How we ate our way around New York City

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We ventured to New York City over the New Year’s holiday. Leading up to the trip I was in a state of indecisive paralysis about what to see and do while there, so I planned very little ahead of time. There’s just so much to see, do, taste, experience; it’s overwhelming. Luckily we stumbled upon so many great restaurants, it boggles the mind.

I suppose those of you who are intimately familiar with New York will read this list and find it falls woefully short. This list is not even close to exhaustive. It’s just a little diary of our trip. But I would love to hear your recommendations for future trips, so leave them in the comments! (Also, this list is only the places we liked, not the mediocre restaurants. There were only a couple of those…)

Lulu & Po

Fort Greene

Lulu & Po is a tiny restaurant that serves small plates. Everything we tried was delicious, but my favorite dish was called burnt scallion fish. It’s a piece of perfectly grilled trout topped with a crisp mop of burnt scallion shreds and dotted with fried capers and aioli. I never imagined burnt anything could be considered delectable, but Lulu & Po made me a believer.

The Olive Tree Cafe

Greenwich Village

We ate at the Olive Tree Cafe late one night after seeing a show. (Golden Boy! Highly recommend it.) The cafe is located above a famous comedy club called The Comedy Cellar. I can’t pretend to be in the know about comedy clubs; I’m only aware of it because I’m a fan of the show Louie, which features the club in the opening credits. Well, I expected mediocre bar food and couldn’t have been more wrong. Everything was fresh and well executed. The best part? If you ask to use the bathroom, the server gives you a pass downstairs, because the bathrooms are in the Comedy Cellar. So while you wait in line for the bathroom you get to watch the comic work the room and pray he doesn’t notice you.

Bergen Bagels

Clinton Hill

Okay, I won’t pretend to be a bagel connoisseur, but these were pretty dang good bagels. Plus they deliver, which is a major plus when you’re staying on the top floor of a six floor walk up. (Don’t worry, we tipped well!)

Aurora

Williamsburg

The owners of this place have put so much care into every aspect of the experience, and it really shows. The restaurant’s interior is well-crafted and beautiful. The food is equally well-crafted. I had a delicious spicy Virgin Mary that was topped with a quality green olive: pit intact! I also had a plate of scrambled eggs, thick cut bacon, and potatoes. To my surprise, the eggs turned out great. (I have developed low expectations for restaurant eggs.) If I lived in Brooklyn I would make this a regular stop.

El beit

Williamsburg

We stopped here for a warm drink while wandering around Williamsburg. I had a “wicked” hot chocolate, which had just the right amount of spice.

Testaccio

Long Island City

I am so happy we found this place. It’s an Italian restaurant with fresh pastas and simple no-fuss sauces that are absolutely delicious. They also have a gorgeous brick oven for pizzas, but we were all too engrossed in our pasta to try the pizza. (I had the bucatini all’ amatriciana: hollow spaghetti with guanciale, spicy tomato sauce, and pecorino.) I also heard Italian being spoken at some of the other tables, which seems like a good sign.

Papacitos

Greenpoint
 

Papacitos is a punk rock Mexican restaurant. I was more impressed by their drink menu than their food. They win extra points with me for serving horchata, even if it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. I would actually recommend this place to vegans and vegetarians, especially for tacos. Their vegetarian tacos went well beyond the requisite grilled vegetables. So, kudos Papacitos.

Bittersweet

 
Fort Greene

I would like to have tried more at this coffee shop, but as you can see by this list, I just wasn’t hungry. The coffee was terrific though.

Putnam’s

Fort Green

The atmosphere in this place is so gorgeous. It feels like a movie set. I describe it as an upscale, modern day saloon. We had a light lunch here, which was great. Though I’d love to go back and try the dinner menu.

The Immigrant

East Village

I could’ve sat in this bar for hours. I feel like I keep repeating myself, but so many of the restaurants and bars in New York have beautiful interiors. Maybe because people looking to get out of their apartments spend so much time in them. At any rate, this bar had a simple but well-curated menu of drinks and light hors d’oeuvres. It was the perfect place to wait for our table at…

Momofuku Noodle Bar and Milk Bar

East Village

If you’ve been paying attention to food media for the past few years, you know that Momofuku is a foodie destination. In fact I was secretly concerned about its ability to live up to the hype. And it took nearly two hours for our party of five to get a table. But it was so worth the wait. Every bite was delicious. We started with pickled vegetables, soy sauce eggs (hard boiled eggs marinated in soy sauce) and roasted rice cakes. Then the noodles arrived and silence descended on the table. The noodle dishes will be familiar to anyone acquainted with various brothy Asian noodle dishes like pho or ramen, but each bowl is also something completely new. What they’ve accomplished here is no small thing: to make food that challenges and excites you, but is at the same time ultimately comfort food.

Afterwards we ventured to Milk Bar, only a few blocks away. (This is a smaller location, there’s another larger Milk Bar on the Upper West Side.) We went in search of the fabled crack pie. I have made the crack pie recipe at home, and was curious to see how much better it was in its birthplace. Alas, when we arrived they had sold out of crack pie by the slice, and only had whole frozen pies left. Our generous friend David bought a whole pie and with the help of the Milk Bar staff, we divvied it up. Well, even frozen the crack pie lived up to its name. Slightly chewy, brown-sugary sweet with a hint of salt, wholesome oatmeal cookie crust; it was clear how the pie created such a sensation. We ate it standing up in the tiny storefront, with new friends and old friends, and a couple of strangers. It was a great New York experience.

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Photo by my sweet and talented husband, Joshua Mauldin.

As always, thank you for reading!

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On Getting Started
Previously
Holiday Highlights

One Reply so Far

  1. Ben M says:

    Thanks for sharing these. I’ll have to remember these the next time we go to NYC.

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