New York is a haven for foodies. In this post I am going to share some of my favourite spots for savoury goodies. Some of these are so good for tingling your umami taste buds, they have named themselves after them! (More of a sweet tooth? Click here to see the best sweet treats) Are you ready to find food that is both delicious.Splendid Seafood – Grand Central Oyster Bar, 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
This restaurant, down in Grand Central’s subterranean dining hall, is one of New York’s grand old institutions, opening in 1913. It has notoriously terrible service, but a well-stocked and scrumptious raw bar (that’s cold seafood). You can chow down on a rich, creamy chowder or scoff a platter of scallops. It was the place I first tried oysters. I ordered six and enjoyed every last one. The day I got engaged, we went down to the vaults and I had yet more oysters, this time with prosecco, lemon and cucumber…..oh em gee (as the cool kids say).
As a visitor, it is likely you will be shown to the area stuffed with red and white table cloths. These tables are crammed pretty tightly and the arched ceilings can make the background chatter deafening.
Do as the locals do, and ask to sit at the bar on the right, or even better, if there is a large group of you, in the rooms even further along. You will find a dark room, akin to an old pub where you can chat without endless echoes and the service will be much swifter.
Stunning Southern Food – Pies ‘n’ Thighs, 166 S 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Over in Williamsburg, with a very unassuming frontage is the Southern food Mecca of Pies ‘n’ Thighs. Here you will find a delightful assortment of buttermilk based, grease laden comfort foods. Cat fish sandwiches rub fins with salty, succulent fried chicken. They also offer a fine selection of drinks from hibiscus (pictured here) to proper Southern ice tea and selection of local Brooklyn beers.
It was in Pies ‘n’ Thighs that I first tried ‘a biscuit’, For those in the UK, a biscuit is cross between a savoury scone and a very buttery croissant, and it is delicious. For those in the USA, we Brits think a biscuit is what you would call a cookie, so the concept really messes with our heads).
On both visits, I have had the chicken box which consists of three pieces of chicken, one biscuit and a side, “Always mac and cheese for me please”. One of our travel buddies had a collection of sides; the burnt end beans, the coleslaw and pulled pork. All met with rave reviews.
Another of my buddies tried the chicken and waffles (not an entirely savoury dish). Invented in Harlem, this crazy breakfast concoction became astonishingly popular. It consists of fried chicken, buttermilk waffles and maple syrup. It shouldn’t work, but it kinda does.
I have a terrible confession to make, I have never made it to dessert as I am always stuffed to the brim with the savoury mains. We did take a slice of key lime to go and the next day it was still yummy, despite the fridge’s condensation.
Brilliant Burgers – Umami Burger, 432 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011
Mr Fluskey doesn’t have many vices in life, but I believe Umami Burger must be one. Every time we visit New York, this is written in the hypothetical agenda in hypothetical thick black marker and hypothetically circled repeatedly.
Umami Burger takes all that is good about savoury burgers and doubles the enjoyment. They grind their own steak and cook the burgers medium rare as standard. The beef is flavourful and just squishy enough to get your fingers thoroughly mucky.
Umami Burger’s cheeseburger is smothered in truffle glaze, truffle cheese and gives you an incredibly heady umami hit. The K-BBQ is full of caramalised kimchee, covered in sweet spicy glaze and evokes the true flavours of South Korea.
And then we get to the side dishes. By far my favourite side (so much so that I dreamt about it) is the maple-glazed, bacon-topped sweet potato fries. These sticky, sweet batons of joy make a fantastic contrast from the savoury burgers and turn generous people into scrabbling face-stuffers. Along side these, you can have cheesy tater tots, sweet potato fries with cinnamon sugar, truffle fries and plenty of other super sides.
Great Gherkins – Fickle Me Pete, 53 Bloomingdale Rd, Hicksville, NY 11801
OK, so this one isn’t a meal all by itself but a nice snack, or an excellent accompaniment to your summer’s day picnic. We have never been to the proper Pickle Me Pete. We actually were en-route but decided to pop into Bryant Park to see the newly opened ice rink and Christmas market.
Alongside the rink (more like a swimming pool in the 22 degree heat) we came across a small stall proffering Pete’s produce. Here we found at least ten different kinds of pickle from super sharp to sweet and soft.
We ordered a fried pickle as we had never tried it and tucked in with trepidation. Well, I am here to tell you, if you didn’t already know, that fried pickle is SO good. It is the perfect mix of unhealthy (fried) and healthy (pickle). It packs a flavour punch that is sometimes distressingly absent from fried snacks.
Next time I am in New York I will either make a pilgrimage to Pickle Me Pete’s store or try and find them at another fair. Thinking of doing the same? You can check out their list of events here.
I want to eat another fried pickle, just one more…or two…or three. What!? They are healthy…(ish).
Supersize Sandwiches – Katz Deli, 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
OK, hands up those who have seen When Harry Met Sally. Remember “that scene” when Sally REALLY enjoys her dessert? Well that was filmed in New York’s most famous deli, Katz.
If the film were it’s only real draw, I think this place would be mildly forgotten but it has been a real hit since it first opened way back in 1888.
As you enter you will be handed a pink ticket. Do NOT lose this, it will cost you $50! Work your way along the counters and order from each different section. There is one for hot dogs and sides, one for drinks, one for dessert and of course, the meat counter. Happily, mid afternoon on a weekday, there was no queue and so we could take our time making our choices without feeling rushed or pressured.
Fill your boots, and your tummy, and your face with one of the delicious and enormous sandwiches. The meat is tender, the special Katz Deli sauce is sweet and hot with mustard and you won’t need to eat all day. They are definitely worth the relatively high price tag.
Having enjoyed a sandwich previously, and aware that we were going out for dinner, we just had a sweet potato knish and a beverage on our last visit; enjoying both in the famous film spot.
We made our way out, paying for our goodies at the counter by the door and started planning our next visit even as we walked down the street.
Papaya Dog/Papaya King/ Grey’s Papaya, Various locations throughout the city
Cheap and cheerful is the name of the game at these takeaway joints, or is that hot and greasy? If you want a budget meal that’ll warm your hands and fill you up, you can grab a bargain at these homegrown fast food outlets. The fries are just $0.99 and a portion of hot, gooey mozzarella sticks (battered, not breadcrumbed) is just $4.00. Basically, find somewhere that says “Papaya” and instead of the healthy fruit you might expect, you’ll get some junk to enjoy instead.
Nathan’s Hot Dog, 1310 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224
Now, I know you can find hot dogs all over the city, they are more prominent than Starbucks, and that’s saying something. However, I think that the location and history of Nathan’s means it is worth the trip down to Coney Island.
On the boardwalk, by the seashore, you can tuck into one of Nathan’s famous hot dogs, or, if you are feeling a little frisky, a corn dog. Nathan’s is not just a hot dog stand, they run the infamous hot dog eating contest every July 4th; quite the spectacle!
It’s Coney Island spot means you can take your meaty treats down to the beach to enjoy. Watch out for the sand, and maybe save the meal until you have finished playing on the fairground rides. I dread to think how many have reappeared on the hair-raising Cyclone wooden rollercoaster.
Joe’s Shanghai, 9 Pell Street New York, NY 10013
If you get sick of American food….I know, I know, I said if, there is a world of Asian treats in New York’s Chinatown. Although some of the Chinese population has migrated out to Flushing, Queens there are still some wonderful, authentic places downtown. My favourite delicacy has to be the xiao long bao at Joe’s Shanghai.
Seating is family style. They fill the large tables with as many people as possible. We visited in a party of six and were sat with another of the same size. When they paid up, they were very quickly replaced with another group of six,
The xiao long bao are soup filled dumplings. Give them a minute when they arrive, they are very hot. When you bite into them, a squirt of salty, savoury pork soup will fill your mouth in an explosion of umami yumminess.
Grimaldi’s Pizza, 1 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Brooklyn Bridge is long, it can take a good 30-40 minutes to get across, but if you can make it, glories await. Housing a coal-fired brick oven which gives the pizza a unique flavour, Grimaldi’s makes thin, crispy pizza.
Pick your pizza base (white or regular, small or large), pick your toppings, and then sit and drool in anticipation. Your pizza will soon arrive on a raised base so that it can fit on the table.
Although there are several restaurants throughout the USA, the location by the Brooklyn Bridge is the flagship branch and so is worth the walk.
Food Trucks, Various locations around the city
If you are short on time, don’t worry; delicious food can still be yours. Dotted around the city, you will find great tasting food on wheels. Most common are the carts serving soft pretzels and hot dogs. Then there are the gyro places (kebabs) that have pitta filled with lamb or falafel.
The next step up is the gourmet food truck, you’ll recognise these by the long line of eager lunchers. Here, just outside of St Patrick’s cathedral stood a Greek food truck. We also saw curry, lobster rolls and Korean wraps.
Time To Munch
Now, it is time to hit the streets and start eating! Have lots of savoury foody fun during your time in New York. And remember, it is much more enjoyable if you take some trousers with just a little bit of give.
Ready for dessert? Click here to read my sweet treats in NYC post.
Thank you to the all-singing, all-dancing photo snapping Adriana Maestranzi for the use of her photos from our awesome NYC trip. You can see more of her awesome pictures on her Instagram here.