10 good reasons to visit New York City

10 good food reasons to visit New York

1. Katz’s Deli

Katz’s Deli is a New York institution. Anyone who’s interested in food should pay it a visit – even if just for the pastrami on rye. Established in 1888 Katz’s has survived two World Wars and is the scene of Meg Ryan’s infamous orgasm in When Harry Met Sally. But be warned: the burly butchers behind the meat counters can be rather sour (unless handsomely tipped; in which case you get a generous portion of pastrami on your sandwich).

2. Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park was voted the best restaurant in New York City in Adam Platt’s Where to Eat 2012 and 10th best restaurant in the world in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Besides the high accolades, I was immediately drawn to eating here as the 14-course tasting menu explores the history of New York City through food. Chef Daniel Humm’s food is extraordinary to say the least, and the “menu” you are presented with upon arrival is a list of ‘ingredients’ or words from which you have to choose 4. Humm then customises the 14 courses around these core ingredients. (I picked ‘foie gras’ – sorry! –, ‘parsnip’, ‘sweetbreads’ and ‘pistachio’.) My friend Taryn picked ‘langoustine’, ‘lobster’, ‘pork’ and ‘chocolate’. The highlight of it all was a personalised tour into the kitchen where a mixologist created a frozen Colony cocktail with liquid nitrogen and gin (see pic below) whilst we observed the militant kitchen operations. (Taryn swears it’s the best drink she has EVER had). Once again, a bit of forewarning: it’s not cheap and getting a table is quite a feat.

3. Food Trucks

I don’t quite know where to begin on this one. The food truck revolution is a phenomenon. Run by the NYC Food Truck Association via social media, you can get just about any specialised food – from dim sum, Mexican, souvlaki, burgers, empanadas – at various intersections in the city at any given time of day. And it really works. In fact (and I’m going to be bold in this statement), watch this space… My favourite: Wafels & Dinges serving waffles with various toppings including savoury pulled pork.

4. Shake Shack & The Burger Joint

I’d heard a lot about Shake Shack prior to my trip, and even though the burgers are great (that Shack Stack – cheeseburger with a crisp-fried portobello mushroom stuffed with melted Muenster cheese – is beyond description), it still doesn’t hold a candle to The Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien. And I use the phrase ‘at the Parker Meridien’ very loosely as ‘the joint’ is sequestered behind floor-to-ceiling drapes behind the hotel lobby. And when you get behind the curtains and make your way down a dark passage, a vinyl-boothed space reveals itself in all its New York ‘underground’ glory. The options are simple: cheeseburger with hand-cut fries and a cola or beer. There’s no website.

5. Starbucks and a bagel

What’s New York without Starbucks? Yes it’s a chain, and yes it’s probably not the most original discovery, but there’s nothing quite like a New York Times, bagel with cheese, caffe americano and a corner table from which to watch the world go by.

6. Bowl of coffee at Balthazar

Apparently, if you’re into celeb-spotting, Balthazar is where it’s at. I didn’t see any. But the ‘coffee in a bowl’ and the general vibe is totally worth a visit. (Even though the food’s not really much to write home about).

7. Dean & Deluca

No trip to the city would be complete without a visit to Dean & Deluca.I visited the original store that opened in SoHo in 1977 at the corner of Prince and Greene Streets. It’s technically a ‘food department store’ overflowing with produce from seafood and shellfish, breads, cheesemongers, butchers and dry goods by any name. Heaven.

8. Wholefoods

In a similar vein, Wholefoods is definitely a worthwhile stop. I saw these incredible heirloom tomatoes there:

9. The Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery is a tricky one… Yes it’s an institution, and yes it’s quaint (plus it’s located on my favourite street in Greenwich – Bleecker). But the cupcakes weren’t as mind-blowing as I’d expected. Or maybe we’re just a bit over cupcakes? Personally, I think both Tina Bester and Kirsten Zschokke’s (of Miss K fame) cupcakes are far nicer!

10. Chelsea Market below the High Line

Chelsea Market is located just below The High Line. The market is open seven days a week and is a great place to stock up on a takeaway picnic to have on the High Line or for a sit-down meal. We had lunch at Friedman’s Lunch (by the way, the BLT on sourdough is a winner.)

I love you Cape Town, but I can’t wait to go back to the Big Apple.

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15 Responses to “10 good reasons to visit New York City”

  1. Sam October 19, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    Beyond jealous about your food trip to NYC, I love that city and cant wait to go back. I will certainly be following in your footsteps when I do. :-)

    • bern October 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      And let me know when you do go. I hope to be going back VERY soon. B

  2. richard October 19, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    Planning a trip to NYC soon so thanks for the great tips.

    • bern October 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      Let me know if you want to catch up before you go. It’s going to be amazing. B

  3. Tall Paul October 19, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    Well done.
    You have had an amazing year and you deserve it!!

  4. Karen October 19, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    NYC is a foodl lover’s paradise. I also love Eataly (opposite Flatiron Building). I’s a like a deli on steroids. Lovely micro brewery on rooftop.

    • bern October 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      I’ve heard so much about Eataly, but sadly my time was just too short. Next time.

  5. Maddie October 21, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    This post will be my food guide while in NY over Christmas. Next time also try Serendipity for the best Ice Cream(the movie was also filmed there). And what I think is a great American experience,Stardust Diner with the singing waiters.

    • bern October 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

      Lucky you Maddie. I’d love to see the city all lit up over Christmas. Another restaurant you really shouldn’t miss is Red Farm. It’s insane.

  6. Bash October 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    Awesome Bernie! Flip New York is insane…. I remember Katz’s Deli and the massive pastrami sarmies:) I also remember a great deli called Pastis in the meatpacking district? One for your next trip. I think we should have a chicks torr to NY! YEAH. See you in a few weeks xxxxx

  7. Tamara October 25, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    What a great post. I’m going to NYC at the end of the November and will definitely be visiting some of your suggested places. Eleven Madison Park being top of the list. If I can get in! It sounds amazing.

    • bern October 26, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Hi Tamara. To be very honest with you, the city has SO many unbelievable restaurants of extremely high calibre that are very affordable. I’d almost skip Madison and use the cash to explore some of the other restaurants. I can HIGHLY recommend: RedFarm, The Spotted Pig, ABC Kitchen, Gramercy Tavern etc etc SO many that don’t break the budget. Have a look at Adam Platt’s 101 list on NYmag.com

      • Tamara November 25, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

        Hi Bern, I’m so glad I checked back in on your comments. Thanks for the tips. I already have a reservation at Eleven Madison this coming Saturday. It is a budget breaker though I agree! I saw you had mentioned RedFarm in the comments so that is definitely on my list along with Spotted Pig.

    • bern October 26, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      In fact… RedFarm is the best place I ate at on my entire trip and owner Ed Schonfeld is a food legend and icon. Didn’t blog about it, as I’m saving it for a bigger story. You absolutely must go.

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