Susie Bearne takes us on a tasty tour of New York and tells us about her favourite places to eat in the Big Apple.
New York wipes the floor with other cities when it comes to dining out. Where else can you find such an eclectic range of cuisine?
If you fancy authentic Polish cuisine like kielbasa and babka, hop on the G to Greenpoint. Hankering after a particular Greek dish? Head to Astoria. Looking for Russian cuisine? Downtown Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach will satisfy any such cravings.
Ask any New Yorker for their favourite restaurant and they won’t just give you one. Instead, they’ll reel off just their top brunch spots or send you off with a list of their must-visit Italian joints. It’s just too hard to whittle down so many cracking restaurants. You see, New Yorkers love eating out so much they simply never eat in.
After cranking up a fair bit of time in New York over the past three years, I’ve racked up a few favourite restaurants. But just like a New Yorker, there’s no one standout – to me, they’re all unique and amazing. From a restaurant behind a pawn shop to a hip pizza joint, here’s a selection of my leading spots in the cool East Village, Lower East Side and Williamsburg ‘hoods.
Caracas Arepa Bar (93 1/2 E 7th St)
Ah, Caracas. Ever since I came across this narrow restaurant one sunny October day more than three years ago, I’ve become obsessed with it. To the point where I’m almost salivating when I think about it. Like now. Never thought you could ever fall in love with Venezuelan food? These beautiful arepas (think crispy patti-style buns), overflowing with delicious fillings like cheese, black beans and plantain, will prove you wrong. At about $6 a pop, they’re fingerlickly easy on the wallet too.
Momofuku Noodle Bar (171 First Ave)
If you’re hankering after noodles, get thee to Momofuku Noodle Bar and test your chopstick skills on the ramen as you sit squeezed in amongst New Yorkers on the wooden communal benches.
Crif Dogs (113 St Marks Pl)
For the best hotdogs in town, head to Crif Dogs. Serving up an eclectic range of toppings, here hotdogs are so much more than just sausages covered in mustard and ketchup.
Big Gay Ice Cream (125 E 7th St)
I didn’t realise I could actually adore ice cream until I had my first Salty Pimp at Big Gay Ice Cream. After starting up as food truck in 2009, this funky ice cream store is now a permanent East Village resident. Though there’s likely to be a queue snaking outside and they’ve actually employed someone to manage the line, you must take the wait and stand in line for the best ice cream of your life. The perennial favourite is the Salty Pimp, made up of vanilla ice cream with salted caramel and hard shell chocolate.
Lower East Side
Schiller’s Liquor Bar (131 Rivington Street)
For a cocktail-fuelled brunch, you’ll love hip Schiller’s Liquor Bar, with its black and white floor tiles and dim lighting.
Clinton St. Baking Co (4 Clinton Street)
An all-time brunch favourite is Clinton St. Baking Co and although I’d like to say it’s one of mine, sadly I’ve only had the chance to get a whiff of the famous blueberry pancakes. See the secrets out for this Lower East Side brunch spot. When I visited there was a two-hour wait – so best to make a visit here on a late afternoon during the week.
Pulinos (282 Bowery)
For dinner, pull up a pew at smoking hot pizza joint Pulinos where the walls are lined with bottles of booze. A sexy spot for brunch or dinner is Beauty & Essex (146 Essex Street), which is fronted by a pawnshop. Only in New York.
Ah, my ‘hood. If you want to forgo the queues at Caracas in East Village, visit Williamsburg’s more recently opened branch (291 Grand Street).
Egg (135 N 5th St)
Egg is considered one of Williamsburg’s best brunch spots. Naturally there’ll be a queue outside this small cafe on a weekend so do scribble your name down on the clipboard at the front of the restaurant.
Roberta’s (261 Moore Street)
The restaurant still on everyone’s lips is Roberta’s. In fact, a trip to Williamsburg wouldn’t be complete without eating at this gritty pizza restaurant, which certainly lives up to the hype.
Nitehawk (136 Metropolitan Ave)
Fancy more than just popcorn with that flick? Nitehawk, Williamburg’s indie cinema serves up food like no other cinema. Triangular tables sit in front of each seat while the menu reads like a restaurants’ with tasty starters including stuffed piquillo peppers and croquettes. And yes, there is popcorn – in lime, cotija cheese and cilantro flavours.
Go on a street-food sampling run at food market Smorgasburg, where you can get your hands on a diverse range of cuisine from an Asian-style hotdog, ice-cream sandwich or a macaroon. Situated by the waterfront, this market comes with gobsmacking views of the Manhattan skyline.
Top tip: Remember to tip. Waiters are only paid around $5 an hour and rely on us for their income. For good service, tip 15-20%.
Suzanne Bearne is a freelance journalist specialising in retail, fashion and travel. She’s also a travel blogger and can be found blogging at www.devotedtotravel.wordpress.com and tweeting at sbearne.
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