There was a time in my mid-20s when I was obsessed with Manhattan and its enigmatic spirit. I wanted to live there. I had made a mental comittment to move there before I turned 30. I even interviewed for a corporate legal job (back in my suit and stocking days) and was *this* close to making it happen. I think I had this superficial idea that I could live my late 20s and 30s a la Carrie Bradshaw. The fashion, the men, the night scene, the art and culture and most of all, the food. I mean, there’s no debate ever that NYC is the epicenter of fine, eclectic, and sublime street food. I can’t think of one other single city where you can find authentic food from all over the world. In one place. At any hour of the day. That’s pretty powerful.
Obviously, I never moved to NY and probably won’t at this stage in my life. I’ve eased back into my life in DC and less and less attracted to the idea of living in a city where boutique coffee shops don’t have a stellar survival rate because Starbucks occupies as blatant and opponents to Wall Street do. Or that a cab across town easily squeezes you out of $25 one way, easy. Yeah, not feeling that so much.
Lucky me, I’m just a train ride away and now more than ever relish moments in zipping up there for a day or two. My proximity is so awesome, I’m actually more attracted to the city…. from a distance. So any chance I have to make it up there… to get my shop on, my grub on, or just explore new nooks, I’m in.
And so, since Prince Charming has made his grand entrance in my life, I’ve been seeing more of NY in the last 3 months than I have in 5 years. Actually, not totally true, but it sounds good. Though he has the ultimate ‘I don’t plan‘ spirit, I’ve had two unplanned trips to the city since June, where we’ve spontaneously met and went all in the foodie scene. We mutually agreed on hitting up known and much a do about everything spots and partially played up the tourists role.
Combined, we’ve spent only 5 days there and this is what we found… the best of the best… for starters.
Of all the places to eat in the city, surely, this small scale list is not for the penny-pinching or the the everyday city resident. I’m speaking more or less to those visiting just to tickle their palate.
If you have 2 days in NY and want to eat good food, of varying cuisines, these are some of my new (and old) faves. Most of these happened in a matter of 36 hours in celebration of his birthday in June.
SARABETH’S. Best brunch in the city. No doubt.
(Our brunch spread at Sarabeth’s. Taken on my iPhone)
Next to dessert, brunch is my food calling. I can brunch anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.
We had to do Sarabeth’s. At least once. Yes, everyone knows this Central Park spot place to be the IT sit-down for the best preserves and jams ever. The line I saw wrapped around the block as we drove by during our 1st trip to NY in early June, had me thinking Bruce Springstien was eating there. E mentioned how his mother is addicted to their jams so I wanted to taste the hype. We got lucky on his birthday weekend jaunt and nestled ourselves at the bar without any wait.
(A sexy triple cappuccino at Sarabeth’s, via my Instagram)
Let me just say that for $130, the almond crusted French toast and turkey sausages we both had as sides, were hands down the I’d- put- my- shoe- closet- on- the- line best I’ve ever closed my eyes to. Even E’s egg white omelette was screaming “Yes, lay off the beef!” The fresh squeezed grapefruit and 7 blended juices were spot on, not to mention my perfectly rich and silky café con leche.
A splurge worth every penny. And bill.
But locals know this. Or better yet, the discerning visitor.
The 3 mile run in the park that morning (individually, our first visit ever!) did absolutely nothing to the thousands calorie brunch we gorged on. Oh, but you’re in NY and walking is what you do… so we window shopped to feel better.
And to make room for dinner.
(Our perfect reubens from Katz Deli; via my Instagram)
Thankful for the responsive folks on Twitter, we found KATZ DELI. I’m embarrassed as much as the girl whose bra was too big and stuffing fell out, to say I’d never even heard of the joint where ‘Harry Met Sally‘ taped a scene. As much as the act of not knowing is worthy of a revocation of my bonafide foodie card, I’m redeemed by sharing the awesomeness found in that 100 year old deli, whose walls are decked out with pictures of celebrity you know. E and I entered blindly, shortly before closing, lacking all kinds of ordering etiquette, and got that nasty “I’m tired, woman” look from the meat slicer behind the counter, as I asked the Boricua next to me what I was supposed to do. I’m thinking E was equally annoyed with my litany of questions.
For $20 a sandwich, the famed reuben is everything and more it’s cracked up to be. Seriously.
First of all, one is big enough to feed two. But you really don’t want to do that. Yeah, don’t. Second, the pastrami AND corn beef is the sexiest slice of anything I’ve had in my entire life…. as in probably even better than ropa vieja — my 2nd favorite meat dish in the world.
For the 1st time in our eating adventures, E and I sat in radio silence and said not a word until we both had taken the last bite. That took 15 minutes. A $50 bill for two sandwiches is nothing I want to get used to, but housemade Russian dressing (or, Thousand Island for us basic salad eaters) was the condiment inching the Reuben to be the best in the country.
Oh, and we put their national overnight shipping offer to the test. We ordered some last week while I was in Phoenix and it arrived in its full glory. Only this time the corn beef was 10x better than the pastrami we had in NY. We all stood over the meat as I shaved each block to serve up sandwiches. I took pleasure in making him a colossal sandwich just about every day for lunch. It helped his work productivity.
So yeah, Katz really does deliver across the country. But it’s not cheap, so save some pennies for that no fuss party you want to host and impress later this summer/fall. Another worthy investment.
That was in one day. $200, give or take for 2 big meals and some snacks in between.
(View of Central Park from Le Parker Meridien Hotel rooftop pool; Via my Instagram)
Day two was was a bit lighter on our stomachs. I think.
Our rooftop view from Le Parker Meridien, where we stayed for two nights, facing Central Park, where we’ve both never been in all the years we’ve individually traveled to NY, caused us to experience what that hotel had to offer. We heard the Burger Joint in the lobby was the best thing in NY. Hardly believable, but we gave it try.
Meh. It was good for sure… and I’d eat it again, and again, but for $10 each with a basic burger bun, I’d at least hope for a better basket of fries.
It simply served as a good in-between meal… you know… between lunch and a decadent dinner.
But then there was this…
(Caramel “soup” with lemon sorbet to start at Chikalicious)
(Our sublimely decadent desserts; and a stroll through Central Park. All via my Instagram)
We hopped a cab and went downtown to indulge in sweets at Chikalicious, the fancy dessert bar (203 E. 10th St. b/t 1st & 2nd). Have you heard of?!?! Make it a point to go my friends. Make.it.a.point. For $40, you and your boo can enjoy two itty bitty small sized desserts with a spoonful teaser to start (and a nickel size petite four selected that day to end) that’ll leave you talking about it for months. Or a few years as I did. I hadn’t been since 2009 and remembered how ridiculously decadent my treats were. I had to take E there for him to enjoy some of the gourmet baking techniques and elegant plating.
If you think cheesecake is a slice of something topped with a thick icing, try theirs, what their known for, and then let me know that you’ll never look at cheesecake the same way again. E had a plate of pure bliss in the form of a cheese ball sitting on shaved ice and I went for the Panna Cotta with basil sorbet. I have to admit his was better, but mine was perfectly paired with my iced espresso.
(Panna cotta and basil sorbet; via my Instagram)
It’s a chic place. Super boutiqueish and quiet. The owner and pastry chef, Chicka, stands behind the bar during service hours, donning a demure smile and gently explains what you’re enjoying. Go there for kick ass fancy desserts. Not to get full. And be in line by at least 10:45 if you want to get in.
We ate dessert first. And it was orgasmic…
(Delicatassen’s tuna tartare. Image c/o Deli)
Between a ginormic brunch and a quiet dessert hour, we decided to hit up Delicatessen on Prince St. to visit with my “Chopped” chef friend Michael Ferraro… I try to make it a point to eat there when I’m in the city. I missed him this time, but I really wanted E to try his mac and cheese. He opted for the cheeseburger eggrolls (yes, cheeseburger eggrolls that’ll have you thanking the hamburger gods) and the reuben (seriously?! After Katz?).
Dinner there is nice, but be prepared to scream at your date just to be heard. The music level is just way too high and the cause for a huge frown on my face. We moved tables twice to find a decent equalized spot in the restaurant. The food is worth a visit, though. Definitely try the tuna tartare appetizer and at least one of the mac and cheese’s. You’ll be pleased.
We hit a few more places before we split ways, but these are the ones we both agreed were satisfying and delicious enough to share with you and revisit. We were happy diners. You know something is good when you order it from the west coast. Thanks for that, Katz.
I have finally met my culinary match. This guy likes to feed me well. And lucky for both of us, I’ll have no problems keeping his appetite satisfied. He just made my work 10x better!
In NYC for a few days, check these out and savor every bite.
Then go back home and eat brown rice and fried eggs to recover from the gluttonous indulgence.