Everyone who knows me knows that if they want to really make me happy, they can either bake me a cake or take me traveling. Every year I love exploring new places, yet there’s one place that I consistently can’t get enough of and ultimately keep going back to. I used to think that place was Paris (because of all the pastries of course) but it’s not. It is New York.
But without any further boring talk about my love of the Big Apple, here’re my top picks for foodies visiting New York (at least for 2016—it changes so quickly!).
It may look like way too much food to consume in only one week, but for me there’s no such thing as too much food. So let’s begin.
Reservations – Make reservations for EVERYTHING: dinner, lunch, and breakfast. One or even two weeks in advance is already too late for some of these places, so the earlier you can get it in, the better. For more ease, try using OpenTable as it makes this really quick and effortless.
Bakeries and Sweets
Levain Bakery – Huge chocolate chip cookies, crunchy on the outside and soft and slightly raw on the inside, warm straight from the oven. Best cookies in the world, I promise.
Dominique Ansel Bakery – Get their famous cronuts if you’re lucky enough to catch them (they end quickly, but I was able to get the last one of the day!). Also try the DKA (even better than the cronut) and frozen s’mores.
Bouchon Bakery – a lovely place by well-known chef Thomas Keller. They have pastries, macarons, and other beloved American desserts.
Magnolia – Some of the best banana pudding around!
Momofuku Milk Bar – Known for their crack pie and cereal milk ice cream.
Breads Bakery – Won ‘best babka in NY’. Also try their Rugelach.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato – Cucumber and sweet potato are just a few of their special ice cream flavors. A real treat!
Four and Twenty Blackbirds – Unconventional pies like salty honey and strawberry balsamic.
Eileen’s Special Cheesecake – Surprisingly delicious cheesecake that’s fluffy and airy and different from classic NY cheesecakes. I love the classic strawberry, red velvet, and dulce de leche. Can you guess how many more I tried?
Dough – Delicious doughnuts, but not the only place in town. Doughnut Plant is also fantastic. Try both and see which one you like better.
Breakfast and Lunch
Note: Some places are only open for brunch during the weekends.
Beauty & Essex – I went here both for dinner and brunch, and enjoyed both very much. If I had to choose just one place for brunch, this would be it because of the unique food they offer. I recommend the red velvet waffles with cream cheese glaze!
Russ & Daughters Cafe – They also have a shop located in a different area, so make sure you’re going to their café.
Jack’s Wife Freda – They’ve got two locations, and I visited both. Decor, food and service were all perfect.
Rubirosa Pizza – DELICIOUS pizza.
For big selection of great food at any time of the day I highly recommend Chelsea Market. It’s different than most markets in the way it’s decorated, and that’s totally in a good way.
Peter Luger Steak House – A restaurant famous for its steak. In fact, many claim this place serves the best steak they’ve ever had. I don’t really like steak, so I’ll just have to believe them.
Balthazar – This one is very touristy, but always fun and packed. I prefer going there for lunch over dinner.
Beauty & Essex – Stepping into this place made me feel like a little girl in a candy shop. It’s so beautiful and elegantly decorated, and the food is amazing. This place is so fab that there’s even a lady who serves champagne inside the restrooms (I hate to admit just how much I liked that).
Vandal – Such an impressive space with a really fun atmosphere, complete with street-style foods from all over the world.
Tao – There’s Tao Uptown and Tao Downtown, the latter of which being the newer one. Both are impressive but the downtown one is beyond-words-impressive and looks like something from Las Vegas. They are both fun but noisy, and the food is tasty but not more than that. I suggest going there mostly for the atmosphere.
Catch – While this is one of the trendiest places in the city right now, that doesn’t make up for the awful service; although we had reservations, we still had to wait 40 minutes for a table. Still, the food and decor are beautiful, and their extremely popular dessert ‘hit me’ is beyond amazing and was ultimately worth the wait.
More trendy places that serve great food are ABC Kitchen, Spice Market (an older one, but still good), ABC Cocina, Chalk Point Kitchen, The Red Cat, and Dirty French.
Last but not least, I want to tell you about my experience in the restaurant Per Se.
Per Se is a Michelin 3-star restaurant by the famous chef Thomas Keller. It was my dream to visit one of his restaurants, but when I saw the price for the fixed tasting menu ($325 to be exact), I wasn’t so sure anymore. Plus, reservations needed to be made 2 months in advance, so I was out of luck on that front either way. While searching the restaurant’s website, though, I noticed that during lunch they serve a dessert tasting menu in their salon area—a dream come true! Erez and I knew we had to try it.
We got to Per Se at noon and asked to share one dessert tasting menu. While talking to the incredibly friendly waiter, the fact that I’m a food blogger came up. That probably was what led to the many pleasant surprises we started getting to our table (thank you Per Se!). It started with some savory dishes (the most amazing mushroom pasta and appetizers) and a basket of different delicious breads. Then we moved on to the sweets, about 7 different dessert dishes, which is more than the tasting menu actually offers. Lastly, we got a huge box filled with a large selection of chocolate pralines and—guess what?—we got to choose as many as we wanted! I seriously wouldn’t advise for anyone to give me the freedom of choosing as much chocolate as I want, because they’ll be left with no chocolate.
But there’s more. Just before we left, we got a neat tour of their kitchen and got to meet the chef. At that point I almost fainted from happiness. It was finally time to leave, but not before we were handed a box of delicious cookies. These guys really know the way to my heart!
My score for the food and service is beyond 10. I really can’t express it in words. The pasta was one of the best I‘ve ever tried. The dessert tasting menu was a real treat and even better than I expected. The dishes looked like jewels. Everything was DELICIOUS. I had such an amazing experience that this has definitely convinced me to try their dinner tasting menu next time I’m in New York. It’s by no means cheap, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to spend my money on, it’s good food.