New York, New York: Your One Stop for Many International Flavors
If you're looking to explore a lot of international flavors and don't have the budget or time to travel around the world you might want to consider a trip to New York, New York. Known to many (especially its natives) as the center of the universe, New York offers opportunities to explore many cultures all within a few quick subway rides. You can do cheap New York, ethnic New York, classic New York, fun New York and authentic New York without any difficulty at all. New York City offers just about anything the inquiring traveler might like to discover.
Food carts abound
On a recent trip to New York City we had the opportunity to sample a few of its international culinary delights. One of the great things about New York City is its energy and pace. It's impossible to be on the streets and not feel the palpable energy that comes from the melange of people who live and visit. Whether you're there for a quick overnight business trip or a week-long vacation you will barely scratch the surface of what this city has to offer. Make your decision on how you're going to tackle the Big Apple. Are you going to search for specific ethnic foods or are you going to wander around certain parts of the city exploring and discovering as you go? Either way you're bound to be impressed with tastes that you'll find.
Chinese Market Italian Market
New Yorkers are always on the go. A recent poll stated that most New York office dwellers spent about 3 minutes eating their lunch. We're hoping when you do visit that you have a little more time than that. But if you're looking for quick eats you will definitely find them in abundance. Food trucks, carts and stands are on almost every corner. Whether you're grabbing a quick hot dog, Halal chicken and rice, or a delicacy a from one of the gourmet food trucks there's something to please every palate.
Food trucks provide a wide variety of foods from which to choose. Just a few of the trucks available include the Jamaican Dutchy, Go Burger, Asia Dog, Street Sweets, Schnitzel & Things, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Super Tacos, Jiannetto's Pizza, Bistro Truck, and YoGo (offering yogurt specialities). There's an international feast on wheels. When walking around the city, you will inevitably wander by one or more of these wheeled feeders, so check it out and sample what they have to offer. Many have tapas style smaller portions so you can try a few different items. You can follow many of them on Facebook and Twitter to learn where they will be next.
While the trucks may be interspersed strategically throughout the city, food carts can be found just about everywhere. There are carts that sell hot soup, stuffed potatoes, hot dogs, pretzels, candied nuts, tacos, sausages, kebabs, gyros, and one of our favorites, Halal chicken and rice. There are debates among foodies as to which cart has the best, and like everyone else we have our favorites too. Halal is an Arabic word meaning "permissible." In the food world, Halal meat is meat that must be farmed, slaughtered and prepared in accordance with certain Muslim dietary guidelines, which are similar in many respects to the Kosher practices of food preparation as well. Thus, many of the carts offering Halal food serve Middle-Eastern dishes. The basic ingredients include chopped meat, which can be beef, chicken lamb or a combination, served over rice or in a pita, with green salad or vegetables on the side. Sauce options include a tangy white yogurt sauce, hot sauce or barbecue. If you're like us, you can make a fun combination of sauces to tantalize your taste buds. Some of the carts are busy serving diners until 4:00 in the morning! And, prices are some of the most reasonable you will find - around $6 for a plate that will fill you up. Just be sure to bring cash as most of the "street eats" trucks and carts do not take credit or debit cards.
Line at Shake Shack
If you're looking for something you might think of as distinctly American, you can certainly find that in NYC as well. One of our favorite stops on this trip was the Shake Shack. We visited the original location in Madison Park. We were there on a beautiful early Spring day when the temperature was 70 degrees so the park was filled with folks eating the famous Shack Burgers. We were amazed at how many people waited in line patiently for a burger, especially with so many other places to dine. One local actor, who was in line in front us, told us he could see the Shack from his office window and that many days the line was up to two blocks long.
Double Shack Burger with Fries, it's making my mouth water again
Don't be surprised if when you place your order you are asked for your first name and given a beeper that will buzz once your order is ready. There will be quite a backlog if you're there on a sunny day! Once we got our order from the friendly Shake Shack server, we were not disappointed when we took our first bite of the delicious burger. This juicy, ground fresh hand-formed made-to-order burger on a soft fresh bun with the perfect amount of American cheese made our day. Crispy, hot, lightly salted crinkle cut french fries made this duo the perfect pair. We were also surprised and pleased to see one of our favorite Australian wineries, The Grateful Palate, supplying the Chard and Shake Shiraz. They do also have the Shack-Cago Dog which is clearly a shout out to the Chicago-style hot dog. This Vienna dog is covered in tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, sport peppers, yellow mustard, celery salt and Shake Shack relish on a steamed bun. If you're in the mood for sweets they also have frozen custard, concretes (dense frozen custard blended with toppings and mixings), floats and shakes. And if you're bringing along your four-legged friends they have the Pooch-ini dog biscuits with peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard for a special treat.
New York Style Pizza
This town is in a perpetual debate with Chicago over who has the best pizza. Frankly, there may never be a winner with so many great choices available. However, one thing that will forever epitomize NY pizza is the way to eat it. Folded, no questions asked.
They are always laughing at Maffei's
We stopped by Maffei's Pizza, on 6th Avenue at 22nd Street, in Chelsea one of our long-time favorites. You can always count on manager Dominic for a great story and a laugh as he chats with customers new and old all day long. Maffei's $5.00 special, which includes 2 humongous slices and a soda is hard to beat. You'll find fresh mozzarella cheese, delectable sauce and all the toppings you love at Maffei's.
Two slices and a soda for $5, now that's a deal
They also have a wonderful assortment of Italian dishes ready to go that look delicious. Stuffed shells, baked ziti, chicken rollatini, baked lasagna and sausage and peppers just to name a few. They also have hot and cold hero sandwiches, calzone and some delicious salads to round out their offerings. There are only a few bar stools that look on the passing traffic so you might want to skip the noon rush if you'd like a place to sit, but this is one place you won't want to miss.
Delis & Bakeries
All throughout New York you can find delicatessens and bakeries. From bodegas (corner shops)( that offer simple, low cost options to the well known classic delis you can get a load of the world's best corned-beef, bagels and matzo ball soup.
A trip to New York isn't complete for us unless we hit Stage Deli and Carnegie Deli, practically neighbors on consecutive bloks of 7th Avenue. Both are well known for their gigantic sandwiches and top quality food. We had the massive reuben sandwich at Carnegie one night and the killer egg, bacon, cheese bagel at Stage Deli for breakfast. One word of warning - do not try to eat any of these alone. They are way too big for anyone who has a normal, or even somewhat hefty appetite. Pay the splitting fee (usually small about $3) and just order one. Or if you can't agree, make sure you've got a fridge to use for leftovers. It's unlikely you'll get through any of these beasts even with two hungry people. Add to the sandwiches the delicious pickles (dill and half-sour), coleslaw or potato salad, and anything you want to satisfy a sweet tooth and you'll have food for days. So don't let the heftier price tags fool you (most sandwiches are in the $15 to $20 range). It's not just a little sammy for one!
If you're on Broadway in the Theater District and looking for a little fun with your meal, you need to check out Ellen's Stardust Diner. Often a career stop for many aspiring thespians, Ellen's provides hearty diner food while your wait staff sings along to their favorite hits. From Broadway classics to Justin Beiber you'll hear it all. There are plenty of options at this 50's themed eatery, which boasts a lively atmosphere with downstairs and upstairs areas and a tiny bar in the back that sees a lot of action.
Brooklyn Diner is another location to check out. They feature all your delicious diner favorites in a classic diner setting. Calling itself "the finer diner" Brooklyn Diner offers all the delicious comfort foods you could want. Their Cheeseburger Deluxe has been named Best Burger in New York by noted culinary critic Gael Greene of NY Magazine. From old fashioned Milk shakes and malts to baked macaroni & cheese, chicken pot pie to fish & chips and more, the Brooklyn Diner has definitely got good eats at its two locations, on 57th Street and in Times Square.
New York has some classic restaurants as well. You know the kind. White linen tablecloths, classic cuisine, impeccable service. We were lucky enough to dine at Patsy's Italian Restaurant one evening with a friend. In the same Manhattan location since 1944, this family-run business has served many Neopolitan Italian favorites to locals, tourists and celebrities alike. Patsy's is also well known as Frank Sinatra's favorite restaurant his family and other stars continue to dine at Patsy's when they're in town.
The restaurant has the crisp linens, elegant and subdued lighting that signal you to a fine dining experience. Friendly, attentive and personalized service is provided by a wait staff that clearly hasn't changed much over the years. They know the menu inside and out and offer their suggestions in a knowledgeable and professional manner.
Veal Pizzaiola Eggplant Parmigiana
Since it was our first visit we asked the server for his recommendation. With veal on our mind, he suggested the Veal Pizzaiola with Mushrooms and Peppers. The veal was sauteed and served with red peppers and mushrooms in a rich marinara sauce. We had heard about Patsy's sauces - but were still unprepared for all the flavors they offered. The veal was cooked perfectly, soft and tender, rich with the sauce and not heavy at all. Our dining companions had the Eggplant Parmigiana and the Sausages Pizzaiola, which were both rich in famous Patsy's red sauce. The cheese on the parmigiana was the kind of mozzarella you dream about and the sausages disappeared rather quickly, we would say. All in all, Patsy's was a pleasure, from the service to the food to the ambiance. They also have a room upstairs, perhaps a bit quieter, if that's what you seek. We actually liked the mirrored main room, as it gave us a chance to see what everyone else was eating. Believe us, everything looked delicious!
This is just a quick overview of some of our favorite ways to experience an international culinary journey within the streets of New York City. You can stay at many New York hotels and feel as though you're part of the United Nations. You will hear many different languages, experience authentic cultures, eat a wide variety of cuisines, and immerse yourself in the best of all possible worlds without having to travel too far to do it. There's so much more to discover in New York that we can't wait to go back. If you have some favorite New York restaurants, hotels or hotspots you'd like to share please let us know so we can visit them on our next trip to the city that never sleeps, but sure knows how to eat!