I love New York. There’s a reason it’s on all the t-shirts. Following my quick visit to some dear friends in May, I have written a quick round up of all my New York food recommendations. I planned most of our itinerary around food (of course) so some serious research went into this list. That said, I only had three and a half days, so do check out my friend Charlie’s blog too – she visited a few weeks before me and has been writing up some fantastic food reviews and recommendations.
Brooklyn Bagel Company
I went to Brooklyn Bagel Company the first time I went to New York, back in 2014. It was delish, so I couldn’t resist a little return visit. They have every type of cream cheese you can imagine, from vegan tofu to lox, to cinnamon and walnut, and even birthday cake. They also do rainbow bagels, so naturally yours truly opted for a rainbow bagel with birthday cake flavour cream cheese. I’m not going to lie, the cream cheese was somewhat sickly, but the novelty of such a bright and cheery bagel made it absolutely worth it.
We went to Sarabeth’s (the TriBeCa branch) for breakfast and it was divine! I had pancakes with bacon. It has a really chilled out vibe – would definitely go for lunch or dinner too. There are a few branches, including one in Chelsea Market.
Dō, the cookie dough emporium, opened earlier this year to huge fanfare. The queues are lengthy over the weekend, but if you catch them on a weekday (ideally when it’s raining, as I did!) you can get in quickly. Plan your visit – their website says the queue can be three hours long on a sunny weekend! They do over a dozen flavours in cookie dough, which is scooped out like ice cream. It’s egg free and safe to eat – and my god is it good.
We tried cake batter (peanut butter + dark chocolate chips + marshmallow fluff), heavenly (sugar cookie + nutella + chocolate chips + caramel bits + sea salt), and fluffernutter (peanut butter + dark chocolate chips + marshmallow fluff). I think heavenly was my favourite. Definitely worth a visit – read more about it on First We Eat!
Definitely go to Chelsea Market – and go hungry! It’s full of fantastic places to grab a bite, with treats ranging from lobster rolls to burgers to brownies. The lobster rolls at the back right side of the seafood shop are to die for.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Cronuts might have been going since 2011 but their popularity has not waned. Thankfully, the queues at the Dominique Ansel Bakery are not as bad as they once were, and on a weekday you can get a cronut with just a 5-10 minute wait. They change the flavour every month – May’s is raspberry earl grey. Cronuts are absolutely delicious, worth the hype, and best eaten within an hour of purchase. You can share one between two – they pack a punch.
Jack’s Wife Freda
This West Village eatery has an amazing vibe – it’s packed out most nights and full of locals having a really good time. The cocktails – particularly the Hemingway’s Daiquiri – are absolutely divine. Jack’s Wife Freda was one of my favourite spots during our whole trip. I had a superb sirloin with very good fries. It’s worth getting a selection of the starters to share. Definitely have the courgette chips and the halloumi. And buy the cookbook while you’re there – it’s gorgeous and you can’t get it in the UK.
Clinton St Baking Co & Restaurant
Clinton St has reputably got the best pancakes in New York, so of COURSE I had to pay them a visit. There was a 45 minute wait when we rocked up on Saturday morning, but they take your number and text you when your table is ready, so you can head over the road to Pause to get a lovely coffee or a smoothie while you wait. And boy is it worth the wait.
My sister and I got a plate of pancakes eat and split them – she got the chocolate chip pancakes and I got blueberry. The side order of sugared bacon was the perfect accompaniment, setting off the maple butter beautifully. We also had Mexican coffee milkshakes, which were absolutely divine. I’m still having flashbacks. I would go back to Clinton St in a heartbeat – seriously good food.
Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
Eileen’s is aptly named – the little round cheesecakes are absolutely delish. Get the blueberry or cherry. We got ours on takeaway and ate them at home. YUM.
The Spotted Pig
The Spotted Pig is run by British chef April Bloomfield, who’s worked at the likes of River Cafe, Kensington Place, Bibendum, Chez Panisse. It’s hugely popular and impossible to book, so expect to wait. We were lucky and went at 3pm on a Saturday, so we managed to sneak in a late lunch from their slightly restricted late afternoon menu without waiting very long at all.
I chose their most famous, most popular dish – the burger with roquefort and shoe string fries – and it did not disappoint. It may be the best burger I’ve ever had. The roquefort gives the perfect piquant note to a beautifully seasoned, perfectly cooked burger in a chargrilled brioche bun. The shoe string fries are served with fresh rosemary, giving them a gorgeous flavour. I can’t wait to go back one day!
Eataly has become a bit of a New York institution. It’s a giant Italian food shop with a number of restaurants inside. The original branch in the Flatiron district gets very busy, so head to the Downtown branch near the World Trade Centre for a more peaceful dining experience. As well as exploring the fantastic shop (I could lose hours in there), we also grabbed both breakfast and lunch there. For breakfast, we shared a blueberry foccacia – which was ridiculously soft and pillowy – and for lunch, we went to the fresh pasta restaurant. I had a delish cacio e peppe – as good as the one I had in Rome last year. Worth a visit.
When I was researching the best pizza in New York, I came across a few recommendations for Kesté, which serves Neopolitan style pizzas across three locations in the city. What a fantastic way to end our trip to NYC – our friends that we were visiting declared it the best pizza in New York! I had the Kesté signature pizza and it was divine – buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, rocket, and parmesan. I would eat it all over again if I could.
Big Gay Ice Cream
Big Gay Ice Cream – which started as a food truck and now has four shops, including three in New York – was another real highlight on our trip. We went there for pudding after Kesté, which was ideal as soft serve ice cream was probably all we could have managed after such big pizzas. I had the salty pimp, which is vanilla soft serve injected with dulce de leche and dipped in salted chocolate. You won’t want to share.
And some non-food recommendations…
- Absolutely visit The Met – it’s absolutely stunning and there is so much to see. You can pay whatever you like so don’t let the suggested $25 ticket fee put you off if you’re trying to save cash.
- Top of the Rock is my favourite view in New York – you get to look over Central Park and down to the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and One World Trade Centre. It’s worth doing.
- Walk the High Line – it’s a stunning raised park upcycled from an old railway track. It’s an oasis in the city. Don’t miss it.
- Do Broadway if you can – it’s expensive but I am so thrilled we did it on this trip. We saw Waitress, starring Sara Bareilles, who also wrote music and lyrics. I’ve been singing it ever since.
- The 9/11 museum – is very important and very well done. I did it on my last trip and would really recommend it to anyone visiting New York. It’s tough going but really worth doing. And pre-booking.
- Century 21 – is a HUGE discount department store and you can get some real bargains. Think Debenhams crossed with TK Maxx. If you have the patience, go for it. I got some cute Levi’s for £20.
- The Oculus – is a new shopping centre slash train station next to the World Trade Centre. It looks like a porcupine from the outside and looks like an eye from the inside. Worth walking through, even if you don’t stop to shop.
- Central Park – don’t miss it. Walk up to the reservoir – it gets quieter the further north you go. It’s truly special.
- Brooklyn Bridge – gives you a gorgeous view of the city and the bridge itself is stunning. Go.
- New York Public Library – is just stunning. Breathtakingly lovely. Do it.
- Grand Central Station – is also absolutely gorgeous. It’s probably one of the most beautiful stations in all the world. Look for the whispering gallery.
- Times Square – you can’t not do it. Go at night, when the lights are most impressive.
- Climb to the Statue of Liberty’s crown – is a unique experience! Only a small number of people are allowed to climb the 360+ steps up to Lady Liberty’s crown every day and tickets usually sell out a couple of months in advance. It’s an amazing experience – the crown is actually tiny (it can only fit six people in at a time) and the climb involves a very narrow, tightly winding staircase, but it’s amazing to be inside. It’s not expensive either – just over $20 – and the ticket includes a tour of Ellis Island and your boat passage. The security measures are airport-style so make sure you travel light when you visit, and do expect to pay $2 for a locker – all you’re allowed to take to the crown are your phone, camera, and a bottle of water.