Ahhhh New York. The city that never sleeps and the city where I don’t stop eating.
Springsteen did me a favour this year and announced to NY tour dates just two days apart over the UK Easter bank holidays. Sold. A chance to see The Boss in the famous MSG and a chance to check out the world’s finest burgers, bagels, pizzas and ribs.
Overwhelmed with so many meals to eat and panicking that I wouldn’t fit them all in, I put together a meticulously planned food itinerary, detailing breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack offerings in NYC:
I’ll start at the beginning:
I love bagels almost as much as I love burgers and made sure I had plenty of different bagel haunts to try in my NY food timetable. The bagel winner for me has to be Ess-a-Bagel, a local hangout with a location on 1st Ave and 20th. Brits seem to be a bit obsessed with toasting bagels (unless they are fresh from the bakeries on Brick Lane) but toasting is a big No No in NY. Bagels at Ess-a-Bagel go straight from steaming vessel to my mouth in a matter of seconds. With my new sweet tooth, my favourite bagel has to be a cinnamon bagel with raisin and walnut cream cheese. For something more savoury, the Reuben is great – a bagel stuffed with pastrami, sweet cheese and pickles on an ‘everything’ bagel. Bagel heaven.
If you cant get to Italy for pizza, get to NY for pie. Apparently there is something in the water that makes NY pizzas so damn good. Grimaldi’s located under the Brooklyn Bridge is quite a tourist trap, but a tourist trap for a reason. Known for its long queues, prepare to cosy up with the tourists you are sat next to. The extra large is for four people, or two big foodies. The mozzarella is super stringy and crispy base adds that extra bit of texture so essential in good food. The picture says it all.
Pizza: 99 Cent
Great food tastes even better if you’ve got a real bargain and this place sure delivers. Cheap pizza isn’t hard to find in NY and I ate my fair share (2Bros, Artichoke), but 99 Cent Pizza is the best I found. Serving only Margherita, you’ll polish a slice off before leaving the shop and be back for more. Head to Joe coffee on Waverly Place afterwards (a chain, but don’t judge) for the best NY coffee.
Where do I begin with burgers. I did A LOT of burger research before I visited NY because I just had to get this right. I consulted burger detective Burgerac for a little help.
Burgers: Shake Shack
An obvious one but up there for a reason. The patty is just so juicy and the buns so darn soft. The double Shake Shack burger is a must because you get the Shake Shack special sauce and the crunchy freshness of the lettuce. I visited the ‘Columbia’ and Time Square locations and reached a new personal best in NY by eating three Shake Shacks in a day. There is nothing quite like a midnight Shake Shack following a three and a half hour concert from Springsteen. Locals and tourists alike are prepared to queue for hours for these burgers and I can see why.
Burgers: Burger & Barrel
Out of my whole NY itinerary, this ‘wine pub’ was the place I was most excited for. The Bash Burger exceeded my expectations and delivered one of the finest burgers I’ve had to date. The 6 oz patty was served with pickles, American cheese, and an incredible caramelized onion and bacon jam, served in the middle of a soft glazed roll. Burgers can create quite a conundrum if you aren’t a seasoned burger eater, and I admit I was a little worried when I saw how much burger juice had seeped into the bun – would it fall apart and would it be soggy? I had no reason to worry however; the burger held it together and delivered one of the finest meals of NY. The two onion rings were a welcome addition and I happily munched away on them also. Thank you Burger & Barrel.
Burgers: Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien Hotel
If you are looking for a quirky burger joint in NY, this is where to head. Hidden behind a curtain in a luxury NY hotel lies the Burger Joint, a room stuffed full of people enjoying some of the best burgers the city has to offer. Avoid the lunchtime rush and head down around 3pm to bag a table and scrawl your name on the graffiti walls. Be prepared to get messy, these burgers are seriously juicy. Once you’ve finished, make the most of the luxurious surroundings (of the hotel, not Burger Joint) to wash your greasy burger paws. Nice touch.
Ribs: Fette Sau
Get out of Manhattan for cheap food in NY and head for Williamsburg in Brooklyn which I guess you could liken to Shoreditch in London, but better. I was on a rib hunt in NY, with the latest craze in London being ribs (PittCueCo amongst others) I was far from disappointed by Fette Sau. Located in what you might describe as a small-disused warehouse, food is priced by the weight and favourites include pulled pork, pork ribs, burnt ends beans and crunchy pickles. Don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with no room to drink your barrel full of beer. Afterwards, check out Oslo Coffee over the road and rummage through the gazillions of vintage shops in the area.
Pancakes: Clifton Street Bakery Company
Pancakes are a real favourite of mine and it makes me weep that I can’t find any good ones in London, so I headed to the Clifton Street Bakery Company with a spring in my step ready for the ultimate pancake experience. Sadly I was quite disappointed. Admittedly, the food looks great, but the wait for a table (I am over that), tourists (yes I know I am one) and overwhelming sweetness of the maple butter (why not maple syrup?) was a little too much for me to handle. The bacon and eggs were brilliant however.
Pork Buns: Momofoku
I think Momofoku has safely established itself on the ‘must visit’ list for many NY tourists (was it just included on top 50 restaurants in the world?) If so it’s with good reason. I passed on the noodles here as I need to save stomach space and there was one thing I was here to eat: pork buns. Cucumber, hoisin sauce and pork belly are stuffed into a steamed bread bun – simple yet outstanding!
Meatballs: The Meatball Shop
Saucy saucy meatballs, that’s all I wanted on day three in NY. Of course, there are many meatballs options available in NY (try a giant meatball sub at Defontes), but The Meatball Shop ticked all the boxes for me during my visit. The Meatball Shop is a little trendy hipster joint I admit, but I definitely still think it’s worth a visit. The format is a tick box menu, where you select your meatball type (pork, beef, turkey), sauce (tomato, spicy, creamy cheese etc) and side (bread, pasta, salad etc). I opted for the classic beef meatball with tomato sauce, parmesan and focaccia dipping bread – keep it simple I say.
Sadly, over indulgence prevented me from getting to few other places I am keen to try in NY:
Minetta Tavern (for a pricey but amazing burger, apparently)
Katz Deli (I saw this on Man vs Food when I got home which makes me even more upset I didn’t get there)
IHOP (OK its not NY but I it’s worth getting to New Jersey I feel. It’s where Springsteen is from after all)
At least with NY there will always be a next time.