It’s a bit of a blog with a difference from me this week. I’m just back from New York where I was lucky enough to spend my birthday, and I thought I would love to share the amazing food I had! From a Mexican feast, to an NY slice, to the most gigantic piece of cheesecake, I’ll tell you all the highlights. There are just so many places to choose from so if you’re planning a trip, hopefully this will give you a place to start.
So let’s start at the beginning. We landed around midday so by the time we got to Manhattan we were starving, and really keen for a quick bite. We took a wander down 7th Avenue in midtown, desperate for a slice of pizza. We quickly spotted Bella Napoli which looked like a traditional New York pizza place and we weren’t disappointed. The base was thin and crispy and the slices were covered generously with cheese and pepperoni. We paid $2 a slice and were definitely off to a good start!
The first day of our trip was also my birthday so we wanted to find somewhere nice but affordable for dinner, where we could enjoy a drink or two. We set off for Hell’s Kitchen, as we’d heard of a Mexican rooftop restaurant with great views of the city. But unfortunately it was closed on Mondays so our search continued. We stumbled across Southern Hospitality BBQ which seemed like it had plenty of the traditional US food we were craving. I went for a fried chicken salad. When it arrived it was huge, loaded with crispy onions and avocado. My boyfriend went for lobster mac and cheese. It was packed with lobster! A really generous portion, and the sauce was very rich. The fries we got on the side were super crispy and delicious. I had a mango margarita to drink which was fruity and strong with tequila – the measures in NYC are definitely much more generous than they are in the UK.
Also a fun fact I only discovered writing this blog – the restaurant was set up by Justin Timberlake! We were too full to think about desert afterwards so we took ourselves off for a trip up the Empire State Building so we could build up an appetite before tucking into cake from the Magnolia Bakery. The first I had heard of it was through Sex and the City years ago and I was determined this would be where by birthday cake was from! We went to the branch near the Rockefeller centre which was absolutely packed with cakes, pies and brownies. I’m just sorry I didn’t get a better picture!
I went for the red velvet rockette cupcake. I feel a bit bad saying this, but I was a little bit disappointed with the frosting! I don’t think it’s that there’s anything wrong with it, I just think the tastes and recipes differ a bit to what I’m used to in the UK. This frosting tasted a little bit too buttery and almost floury to me, whereas I’m used to a frosting that’s very strong with cream cheese. Nevertheless, the sponge was lovely and light, and I finished it all! My boyfriend went for a slice of the green cake which you can see above – it was chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and it was insanely good. The slice was massive so it lasted a couple of days.
Day two we started off with brunch. We were spending the day downtown so decided to go to Egg Shop. This was a place that had caught my eye on Instagram when I was planning our trip and I couldn’t wait to give it a try! I’m really glad to say it totally lived up to expectations.
As is very obvious from the name, everything on the menu comes with eggs. This was a really popular spot and there was a steady stream of customers the whole time we were there, the tables were never empty and people were queuing out the door. Luckily we were able to get a seat right away when we arrived.
I went for Avo and Egg, which had smashed avocado on toast with a poached egg and the most beautiful tomatoes, they’d obviously taken a lot of care of how they were prepared! The dish my boyfriend got isn’t on the menu anymore but it was lovely, it had pulled pork, a fruit salsa, toasted naan chips, and sweet potato hummus. One thing I would say is be prepared to order an extra egg as the dishes only come with one as standard. You can also go completely freestyle and create your own dish from scratch – everything we saw coming out the kitchen looked delicious.
Before we flew over, my parents had given us a recommendation for the best cheesecake in town. Junior’s is just off Broadway so it made sense to go there before we went to the theatre that night (Book Of Mormon – please see it, it’s amazing). Now, there’s no point going here for a main course expecting to have a slice of cheesecake for dessert. You will not have room. The slices here are massive and worth being the star of the meal all on their own! I went for cherry, and my boyfriend went for the red velvet. The cheesecake was beautiful, light and fluffy. Definitely lived up to its reputation.
Now, you can’t spend time in New York without visiting a tradition diner for brunch. They just do eggs so well there. On our third day we went to Pershing Square which is just opposite Grand Central Station. It’s everything you imagine when you think of a New York diner – booths all round the side of the restaurant and eggs however you’d like them. I had been craving pancakes before we left the UK but I still had too much sugar in my system from the cheesecake so I went for eggs benedict with ham. These came with home style potatoes which were a bit like mashed hash browns I guess, with the right amount of softness and crunch. My boyfriend had an omelette which was packed with cheese, salmon and bacon. They kept refilling our cups with really strong coffee which gave us the perfect buzz to go shopping.
And go shopping we did! I won’t bore you with the details apart from to tell you about the food related places we went to. Before we left I was determined to get my hands on plenty of sprinkles to decorate my cakes. We don’t get as big a range of bright and colourful decorations in the UK and the packets are much smaller so I was excited to see what we could find. I had a google and saw N.Y. Cake was in the neighbourhood. I had a good rummage and the shelves are completely packed with supplies – the biggest cake tins you can imagine and loads of gel food colourings. But I have to say I was a little disappointed in the range of sprinkles. They had very few large tubs, and the normal tubes were really expensive – though unfortunately I didn’t notice this at the time, it was only when I compared them to what I later found in the supermarket I noticed the difference.
In the middle photo, the sprinkles I got in the small tubes are from N.Y. Cake, and the large tub is from the supermarket, and cost the same price. We also went wild on Oreos, Pop Tarts and Peanut Butter Cups. America has much better flavours and the Oreos especially taste better, there’s definitely more filling in them than we get back in the UK. The red velvet ones are especially awesome.
That night, we decided to go for a blowout meal to spend some of my birthday money which my kind colleagues gave me. We were still craving Mexican food so we went back to Hell’s Kitchen and decided to keep walking until we found the perfect place. We eventually settled on a restaurant that was also called Hell’s Kitchen, that had sugar skulls on the sign outside – an obsession of mine.
Inside was dark and busy, but a lovely atmosphere. I quickly settled on the chicken fajitas and Richard on the steak burrito. We also ordered from their guacamole bar. We asked for pineapple guac but the server recommended we go for original and I’m so glad she said that. It was hands down the best guacamole I’ve ever had, so fresh tasting, and it really helped that it came with homemade tortilla chips. The mains were really delicious too, and we decided to take advantage of the ultra strong margaritas once again. These were as big as our heads! Even stronger than the other night and we were struggling to speak after 2. I would really recommend this restaurant if you are in the area.
Now I’m afraid we are on to the last day. We bought bagels and pretzels to eat in Central Park for breakfast but unfortunately I don’t have any photos of them. We then decided to take ourselves off to Williamsburg to be a bit hipster. I really liked this neighbourhood, it was quirky and chilled with lots of interesting shops. We were craving some fried chicken so headed to Sweet Chick on Bedford Avenue.
This was another small, busy place. It had a really cool vibe, and there were plenty of ways to mix up your fried chicken. Richard got the bucket which came with coleslaw and a biscuit, really tasty. I went for the special BLT sandwich. The bacon and chicken were really crisp and the plate was loaded with the most delicious shoestring fries. The portion was massive and I couldn’t even get halfway through. But I would recommend here if you want something a bit alternative. They even served my peach Bellini in a jam jar!
There you have it! My foodie tour of NYC. I hope you found it helpful, and if you have any other recommendations please let me know and I’ll add them to my list for next time because I will be back!