Earlier this year, I had the chance to travel to New York to visit Dean & Deluca, and I had the time of my life. During that week, I ate, and ate, and ate some more. New York is a destination for every food lover, and I was simply blown away by the dining scene.
Here’s my New York City Dining Guide. I’ve included my favourite restaurants, cheap eats, bakeries and desserts, which will make you want to buy a ticket and fly off to NYC immediately.
Where to eat in New York City? Read on and find out more!
Imperial No. 9 (first picture of this post) is my dream restaurant. I fell in love with it at first sight. You must go there for brunch when you are in New York.
I will jump straight to one of my favourite places in New York. Prune (54 E 1st Street First Avenue New York Tel: +01 212 677 6221) – a tiny restaurant on the fringe of East Village which has an almost cult-like following – does not take reservations for brunch on weekend, so I was there early to queue up for a spot. I was not disappointed. The food is unpretentious and delicious. I’d highly recommend going there for a meal when you are in NYC.
On W Houston Street, you have Burger and Barrel (25 West Houston Street New York Tel: +01 212 334 7320) – a gastrobar restaurant that serves simple comfort food like burgers and sandwiches. It has a terrific atmosphere, making it the perfect place to have a nice dinner with a glass of wine or beer.
Ippudo (51 4th Avenue New York Tel: +01 212 388v0088) in NYC was quite an experience. Cool music, trendy vibe, and good ramen. There’s only one word to describe it: wow. Remember to have the pork buns for appetisers when you are there.
Momofuku Noodle Bar (171 1st Avenue New York; between 10th and 11th street Tel: +01 212 777 7773) has often been compared with Ippudo, so I had to make a trip there to find out. Dining at Momofuku Noodle Bar is a casual affair and I enjoyed my meal there. While Ippudo has better ramen than Momofuku, the latter wins in terms of the famous pork buns.
Another David Chang’s restaurant, Momofuku Ssam Bar (207 2nd Avenue New York; corner of 13th street and 2nd Avenue Tel: +01 212 254 3500) is a place which serves pretty good food in a cool setting.
At $28, the Prix Fix menu ($28) offered excellent value. The signature tripe pork – an ideal dish to start the meal – was spicy and refreshing. I also had a duck sandwich which was very good, and I ended the meal with a grapefruit tart. I am a fan of David Chang, so don’t take my word for it. Try out his restaurants when you are in NYC.
The Korean Fried Chicken trend took New York City by storm a few years ago, and Bonchon Restaurant (957 2nd Avenue New York Tel: +01 212 308 8810) was, and still is, one of the most popular Korean Restaurants in town.
We shared a medium platter which had a mix of wings and drumsticks in soy garlic and spicy flavours. They were finger licking good (for a lack of a better term), but I have to say that there are equally good Korean fried chicken in Singapore. If you are planning to go on a hunt for the best Korean Fried Chicken in NYC, you should also check out Kyochon (350 5th Avenue New York Tel: +01 212 725 9292).
Eatalty (200 5th Avenue New York Tel: +01 212 229 2560) by Celebrity Chef Mario Batali is a gigantic food emporium with everything – from cured meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fresh fish, handmade pasta, desserts and baked goods – under one roof. Definitely worth a visit.
Balthazar Restaurant (80 Spring Street New York Tel: +01 212 965 1414) is also a must-visit. Stepping inside Balthazar, it felt as though we were transported to Paris. It’s hard to explain but I was definitely enchanted here in a way I haven’t been in quite some time.
I had a fantastic meal at Saxon and Parole (316 Bowery New York Tel: +01 212 254 0350). Everything that we had was good, and prices are actually very reasonable for the quality of food. Try the Bone Narrow, Chicken Liver for appetisers ($11-15); Roasted Pork Belly and New York Strip for main courses (USD$20-30 for mains, and USD$28-98 for steaks).
ABC Kitchen (35 East 18th Street New York, NY 10003, United States 212 475 5829) by Jean-Georges is a very cool restaurant that focuses on offering the freshest organic and local ingredients. We tried wood oven roasted maine lobster ($57), tuna sashimi marinated with ginger and mint ($16), and roasted kabocha squash toast ($10); with the exception of the wagyu burger ($22) which was too dry, the other dishes were well-done.
The Mercer’s Kitchen (99 Prince Street New York Tel: +01 212 966 5454), another restaurant opened by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, also emphasizes pure, locally produced ingredients. A good place to grab lunch if you are shopping in the SoHo area.
We had breakfast at The Standard Grill (848 Washington Street New York Tel: +01 212 645 4100) – a steak house with an old world charm that’s really nice for all day dining. We tried almost everything on the brunch menu, and my Steak & Eggs was excellent. Definitely a place that I can see myself returning to have steaks for dinner.
Ben’s Pizza at SOHO (177 Spring Street New York Tel: +01 212 966 4494) – a place where locals go for a quick fix – offers the classic New York slice. If this is your first time in the Big Apple, you must get a slice of the famous pizza here.
Shake Shack (11 Madison Avenue New York Tel: +01 212 889 6600), arguably one of the most well-known burger places, is one of the must-eats for folks who are visiting the city for the first time. I thought that the burgers were good, but did not live up to the hype. That said, I don’t mind having it if someone is willing to wait in line to get it.
You like fried chicken? You will love Mama fried chicken (2158 8th Avenue New York Tel: +01 212 531 4595). This is the place to get American fried chicken. For less than USD$10, you can have a meal with three pieces of finger-licking good fried chicken. They are, without exaggerating, the best fried chicken I’ve had in my life.
Katz’s Delicatessen (205 East Houston Street New York Tel: +01 212 254 2246) has the best pastrami sandwich (USD$15). I repeat: Best. Pastrami. Sandwich. Make a trip there, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
On the same street, you have Russ and Daughters (179 East Houston Street New York Tel: +01 212 475 4880) – an institution in New York. Everyone goes there for its smoke-salmon bagels.
S’mac (345 East 12th Street New York Tel: +01 212 358 7912) You like Mac & Cheese? You will like S’mac. This is a Mac & Cheese specialty restaurant – they offer Mac & Cheese with interesting flavours like four cheese, cheeseburger, cajun, and masala. The Mac & Cheese comes in different portions, with the small starting at USD$4.75, medium at USD$7.75, and big at USD$13.5.
You mustn’t miss out on trying Lobster Roll when you are in New York City, and you can find the best at Luke’s Lobster (93 East 7th Street Tel: +01 212 387 8487). They use fresh lobster, and each roll comes with a generous portion of lobster meat. Besides lobster roll (USD$15), they also have crab roll ($11) and Shrimp Roll ($8). I’d go so far as to say that this is one of the things that you must eat in New York.
East Village is a foodie paradise, and just a few steps down from Luke’s Lobster, you have Porchetta (110 E 7th Street 1st Avenue Tel: +01 212 777 2151) – a small little joint that is known for their Prochetta Sandwiches (USD$10).
If you are familiar with the New York food scene, you would have probably heard of Big Gay ice cream truck, which combines traditional soft-serve ice cream with imaginative toppings such as wasabi pea dust, Nilla Wafers, Dulce de Leche, olive oil and sea salt. Big Gay ice cream shop (125 East 7th Street; between 1st Avenue & Avenue A) is the owners’ first brick and mortar store, and they offer the full menu to satisfy your ice cream cravings.
For those of you who want a quick meal, Yakitori Taisho (5 St Marks Place between 3rd Ave and Astor Place Tel:+01 212 228 5086) – a popular izakaya in East Village – has decent yakitori at affordable prices.
For other cheap eats in New York, you need to get your hands on hotdogs. I was told by friends that Gray’s Papaya (2090 Broadway New York Tel: +01 212 799 0243) has a pretty decent hotdog. Chipotle (various outlets) – a popular Mexican fast food restaurant – has surprisingy good taco and burrito. And of course, there are plenty of food trucks around New York City, while not all of them are good, there are some really special ones like Kimchi Tacos, Greek Souviaki, and Wafels and Dinges. Fresh, cheap, and amazing street food.
Bakeries and Desserts
How can anyone visit New York without having the red velvet cupcake from the world famous Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker Street New York Tel: +01 212 462 2572)? While there are some people who feel that Magnolia Bakery is over-rated, I beg to differ – the cupcakes are surprisingly good, albeit a little too sweet.
Ceci Cela Patisserie (55 Spring Street New York Tel: +01 212 274 9179), a humble French pastry shop – came highly recommended. They have excellent desserts, remember to drop by when you are shopping in the SoHo area.
Another cafe that you should check out in SoHo is Vive La Crepe (51 Spring Street New York Tel: +01 646 484 6897) – just two shops away from Ceci Cela, – which offers delicious savory and sweet crepes.
Pinkberry (41 Spring Street New York Tel+01 888 757 2331) is probably the best froyo in the States. If you have not tried it before, you must get it!
Dominque Ansel (189 Spring Street New York Tel:+01 212 219 2773) is not your usual neighbourhood bakery. It is opened by Dominique Ansel, who was the pastry chef at Daniel for six years. Besides the usual croissants, macarons and éclairs, something that you absolutely can’t miss, is the DKA pastry.
For organic pastries, go to Bird Bath Bakery (169 Prince Street New York Tel: +01 646 722 6565). Trust me, there’s no way you are going to leave the shop empty-handed. There’s also Ivy’s Bakery (138 W Houston Street New York Tel: +01 347 598 3452), a small and cosy cafe that serves different pies and cupcakes.
If you are looking to get gifts for your friends, drop by Xocolatti (172 Prince Street New York Tel: +01 212 256 0332) – one of the most popular chocolate shops – where you can find handcrafted chocolate and exotic truffles. I am not kidding about the exotic flavours. Expect ingredients like Indian cardamom, Iranian pistachios and Spanish saffron.
Junior Cheesecake (Grand Central Terminal New York Tel: +01 212 692 9800) has often been mentioned as one of the best, if not the best cheesecake in New York, and indeed, it did not disappoint. It was so good that I hand-carried three whole cakes back to Singapore.
For something more refined, Chikalicious Dessert Bar (204 E. 10th St, between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave, 212 475 0929) has a dessert prix fix menu where you get an amuse bouche, dessert and petit four. Across the street, their sister cafe, Chikalicious offers simpler but equally delicious desserts like chocolate pudding, cupcakes, and chocolate lava cake. We had a Chocolate Eclair – which was wonderful, and Sloppy Dough – a deep fried donut filled with vanilla cream custard.
Fans of Laduree will be delighted to know that they have a store in New York. Enough said.
One of my favourite cupcake places is Georgetown cupcakes (111 Mercer Street New York Tel: +01 212 431 4504). This is definitely a place you can’t miss if you are going on a quest to find the best cupcakes in New York.
If you like Japanese desserts, you must check out Kyotofu (705 9th Avenue New York Tel: +01 212 974 6012) – New York’s award-winning Japanese Dessert Bar & Bakery. Since opening, Kyotofu has quickly become New Yorkers’ favourite hangout place.
Amy’s Bread (250 Bleecker Street New York Tel: +01 212 675 7802) is a cosy bakery cafe where locals go for breakfast, lunch and desserts. We tried their Red Velvet Cake, and I’m happy to say that it was one of the better ones that I’ve had.