I visited New York for the first time a few months ago. I was SO excited, mostly because it is often labelled as the Foodie capital of the world, so I was eager to see if it would live up to its reputation. I’d been given tons of recommendations from both locals and previous visitors, and read a million food blogs with tips before my trip, so the list below really does feature some of the best of the best spots in NYC.
Where to have pizza: Rubirosa
Rubirosa was so good, that I actually went twice during my 5 day trip! They serve HUGE, thin crust pizzas. You can even do half and half pizzas, so it’s perfect for sharing. It’s very relaxed inside, with a simple decor – exactly what you’d expect of a Soho pizza parlour. They also serve a range of side dishes and pastas – although the pizzas are their main showstoppers so I’d recommend trying those. The menu even boasts a pizza with a vodka tomato sauce – perfect for any Bloody Mary fans!
The only downside is that it’s notoriously difficult to get a table. They take reservations during certain hours, although you’ll need to book a few weeks in advance. Otherwise, if you’re up for queuing you can just visit on the day (at peak times the queues can be 2 hours +).
The ‘smaller’ pizzas (that still feed 2 people) come in at around $20. So it’s fairly affordable, given their deliciousness.
Location: 235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012, USA
Price: $15 – $30 per person
Where to eat in the Upper East Side: Uva
Uva was recommended to me by a friend, a born and bred New Yorker. I hadn’t seen it listed on any of the mainstream New York food blogs and magazines, so it really is a hidden gem, and my dinner there was quite possibly my favourite meal in NYC. It’s a cosy, rustic Italian spot right near Central Park. The wine list is affordable and the food menu extensive enough to feed all types of eaters, and includes pasta and a wide range of meat and fish. It’s classy enough to visit for a special occasion, whilst still maintaining a casual vibe.
The food inherits a typically Italian flare with hints of non-conformity – such as their gnocchi made from beetroot (which was actually my favourite dish even though I’m not normally a fan of beets). Another favourite was the Carciofi Fritti – panfried, crispy baby artichokes, unlike anything I’d eaten before.
Location: 1486 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10075, USA
Price: $50 – $60 per person
Where to have brunch: Jack’s Wife Freda
Jack’s Wife Freda is somewhat of an institution amongst New York Brunchers. Naturally, I had to try it. It’s a simple, cute and small cafe that was opened by a couple who met whilst working at Balthazar – so they know what they’re doing when it comes to brunch. The food is an eclectic mix of brunch classics with Middle Eastern and Israeli twists, making it a truly unique experience. Their food is also on the healthier side – a welcome break after my 5 day food binge! The menu is hand-drawn and it has an overall homely feel.
It lived up to the hype, and I even celebrated my birthday there. They also take reservations, which is a bonus amongst New York brunch spots.
Location: There are two branches at 224 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012, USA & 50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014, USA
Price: $15 – $20 per person
Where to grab a bagel: Best Bagel & Coffee
I couldn’t have left New York without having a classic New York bagel. Luckily, there was a bagel shop right opposite my Midtown hotel which had queues out the door, so it had to be good. It’s called ‘Best Bagels & Coffee’, and they really are the best bagels. You can select your preferred bagel, and customise your filling. They have everything from smoked salmon to ham and cheese and many veggie options. I must warn you, they are MASSIVE. I ate half a bagel for breakfast and was full until dinner time!!
It’s a fast food joint and most people grab and go but there is some seating inside. It’s not too far from Bryant Park, so if the weather’s good you can just pop it in your bag and walk over and enjoy your bagel in the park.
If you’re on the other side of town, Black Seed Bagels is another favourite bagel shop amongst New York Foodies.
Location: 225 West 35th Street New York, NY 10001
Price: Approximately $10 per bagel
Where to have sweet stuff:
Head to Boqueria for NUTELLA CHURROS!!
‘Nutella churros’ are in capitals above, because this is quite possibly the best combo of ingredients ever invented. Boqueria, a little tapas place in Soho, serve warm churros filled with Nutella. It gets pretty busy inside, in which case you can ask for them to go. This was easily my favourite sweet treat in NYC!
Location: 171 Spring St, New York, NY 10012, USA
Price: 5 pieces for $8 or 9 pieces for $13
Head to Dominique Ansel’s Bakery for Cronuts & Cookie Shots
Dominique Ansel’s bakery in Soho is just down the road to Boqueria on Spring Street – that street is a foodie’s heaven! Dominique Ansel is a must visit not only as an eatery, but also as a tourist attraction. This bakery is the site where the world famous cronut was invented, by Ansel himself, back in 2013. Thousands of foodies queued up overnight to try this new pastry that was a cross between a donut and a croissant. The cronut flavour changes monthly, and there is still a daily queue down the street to get your hands on one!
This place is more than just a bakery, it’s almost like a food lab, where the team are always cooking up new, inventive bakes. The kitchen is open 24 hours a day to prepare freshly baked goods for the next day! The cookie shot is my personal favourite, this is a warm cookie in the shape of a shot glass, it’s interior covered in melted chocolate and filled with sweet milk.*
*Cookie shots are only served from 3pm daily.
Location: 189 Spring St, New York, NY 10012, USA
Price: Approximately $5 per item
Head to Union Fare for ALL the croissants:
Union Fare is a cute cafe (think tons of fairy lights hanging from the ceiling) but their most impressive offering is their croissants – I’ve never seen so many different types of croissants in one place. There were funfetti filled croissants, red velvet, matcha and apparently there’s an Oreo filled one which is sometimes on the menu.
Location: 5 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003, USA
Price: Approximately $5 per pastry
Head to Grom for the best gelato
Grom is my favourite Italian gelato chain, they only have a few branches around the world, and most of them are in Italy, but four are in NYC! Their gelato is super creamy, and basically transported me back to Italy. It’s a must try. One of the branches is by Columbus Circus, next to Central Park with outdoor seating, so on a sunny day its great for some people-watching and watching the world go by!
Where to have drinks with a view: Rainbow Room
This place is without a doubt my favourite place in New York. It’s truly magical! New York is full of rooftop bars, but this one is exceptional. It’s located at the top of the Rockafeller Centre and it’s pricy, but it’s worth the investment. Considering it costs a whopping $34 to get to the Top of the Rock viewing platform, a couple of floors above, you’re probably better off grabbing a drink or two at the Rainbow Room instead. Cocktails start at $10 a glass and are delicious, so you get the same great views AND can enjoy a drink or two them from a window-side seat, away from the crowds, in this classically designed dining room, dripping with chandeliers and class. They also serve food.
The views are spectacular, you can see the whole city and the Hudson River. I went just before sunset, so I got daytime, sunset, and nighttime scenes. The dress code is smart, and reservations are essential.
Location: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 65th Floor, New York, NY 10112
Price: Cocktails start at $10
Where to have fries: The Renaissance Midtown Hotel
Whilst staying at my hotel, the Renaissance Midtown (by Marriott), I was lucky enough to stumble across the most delicious fries I’ve ever tried – GARLIC fries. I am a firm believer that garlic makes (most) things taste better, and this dish was no exception. I’d seriously recommend popping in to the bar to try these, it has a nice relaxed vibe with lots of seating, so you can also grab a cocktail or two.
Location: 218 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001, USA
Price: Fries are under $5
Where to have a picnic: Central Park with food from The Plaza Food Hall
If you’re lucky enough to have great weather when you visit New York, a picnic in Central Park should be on your list. Conveniently, the Plaza Hotel is located right opposite the park, and they have an incredible food hall serving all sorts of freshly prepared food to eat in or takeaway. So if you fancy a ‘posh picnic’ you can find anything from pizza and pasta, to sandwiches, hot dogs or cupcakes. Prices vary, and despite being part of a five star hotel, prices are not extortionate and there are plenty of cheap options available.
Location: 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019, USA
Price: Varies, cheaper items and snacks start at $3-5
Where to have a swanky dinner:
Tao, Balthazar, and ABC Kitchen were my favourite, higher end spots for a special occasion. All three have very different atmospheres. Tao turns into a nightclub late in the evening, ABC Kitchen has more of a relaxed vibe and pretty interior, and Balthazar is like your typical Parisian brasserie. All three are very popular so it’s best to book in advance as they all take reservations.
Tao is one of the top Asian restaurants in New York, it’s super trendy and basically becomes a nightclub late at night (though is perfectly pleasant to dine in at dinner time!). They serve all sorts of dishes from sushi to stir fries. In particular the vegetable fried brown rice really stood out, as did the duck spring roll starter. As with most Asian restaurants, it’s a good place for sharing dishes and eating family style.
Location: There are 2 branches – Tao Downtown at 92 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA and Tao Uptown at 42 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022, USA
Price: $50+ for three courses per person
Balthazar is styled as your typical Parisian brasserie, it’s got high ceilings and an elegant vibe. They serve Modern European style dishes and all that I tried was really tasty. It’s nestled in Soho on Spring Street amongst all the great food spots. It’s buzzy and fairly loud, so bear that in mind. They also apparently do a great brunch.
Location: 80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012, USA
Price: $50+ per person for 3 courses
3. ABC Kitchen
ABC Kitchen serve European style dishes but also include things like pizza, so it’s a good place to suit all tastes. It’s quaint, dimly lit and pretty inside, so is a good spot for couples. They also serve a great brunch. If you do end up going, the salted caramel ice cream with popcorn dessert (pictured above) is a must try! It was easily the best dessert I had in NYC.
Location: 35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003
Price: $50+ per person for 3 courses
Where to exercise: Soul Cycle
As a keen spinner, I was SO incredibly excited to try out the mother of all spin classes: Soul Cycle. I visited on my birthday and the team at their Bryant Park branch bought in a cookie with a candle in it and sung me happy birthday at the end of the class! They even captured it on camera and gave me a Polaroid to keep. It was very special, and one of the highlights of my trip. What I love about spin classes in general, is that they suit all fitness levels as you can go as fast or slow as you like, and the instructors at Soul Cycle are all super energetic and motivational. Their studios are also amazing, they provide everything including shoes, towels and toiletries so you only need to bring yourself and your gym gear along.
I am on a quest to visit as many spin classes around the world as possible, so far I’ve been to Pyscle in London, Soul Cycle in New York, XYZ in Hong Kong, Motion in Dubai and Rocycle in Amsterdam, and I’m looking forward to discovering many more!
Location: Several branches throughout the city, see their website for further information.
Price: $34 per class (with an intro offer of 2 classes for $34)
Where to stay: The Renaissance Midtown
New York is full of amazing hotels! There are too many to list. When I go on a city break I’m usually out exploring most of the day but I still generally like to stay in a clean, comfortable, mid-range hotel in the city centre as I don’t like to spend time and money commuting. New York hotels fitting this criteria can be a bit pricey, so I try to book as early as possible in advance to get the best rates. The Renaissance Midtown fit the bill perfectly. It was right in the centre of Manhattan and walking distance to loads of great restaurants and Central Park. The beds are SUPER comfy, the rooms and bathroom are fairly big by NYC standards, and it has a great bar to relax in.
Location: 218 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001, USA
Price: Room rates start from $200 per night
My top things to do:
New York is full of fun things to do, you’d probably need a few weeks to squeeze them all in! But here are a few of my faves and must-sees, including a bunch of free attractions.
Super touristy, but obviously a must see when in New York! It’s definitely best to go for a walk through at night to get the full ‘bright light’ experience. There are no entry charges, you can just have a wander round.
Location: Manhattan, NY 10036, USA
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
A walk across Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny day is very iconic, and you’ll get some great views. Ideally, you’d probably want to walk towards Manhattan, coming from Brooklyn, to catch a glimpse of the famous Manhattan skyline. To arrive by subway, get off at ‘High St. – Brooklyn Bridge’ and walk up the stairways to get up to the bridge. The walk across should take around 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how many photos you stop to take! It’s an amazing architectural structure in itself and is not one to miss.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is located on Ellis Island, and you’ll need to catch a ferry from Battery Park in Manhattan to get there. Although it’s not a particularly long journey (under an hour), it’s extremely popular and therefore wait times for the ferry can as long as two hours, so it’s good to either arrive early, prebook, or use a tour company like Viatour who often arrange queue jumps. Alternatively, there are a number of helicopter tours that will give you a great view of the statue.
On the island itself, you can see the statue, visit the museum which gives some history, and you can even climb the pedestal/the statue (but reservations are required in advance). You can also catch some great views of the Manhattan skyline.
Location: Ellis Island, New York, NY 10004, USA
Price: The ferry fee starts from $18.50 but prices will vary depending on what attractions you want to see on the Island and whether you visit with a tour group.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York is full of loads of great museums and art galleries, so if you’re pressed for time it’s difficult to decide which is best to visit. For modern and contemporary art lovers, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is probably you’re best bet, but for a more rounded view of art spanning the last 5000 years, the Met is a great option, particularly because the building itself is pretty spectacular.
Location: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA
Price: For visitors outside New York State admission is $25
The 9/11 memorial is often referred to as one of the most remarkable in the world, serving as a tribute to the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and the 1993 bombing. It’s made up of twin reflecting pools and waterfalls, marking where the towers once stood.
Location: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007, USA
Price: FREE (to visit the memorial, but there are admission costs to the museum and One World Trade observation deck)
The High Line
The High Line is a great walking spot, it’s an elevated linear park that was built on a former railway in Manhattan. As you walk along, you’ll get some pretty views of the city. When we went there was even a little art exhibition going on, it’s very buzzy and is a great place for a stroll.
Location: West side of Manhattan, New York, NY 10011, USA
The Friends Building
For any fans of the hit TV show, you can see the exterior of the iconic Friends Apartment. It’s probably best to try and tie it in when you’re in the area around Greenwich Village, as it’s just the building, and you can’t go inside. Sadly there’s no ‘Central Perk’ on the ground floor, but there is a highly acclaimed restaurant called the Little Owl where you can stop for a bite.
New York’s Fifth Avenue is one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. It features everything from high end designer stores to high street brands like H&M and Victoria’s Secret. The lavish window displays of stores such as SAK’s Fifth Avenue and Barney’s are updated every season, so even if you’re not looking to spend, it’s still great for window shopping.
Location: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022
Price: FREE (note – dependent on what you buy!)
So, do I think New York is the world’s Foodie capital? Although I ate some delicious, weird and wonderful food out in the Big Apple, I think I’d have to conclude that London is still, my favourite city for food, with New York now a close second. There’s a lot more variety in cuisine in London and although New York does take food to inventive new levels, I was definitely craving some healthy comfort food by the end of my trip!