Well, not all of it. But I gave it a pretty good go.
For me, NYC and food is where it’s at. The sheer amount of people, and places to eat and the fact that the place never stops, like ever, makes it such a hot spot for good food and drinks. The thing I love the most about New York is that there’s never a Monday, or a Wednesday or a Saturday night (so it might be busy), it’s busy ALL THE TIME. It’s always open. There’s no bullshit kitchen closes at 9pm, it’s always open, you can always get a table (or a spot at the bar) and they are always wanting to serve you. They want your business! The service is always SPOT on, you feel looked after, you want to give tips and no matter WHAT you feel like eating, you can find it. Oh Australia, you have a long way to go in that respect.
And while there are still some areas that fall behind Australia: like our superior cafe culture (and good coffee) there’s so much that is better: fountain cola, thin straws, cheap cocktails, burgers, PIZZA OH MY GOD THE PIZZA, brunch, proper mexican…the list goes on and on and on.
Now everyone gave me a gazillion suggestions that I MUST go to. And there were plenty that were overlapped so you know that those places must be good. Everyone has somewhere that they loved, and even though it might not have been THE best place to go, they had the best time there for whatever reason, they had a great time with friends, or they got engaged there, or have some special memory attached to that place. So while these places might not be the best mexican or pizza or bar, we had a great time in each and every one of them so they are my recommendations. You could eat and drink out every meal for years and still not scratch the surface of this city. It is IMMENSE.
Here’s some tips or insights that I found consistent across all the places.
- If you are going to a fancy pants place that is very popular BOOK BEFORE YOU GO. Reservations can be made 1 month in advance and online so get booking. If there are just 2 of you, you might luck out by rocking up…you can always ask for a seat at the bar and eat there as well. If you have made a reservation you will usually get an email reminding you.
- As soon as you sit down, you will be asked about your water of choice (NYC tap water is the best and will do every time).
- Cocktails are de rigour in the states. They are cheaper than wine, comprehensive and DELICIOUS. And happy hour may last for many, many hours (like 7). Always start with a cocktail! Wine is more expensive (the cheapest prosecco I could find by the glass was about $12 a glass) and prices went up from there. French was around $25 a glass.
- Entrees are called appetisers, mains are called entrees and desserts universally are just that.
- Serving sizes are on the larger size (but in the fancier places not so much).
- There was avocado toast EVERYWHERE but it wasn’t great everywhere. It was more like a smooth guacamole and the toast was never a crunchy sourdough so disappointed me every time.
- Tip suggestions are given at the bottom of the bill, it takes some getting used to for Australians to work this out and add it on and remembering which piece of paper to take and leave and SO MUCH PAPERWORK but you’ll catch on pretty quick. Rob’s tip is to pay double whatever the tax is (roughly).
- If you are going to bar they will ask you if you want to start a tab (and ask for a card to do so) and when you are done ask to “close it out” or “close down the tab”.
- It’s a check not a bill so ask for the check when you are done.
- I stopped asking where the toilets (torlets) where and changed it to the rest rooms!
- The theatre of big restaurants is SO good. In particular Baltihazar was superior people watching. From the people working the bar, to the tables, to the guys that did the heavy lifting bringing over HUGE trays of plates and then setting up a folding table to place them on and hand them from – such good watching.
- You can totally eat by yourself so many people do. Perch yourself at a bar, make a friend with the person next to you – there’s no city in the world where you can make friends with strangers than in NY I reckon. There’s always someone to chat with.
No one does a bar better than NY. From a dive bar in the lower east side to an upmarket hotel on the upper east side they are just SO good. And abundant.
I recommend looking at some of the top boutique hotels and having a drink in their bars. Beware they are dark and over 40 eyesight is not what it used to be. When looking for the rest rooms I often found myself in fire escapes and stairwells. Even those fancy hotels, be dressed nice, be confident and you will get a table pretty much anywhere.
Some places that we went to were:
Dirty French (part of our hotel at the Ludlow in the Lower east Side)
Mr Purple (lower east side)
BArlo NoMad (part of our hotel mid town)
Bathtub Gin (speak easy in Chelsea)
Tao Downtown (Chelsea)
Fedora (West Village)
Rose Bar at Gramercy park Hotel (Gramercy Park)
Some places that were recommended over and over that we didn’t get to:
Fast Food & Takeaway
The mecca of all things “to go” there’s so much to love about takeaway in the States. Burgers are PROPER burgers (even though we have seen a renaissance of them here in Australia over the pasty few years) fried chicken (again, also gotten better here) food trucks, mexican, hot dogs…on it goes. There are so many chain places, like SO many and most of them are pretty bad. But you can find a great burger for next to nothing. We were both disappointed with the fries in NY, not salty enough, too crispy, we could never get the perfect fry.
But my all time favourite in New York? The PIZZA. It’s biblical. I don’t know what it is, they say the water? In my opinion it’s better than Italy. There I said it. It’s thin. It’s crispy. It’s BIG. It comes on dodgy paper plates with napkins, it’s pepperoni is oily and delicious and I could eat it every day for the rest of my life SO HELP ME GOD. And no matter where you go, it’s pretty much ALL good. And cheap! Slice of pepps is under $3 and pretty much a small pizza size here in Australia.
Diners are also so American and comforting, those booth seats, those seats lined up along the bar, the pies lined up, the fountain cola, the drip coffee, it’s the stuff from movies that you can live in real life and I LOVE it.
Some places we went to:
Five Guys Burger & Fries
The Remedy Diner
Russ & Daughters
Eataly (grab take away and head across the road into the park for a picnic)
Restaurants & Cafes
Again, there are too many to even begin to cover off, but here are a few that we went to and enjoyed. There are approximately 1 billion more you could choose from. And don’t judge the place by the outside, usually inside there’s a whole new world of coolness just through the doors that keep the rain and snow out.
Jack’s Wife Freida
Little Collins Street (great Australian coffee)
Her Name is Han (Korean)
Massoni NYC (part of the hotel at Arlo)
Are you exhausted? And full? Me too! Like I said, there are so many more that you could go to and everyone has their own recommendations so feel free to share and add to the list in the comments below. Tell me…
What’s your recommendation for best coffee?
What’s your recommendation for take away?
What’s your recommendation for best bar?
What’s your recommendation for best restaurant?
Any other dining tips you have to share with us? Go!