceberg, because you see, NYC is a food lover’s paradise. Here you’ll find hot dog and pretzel carts at every street corner, the best of street food doled out of food trucks, and cuisines from the world over. In NYC will you see a fast food chain, a small mom and pop eatery and a Michelin starred gourmet restaurant all sitting comfortably side-by-side.
Here’s a list of our favourites from our week long NYC sojourn:
1. The Original Soupman, Manhattan
‘No soup for you!’ Seinfeld fans will get the reference from the Soup Nazi episode on the show, an episode centered around this iconic Manhattan soup stall. Soupman aka Ali Yaganeh’s soup kitchen serves out some of the best soup I’ve ever eaten in my life – and I’m not even a soup person. Their Shrimp Bisque was creamy, comforting, with an underlying shrimp flavor and exactly what we needed on a cold winter morning. We made a meal out of their soups, along with the complimentary bread, fruit and chocolate which ended up being one of the best meals of our trip.
Read more about The Original Soupman here.
2. Junior’s Cheesecake, Brooklyn
Another landmark eatery to emerge out of Brooklyn, Junior’s, does some delicious deli food but you need to visit here for their cheesecake. Mind blowingly good, original New York style cheesecake! Junior’s came up with their patented, magic formula for cheesecake in the 1950s and it has been driving people from the world over to their doors. They do a number of cheesecake variants ranging from the standard Strawberry, Raspberry and Red Velvet to the absolutely imaginative Carrot Cake Cheesecake, Devils Food Cheesecake and Apple Crumble Cheesecake. But what you need to come here for is their Original – a beautiful crumbly base with a melt in your mouth cream cheese consistency and a faint after taste of vanilla that lingers on even after you’ve polished your spoon off clean.
Read more about Junior’s Cheesecake here.
3. Grimaldi’s Pizza, Brooklyn
I am so glad we missed our ferry ride back to Manhattan from Brooklyn because had we not, we would have never discovered Grimaldi’s Pizza. Nestled under the Brooklyn Bridge, Grimaldi’s is an institution, not to mention extremely popular with the locals. Grimaldi’s claims to be one of the first pizzerias in America, and has introduced the art of coal fired, brick oven pizza cooking to the country. Their menu is pretty basic –Margherita and White pizzas which you can customize with an assortment of toppings, but I must warn you their portion sizes are huge.
Pro Tip: The lines to enter Grimaldi’s are massive and you could be waiting almost an hour before you get seated during peak timings. Go during off-hours and you can walk in the door like a breeze!
Read more about Grimaldi’s Pizza here.
4. Magnolia Bakery, Manhattan
We followed our noses and joined in the serpentine queue that was patiently lined up outside Magnolia Bakery, near Rockefeller Centre in the freezing cold with the hope of a cupcake to brighten up a gloomy, winter NYC evening. Magnolia Bakery achieved cult status after launching in 1996, getting featured on Sex And The City and slowly establishing presence the world over. They pioneered the cupcake rage that occurred a few years ago, with innovative frostings and varied fillings in the centre. But what people line up for here is a bowl of their famous Banana Pudding – airy yet indugent, with lumps of banana scattered through. We were lucky enough to get to try their Christmas special – a Chocolate Peppermint Banana Pudding which warmed the cockles of my heart with every spoonful.
Read more about Magnolia Bakery here.
5. Eataly, NYC Flatiron
If I had a dollar for every time someone suggested I dine at Eataly while in NYC, I’d have enough money to buy that mini fridge painted in the Italian flag colours I spotted at the store. Eataly is a large marketplace complete with a supermarket, fresh foods store, a culinary learning centre, and a number of food courts interspersed within the area. Spend some time checking out the fresh produce, and assortment of cheese, spices and wine on display. Once that tires you out, make your way to their cafe for authentic thin crust pizzas and hand rolled pasta. Finish off with a Nutella Crepe from the Nutella section of Eataly, because YOLO!
Read more about Eataly here.
6. Wafels and Dinges, Central Park
The Wafels and Dinges food truck appeared like a gift from God while we were freezing our backsides one morning, attempting to spend a day at Central Park. One sip of their highly indulgent, thick and super rich Belgian Hot Chocolate and I knew I had to have more. Their waffles are perfectly done – crunchy outside, moist inside without tasting eggy or drying out too much. They come with an assortment of sauces, fudges, nuts and ice cream on top making this a meal by itself. (I forgot to check whether they do savoury waffles though.) Buy yourself a portion, sit on a bench at Central Park and watch the ducks swim by. Life does not get better than this!
Fun Fact: ‘Dinges’ is a slang word for ‘anything’. Which is exactly what goes atop these waffles – anything and everything!
Read more about Wafels and Dinges here.
7. Carlo’s Bakery, Times Square
We were greeted by yet another serpentine queue at the entrance of Carlo’s Bakery, this time at 9am, a very odd time to be queuing up for dessert if you ask me. Carlo’s Bakery is immensely popular, helmed by ‘Cake Boss’ and television personality – Chef Buddy. Old school cakes with heaps of frosting, cookies in assorted shapes and sizes, slices of pie, mini tarts, gorgeous eclairs with assorted fillings – you get the drift. Their piece de resistance are the 100% vegetarian Lobster Tails! Flaky, puff pastry shaped like the end of a lobster, filled with a cream centre and icing sugar on top – my eyes moisten as I type this. So beautiful!
Read more about Carlo’s Bakery here.
8. Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, Broadway
A visit to Max Brenner Chocolate Bar aka Chocolate by the Bald Man came strongly recommended by chocoholics near and far. So we decided to skip lunch one afternoon and make a meal of chocolate. Their chocolate fondue is enough to satiate even the strongest of chocolate cravings and comes with three fondue pots of milk, white and dark chocolate – the most exquisite and rich chocolate you can find. We devoured their Chocolate Bar in a Jar – molten milk chocolate, nougat, caramel, brownie bits topped with cream and tiny chocolate balls.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to bring back their chocolate syringes, chocolate bon bons or chocolate first aid kit for your friends. Ohh what the hell, just buy them all for yourself!
Read more about Max Brenner Chocolate Bar here.
9. Ivan Ramen, Clinton Street
Ever since I saw Chef Ivan Orkin’s professional and personal journey on season 3 of Netflix’s popular show Chef’s Table, I knew I HAD to eat at his restaurant Ivan Ramen. Every bowl of ramen that emerges from Ivan’s kitchen is like a party in your mouth. Every bite of ramen provides you with different flavor combinations and different textures depending on what you fish out of that bowl. We enjoyed their classic variant – Tokyo Shoyu Ramen – that came with a dashi + chicken broth, pork belly, silky noodles, soy, enoki mushrooms and a beautifully poached egg on top. Special props to their Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazeman, a dry ramen variant that came with whole wheat noodles, pork belly, pork mince all in a salty, garlic laden broth.
Must Try – Their spongy and heavenly steamed pork buns to mop up all that ramen broth.
Read more about Ivan Ramen here.
10. Papaya Dog, 5th Avenue
Our Big Bus tour driver strongly recommended the hot dogs at Papaya Dog to us while we took a tour of downtown Manhattan. The next day we popped into this street stall that sells hot dogs and cheeseburgers right before we visited the Empire State Building observatory. A plump sausage, enveloped in a pillowy bun, topped with relish, ketchup and mayo – this made for the cheapest and most satisfying brunch of my life. Round this up with a large NY style pizza slice and you’re eating like a local.
Fun Fact: This particular Papaya Dog location is nestled right under the Empire State Building, and this was one of the cheapest meals of our lives while we looked up at one of the best views we’ve ever seen.
Other Special Mentions:
- Shake Shack locations across the country for the greasiest cheeseburgers and thick shakes that will require every ounce of breath control to suck through a straw. Ohh, and those crinkled fries topped with cheese on top that will sit right on your hips. But who cares?!
- IHOP locations across the country if you want to eat breakfast for dinner! #Brinner I am talking about all you can eat pancakes, fluffy omelettes stuffed with meat and cheese, hand pressed juices and freshly brewed pots of coffee. I can smell the eggs frying as I type this.