Food is important. Can we all agree with that? It keeps us alive, fuels our bodies, and often times monopolizes our minds throughout the day (or maybe that is just me).
Selling travel for over 16 years has taught me how important your food and dining experience is when you assess your overall travel experience. Let’s face it good or bad, food can make or break a vacation.
I will preface this by saying that I am not a food critic. I love food but cannot even put myself in the category of “foodie” because I love my Pan-seared Filet Mignon along with a side of some good ole boxed mac and cheese. I have met few casseroles that I did not like. However, I do appreciate good food and for most of my travels, food plays a big role in my planning and trip experience. New York was no different.
Most people think of bagels, pizza, hot dogs and cheesecake when they think of NYC. Or perhaps they think of swanky restaurants with $30 martinis and foie gras. We did try all of these staples (we passed on the foie gras) while we were there and really enjoyed them however we felt if this was all you ate while in New York you were missing out.
New York City is a melting pot and with its diversity brings a variety of cuisine. The food reflects the people and the heart of New York City. The place where people come to make their dreams come true or to find a community that accepts and welcomes differences.
We personally loved walking the streets and seeing an Irish bar sitting next to a Cuban restaurant then turning the corner and finding a tiny Thai place. The restaurants were as charming and unique as the people. Of course, we did not have enough time to fully plan or try even a small slice of the NYC pie but I wanted to share some of our personal favorites (TRY) from our short trip and places you might want to PASS by. Please also note our breakfast was included at our hotel each day so we do not have breakfast suggestions.
1.) CHAI TAI KITCHEN-
This meal was a favorite for our trip to NYC and we sort of stumbled upon it walking around the theater district near our hotel. It is a tiny little restaurant with a charming atmosphere with hanging lanterns and muted lighting. We loved our noodle bowls and found the pricing very reasonable for New York City. We will definitely return if in the area.
2.) Carlo’s Bake Shop- Cannolis
We tried the cheesecake and cannolis and found the cannolis to be the real winner. They were incredibly crunchy, creamy and not overly sweet. Absolutely delicious. Busy place and very little seating but grab some cannolis and take them to a local park and enjoy!
3.) Juniors – Cheesecake with strawberry topping or Red Velvet cake
We tried both and found them to be delicious. I know everyone has their own preference with cheesecake but I found this recipe to be perfect for me with a hint of lemon.
This was our first experience with this New York regional chain. We absolutely loved it. It was like Chipotle with Indian cuisine. Fast, easy, affordable and delicious. I would recommend stopping in if you find one while in the city.
4.) Spicy hotdog at one of the food carts in Central Park
A hot dog is not a culinary masterpiece but I recommend checking out some street food while in NYC. We tried a spicy hot dog from a cart in Central Park and found it really delicious. They had creperies, gyros, and all kinds of other street food carts and trucks to choose from around the city. You can grab some food and sit on the stairs of the Met or on the patio at the New York City Library (A.K.A. Lion’s library) and people watch if the weather is pleasant. We saw a lot of people enjoying this city pleasure. Next time, I will need to remember to do this more.
5.) Los Feliz Taqueria by chef Julieta Ballesteros
Our New York city friends took us to this gem while visiting. We highly recommend the Quesadilla de Flor de Calabaza and a Spicy Cilantro Margarita if you like spicy! Thanks to our NYC friends, we were personally introduced to chef Julieta (a one time contestant on the hit TV show Iron Chef) and treated to a special sampling of ceviches and churros, followed up with shots of tequila from one of the restaurant’s dozens of tequila options!
1.) Loeb Boathouse- Visit but do not eat dinner
Beautiful atmosphere and location right on the lake in Central Park, however, the food we found to be overpriced and bland. Service was less than stellar as well. I ordered the Filet and it had very little seasoning or flavor. Jason ordered the Salmon and it was again flavorless. We loved watching the gondola rides and rowboats passing by with skyscrapers in the backdrop but should have just gone to the self-service bar and patio area instead of the more formal dining room.
2.) The View Restaurant
This restaurant sits 48 floors above New York City. The revolving floor makes a 360° turn every hour, ensuring an ever-changing perspective of this celebrated city.
Again, we went for the atmosphere and unique experience of seeing the city skyline as the bar slowly rotates. However, the drinks were VERY overpriced and you had to pay a cover charge in order to get seated. We just went for dessert and found they only had a dessert buffet which was very expensive so we just had a couple of drinks and left. The views were very good but the restaurant was dated and there were screaming kids everywhere. They also had some technical difficulties a few times with the rotation mechanism that made us nervous. I would probably never go back.
3.) The New Amity restaurant
Not much to say with this one. It was boring, non-descript diner food. We both stumbled into this place starving and desperate for lunch and a place to sit. It did satisfy both of those needs, but if you have a choice, there are a lot better places to eat in the city. We both ordered burgers and fries and they were similar to what you would find at an amusement park concession stand. Taste and price!
4.) Broadway Deli-
We wanted to try one of the things New York is known for- Delis. Jason enjoyed his Reuben but I found my Italian sandwich pretty average. We both agreed the food was just ok.
5.) Angelo’s Pizza
Another, just okay, place we stumbled upon for lunch. The waiter was friendly and prompt and the pizza we ordered was fresh and tasty but nothing extraordinary. Honestly, I have had better pizza at home in Lexington, KY. I am sure there are much better pizza places in New York to try instead.