Heading to New York anytime soon? First of all, we’re jealous. Take us with you? And second of all, please, please do not settle for any mediocre food while you’re over there.
It’s easy enough to fall into the trap of roaming around a city until you’re ravenous and are so weak at the knees hungry you just stop at the first restaurant you see, but of all places in the world New York is not the one to do this in.
Y’see, there’s just too many incredible spots to eat here. Too many as in you’ll never be able to fit them all into the one trip (believe me, I’ve tried, and there is no pair of jeans stretchy enough to make this a success).
So we’ve done the hard work for you. Get off the main track of hot dogs and cheesy pizza slices and check out some food havens that you’d only discover if you lived here.
Have you ever eaten steak in an underground restored Bank Vault from the 1930s? Well, in midtown New York you can. Butcher & Banker is the kind of place where you would expect James Bond himself to be sitting in the corner, swilling his cocktail.
There’s a dozen different steaks on the menu, as well as a range of veggie sides that are impossible to pick from – we went for the whole grilled cauliflower with a lemon brown butter and jumbo asparagus hollandaise to add some green to the huge Tomahawk steak for two.
This is ramen unlike any you’ve ever had. Ichiran in Bushwick, Brooklyn, specialises in tonkotsu ramen, which is a pork-based broth. But it’s not just the flavoursome ramen that makes this place so goddamn great.
You dine solo here (okay, okay, you can pull back the barrier if you really want to). Individual slots in the dining booths provide a solitary experience so you can fully focus on the flavours and mindful eating of ramen.
Fill out your order on the paper sheet and slide it over the counter to the faceless stranger who will give your steaming bowl of noodles in return.
Italy is the home of pizza and all that, but New York is the home of insane pizza, and Emily in Clinton Hill (another Brooklyn fave) is insanely good.
Not only do they serve up wood-fired pizzas (you can’t go wrong with the Emily namesake pie with mozzarella, pistachio, truffle sottocenere, honey or the classic Luca with sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil), they also have crunchy-n-spicy chicken wings and a banana pudding that will make you wish you were born in the U.S. of A.
Add to that a cosy but minimalist pizzeria vibe in one of Brooklyn’s cutest but little known neighbourhoods and this spot is a clear winner.
Want to really treat yourself to a slap-up meal in the Big Apple? Get yourself to Harry’s in Wall Street, where legit everything oozes pure class.
A shining chandelier “tree” in the middle of the restaurant floor and a menu packed with all good things to eat (and drink – especially drink) makes Harry’s a must-visit.
The hamachi and tuna crudo to start is melt-in-your-mouth, and they’re famed for their steak tartare, which is made at the table, and their creamy Cacio e Pepe pasta. Meat lover? A medium-rare Filet Mignon should be top of your list.
Even if you come in for a li’l snack or two, make sure to go pure Mad Men style on one of their stirred cocktails to share. A carafe of ice-cold vodka with orange bitters? 10/10.
5. Amy Ruth’s
Hop straight onto that 6 train and head to Harlem for some of the best soul-food you’ll get in NY.
Amy Ruth’s is a local institution for homemade chicken and waffles, with every menu item named after famous African Americans. Come for some real Southern Comfort brunch food: think cheesy biscuits, collard greens and those sweet, sweet waffles.
The interior is covered in funky coloured fairy lights and murals (hey there Michael Jackson!) and the staff are mad sound. As in, don’t give you a weird look when you ask what ‘smothered’ chicken is. It’s chicken covered in gravy FYI. Get it.
A Japanese-Haiwaiian fusion, this neighbourhood corner spot in Williamsburg doesn’t look like much by day but transforms into a dark ‘n’ cosy eatery by night.
A menu of poke, spam sushi (here’s where the Aloha vibes creep in), fish tacos and ramen is divided into Raw, Snacks or Bowls so you can mix-and-match what to order. The fish tacos are served on fried wonton skins and are so fresh and zesty while a snack of ‘blistered shishito peppers’ add a kick.
It’s usually pretty jam packed here – the space is tiiiiny – but the bar is actually a pretty solid place to chow down. Well worth a stroll through Brooklyn for.
Heads up, it’s cash only, but there’s an ATM down back for forgetful folk like me.
7. White Bear
If you don’t go to NYC and eat at least a gazillion portions of dumplings then who even are you? It’s a mortal sin. Eat the dumplings. Eat them all.
Flushing in Queens is an even better spot for Asian food than Manhattan’s Chinatown, so make some time to do a DIY dumpling tour. White Bear doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside that slightly grim interior lies the tastiest wontons (like a thinner dumpling) you’ll ever eat.
You come here for one thing and one thing only: pork wontons with hot chilli oil.
8. Five Leaves
As is if we would give you a guide to New York and not include a fab-u-lis place to do brunch, duh.
Five Leaves in Brooklyn’s hip Greenpoint neighbourhood does trendy American food with an Aussie twist – the restaurant was originally meant to be part-opened by Heath Ledger, but after his passing a friend took the reins.
You will have to wait at least an hour for a table, but one bite of their ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter, banana and strawberries will ease away any stress. They also do a droolworthy creamy mushroom toast, a blowtorched grapefruit with ginger and a Moroccan egg scramble.
Heaven exists, and it is located at 18 Bedford Avenue.
9. Fette Sau
If you think you’ve tasted barbecue food in Ireland think again, because it’s nothing compared to the States offerings.
Fette Sau (fat pig to you and I) is an uber-hip BBQ spot in what used to be a garage. It’s industrial inside with communal tables and that sweet, smokey meat scent wafting all over the gaff. The barbeque is one part Central Texas and one part New York Deli, so you’ve all the usual suspects as well as pastrami and pork belly.
Craft beer and bourbon are plentiful and you won’t leave hungry. Get a half-pound of the smoked brisket, a side of the burnt end beans and if you don’t order the potato salad with grain mustard, Dijon mustard, onions, chives and Yukon potatoes – GTFO.
10. Norman’s Kil
Okay yes, this is technically a bar, but it’s also a bar that serves piping hot melty cheese toasties, so that instantly elevates it to legend status.
There’s over 400 whiskies to chase down your grilled cheese with and I have it on good authority that it’s a prime spot for meeting a potential partner.
We recommend going with a few peeps and ordering as many sambos as you possibly can: top picks include the Barbara (Sharp Cheddar, Gruyere, Mike’s Hot Honey,
Bacon on sourdough), the Karen (Fromage Blanc, Gruyere, NY Sharp Cheddar, Havarti on sourdough) and the Betsy (Vermont Chevre, apricot jam, honey, thyme on ciabatta).
It’s cosy and dimly lit inside – all the better for wiping melted cheese off your chin on the sly, while there’s also a cute back yard in the summer.