First of all, do not sleep on Brooklyn! I spent one of my 29th birthdays here and it was awesome…right next to the Brooklyn bridge. Of course the usual spots, such as Fifth Avenue, Central Park, East Village, Hell’s Kitchen and Times Square, are still a must see. Oh and let’s not forget about The Bronx, even though the last time I was there was during my undergrad days oh so long ago. New York is home to so much great cuisine that would probably take years to try. I’ve attempted to do so in several trips. To get you started, here’s a list of few places to tempt you.
Yerba Buena: If you are looking for a yummy brunch spot, this is the place with a Latin influence! Make sure you make a reservation because the wait can be long. I had the pleasure of eating the Pan Dulce–french brioche toast filled with grilled manchego cheese and topped with fresh fruit. Order the chorizo sausage as a side dish and an unlimited cocktail to complement your meal. The food is great and the drinks are delic…check it out for sure! I can only vouch for the location at the Lower East Side off Avenue A.
Best Bagel and Coffee: The best bagels are from NY, hands down! Now where in NY you get them from is another question. I stopped at this place off west 35th on my way to Maryland for weekend visit. There was a long line that moved pretty darn quickly–they know efficiency and service! It’s a small cramped place with a few seats and tables; so get it to-go if you can. I had the classic Atlantic smoked salmon with a light spread of lowfat vegetable cream cheese, onions, capers, and tomatoes on an everything bagel. The bagel was so yummy fresh and the shop smelled soooo good, filled with a fresh bready aroma and other goodies. If you are not craving a hand-rolled kettle-boiled bagel, they have salads, soups, sandwiches, breakfast platters, desserts, pastries, and plenty of drink options to choose from. They truly live up to their name!!
Katz’s Deli: I’m sure you’ve heard of the infamous Katz’s Deli. It’s exactly as everyone describes. You walk in and must know what you want AND do not ask for the bread to be hot along with the meat because you will get the stank eye. For me that’s hard, because in Baltimore that’s how we order our pastrami and corned beef sandwiches on rye with swiss, onions, and mustard–all HOT including the bread! So as you can imagine, I was not too thrilled with my room-temperature bread pastrami sandwich with raw onions and mustard. The Katz’s in Houston and the old one in Austin made hot sandwiches. Why oh why couldn’t they do it here in NY without giving me a hard time. Anyways, if you’re looking to experience the cold deli sandwich that’s piled high, check them out. By the way, the fries and cheese blintz are amazing times 100!
Athena Mediterranean Cuisine: I experienced moussaka for the first time and it was fantastic. The waitress was a hoot or scary–the jury is still out on that one. She told my best friend and I a lovely story about a rapist or something of that nature on the loose in the neighborhood. Keep in mind, we walked during the evening to this restaurant and we had to walk back. Let’s just say the walk back was a bit filled with paranoia and laughter at the same time. The entire time we kept saying, “What the hell was this woman thinking telling two women about a rapist on the loose!!”. I guess she was looking out for us. Now back to the meal. The moussaka had all the right ingredients as I could tell–the creamy layers of potato, eggplant, and ground beef in a nice red tomato-based sauce. I can’t remember what else we had but all-in-all the experience was great despite the scary-ass story from the waitress.
Smorgasburg: If you can get to this Brooklyn Flea Food Market at the Williamsburg waterfront, get to it! It moves from outdoor to indoor depending on the season. You can find foods from donuts to bbq. Some of the food vendors have long lines, so brace yourself because it will be worth the wait. I tried the arepas from Palenqua and they were good. At the end of our foodie tour around the market, we had the donuts of course from Dough. Good thing I purchased two donuts as recommended by the other customers and the cashier because they were so freaking GOOD. They were not too fried and not too sweet. Again, this is a must-visit market to add to your list!
Caracas Arepa Bar: My sister and I visited the East Village location for lunch on a weekday. There are plenty of arepa options. I ordered the La Pelua (shredded beef with cheddar cheese) and De Pabellon (shredded beef with sweet plantains, black beans, and white salty cheese). Both were flavorful! The plantains were softer than I prefer but tasted as they should — sweet — and the salty cheese was a nice touch. The arepa itself tasted like a sponge-like corn-based very thick pita-pocket with a bit of crispiness on the edges. I know that sounds like way too many descriptors but it paints a delicious picture (right?).
Grimaldi’s Brooklyn: Yeah yeah, there are Grimaldi’s across the states now and I rarely visit chains; but this original spot (well next to the original location) under the Brooklyn Bridge is worth the line at least once. I shared a sausage and mushroom pizza with my bestie. Once I got over the thinness and burnt crust flavor, it was good. I’ve had it several times at various locations in NY and Texas since, and this one is the best. Maybe the Brooklyn location makes it better mentally….hahaha. The pizza is a bit pricey, especially when you pile on the toppings, which may deter you. Trust me, it’s expensive at all locations. Let me know what you think!
Ippudo East Village: First of all, I highly recommend making a reservation to avoid the wait, especially on a Friday or Saturday evening. Ippudo is a Japanese ramen noodle house. Like most Japanese ramen restaurants, the staff welcomes you as you are walked to your table (I’m assuming it’s a greeting as I do not speak Japanese…hahaha). The seating is family style, meaning you’ll probably have strangers next to you and/or across from you. I was on a weird pork bun kick this particular weekend, so I had the Hirata Pork Buns as a starter and I was not disappointed. The pork belly was succulent and grilled just right; while the steamed bun was nice, fluffy, and lightly sweetened. We also ordered the Hirata Fried Chicken Wings glazed with black pepper sauce. The sauce pushed the chicken wings to the next level, otherwise they would have just tasted like the usual fried wings. I did not want the appetizers to end, but I had my ramen bowl to tackle next. I ordered the Karaka-men bowl with pork-based garlic broth and noodles topped with pork chashu and mixed with a blend of hot spices,cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, minced pork, and onions. The broth was amazing and spicy as I had hoped. This was a great experience all around!
Eataly Flat Iron: I had the pleasure of visiting Eataly on my way to another restaurant that skips my mind (obviously it was not worth my memory). I’ll never forget how I felt when I first walked in the doors. I teared a little at the array of beautiful foods displayed throughout the market, from fresh breads and cheese to meat and seafood. The desserts and coffees are of a great selection. The customer service is amazing….everyone was quite helpful and knowledgeable about the products. Bravi Eataly!
Shake Shack: My first experience with Shake Shack was in NY before jumping on the bus back to Baltimore. I remember being super excited as it was hyped up by my sister. I bravely had the Shack Stack with fries. I had no idea what I was in for! For those who do not know, the Shack Stack is a cheeseburger and Shroom burger topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and their special sauce. It was a bit too much to handle altogether and that means alot coming from a foodie like me. And the fries! I cannot stand crinkle cut fries! I’m not sure why I even ordered them. I guess I got caught up in the moment. At the end of the day, there are better burger chains out there….but if you must fall into the hype, I will not judge you.