Last December, right around Christmas time, I tricked Meg into agreeing to go to an Adele concert with me at Madison Square Garden. And by tricked I mean, I asked her if she wanted to see Adele and conveniently left out the fact that the concert was actually in New York. Hehe, sorry Meg! Well about nine months later we finally made the quick trip north.
Meg’s wonderful cousin offered us free accommodations in Brooklyn, which gave us a little more money to spend on our food adventures (woho!). I’m an early riser and love to conquer the day when I’m on vacation, and Meg willingly indulged my need to see everything we wanted to see and more. My one regret is that some how we did not eat one sit down meal the entire time we were there — I guess there’s always next time!
After getting into New York by train late on Tuesday night, we started our day on Wednesday on a mission to find a few New York food staples — bagels and pizza. Now some might say we went a little overboard, but when you don’t have plans to revisit a city in the near future, you’ve got to squeeze in everything that you can.
Here’s a recap of everything we ate on our first full day in city — because let’s be real, that’s really the only thing we did on day one. – K
Tompkins Square Bagels
A good bagel is one of my all time favorite foods, and New York has the best bagels of anywhere I’ve ever been, so you know we had to take advantage. On previous trips to New York City, I’ve enjoyed Black Seed Bagels and H&H Bagels, so on this trip we decided to check out a spot new to both of us, Tompkins Square Bagels.
This bagel shop in the East Village offers hand-rolled, kettle-boiled and oven-baked bagels which are showcased on their menu in a number of ways – plain, in breakfast sandwiches and in more savory sandwiches that are suitable for lunch and dinner. We ordered a breakfast sandwich to share, an everything bagel filled with bacon, egg and cheese. We couldn’t resist ordering a side of scallion cream cheese from their impressive cream cheese selection, which proved to be a great choice.
They only accept cash, but they do offer an ATM on site. -M
If you haven’t heard I sort of have an obsession with donuts, in fact I did a donut crawl earlier this year in Richmond for fun. I personally follow a couple of New Yorkers I admire on Instagram (aka they love donuts as much as I do) I asked for a recommendation on where to find the best donut in the city and I was told to get the hibiscus donut at Dough Doughnuts. This donut shop which started in Brooklyn is known for its flavors inspired by Latin America.
Although we were staying in Brooklyn it wasn’t super convenient for us to stop by the original location so we made our way to the City Kitchen location (700 8th Ave) on our walk to Central Park. After seeing the size of these donuts I came to terms with the fact that it only made sense to order one. The hibiscus icing had a more tart and fruity flavor than I expected — in a good way — and the actual donut was extremely pillowy. It had clearly been fried just earlier that morning and you could definitely taste how fresh it was. I highly recommend stopping at one of the four Dough locations or at Smorgasburg. -K
Located in Greenwich Village at 7 Carmine Street, Joe’s Pizza was recommended to us by multiple people on Instagram when we put out an ask for New York City recommendations, and we had a feeling they were on to something when we did a little research only to see that in 2009 GQ Magazine named Joe’s Pizza one of the “Best 25 Pizzas on Earth.” We shared a big slice of pepperoni pizza and with one bite, we both looked at each other and nodded like we had found exactly what we were looking for in a New York slice of pizza. Limited seating is available, so we ate our piece of pizza outside watching the hustle and bustle of the restaurant.
Joe’s Pizza does have two other locations, but the one on Carmine Street is the one you want to go if you’re looking for the original spot. It’s a good place to keep on the radar if you’re looking for a late night snack, as the restaurant is open until 4 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Even if you’re not heading to New York anytime soon, you can still get your Joe’s Pizza fix – they ship nationwide. -M
Okay, so we didn’t need french fries after eating a slice of pizza, but when famous french fries are only a two minute walk away, you just go for it. Pommes Frites specializes in Belgian style french fries, and I was thrilled to see that they were once again open in a new location after being closed on my last visit to the city.
Frites here twice-cooked and available in three sizes, regular, large and double, and the portions are extremely generous. There are a number of different dipping sauces and garnishes on the menu to choose from. We ordered a regular order of frites with frites sauce, ketchup and raw onion on top, which came served in a traditional paper cone. -M
Xi’an Famous Foods
Xi’an Famous Foods got its start in Flushing, Queens but now has locations throughout Manhattan and even in Brooklyn. After being covered by the New York Times and a visit from Anthony Bourdain, you could say this place has become something of a phenomenon.
The fast casual restaurant is known for its spicy dishes and hand-ripped noodles. I’ll be honest Xi’an Famous Foods is not for those with a weak stomach. If you like the spice in many of Peter Chang’s dishes you’ll love it here.
It was hard to zero in on just what dish to get, because I wanted to try everything, but we settled on the spicy & tingly beef hand-ripped noodles. The beef was flavorful and extremely tender, the noodles were perfectly cooked and the sauce was the kind of spicy that has you coming back for more. Without question, this dish is tied for my favorite thing I ate on our trip. If you are looking for a cheap, meal with a ton of flavor and you don’t mind getting a little messy, do yourself a favor and head to your closest Xi’an location. -K
Momofuku Milk Bar
Our last stop of the day was a trip to Milk Bar, the perfect way to cool our palates down after inhaling a plate of spicy noodles. By this point I think we were pretty stuffed and while I would’ve loved to try ALL of the various sweets (like the crack pie), Meg and I decided to share a small serving of the cereal milk ice cream.
If you are unfamiliar, Momofuku’s cereal milk is made by steeping toasted cornflakes in cold milk — which might sound a little weird, but I promise it is delicious. I was pleasantly surprised by how unsweet the soft serve was, as I expected it to be off the charts sweet. And you don’t have to live in New York to experience the joy that is Milk Bar, there is also a location in D.C.! -K
Wait, we did other things but eat?
So if you read through this entire blog post (congrats to you for being awesome) you might have wondered, is eating the only thing these girls did in New York? Well the answer is, kind of? We did squeeze in a few other activities on our first full day in Manhattan.
Around lunch time we made our way over to Central Park to people watch. The weather was gorgeous and after walking from bagels to donuts, taking a break from being on our feet was just what we needed.
After our day full of food adventures we headed over to Dumbo to meet Meg’s cousin Jimmy and his wife Liz at Etsy’s new office (she has a super cool job there). We headed straight up to the rooftop and caught a magical sunset on the last night of summer. The view of Manhattan’s skyline was nothing short of incredible (hint: to our bosses, can we have a rooftop too?).
Once our tour was over we walked over to Photoville, a photography festival organized in stacked shipping containers. Meg’s cousin that we were staying with, Amy, was one of the organizers of the festival and I think I speak for the both of us in saying that the festival was impactful and impressive. There were exhibits covering political issues like the Flint water crisis and the conflict in Syria and a super cute exhibit with rescue dogs wearing flower crowns. And we had a very serendipitous moment when we just happened to come across an exhibit put together by Richmond’s own Art 180. – K
And that was just day one! Stay tuned for day two of our New York adventures next week. Recapping our first day in NYC brings to light just how much we ate in one day, but to our credit, we did a lot of walking to get from one place to the next and shared at every stop along the way!