New York has some awesome food, but it doesn't have a corner on the food market. For example, I haven't found a burger place that stands a chance against Smashburger nor a pad thai or massaman that I like better than Bangkok Grill, but I'm starting to wonder if I am only obsessed with the latter because it has been such an integral part of my life for the last three years. However, I have promised friends that I would keep track of my favorite dishes and places for their visits, and so, in no particular order, the LIST so far:
P.J. Clarke's: Ben took me to this place when we were here to apartment hunt this past summer. I geeked out over it because Don and Sterling went there for a drink once! It is very old school New York, and sitting in it, I can easily imagine a smoke-filled room of fedoras and pill box hats. We ordered the baked macaroni and cheese with bacon and I have never regretted it! (Sidenote: the owner of P.J. Clarke's died in the restaurant. He had his whole family there, and he was screaming at a waiter, and he just keeled over, dead. Moral of the story: be nice to waiters.)
Island Burgers and Shakes: Now, I said that I have not found a burger place to rival SB and that is because there are not many fast and fresh burgers here, a la SB and Inn-N-Out. They do have 5 Guys, which is alright, but not my favorite. They also have Shake Shack, and I have to say, I was underwhelmed. Now I love a medium rare patty, but my Shake Shack burger was bloody raw. And the shake is just your regular Inn-N-Out style straw shake. So yeah. Whatever. Anyway, there are lots of restaurant burgers that are good. We took my friend, Daryn, to Island Burgers before he went to see a show. It is in Hell's Kitchen and also across the street from Ben's building. I don't even remember which burger I ordered, but I really liked it and it was so big I had to eat it with a fork. I would go here again for sure, especially since I need to try a shake next time! 5 Napkin Burger is also quite good. Ben got a burger and I got mac and cheese, and both were excellent.
La Nougatine at Jean Georges: This restaurant is fancy-schmancy. We took Ben's mom here for her birthday. It is located in the Trump Tower on Columbus Circle and has a dress code. However, it also has a prix fixe dinner menu. In fact, Jean Georges was one of the first chefs to introduce a prix fixe menu when the economy got bad. I think it's a brilliant move because non-rich folks like us can eat at a glorious French restaurant. (Sidenote: Jean Georges is also the inventor of the molten chocolate cake. It was the result of a baking accident and now everyone makes it! I had his for dessert and it was divine!) Just order the fixed price menu. It will all be amazing. Ben's mom also ordered some butternut squash soup that made me cry.
Lombardi's: This pizzeria is in Little Italy and is apparently the first pizzeria in America. Cool, right? We went here with Ben's mom when she was in town. We did have at least a 30 minute wait, but it was a Saturday. It was pretty awesome. Since eating there, I have been to some other famous pizza places that beat this one out (see: Keste) but still good pizza.
Alice's Tea Cup: My mom was in town and we wanted to go to lunch for the twins' birthday, so we decided to try this cute little tea and scones cafe. My sister-in-law Kristen had told me about it and I had seen online that they had brunch. The girls love breakfast more than anything so I thought it would be perfect. Unfortunately, I missed the part that said brunch is only served on the weekends and we showed up on Monday. I was underwhelmed with the kids' menu selections, but I ordered the BLT on black bread for myself and wow, I love that thing. It had a blue cheese spread on it that was amazing, and my mom tried to eat all of mine. The restaurant was adorable and I would like to go back and try one of the various herbal teas and scones, along with my sandwich, of course.
Gennaro: This cozy little Italian place is right across the street from our apartment and Ben had read really good things about it, so we popped over there one night. The only thing I can really remember is this: the warm potato tartine with portobello and goat cheese. Oh.My.Word. I am so in love with this thing. Comfort food extraordinaire. Please go and try it. And take me with you.
Keste: Ben had a slow week at work. Ben decided to go on a quest for the best pizza in New York. He did all his research and went to different places for lunch, and all without me. He said he wanted to try them all out before bringing me. How thoughtful of him. Anyway, he made good on his promise, and brought me to Keste two days after Christmas. They are a true Neapolitan pizza joint, with real volcanic rock from Italy in their brick oven. I ordered the pizza special because the waiter told me it would change my life, in the most awesome Italian accent, I might add. It sort of did. It had more blobs of mozzarella on it than I thought was possible. Ben and I each ordered a whole pizza. The couple next to us said, "How are you guys going to eat all that?" We didn't leave a crumb. Then the same couple said, "You guys are awesome!" and left. Taken out of context, that comment is really strange. I like to think that the couple on the other side of us (who were from LA and on a pizza tour, wouldn't you know it) heard that statement and wondered why we were so awesome, since they had arrived there after the initial reaction to us ordering two pizzas. Either way, I felt awesome.
Crumbs Bake Shop: Many cupcakes I've had here have made me want to cry from disappointment. I have had too many dry Magnolia cupcakes to count. However, I discovered a cupcake at Crumbs that is essentially a giant Hostess cupcake. It is chocolate with white butter cream filling and chocolate ganache frosting on top. So far, it has always been moist and amazing. I am hopelessly in love.
More to come...