Everybody knows that the best part of any vacation isn’t the sightseeing, the hotels or even the time off — it’s the food. And when you throw the girl who’s always eating into New York — the city that never sleeps — sparks fly. It was true love at first bite.
Photo Credit visualgraphic.com
On our first night in, haggard and hungry, Harold and I canvassed the city for good eats — a tough task in a city home to nearly 24,000 spots. We settled on Agora, a Turkish restaurant about one and half miles from our hotel, and set out to cross Central Park in the subfreezing temperatures (ok, it was 32 degrees). Hangrily bickering the whole way, Harold and I went in at least two huge circles through the park on our quest to score falafel.
1565 2nd Avenue, New York
This hole in the wall dining experience on Second Avenue between 81st and 82nd streets was the perfect New York baby step for two world weary travelers to hunker down for a good, warm meal. Around the corner from Agora is a 7-Eleven where we purchased Mexican cerveza to classily pair with our Turkish eats at the B.Y.O.B. joint. In the intimate atmosphere poorly lit by gas lamps, I enjoyed a chicken sautee in cream sauce while Harold went for the lamb sautee in tomatillo, both of which also featured peppers, tomatoes and rice. The portions were huge and we could have easily split one entree. We also had falafel and the lamb meatballs (yum!) as appetizers. A +, would eat again…and again.
At this point, dear reader, please don’t worry about my figure. You see, after dinner, my beau and I found ourselves lost on a subway careening in a direction opposite our intended and instead worked off our entire meal on the 20 block walk home. We later redeemed ourselves and became subway pros, even if I did find myself in Harlem on a subsequent afternoon.
106 Norfolk Street, New York
We spent our first night out on the town at a tiny burlesque bar just shy of the Williamsburg bridge. Don’t let the dollar bills and at least two creepy, gawking male patrons fool you — these girls were professionals. My favorite performance was a mostly clothed rendition of a Broadway showtune ode to cellulite — I mean, right ladies? The cocktails were as bad ass as the booby baring babes. We started with a Nurse That Loved Me, a mix of green tea vodka, citrus syrup, lime juice, mint, and club soda, and rounded the corner of drunk and wasted with the Hell on Heels tequila creation that paired alcohol infused jalapenos with lime juice, sorel, and citrus syrup. I finished up with my usual beer and Harold with his usual whiskey water. As we were leaving, it snowed, and for two Texas tourists, the downfall was magical.
Bagels n’ Co.
393 Amsterdam Ave., New York
We woke up the next morning understandably hungover and ravenously stahving. What’s a gal to do but take her Jewish man to the nearest kosher deli and bagel shop? If you count out the screaming children, there wasn’t much to distinguish this shop from the others on our trip, but the bagels were carb-y and the cream cheese spread was generous. We took a dozen with us to go since puny Texas bagels can’t compare to the doughy deliciousness of New York’s finest.
Ok, now you can start worrying about my figure…
Momo Sushi Shack
43 Bogart Street, Brooklyn
After experiencing hell in a cocktail the night before, I could swear I was transported to Bushwick heaven when Momo Sushi Shack deigned to serve me its wares. Located in a veritable shack (they’re not kidding), just off the L line, Momo Sushi makes you feel cool as hell as soon as you enter, what with its dingy interior, long wooden tables and blaring 80s pop.
Though the pork ramen with house made broth was delicious, it was the sushi rolls that rocked my world. We split a salmon herb roll and an aptly named spicy McBomb with tuna, cucumber, spicy mayo, and katafi. I think the real secret to the shack’s success is its use of pre-mixed wasabi sauce so that the rolls come out with just the right amount of kick. I dreamed about this place for the rest of the day and already can’t wait to go back for its sashimi or rice croquettes.
New York Pizza
After playing the intellectuals at a Pulitzer Prize-winning play off Times Square, Harold and I found ourselves hungry with no idea of where we should eat next. Like any age appropriate 20-something year olds, we had the genius idea of grabbing a slice at any number of the thousands of pizza places stacked up and down the city. When in Rome, right?
The particular spot we chose was an Original Ray’s Pizza, but the food was just as greasy and huge as it would have been at nearly any other venue. The interior was quaint and I couldn’t help but notice the large Spanish soap opera blaring on a four foot television screen in front of four despondent men at midnight. Ah, New York.
Here we continue our deep dive into culturally illiterate foods packed with fat, but oh, so delicious. Where else but New York can you get a gigantic, kind of gross, carb loaded croissant, an OK muffin, and two teeny tiny coffee cups for $5?
Halal food cart
Everywhere (thank God)
By lunchtime, the Lincoln Center breakfast cart had been transformed (probably by my own personal, fattening fairy godmother) into a halal food cart, also available basically anywhere in the city. These meals on wheels are so popular that cart forerunner Halal Guys just opened a brick and mortar restaurant on 14th Street and 2nd Avenue. I ordered the lamb gyro with ‘white’ sauce and scarfed it down in less time than it took the guy to make it.
240 West 35th Street, New York
Apparently getting drunk, eating wings, and cheering on sports teams isn’t just a Texas thing. Before dinner, I ducked into Jack Doyle’s, an Irish pub in the Garment District, to check in with a friend who was pregaming a New York Rangers game around the corner. (Hockey? What is hockey?) What can I say? The beer was crisp, the wings tasty, and the patronage decked out in red, white, and blue.
At this point in our journey, Harold and I were exhausted. To end our final evening in the city, we headed for the nearest watering hole for comfort food and sweet nectar.
The Dead Poet
450 Amsterdam Avenue #1, New York
Imagine your most magnificent fried food fantasy then triple it and put it in a basket on a bed of curly fries. That dream is reality at The Dead Poet, where Harold and I basked in the glory of the Mixed Pub sampler plate replete with half orders of the Amsterdam Avenue pub’s offerings — mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, jalapeno poppers, wings and onion rings as big as your face.
I would be remiss to neglect to mention the author-themed cocktails we enjoyed. I had the Pablo Neruda — appropriately named because it inspires feelings of love — while Harold opted for the J.D. Salinger, a writer’s take on a typical old fashioned. The Neruda cocktail was a mammoth mix of spiced rum, sangria, wine, and Triple Sec that knocked me out flat halfway through. Minus points to this pub for their playlist which paired Nickelback, Creed and Beyonce (seriously, what gives?).
8 East 18th Street, New York
For our final meal in the city, we trudged solemnly through Chelsea toward Union Square where we finally reached the final destination of our palate tour. What follows is the saddest tale I’ve ever told: Harold and I arrived, breathless, excited, starving, expecting to participate in the restaurant’s boozy brunch replete with chicken tikka masala croque monsieur, seafood curry crepe with golden caviar, and mumbai chutney samosa sandwiches. Imagine our disappointment when we realized brunch was over.
Still, Devi is the only Indian restaurant in all 50 United States of America to receive a Michelin star — we would not be deterred. Instead we ‘settled’ for Tandoori Chat and Lamb Seekh Kebab as appetizers and the chicken korma Nazimi as an entre. The former (my favorite) was a marinated smattering of apple, pineapple and bell peppers in pomegranate seed powder and the latter (Harold’s favorite) was served in authentic kebab style alongside a delicious mint sauce.
Not to be outdone, our coconut creme brulee with pina colada sorbet slayed and left us waddling all the way back to Texas.
Where should Taylor stop next time she’s in NYC? Holla at her on Twitter.