I'll be travelling to the US for a week in June, staying for 36hrs in DC and the rest in Charlotteville, VA for a training programme.
I'm looking for street food & restaurant suggestions, specifically:
Bakeries. We have loads of good breads and pastries in Europe, but I'm looking for American items such as bagels, cupcakes, pancakes. I enjoy Magnolia Bakery (for their banana pudding not the cupcakes), Clinton St. Bakery for their blueberry pancakes, Momofuku for their werid shakes & cookies - all in NYC.
Street food / Quick bites. I plan to be walking and making quick stops for small snacks, especially in DC. I enjoy things such as Momofuku or Baohaus pork buns, bubble tea, burgers from Shake Shack, tacos/burritos, dumpings, pastrami sandwiches like from Katz deli in NYC, hotdogs like from Gray's Papaya's. Most based on my time in New York and Connecticut, what's good in DC?
Restaurants. Are there local specialities in DC or Virginia? Blue soft shell crab or is that more southern? Otherwise I enjoy Thai, Chinese, Japanese although we get that in Europe. Maybe some authentic Mexican food, which is more difficult to find over here?
Thanks a lot for any tips!
Hereby a short recap of my NYC visit. Food was (unfortunately) not the key focus for the Friday-Tuesday trip, but I managed to squeeze some bites in :)
Arrived in the city around 3PM, took the subway from Penn Station to 14th St and walked towards Union Sq from there. Passed Vannessa's where I had the dumplings during my last visit. Then walked down 2nd Avenue to arrive at:
A few menu items were already sold out. Ordered the steamed pork buns and duck bun along with a Mexican Coke. The hyped pork buns were OK: juicy pork, Peking-duck style flavors but I felt the dish as a whole lacked stand-out flavors, largely due to the bland bun itself. I liked the duck bun better: tender duck, crispy/sour cabbage leafs and fresh plum sauce. Then walked across the street to:
Momofuku Milk Bar
Tried the cereal shake: great idea, very recognizable taste but couldn't drink more than a few sips. The compost cookie was OK, the crack pie way too gooey and sweet.
Walked down 2nd avenue to Otafuku, but that didn't appeal much to me at that moment. Then walked past Veselka, but having had true Ukrainian food and not seeing many authentic desishes on the menu (straganoff? goulash? mac & cheese?) I decided to skip this one as well and walk further down 2nd Av. Then onto Houston street where I passed Russ & Daughters and Katz (been to both last time). Stepped into:
Laboratorio del Gelato
They didn't offer their famous rice gelato, had one scoop of the olive oil flavor and one of fig. Felt the creamy base of the gelato was almost too thick and the flavors didn't really come true. May have been due to these fairly subtle flavors, remember I liked their gelato better last time - at the old location. From there I walked to:
Tried only one bao, the Haus variety. Loved the tender steak and cilantro, peanut topping. Could have eaten more, and thought this bao compared favorably versus the pork bun at Momofuku.
Then on to Chinatown. Shame to see the Vietnamese place in Doyers out of business. So stopped at:
Chinatown Ice-Cream Factory
Wanted to try their avacado flavor, but they didn't have it at that moment. Tried the green tea / matcha flavor. Was OK, not one of the best I've had. And at $3-4 a scoop, way over-priced.
Also had a bubble tea nearby and then headed towards Canal Street. Bought 3 yellow mangos (the Asian type that doesn't go from green to red) which were delicious. Next days I spent in Connecticut, enjoying fresh lobster cooked at a friend's place, salmon with pesto from the grill and my favorite Buffalo wings at Achie Moore's. On Sunday our friends drove us back into the city and we stopped in the UES for lunch, pretty randomly at:
Bocca di Bacco
They had just opened at this location and some items were unavailable. I settled for the ravioli with fava beans and artichoke, was was great: nice textures of the beans and artichoke, good pasta. Also had a portion of fried artichokes (off the dinner menu) and stole some of my wife's risotto, which had just the right texture and creaminess. Overall an unexpectedly good lunch.
Then in the evening we went to:
Nobu Next Door
Having been to Nobu in Milan & Hong Kong (and my wife to London as well) and loving their black code, we decided to have dinner here. Atmosphere was OK, not as nice of their locations abroad, service was pretty poor. Food was good as always: rock shrimp in creamy spicy sauce, black cod with miso and their menu (not the omakase) was nicely priced at $35. Yet the food seems just a bit less good as we've had it before at Nobu. But the bill at the current euro-dollar exchange rate was a positive surprise :)
The next day we had some Momofuku blackberry & lime ice-cream (just OK) at their Madison Square Park temporary location and some tacos at Chipotle near Union Sq before heading back to our hotel. We stopped for lunch at:
Had their dumplings, one portion steamed, one portion fried. Dough was a bit thick, but the flavors excellent and a great combi with their spicy sauces.
In the evening friends invited us for dinner at The Park in Chelsea. The place was reserved for a private party and I couldn't convince them to go to Artichoke Basile, so we went to the Maritime Hotel for:
Had their ravioli: which was just OK, dry and more dough than filling. My wife had their prosciutto pizza, was was OK. The service was pretty poor, so overall not the best dining experience. Finished the night in the Grey Dog, a nice neighbourhood cafe.
Next day was our last before flying back to Amsterdam.
Walked from 32nd St towards Central Park via Times Square. Had a mocha coffee (off-taste) and fruit & cereals drink (nice, but maybe not the right choice with the cold weather outside) at Jamba Juice. Saw a musical and then took the subway uptown to have lunch at:
Order cheese fries, their signature burger and the frozen custard with a topping of rhubarb (special item of the day). Food was surprisingly good: great juice burger, crunchy fries. A bit confused about the custard naming (custard is sth else in the UK) but it was very rich and creamy and the sweet, slightly sour rhubarb a perfect topping. Great snacks!
On our way back to the hotel we went for a late lunch / early dinner. Menu at Ma Peche somehow didn't appeal that much to use, so we decide to go to:
Joe Shanghai - Midtown
Had the xiao long bao, pan-fried dumplings and a portion of shredded pork with plum sauce. Xiao long bao were alright, dough was a bit on the thick side, but the broth was tasty and the sauce perfect. Somehow I don't understand that no place in the US or Europe (didn't go to Flushing though) can get these soup dumplings right. In HongKong they are excellent anywhere, from Crystal Jade to a small place inside a mall. But they are always freshly made, so maybe that's the difference. Anyway... the pan-friend dumplings were too oily and again the crust too thick; and the pork's texture was strange, the sauce not very "plummy" so we had only 2 bites and left.
On the walk back to our hotel on 32nd street we made a final stop at:
Magolia Bakery - Midtown
Had spent some time with friends two years ago on 11st, close to their original location, but never really liked their cupcakes. This time tried to red velvet variety (great glazing, a bit dry cake) and also their banana pudding as recommended on these forums. Loved the latter: fresh pieces of banana, nice cake, and gooey pudding!
So overall not the best food experiences this time. Highlights were the discovery of new Asian foods: baos and mandoos. We do have bao char siu over here, but that's a completely different bun from these Taiwanese ones. And some American fast good: Shake Shack for burgers and Archie Moore's for wings.
Better luck next time I guess :)
Momofuku Ssam Bar
Nobu Next Door
Momofuku Milk Bar
Grey Dog Coffee
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Madison Square Eats
Read about the $35 lunch at Jean Georges which seams to be a steal, especially at the current euro-dollar exchange rate. However, it seems to be fully booked for the month of May (website link to Open Table). Any tips on how go get a reservation?
Eh yes, I have never travelled to Japan :)
But so what? As if the best French cuisine is served in France. At least not according to the latest Top 50 restaurant list. And I'm sure you'll find enough people in the NY arguing the best pizza slice is from Artichoke or Di Fara's and not from some place in Italy.
Then again, I'm sure my list would look different if I had been to Japan.
There are loeads of topics on chow about favorites,
Best world cities for food: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/715360
Best countries to live in for food: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778549 (131x)
I also found one thread about favorite foods, but this was very generic about home-made dishes or general types of foods (e.g. pizza).
What I haven't discovered yet is a "best foods in the world" thread - with focus on specific food at specific places.
Hereby a start :)
Best Dim Sum: Xiao LOng Bao at Crystal Jade, Hong Kong (HK)
Looking forward to reading your favorites!
Thanks. Based on all your recommendations and reading through the Best of 2010 at NY Times and 38 Essential Restaurants at NY Eater, I am now considering:
Good Old Favorites:
What has surprised me reading through all these pages is the popularity of European-style gastropubs (Spotted Pig, Breslin) or brasseries (Minetta Tavern, Blue Ribbon) as well as 'deli plus' places (Mile End) with a Jewish / Eatstern European (borscht, kasha) touch.
What also fascinates me is the love for food trucks and places such as Shake Shack and Gray's Papaya's.... fast food basically... but I'll give it a try :)
On xiao long bao, soup dumpling: I read mixed reviews of both Shanghai Cafe and Grand Sichuan, which one would you recommend?
Finally, I read that Mulberry St / Nolitta has seen a lot of trendy and / but good restaurants (and clubs) so I'll likely give that I try as well. Last time there were only typical tourist-trap Italian restaurants in that area.
L'Arte del Gelato
Blue Ribbon Brasserie
Banh Mi Zon
Torrisi Italian Specialties
Thanks for your extensive reply - will start digging through your recommendations!
Regarding bubble tea, this is one of my obsessions, so maybe I overestimated the hype :) '
On pork buns, I know the char siu buns from Hong Kong, but am curious to try the ones at Momofuku or the Korean version.
On shredded pork, I indeed meant pulled pork - which I had (at RUB I believe) and it is something that simply doesn't exist in Europe.
On ice-cream, we don't really differentiate between ice-cream and gelato in Europe, more between milk-based ice-cream and sorbet. I have tried Grom in Paris and Florence... I'm looking forward to Il Laboratorio are gelato, last time they didn't have their rice or olive oil flavors and definitely will try the Midwestern style frozen custard.
Again, thanks a lot for your tips!
I'm from Holland but have visited New York and Connecticut for at least 10 week(end)s in the past 10 years, getting to know the city pretty well. As a CHOW member, finding good places to eat is usually at the top of the to do list :)
I've visited places in the past ranging from Nobu to Gray's Papaya, from Sakagura (izakaya) to Katz Deli and from Doyers in Chinatown to the little roadside restaurants in the Village.
Last time I visited (May 2009) there was still a steamed pork bun / food from trucks / cupcake / bahn mi / bubble tea hype in the city.... and I'm curious to know what's happening at the moment. I heard maccarons are popular now and heard about the new Battali venture Eataly is supposed to be worth to visit.
So I'm hoping you could give me some tips on where / what to eat? I'm looking for unique or new places (since 2009) worth to visit. I'm thinking of the Milk Bar, Eataly, ABC Kitchen, Minetta Tavern.
Besides that I'm looking for the best places for some specific foods:
Thanks a lot for any tips!
the pad thai is the paragon food court is actually very good!
Based on your responses and all the other great input I got on this website I narrowed down my choices to the following, hope you can help me fine-tune it!
- Middle Eastern: Taim or Moustache. Which one would you pick?
- Japanese. Sakagura is a no-brainer: close to Grand Central (we'll be staying in CT for some nights), special location and great reviews. But I'm still not sure what other Japanese places to go to: Nobu (Original, 57?), Sushi Azabu, Yakitori Totto, Hagi, Megu, Ippudo. I prefer a wider menu than just sushi & sashimi so Azabu is off... but what about the other ones?
- Specials. I am definitely going to Momofuku Ssam and Milk Bar - to see what the hype is about... and because we have no pork buns in Europe :)
- Vietnamese. Here is where I am still guessing the most. Most of you seem to say that bahn mi (another thing we don't have over here) is good almost anywhere in NYC (Siagon, Nicky's, Doyers)... is that really the case?
- Latin American. Here I am torn between Macondo (trendy), La Esquina (trendy but mixed reviews), Cafe Habana (the corn on the cob) and Empanada Mama. Or should I include an entirely different one?
Ow, and I'll definitely try the Pastrami on Rye at Katz and the porterhouse at Peter Luger!
Thanks for the advice....!
Thanks for the Thai and Spanish tips! Clinton St. Baking was already on my lists as they seem to excel in blueberry pancakes :)
And of course I am open to go off-list, so thanks for those tips as well !
I haven't been to many places in NYC. I did spend a semester at Fairfield University and therefore quite some time in the city.... however, on a student budget - so that was quite different.
In terms of neighbourhoods - I would prefer Manhattan, as I will stay in CT for most of my trip and it's easier to get back from Manhattan.
In terms of money - Ideally the $100 would include tax and tips, but that can change depending on the dollar/euro exchange rate ;)
Hmmm.... I realize I should have made the title more catchy, but I hope there is still some people out there willing to help me out :)
There are many great tips here on the boards already and I have read many of the "best of NYC" (e.g. TOP "essential" New York Restaurants $ to $$$$) ones. But I was hoping you could help me find some restaurants that match my personal preferences.... I have 10 days in New York City (and Fairfield, CT) so long lists are welcome :)
Thanks in advance!
I'm in to:
I try to avoid:
I haven't tried yet:
So I hope this helps shape your suggestions!
Lastly, one specific question: is Nobu (any of the 3) in New York really that much worse than in London or Milan?