The highlight of our trip to NYC in December was undoubtedly the food. I'd done serious research before you went (there was a whole post about it) which meant I was armed with a long list of places to eat, and I'm happy to report that every meal we had was amazing.
Shall we do a little eating tour through New York, then? Let's!
5 Napkin Burger, Hell's Kitchen
I heard of this chain a while ago and the name appealed to me instantly, because I usually need at least five napkins to eat a burger, if not more. We went there for dinner with friends on our first night, and it did not disappoint. I had to go for the Original 5 Napkin Burger, with beef, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli. I couldn't finish it - it was huge - but oh, it was awesome. Cooked to perfection (slightly pink in the middle), with oozing cheese and a delicious hint of rosemary. Magical.
French Roast, Uptown
We met our friends here for brunch on our first day in NYC - it's a lovely cosy joint with great brunch options and lovely service. Our mimosas were not to be, as we met at 11 and they don't start serving booze until 12, but as we spent the rest of the afternoon in a bar, that worked out fine. My hot chocolate came with more cream than liquid, and my Eggs Benedict were perfectly cooked. A lovely place for brunch with friends.
The Meatball Shop, Chelsea
I visited this place the last time I went to NYC, so a return trip was definitely in order. They have a super simple menu of 5 different meatballs (including one special),, 6 sauces, plus 6 carby slides and 6 green ones - and you just mix and match. You can get meatballs on mash or spaghetti, on a baguette or even as sliders if you just can't choose. I went for chicken meatballs with mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes, with a side of broccoli - rich and creamy and incredible. Matt went for the classic beef with tomato sauce and spaghetti. The special also sounded so good that we had to try it - a Mac 'n' Cheese ball, hello! (We went for it as a slider, minus the bun - perfect when you just want to try) It's a lovely, informal atmosphere - perfect for a quick, tasty dinner.
Caracas Arepas Bar, East Village
This was a recommendation on my last post - thanks, Tenik! We loved the sound of it because it was so unusual, and it was a really great dinner option. Arepas are Venezualan flatbreads made of corn, stuffed with spicy meat in a sauce. We'd never had Venezualan food before, and there's a lot in common with Mexican food - we started with guac and tortilla chips, for instance. My arepas was stuffed with chicken, sausage, avocado and chimi-churri, while Matt's was filled with pork shoulder, tomato and mango sauce. The arepas look small, but they're really filling - and it was great to try a different cuisine rather than our usual Burgers R Great comfort zone.
The Spotted Pig, West Village
This West Village gastropub seems to pop up on every list of places to eat in NYC, and as we were passing around lunchtime when the heavens opened, it seemed rude not to. I ordered the burger, mostly because I kept hearing about it. I was a little worried I wasn't hungry enough for a burger, but I had no problem with this burger - it was really good. Surprisingly simple - just meat, cheese and a bun - but because the meat was amazing quality and so well cooked, it was just right. Matt had the Smoked Haddock Chowder, which looked so tiny and insignificant compared to my giant plate of shoestring fries (an awesome combo of crisps and chips) but he assured me it was rich, creamy and super filling. It's not the cheapest place out there, but absolutely worth it for a treaty meal.
McSorley's Old Ale House, East Village
We popped into this pub after dinner one night, and discovered that they only serve beer - two types. You choose Light or Dark, you get two at a time, and that's it. We weren't there long (I don't actually like beer), but during the half hour or so we were there, we witnessed a full on Top Gun serenade of 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling' which the whole bar joined in with. I was quite sad not to stay - it seemed excellent for people watching.
Katz's Delicatessen, East Village
Pretty much everyone told me to visit Katz's, and as this was my third visit to NY, it was pretty shocking that I hadn't been. I actually wasn't sure if I'd been or not, until I went this time and no - I would remember THAT. My friend had suggested I ordered the Reuben, and that was an excellent suggestion, because it was MINDBLOWING. It's enormous, so I highly recommend sharing with a companion (we didn't, and couldn't manage much more than half each), stuffed with the best pastrami you will ever taste. There's so much in there that you'd expect it to be salty and dry, but it's moist and full of flavour. The servers even give you some to nibble on while they're prepping your sarnies. Ordering is a little intimidating, but the guys behind the counter were really helpful and will explain it all to you if you don't get it.
Doughnut Plant, Chelsea
Do not go to Doughnut Plant unless you want all other doughnuts to be ruined for life. HO. LY. CRAP. You know sometimes you eat somewhere and they're all like 'Made fresh every day!' and you're like 'Sure, if you say so!' Well, no one needs to tell me that DP's doughnuts are fresh. They are so SOFT, like they've come straight out the oven. We went twice, in the end - I can highly recommend the peanut butter and jam, which is filled with jam and covered in a crunchy peanut butter glaze. And the coconut cream is also incredible, filled with a coconutty cream and covered with a coconut glaze - but it was less good than the first, because I popped it into my bag in Brooklyn on our last morning and forgot about it until the next morning, when I was back in St Albans. Still tasty, though.
Tompkins Square Bagels, East Village
The morning before we went to Katz's, we thought we'd grab a quick bagel for breakfast. Little did we realise how huge the bagels are at Tompkin's. I had avocado, bacon and chipotle chicken - it was delicious and enormous. The bagels are super fresh and tasty, but if you have one of these for breakfast, you probably won't be hungry again until the evening.
Refinery Rooftop Bar, W 38th St
I really, really wanted to go to the Hudson rooftop bar, as I'd heard they'd turned it into a ski lodge with s'mores and grilled cheese and hot booze, but when we were looking for somewhere to go for a cosy drink, the rooftop was closed! We found ourselves at the Refinery Hotel instead, and their bar is just lovely. Dimly lit, strewn with fairy lights, with several forms of hot booze on the menu - I heartily approved. We got some tater tots to nibble on with our cocktails (a very generous portion, too) and sipped hot toddies, which really hit the spot - especially as I was cultivating a chest infection at the time.
Sarabeth's, Central Park South
There are a few branches of Sarabeth's around NYC but this branch is just opposite Central Park, so it's lovely for a fancy brunch. We weren't quite in the right mood when we went, unfortunately - blame the lethal frozen margaritas at the Turkey's Nest Tavern we'd had the night before (do NOT have more than one, or you will be sick and lose the whole of the next morning) - but our pancakes and french toast did help our hangovers a little. The food here is beautifully prepared and the service is exceptional. Make sure you order a side of the chicken and apple sausages - SO good.
Rancho Tequileria, Hell's Kitchen
This friendly Mexican is close to our friends' flat, and they recommended we headed there on our last night. I can't quite put into words just how hungover we were in our last full day in NYC. We couldn't get out of bed until midday, and both had to abandon our brunch halfway through because we felt so rotten. Luckily, a walk round Central Park and a trip to the Top of the Rock sorted us out, eventually - good old fresh air - but all our tequila-poisoned bellies wanted for dinner was something fresh, tasty and not too heavy. This was perfect - we got a portion each of the chicken and carnitas tacos and shared. And then we went to bed at 9.30pm, because of said hangover.
Bark Hotdogs, Brooklyn
I was pretty firm that I had to have a hot dog on this trip - I totally missed out last time. We went to Brooklyn on our last morning there and wandered to Bark for hotdogs. These are small but perfectly formed - if you're really hungry, I'd definitely recommend getting two - but for a light lunch, one was ideal. I liked that they were simple, though - it felt more authentic than giant gourmet hot dogs, y'know? Mine had mustard, red pepper relish and red onions and it was veeery good. As was that black cherry soda you can see pictured up there. Nom.
Argh, I just desperately want to go back again and try more places! I'm already wondering when we can go back.