Photography & Words: Zoe London
I genuinely do pretty much plan my trips around food.
I’m not even ashamed by that. Food is everything, and when given the chance to eat food in a new city, I jump on it! As you know we recently spent a week in New York City, and I thought I’d outline more or less every single restaurant we ate in, as we took every opportunity we had to eat something new, and didn’t eat anything ‘familiar’ at all. Brilliant. It’s gonna be a bit of a long post, but let’s go!
FETTE SAU, WILLIAMSBURG
Fette Sau was my friends recommendation, as she lives in Williamsburg. We met her for dinner here, as she told us about what a total Brooklyn institution this place is. If you think of the most beautiful, slow cooked delicious barbecue food, Fette Sau will probably blow that out of the water. Fette Sau means ‘fat pig’ in German, and as you can guess, it specialises in traditional slow cooked meat, cooked in a “Southern Pride gas-and-wood-fired smoker capable of slow-cooking 500 pounds of meat at a time,” says nymag. George is more of a bbq connoisseur than I am, and he absolutely loved it. The restaurant is in a converted garage, and while it’s outside, it has a roof over the top of the seating for rainy days! My recommendation? Get the potato salad, it’s absolutely beautiful. One for the meat eaters, this.
RUSS AND DAUGHTERS CAFE, LOWER EAST SIDE
I had wanted to eat at Russ and Daughters cafe for so long, and was so happy when our hotel on the Lower East Side (the Ludlow) just so happened to be just two blocks around the corner. Perfect! We went for almost as soon as it opened, because a warning: this place gets busy. The Russ and Daughters store dates back to being over 100 years old, and is one of the most traditional Jewish food joints in all of NYC. They opened the cafe in 2014, and they serve the most beautiful brunch, with smoked salmon slicers cutting the fresh salmon infront of you. The staff are in the original lab coats of the store, and they pride themselves on making it a comfortable, easy eatery to enjoy the fresh food. My gosh, is this food delicious! My recommendation? Go for the boards, they’re absolutely beautiful. I had mine with shissel rye bread!
When we moved to the Archer Hotel, I knew there was somewhere I needed to go. Upland comes very highly rated online, and we didn’t have much dinner time free, so we decided to go there for breakfast. Upland is a California-inspired eatery right in the middle of Manhattan, and the vibe inside is very relaxed with an upmarket feel. I loved the bright and airy LA inspired interior. I of course had to opt for pancakes, which were some of the best I’d ever had. George had more of a larger breakfast, and remarked at how beautifully everything was cooked as well as how lovely the sausage was. My recommendation? Get a seat in the window and watch New York City go by. Oh, and make a reservation.
THE BUTCHERS DAUGHTER, NOLITA (ALSO IN WEST VILLAGE)
The Butchers Daughter must be one of the most instagrammed cafes in NYC. For sure. It’s a plant based restaurant specialising in the most beautiful juices you’ve ever had. I actually got one to go – that’s what I’m holding in the cover photo for this blog post. The food is a seasonal affair, using all the freshest and most beautiful ingredients, and they’re open all day long from an early breakfast to evening food. George and I love eating healthy, a good balanced diet, and we always try to visit some vegan or plant based restaurants while we’re travelling. The Butchers Daughter was no exception, I had the most beautiful grain salad with fresh flatbread and yoghurt, and it really started our day off well. My recommendation? 100% get a juice to go, they are absolutely delicious!
Vandal is a pretty well known hang out in NYC. It might seem a bit pretentious, but the vibe wasn’t off. I was worried, thinking it might be too celebrity for our casual weekday dinner, but it wasn’t at all. Staff were lovely, and the whole restaurant is amazing. Started out of a love for street art, the walls are adorned with street art from so many amazing artists. We sat in the Shepherd Fairey room, which personally I thought was the best, but there were other rooms with totally different vibes too. There was even artwork from my favourite street art collective: Faile! The food is a street fare inspired menu, with food to share. We had tacos as well as some other items, and they were beautiful. Vandal is a really special experience and I absolutely loved eating there. My recommendation? Book in advance the area you want to sit!
BLUE RIBBON SUSHI, LOWER EAST SIDE & VARIOUS
I pretty much live for sushi, and can’t go a few days without craving it. Honestly, it’s out of hand. I know the best sushi joints in London like the back of my hand, but abroad? Less so. The problem with sushi is, if it’s bad, it’s bad. I’m always worried to find a new sushi joint, but I was recommended on twitter to check out Blue Ribbon, and after scrolling through a million sushi restaurants – and trying to find one on Saturday with a reservation free!! – we decided to head to it’s Lower East Side restaurant. We were so pleasantly surprised. The sashimi was absolutely beautiful, and we got a table sat at the sushi bar so we could watch the chefs make it infront of us. They had some really unusual and unique maki rolls that were just to die for. The whole thing in the end also ended up being fairly mid priced for good sushi, which is always a bonus! My recommendation? Try the Sakana San Shu maki, it’s some of the most beautiful maki rolls I’ve ever had!
DIRTY FRENCH, LOWER EAST SIDE
Dirty French was the restaurant attached to the hotel we were staying in on the Lower East Side (The Ludlow) but it has overwhelmingly good reviews online, and we noticed how busy it was on the first evening we landed. We thought we’d try it out for breakfast, and it was absolutely beautiful. As the name suggests, it’s a French bistro style food affair, and the interior is just stunning. The huge mirror reminded me of a Charlotte Tilbury campaign! For breakfast it was quite quiet, but I think for lunch & dinner it’s definitely worth making a reservation. George had a bagel which he said was absolutely beautiful, and I had avocado toast which well, you just can’t go wrong with really! My recommendation? If it’s a warm day, request a table by the windows, they open them up and you have the best view of people watching! Oh, and take a snap by the neon signs at the door, they’re epic!
INSOMNIA COOKIES, LOWER EAST SIDE & VARIOUS
Okay so if you’re an American chances are you probably know about Insomnia Cookies, as it’s all over various states on the East and mid of America. However, if you’re foreign like me, you’ll love it. It’s a total no frills open till 3am cookie joint, where you can grab delicious hot fresh cookies to go. I grabbed one for dessert one night after dinner with ice cream and it was amazing. I think in New York everyone knows about Magnolia Bakery, and sure, it’s wicked, but for a cheap delicious dessert, I loved my cookies from Insomnia! My recommendation? After a night out with cocktails, scout out Insomnia cookies… you won’t regret it!
Cookshop had a queue outside it, and that was how we knew it was good. We were walking the High Line which is nearby, and needed a little lunch time stop off, but I forgot to plan ahead where to go. Luckily we stumbled across Cookshop and it surpassed our expectations amazingly. It’s a healthy eating joint, with the most beautiful fresh food. The menu is quite succinct, and I like that in a restaurant, especially for brunch. It means what they do, they do it well. And that is definitely the ethos at Cookshop. We sat outside as it wasn’t a particularly chilly day, and absolutely loved the food we had. George in particular said his chicken was so tasty and cooked to perfection. My recommendation? You don’t need sides here, the dishes are so well proportioned and filling!
SWEET CHICK, WILLIAMSBURG & VARIOUS
Sweet Chick was a recommendation from our New York friends, who came with us before heading to a gig in Brooklyn. They have a few locations, but we headed off to the one in Williamsburg. We booked in advance, but ended up having to wait for an hour outside. Yeah. Not ideal. It was a Saturday, and luckily for them we weren’t starving starving, and we had some serious catching up to do with our pals so we weren’t too mad – but it wasn’t ideal and worth noting. Sweet Chick, un surprisingly, specialises in chicken, and claims to have some of the best chicken and waffles in New York City. George had the chicken and waffles, which he said was absolutely delicious, and I opted for the chicken bucket which was lovely. The whole restaurant had a nice dimly lit Southern rustic American fare vibe to it, and despite waiting so long outside, we did really enjoy the food. My recommendation? Switch out the slaw side for the Mac and cheese, boy is it worth it!
I had a look for restaurants around where we were staying in Midtown (the Archer hotel) and came across Covina, which had amazing reviews. It’s a Mediterranean American restaurant, with a really diverse menu. I opted for the fish in cajun coating and it was absolutely beautiful, and of course George had the steak – he loves steak! It was absolutely beautiful, if a little rich when combined with our sides, the potatoes. It did make us feel a bit full of richness afterward, you know the kind that almost puts you to sleep, but I enjoyed every bite. In hindsight, we didn’t really need the rich potatoes and that was probably what set us over the edge! The restaurant is lovely for a date night vibe, really beautifully lit (hence the dodgy photo quality!) and I would definitely go again. My recommendation? Try one of their speciality beers!
So there we go! A whole bunch of New York City food recommendations. I really hope you found something to try on your next visit to NYC, and I’d love to know what you thought of this post in the comments!