In New York, if you aren’t always in action, you’re missing out. This makes the culture something of a grind. Everyone works late and drinks more than they probably should. People complain about being tired — yet these same people are always on the move. Fueling this commotion is some of the best food in the world. Because, as Sinatra would say, if a restaurant can make it here, it can make it anywhere.
New York is the largest city in America by population, and, in the early 1900s, it acted as the doorstep to the American dream for many immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, the busiest immigrant inspection station in America from 1892 until 1954. These newcomers made New York home in one of the most natural ways: through food. Their pockets of authentic cuisine have filled New York with institutions. Jewish food at Russ & Daughters, Italian at Ferdinando’s Focacceria, steaks from Peter Luger, named after a German immigrant, dumplings in any number of joints in Chinatown. A short trip into Queens takes you through Jackson Heights, among the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the world and a microcosm of the range of cuisine in NYC; Brooklyn teems with bastions of top-notch cuisine, both new and old. There’s no shortage of food to experience in this city. Here’s a guide to sampling the best of it.
|Where to Stay
With housing prices second only to San Francisco, hotels in New York are high on price and low on space. For the budget-conscious, and those who want to see how actual New Yorkers live, Airbnb is a great choice. Another option for a quieter, more “apartment-living” stay is at A Garden in Chelsea, where you can cook in your own kitchen and dine in a private garden. To the east is The Ludlow, which we recently lauded for its attention to detail. Farther uptown, The Ivy Terrace is a romantic bed-and-breakfast option on East 58th Street, with a private terrace view of the treelined street. And for a classic, centrally located New York hotel known for tea time, stay at The Plaza Hotel and head to The Palm Court at noon.
|Where to Eat
Where to begin? How about the first meal of the day: After waking up, take a morning walk to Bagel Hole in Park Slope, Brooklyn or Black Seed Bagel, with three locations in Manhattan, for bagels; then to Abraço for coffee in the East Village. Or for a different kind of brunch, head to Chinatown for dim sum at Royal Seafood. After killing some time, you’ll be ready for lunch. We suggest pizza (any proud New Yorker’s standby). While the topic is hotly debated, no one will fault you for heading to Di Fara or Roberta’s in Brooklyn, Sal & Carmine on the Upper West Side or just a cheap slice at Joe’s, near Union Square and Washington Square Park. Then comes dinner, the main event. Warm up with a few small plates and some good wine at the Vanguard Wine Bar on the Upper West Side, where films play silently on repeat and no one rushes you off. For a main course of sushi, check out Sushi Nakazawa in the West Village or Sushi of Gari on the Upper East Side. For ramen, hit Minca Ramen in the East Village or Mu Ramen in Queens. For good Italian, head to All’onda by Union Square or Vic’s in Greenwich Village. For French go to Dirty French in the Lower East Side or Jean-Georges by Columbus Circle — if you can get a table. If you’re in Queens, go to Casa Enrique for Michelin-star Mexican or M. Wells Steakhouse for delicious T-Bone without pretension. In Brooklyn go to Delaware and Hudson for American fare, or Peter Luger for the best steak of your life. After dinner, it’s time for dessert. Stand in line at Milk Bar (there are three locations spread across Manhattan and two in Brooklyn), Big Gay Ice Cream in both the East and West Village, or grab apple pie a la mode at Bubby’s in Tribeca.
|What to Do
Head to Brooklyn and, if the weather is warm, grab the food from a collection of local food vendors at Smorgasburg, which peers out over downtown Manhattan from Williamsburg. In the winter months, head indoors to Brooklyn Flea, a close relative of Smorgasburg, which organizes music, food and handmade goods every weekend. For those staying in Manhattan, the MoMA in Midtown Manhattan features visceral works from Van Gogh, Andy Warhol and other giants, while also featuring The Modern, a Michelin-star restaurant. For another kind of culture, get cigars at Diamante’s in Fort Greene, check out the world-class beers at Other Half in Carroll Gardens or Threes in Park Slope, and head to Greenpoint for cocktails at Ramona or Williamsburg for whiskey at the Post Office.
For a beautiful farm-to-table meal served in a refurbished barn, head to Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown. If you decide to stick within NYC proper, head out to Flushing in Queens for soup dumplings at Nan Xiang Dumpling House or dumplings at White Bear. Hike off the calories on the scree of Breakneck Ridge Trail in the Hudson Valley, which you can access directly from the city via the Metro North line.
What to Pack
The Gear You’ll Want
M5 Low Rise Slim Jeans by 3×1 $285
Original Achilles Low by Common Projects $339