There is no shortage of places to eat in The Big Apple and that’s why this post won’t be on the shorter side. ha! I read that there are upwards of 24,000 different choices! So there is literally something for every taste or dietary restriction you can think up and every budget too! A friend of mine who lives there once said she was attempting never eating at the same place twice and honestly with that many choices it’s possible!!
Sitting down to breakfast or a long lunch isn’t really a priority for me, especially if I have limited time in a city, so It’s usually coffee to go and pastries and milks for the kids. We save our big meals for dinner and during the day there are many options in New York for on the go eating!
New York is known for pizza and the first thing I like to do each visit is head out for a slice. No matter the time of day or night as there are many places that stay open late or even all night. The main choice is cheese, but if you must have toppings you can find them. Sausage would be my second choice. Many spots are small or just walk ups where you grab a slice to go and they are as little as $.99! Everyone has their way to eat it, but I like to fold mine in half so the grease can run out and then eat it like a sandwich. Be careful it’s SUPER hot!
Hot Dog Carts
Another option, and you’ll see them everywhere, are hot dog carts! At $4, it’s not the bargain price of a slice, but still not too shabby! Just like pizza there are certain expectations about how to eat your hot dog and putting ketchup on it is a New York no no, it’s not okay in Chicago either! If you don’t mind the possibility of being teased a bit I’ve noticed a lot of the carts are now offering ketchup along with the standard yellow mustard! A perfect lunch or snack between sights, just grab a dog and eat it on the go…
On our last night in town we ate at Eataly located just across the street from Madison Square Park and right next to the Flatiron Building. It’s a very unique place which is a sort of farmers market meets Italian grocery store meets cafe with seven gourmet restaurants all throughout.
Each of the restaurants specialize in a certain food type and they are all sit down, so you can’t grab something from this place and that place and then meet in the middle. I’ve had the opportunity to try three of the restaurants. La Pizza & La Pasta, Il Pesce, and La Piazza. All three were incredible and I can’t wait to go back and try the other four places!
I would keep in mind that because Eataly is incredibly popular it can be difficult to get a table, so it’s a good idea to arrive before you’re already famished and put your name in for a table. We decided to have appetizers at La Piazza, which offers first come first serve tables, while we waited. If you let them know your plans the servers from the different restaurant options work together to make sure you’re alerted when your table is ready. Nice!
Shake Shack is located inside Madison Square Park and is famous for it’s burgers. Apparently the line can stretch around the entire park at lunchtime! Based on the smell I am definitely stopping here for a full meal on our next visit! We stopped here for frozen custard after Eataly and it was delicious. I just loved the atmosphere here. A beautiful park setting on a warm New York night made complete with twinkling lights overhead!
The Standard Grill and the Standard Plaza are located in the Standard Hotel and both are great people watching spots! Corrie and I had a nice lunch in the outdoor portion of the Grill and the food was pretty good and so were the cocktails. Later that same weekend we went back and drank Cosmos at the Grill bar until 3:00 am! We met some local gals and it was a lot of fun!
Most recently the boys, Grammie and I enjoyed appetizers and wine in the Standard Plaza and it was a great spot to take a break from all those fun Meatpacking shops!
Valbella was one of our nicer choices this trip. Tim spends quite a bit of time in the neighborhood and suggested it as a nice place to celebrate my birthday! The cuisine is Italian and both the service and the food were perfect! As a special treat the boys and I were invited to help the pastry chef prepare a special birthday desert and it was so fun! You’ll want reservations.
The Gansevoort Market opened this past October 2014 and is just around the corner from the Standard Hotel. While the restaurants I mentioned above are all on the higher end this market is much more reasonably priced. It’s basically a gourmet food court with many choices! Something for everyone! Some of us had crepes while others had pizza and other BBQ. There is a lovely seating area and its first come first serve. There are also pretty decent restrooms here. Always good to know where their might be a place to stop, especially when traveling with the kids!
The Chelsea Market also located in the Meatpacking district and just across the street from the Google offices is a fantastic place to visit if you can just brave the crowds! It’s so popular! It is also home to the famous and very tasty Eleni’s Cookies! Here is the official description from their website.
A block long and a block wide and just a short walk from the Hudson River in the area of Manhattan known as the Meatpacking District, Chelsea Market has become in just fifteen years one of the greatest indoor food halls of the world, with more than thirty-five vendors purveying everything from soup to nuts, wine to coffee, cheese to cheesecake. Attracting 6 million national and international visitors annually, it is one of the most trafficked, and written-about, destinations of any kind in New York City. Chelsea Market is a neighborhood market with a global perspective.
Balthazar is a traditional French bistro and it’s been around since 1997! The food was great as was the service! Keep in mind it’s very popular so reservations are a must. My parents had eaten here many years ago and really liked it a lot, so we chose to return in order to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!
The Balthazar Bakery is right next door and serves great sandwiches and dessert items! We stopped here a few days later while shopping and I had my favorite Jambon with butter on a baguette! To go of course!
Dean & Deluca has been in this SoHo spot since 1977 and if you’ve never been you should definitely stop in for a peek around and a snack! They sell the best of the best from all around the city as well as fresh produce and some grocery items too! There are no tables, but there are some stand up counters or you can just eat while you wander around looking at all the wonderful food items!
Lafayette Grand Cafe and Bakery located on Lafayette and Great Jones streets is another French style restaurant. Corrie and I ate here and we really enjoyed the atmosphere, food and wine! I must admit we were disappointed with the desserts and we didn’t even bother finishing them. If I had to choose between this place and Balthazar I would choose Balthazar. You’ll need reservations.
Katz’s Delicatessen is a New York institution and has been around for 127 years! I highly recommend trying it at least once! It’s famous for its deli food as well as for being in the movie When Harry Met Sally. There are many things worth eating here, homemade hot dogs, coleslaw, the pickles and strangely even the cheeseburger, but the thing you go here for is the pastrami on rye!! It’s GIANT! If you’re not a big eater I suggest sharing. Mom and I shared and neither of us could finish our halves.
Sammy’s Romanian is what I would call a real experience. And while we did enjoy ourselves quite a bit, I’m not sure it’s one I need to have again. The pros were that the skirt steak I had there was up there with some of the best I’ve ever eaten, The egg creams were big and frothy, the entertainment was super kooky but fun, and the people were friendly. The cons were that it was overpriced, located in a smelly basement and unless you’re very hungry it’s too much food which we ended up having to throw out due to our staying in a hotel. It’s been around a VERY long time and there is definitely something to be said for that, but I’m not sure what it is.
The Backroom Bar is of course a place you’ll want to visit if you’re without the kids, but I highly recommend getting there if you can! Out for an after dinner walk around the Lower East Side after our dinner at Sammy’s we had no idea Tim had a destination in mind. When he disappeared down an old staircase into a dimly lit hallway or alley of sorts my parents and I weren’t sure what to do, so we just waited… a few moments later he came back and asked, “What are you waiting for, come on!” After walking a few steps and avoiding a few puddles you come to the other side where there is another staircase leading to a secret entrance complete with doorman and peephole. It all makes complete sense once you get inside, after all it was a speakeasy and it shouldn’t be easy to find! I had a French 75 and it was served in a dainty white teacup while Tim’s beer was served in a coffee mug. Even mom’s diet coke was served in a teacup! Here is the official about from their website.
The Back Room is one of only two speakeasies in New York City that operated during Prohibition and is still in existence today. It is a timeless example of the underbelly of New York past. The original 1920’s speakeasy, known simply as “The Back of Ratner’s,” played host to many theater and movie actors of the “Roaring Twenties,” as well as famous gangsters of the era. These gangsters included Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. They were known to use the space for “business meetings.”
We discovered Kaffe 1668 while wandering through Tribeca one afternoon. We only had time for a coffee, but they serve breakfast and lunch as well. The vibe and decor were great. I wish we would have had more time to explore the neighborhood as there were a lot of neat shops and good looking restaurants. I would definitely stop in here again and they have multiple locations throughout the city.
Bonus: Hoboken, NJ
Now I know this isn’t exactly located in New York, but I just have to mention Benny Tudino’s located just across the river in Hoboken, New Jersey! Simon and I discovered it when wandering around one snowy day and it’s been our favorite ever since. The slices are HUGE, fresh and cheap! They’re probably the equivalent to three slices anywhere else and back when we first started going there in 2007 they were $1.75. The place has been around forever and it’s not fancy, but if you’re feeling a like a quick trip on the Path Train over to Hoboken, also home to the Cake Boss’s bakery, it’s definitely worth checking out! We only ever ate pizza, so I can’t tell you much about the rest of the menu.
Take me with you!