You’ve heard me say this a lot: I love exploring a new place through its food. And New York was no exception. I had heard a lot about the really good pizza and bagels and all the amazing restaurant. So I was so excited and super curious to try everything and see if it compared to London for example.
I started this trip on the wrong foot regarding food. New Jersey hasn’t been that good to me and I didn’t feel that well the whole week. I ended up eating tomatoes, cheese and olives by the end of the week. So I really hoped that New York wouldn’t be the same. And it wasn’t. We had some amazing meals in the city! If you are looking for something fancy, you have a lot of options. But that’s not what we explored. We went for budget friendly, street food and what New Yorkers are best known for. So let’s take a look!
1. Fig and Olive Brunch
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this first. We went there for brunch and it was dreamy. We shared the signature crostini – and they were delish. I also had an avocado toast and my boyfriend had a really good salad. We also had cocktails. I tried a cucumber cosmo that was very fresh. We loved it and highly recommended it if you are in the area. The live music was the cherry on top especially since they were playing Smooth Criminal as we entered – my favourite!
2. Los Tacos No. 1
We heard about Taco Number 1 watching one of Mark Wiens’ vlogs and we knew it was a must! So when we visited Chelsea Market our first stop was here.
We had corn tacos carne asada and quesadilla carne asada washed down with hoarchata. I’ve never tasted anything like this in my life. It’s such a burst of flavour thanks to the different salsas and the sprinkle of lime. And the hoarchata is a mild cinnamon drink that pairs so good with the tacos.
I have two tips for this place: don’t get discouraged by the long line and get one of each per person at least, because otherwise you’ll have to wait in line again.
3. Halal Guys
This is another find we have to thank Mark Wiens for. There are a lot of imitations such as Halal Boys or Halal Friends, so pay attention. You will however recognise them by their bright yellow and red colours, but mostly by the long line.
When I first spotted them I didn’t think much of their cart and was actually reluctant. But this was some of the best street food I’ve ever had. We shared a chicken platter and I asked for one falafel to taste. It has nothing to do with the falafel I had in Romania. It had so much more flavour and wasn’t dry at all – I still regret not getting a falafel platter 🙂
4. Pizza diFara
There are a lot of famous pizzerias in New York. From Joe’s to Grimaldi’s or Roberta’s – all are famous among New Yorkers and tourists alike. Mark Wiens recommended di Fara in his vlog so that’s where we went.
We were there at 12:00 p.m. when it opens and a line was already starting to form. I think we waited for almost an hour from when it opened, we ordered and until our pizza was ready. The place doesn’t look like much, but since it was cold outside we grabbed a corner and three chairs and ate there. The pizza was good but I would say it was not worth the long distance, the price ($30) and the hype. It was a plain cheese and tomato pizza – pretty good but by far not amazing. So if you want to have a pizza, don’t look for a specific spot, just grab something that is nearby.
5. Hi Noodle Thai
We arrived really late on our first night in New York. So we decided to look for a supermarket to grab something to eat for that evening and for breakfast.
Luckily on our way we found Hi Noodle Thai restaurant. I quickly googled it and saw it had a high rating so we decided to stop by. And we loved it so much, we returned. And if we hadn’t been so late every night, I would have had all my dinners there.
Both times we ate there we started with pork dumplings that came with soy sauce – so good. Then I had the chicken massaman – because I fell in love with it this year in Horsham. And I loved it just as much. My boyfriend had the Pad Cashew Nut with chicken and it was just as good. Our second time around we also had spring rolls that were nice and my boyfriend mixed things up with a Yum Duck salad that was amazing. I had massman again because if it ain’t broke…
Now I am not saying that you should travel all the way to Williamsburg to eat at Hi Noodle. I think there are a lot of good Thai places in NYC. But if you are in the area and you love Thai as much as we do, then definitely give it a try.
6. Bagelsmith and The Bagel Store
We tried them both and both by accident – like most great things we found in New York. First I had a divine apple and cinnamon bagel at Bagelsmith. We were coming back home on our first full day in the city and I just saw this oasis of sugary goods. I went in and asked for an apple cinnamon cream cheese bagel. It was so good! The bagel had raisins I think and a thick layer of cream cheese – absolutely delish!
I loved it so much that on our way to the airport I wanted to stop and get another one for the road. However, I had forgotten the name of the place so we ended up The Bagel Store. They are famous for having invented the rainbow bagel, but they didn’t have an apple and cinnamon one. So I got a plain cheese cream and salmon bagel that was pretty good. My boyfriend had an omelet sandwich and he was happy with it. But between the two I’d always choose Bagelsmith for the large variety.
7. Levain Bakery
We were recommended two bakeries in NYC: Levain and Magnolia. We made it just to Levain and I really wished we had tried Magnolia as well.
We went to Levain for their chocolate chips cookies, but couldn’t resist all the goodies so we had a lot. I got a chocolate chip walnut cookie that was amazing! I also got a blueberry muffin that was good, a cinnamon brioche that was too much dough for my taste. The banana bread was quite good, but mine is better 🙂 and the ham sandwich my boyfriend had was ok too. But all in all, if you go to Levain get what you came for: the cookies!
8. La Bagel Delight and Sushi from Foragers
When we got in Dumbo and saw the beautiful view over the river and Manhattan we knew we wanted to grab something and have lunch in the Main Street Park.
I actually saw someone having mac and cheese and some very good looking veggies and I asked where they got it from. They said Foragers market but by the time I got there, there was nothing left. So I got sushi and I wasn’t disappointed.
My boyfriend wanted something more so he chose a sandwich from La Bagel Delight since it was right across the street. It might have been the Roast Beef Supreme and I remember he liked it but felt it was a bit pricey at $12.99. The sushi wasn’t cheap either, but it’s New York – we kind of expected it.
9. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
After this lovely lunch, we went toward Dumbo pier 1 to get the ferry to Manhattan and on our way we passed by the most adorable ice cream place ever. Perked on a deck and with an amazing view over Manhattan – we couldn’t miss this spot. We split a banana split (sorry I couldn’t resist! 🙂 ) and enjoyed the sunny day. The ice cream was good, but the whole vibe was even better and I couldn’t recommend this place more!
10. Special Mentions
The Sheraton Parsippany
Our trip to the United States of America started with a week spent at our company’s offices in New Jersey. We stayed at the Sheraton in Parsippany and had breakfast included but also had some dinners there since we didn’t have that many options nearby.
Although at first, I loved the American breakfast and the menu, it proved too much for me. Not sure if too much sugar or fat, but something didn’t really agree with me the whole week. The food was delicious though…
On our first weekend in New Jersey, we decided to do some shopping at a New Jersey mall. It was much farther than we anticipated and offers weren’t all that good. My boyfriend did get a good deal at Adidas and I did at Victoria’s Secret lol.
So when hunger stroke and we just couldn’t even think of what to eat, we went for the closest thing in sight: Applebee’s. The food was decent, still fast food though. I had the tacos and my boyfriend had tomato soup and Caesar salad. The serving was a bit weird, but all in all, it wasn’t bad at all.
On our way from New Jersey to New York, we stopped at Smashburger for what was probably our best dinner in NJ. Although a fast food restaurant, the food was pretty good with a couple of healthier choices available.
I had the Spinach, Cucumber and Goat Cheese salad with a side of Fried Sweet Potatoes. And my boyfriend had a Cheeseburger – can’t remember which kind, with a coleslaw salad.
And with that, we wrap our four-day food tour of New York – and a bit of New Jersey. New York, like London, Amsterdam and probably other big cities, has a lot of offer for the foodies. From street food to regional cuisine or fine dining – there’s something for everyone.
We would have loved to have time – and budget, for fancy sushi, a lobster roll, oysters, Chinese food in China Town and so much more. But there’s always next time, so please leave your recommendations in the comments section below.