Updated: Apr 29, 2020
I often find myself reminiscing about my meals in New York and the feeling of rushing down the street and hoping that when I turn the corner, I won't see a massive line for the trendy new food item that's all over social media. I did try those fluffy Japanese-style pancakes, by the way. Worthy of the hype and worth the wait!
I've been to NY five times now and although I try to go to a few new spots during each visits, I can't help but feeling that I have to go back to my favorites or else my trip is incomplete. If you try these, there's a good chance they'll end up on your list again. Here are my must haves in NY:
Bagel & Lox from Russ & Daughters Cafe - There's no way around it, you will be waiting. If you're in a rush (and by rush I mean you can only wait 45 minutes vs. 90 minutes), you could go to Russ & Daughter's Shop which is their pick-up and go location. But, if you have some times, I recommend the cafe to get the full experience. You can put your name down and go find a coffee shop a block or two away and browse the several small art galleries in the neighborhood. New York is beautiful and unlike anywhere else so enjoy those walks down random streets. You never know what you'll stumble upon.
Chocolate-chip walnut cookie from Levain Bakery - There's always a line. I've found that the best time to go is about 20 minutes before closing. Tip - Don't be fooled by the nostalgia you'll feel from the warmth of the bakery and the smell of those freshly-baked cookies, you can only handle one. As hungry as you think you are, you probably can't eat more than one in a sitting. Just do what I do and order 8-10 and bring it on home with you!
Chicken & Gyro sandwich from Halal Guys - Cash only. The food is yummy and messy and great to stuff your face with in the middle of the night with a bunch of strangers. Be careful with that red sauce - it's delicious, but deadly.
Pizza from Juliana's - Even if you go right before closing, you will have to wait. But, it's worth it and I do it every.single.time (even in the rain). This is one of my most favorite places in NY. Not only for the perfect bite of pizza paired with a great glass of wine, but also the feeling you get when you look around the room. You'll notice the owner, an older Italian man, sitting in the far-right corner of the room and the friendly waiter making a customer smile by telling a story and the cooks layering the pizzas and putting them in the coal fired oven. And then you'll look at the person you came there with and together you'll eagerly wait for that first bite of deliciousness.