Where we stayed: East Village Hotel | rate it 4/5 (remembering it's a 3* hotel) | +v's: excellent location, tidy, reasonably spacious room, pricing very good | -v's shower pressure diabolical, not pristinely clean, no lift
How long: 10 nights, 9.5 days
How we got there: 3.5 hour train to NYC
How we left: 5 hour plane to San Francisco
City FOOD highlight: Ducks Eatery, Lower East Side
Part One - Eating New York City
We were in New York City for 10 nights, and we never ate one meal in so you can say we covered some foodie ground. We stayed with cheap-to-medium priced, with our most expensive meal hitting about $35 for a main.
Here are the places we were recommended, or stumbled upon - I've implemented a star system to rate each one - ***must go | **worth the visit | *go if passing by at the right time...
Meals / drinks
***Momofuku Noodle Bar in East Village - a must try for their infamous ramen noodles and steamed buns. Get their before 4.30pm before kitchen break, or right on the 5.30pm re-open as the queue goes out the door for dinner service every night. We tried the egg pork, and the brisket buns, along with spicy noodles, Momofuku, and shiitake noodles - all great choices. Try sit at the bar to watch the goings of the kitchen
**The Standard in Meatpacking - we visited the Top of the Standard Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail (which was rather pretentious), but the view of Jersey is a stunner
***Spice Market - serves tasty Asian-infused street food. It is a huge restaurant, so don't expect anything intimate and reservation is essential. The prices are very reasonable
***Russ & Daughters - for lunch (opens at 10am weekdays) on Orchard St in the lower east side. A NYC Jewish institution that is 101 years old, and proved to be one of my favourite lunches in this funky diner style joint. Orchard St deserves a stroll post lunch past the boutiques
(We also heard Mission Cantina and Georgia's on Orchard St are good too)
**Saxon & Parole in East Village on Bowery - fresh, wholesome food - the burrata with shaved truffle is creamy and rich. Yummo
***Gansevoort Market in Meatpacking - The Bagel Story serves delish bagels and there are plenty of other options within the warehouse building if bagels aren't your thing (or you've over done them - believe me, easy to do). We ordered coffees from the stall at the entrance. We came back to The Bagel Story twice as its just so good and the setting is lovely. We tried the salmon and chives, the Blue cheese and apricot preserve and the goats cheese, honey and fig bagels. Yum!
*A local corner store in Harlem at the end of Malcolm X Blvd opposite Central Park - for cream cheese bagels and coffee - this is a quintessential Uptown experience, and something that we did for just that; the experience of grabbing a bagel and a $1.50 coffee for a picnic in Central Park.
**The Halal Guys on corner of 53rd and 6 Ave - a quick serving of a bowl of deliciousness, but watch out for the chilli sambal sauce!
***Ducks Eatery in East Village - a meal highlight for us in NYC - if you like bbq and smokey flavours, you'll like Ducks. Their pickles, smoked mussel brucetta, smoked pork ribs, and crispy chicken wings were epic. And for dessert the smoked pot of chocolate chilli moose and salted caramel cream was salivating and amazing. Must go here! It's a small restaurant so book, or turn up early to get one of the few walk in places.
**Iggys Pizzeria in East Village - this casual walk in pizzeria on 1st Ave is for a traditional New York pizza by the slice experience
***The Spotted Pig in West Village - their Roquefort cheese, beef burger with the finest shoe-string fries is a must have. Skip the haddock chowder, it's too salty.
*Delicatessen in SoHo - a good eat if you are passing by and hungry (we just had brunch there). The Full Belly breakfast for $10 is just that, a full belly, and we have heard the cheeseburger spring rolls and mac'n'cheese menu for lunch is tasty.
***Katz's Delicatessen in lower East side - we had been told this was a NYC institution, and upon our own inquiry, it REALLY is an institution, since 1888 in fact. The pastrami sandwich (with mustard) served with pickles is dam tasty - share one sandwich between two as they pack 2 inches of meat into each one. They are meant to also house the best hot dog in NYC.
*OTTO Enoteca e Pizzeria in East Village - by Mario Batali, this is a smart-casual pizzeria that is very busy. We had the caprese salad which bordered on reminding us of tin tomatoes, slowed cooked pork shoulder pasta and anchovy pizza. While the food was nice, I wouldn't rush here. It mainstream, and nothing special. Prices are very reasonable.
*The Butchers Daughter cafe on Kenmare and Elizabeth - for coffee and breaky in a cute surrounding on route to the Financial district
**The Immigrant Wine Bar on 9th and 1st Ave - for a drink. Gorgeous little bar with a vintage register, candle light and cast concrete counter. They have Chateaunerf de Pape for $8 a glass during happy hour!
***Mighty Quinn's BBQ in East Village - for all you bbq'd rib dreamers out there. Grab a table, walk up, order and dine on a serious menu of bbq'd meats and sides of pickles. Super affordable.
*Salinas in Chelsea - sophisticated yet hip-come-old-school glamour interior with mood lighting and giant vases of pink roses. Food was nice, especially the crispy chick pea 'chips' and seafood paella. A good choice if you are going to the area or passing by (it is pretty busy so reserve or be prepared to wait out a table).
**Baohaus - a small, super trendy run-in-run-out restaurant, selling yummy bao and noodle dishes. Their drinks are also super good. Good for a light, cheap meal.
**Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery in lower East side - quaint, laid back cupcakes, puddings and deconstructed cake in a cup
*Milk by Momofuku - overrated. The Crack Pie (which everyone talks about) tastes like sugar on crack. The biscuits, well they taste good but don't wow, and it's not cheap. The ice-cream is good.
**Magnolia Cupcakes - this cupcake joint is infamous in Meatpacking. The cupcakes are really lovely and light; well worth the sugar hit. The puddings, well they are yummy too!
***Big Gay Ice-Cream on 7th and 1st Ave - SALTY PIMP. Salt caramel chocolate soft serve. Enough said, bar go there!