by Louise, Community Manager
There are certain New York City foods that everyone feels inclined to try – Magnolia Cupcakes, Shake Shack burgers, Katz’s pastrami sandwich, pizza from Joe’s or Grimaldi’s, frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity, the list goes on and on. If you go to these places, you’ll usually find them jam-packed with tourists looking for that iconic experience, while nearby there are other fantastic places making amazing food that is in some cases even better, going unnoticed by too many people. It is my mission today to tell you about some of these wonderful, unforgettable NYC food experiences that you won’t have to wait for an hour to enjoy!
1. The Meatloaf Sandwich at Dickson’s Farmstand
Chelsea Market – 75 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th/ www.dicksonsfarmstand.com
I don’t know what it is about this sandwich but I am basically incapable of walking by Dickson’s without getting one. Dickson’s locally sources all of their meat, so you know it is true New York food you are eating, and that the animals were humanely raised as well (it’s so hard to know at so many butchers). The meatloaf is moist and tender and exactly the same size as the bread, so there are no bread-heavy bites and no meat tumbling out of the sandwich. There is mayonnaise on both pieces of bread and pickles to give you crunch and acidity. It is totally filling and so, so good. Buy one and take it to the nearby Highline for a picnic!
2. 3-in-1 Cream Pie at Peel’s
325 Bowery at 2nd Street http://peelsnyc.com/
It’s a mystery to me why this is the case, but it is surprisingly hard to find good pie in New York City – however, Peel’s is a delightful exception. This southern-inspired joint serves a lot of great food both to-go from their counter at the front and in their dining room. They also boast a really wonderful cocktail list. But whatever you do at Peel’s, make absolutely SURE you save room for the 3-in-1 Cream Pie. This pie is ridiculous and should probably be illegal. The perfectly flaky crust has a layer of dark chocolate cream on the bottom, topped with caramelized bananas, topped by coconut custard, and THEN topped by a healthy layer of whipped cream sprinkled liberally with toasted coconut. I can barely type this because I so badly want to get up and go down to the Bowery and order it. TRY IT.
3. Sisig at Maharlika
111 1st Avenue at 7th Street / http://maharlikanyc.com/
Just a few blocks north of the famous Katz’s Delicatessen sits Maharlika, a remarkable Filipino restaurant whose understated exterior does not quite hint at the awesomeness contained within. The mind-blowing traditional Filipino dishes are meant to be shared and I have never been disappointed by anything I’ve ordered, but you HAVE to get the Sisig. Okay, it might sound a little weird – pig ears, belly, cheek and snout boiled, then grilled and finally sautéed with onions, garlic and lemon served over garlic rice – but there is a reason why this is such a popular Filipino dish: it is DELICIOUS. On one visit my waitress told me it is often used as a hangover remedy. I’ve never had the pleasure of testing that out but I believe it would work. Even if you’re not up for an assortment of pig, definitely get the garlic rice – it is more delicious than rice has any right to be.
4. Pistachio Cupcakes from Sugar Sweet Sunshine
126 Rivington Street / http://www.sugarsweetsunshine.com
You can tout Magnolia or Crumbs all you want, for me Sugar Sweet Sunshine is where it’s at as far as cupcakes are concerned. Opened by two friends named Peg and Deb in 2002, this spot on the Lower East Side is may not be teeming with people the way Magnolia is, but it is teeming with love. As a professionally trained pastry chef (I am! It’s true!) I like to think I can tell when a baked good is made with love, and these baked goods are. I am pretty obsessed with the pistachio cupcake, though there are a variety of flavors available and even some things that aren’t cupcakes if for some strange reason you don’t want a cupcake.
5. Watermelon Pickle & Crispy Pork at Fatty Crab
643 Hudson Street or 2170 Broadway / http://www.fattycrab.com
Yes, I am a proud omnivore – you have noticed by now that I am partial to my meat. This dish at Fatty Crab is absurdly amazing. Pork belly (which is really just a thicker cut of bacon, for those who haven’t experienced its transcendence) is combined with watermelon that has been soaked briefly in vinegar to create the world’s best party in your mouth. The acidic crunch of the watermelon combined with the fatty crunch of the pork belly will make every previous mouth-closing of your life seem like a waste of time, and the topping of fresh herbs and ginger put it over the top. Again, I’ve never been disappointed by anything I ordered at Fatty Crab and eating there is an experience in and of itself, but ordering this is a must.
6. Burgers at Joy Burger Bar
361 6th Avenue at Washington Place or 1567 Lexington / http://joyburgerbar.com
In my opinion, Joy Burger Bar could take Shake Shack in a burger-off any day of the week. There are those that would disagree with me, but I would tell them that even if the burgers were inferior in flavor (I believe they are, in fact, superior) the fact that you won’t have to wait in line for an hour and will be able to find a place to sit to eat your burger from Joy puts it over the top. Combine that with the fact that you can choose your patty size (3 oz, 5 oz, or 8 oz – all exactly the right moist, yielding texture for a burger), choose from 5 cheeses, a bunch of sauces (including offbeat ones like chimichurri and mango chutney) and many extra toppings, sweet potato fries and zucchini sticks in addition to the standard French fries and onion rings, shakes, fresh juice…and everything is amazing. My default is a 5 oz patty with garlic mayo, cheddar cheese and a fried egg (and this is why I limit my visits), but there is something for everyone.
Obviously I have a lot to say about food, so if you’re looking to plan a food-centric trip to New York I’m your girl! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more suggestions or to start planning!