NYC Food Spots: Yay or Nay

When I was heading to New York City this year I asked around for suggestions on where to eat, what to see, basically where to be at all times. I got a nice mix of homey and touristy stuff, but I mostly just walked around a lot of went to places I happened to pass by. And honestly, I am wondering why most people suggested these other places. I thought you were my friends!


I did land on a few incredible spots and I am happy to share them- but then again I am also happy to talk about the baddies. Some were more money than they were worth, some I would visit again.With much ado- as brevity is not my strongest face- I bring you some NYC stops worth making and some that are pretty much just Instagram fodder with pretty photos but no real content.

Note: I am going to list it in chronological order of my trip because that is what will help me pull it together. Deal.

East Broadway Pizza: A Hard Yes Yay.
As I mentioned in this pizza post, East Broadway Pizza in Chinatown was the best slice I had in the Big Apple (I can call it that because I'm not a local). It's exactly the standard of pizza you hope for when in the city- an oversized slice of 'za for less than $2. It's toasted for you fresh and in no time you're eating a hot piece of pizza and walking down the street.  I sang my praises a while ago for this stop, but it's worth repeating. Not to be missed. I would eat it right now if I could, actually. Does Postmates go that far?

Guy and Gallard: Yay! I guess... Mid level yay.
I wouldn't call it a Miracle on 34th Street or anything, but I met a friend here for lunch. I got basically a Caprese salad on toasted bread with spinach. It was good, and I even ate most of the tomato. This place was wild, it's a cluster of, like, 4 or 5 shops in one, each selling different things. So if you want a sandwich, a cookie and a drink you may have to go to three registers. So, that's annoying. But they made my sandwich there for me, hand pressed it and it was filling enough to last a while. Kinda pricey, the way I travel, but as a casual restaurant style sandy, not too terribly priced. I believe it was around $8 for this alone, then another $3 at a separate register for some Perrier. A good meal, though. Strangely, not something I usually get, but I'm glad I tried it. I'd go back if it was the suggested meet spot, but I don't reckon I'd have stopped here on my own in the first place.

Magnolia Bakery: Less than Meh. Frickin Nay.
This was one of the stops that a handful of people told me I had to go to. I went to the location connected to Rockefeller Plaza because, well, that's where I was. I actually walked past it a few times before going in because there was always a line. So, finally, I braved said line, stood around for 15 minutes because it was very slow and disorganized for being A SINGLE FILE LINE and then spent $3.95 plus tax to be disappointed. I got the vanilla cupcake because at the time there weren't many choices available. It wasn't even near closing time, so I don't really understand what was happening. As I stood there I watched bakers and frosters in the back baking and frosting cupcakes like it was 6am. Alas, none of them made their way to the front lines where about 25 people were crammed into a tiny room waiting for cake. The cupcake I got was dry, like it was made the day before, and the frosting was too much. Even the top layer of that was crusty. Like, a distinct crackle was made. No good. Dry. Maybe it was just a bad day or rough hour or something, but for a bakery so world famous and yadda yada you'd think there would not be an off day selling hard cakes. Not worth the line through the door. Tourist myth BUSTED! Crappy.

Nathan's Famous, Food Truck Division: Y(ay)s Please. (say it out loud!)

As far as food trucks go, I'm a fan. I found this guy at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge on the first nice day of the season and decided to eat the cheese fries, which were still hot and not congealed at all for cheese heated in a tub by steam. For cheese fries it was kind of expensive. This sliver of a box was $5 but he did give me a free (or, more likely, didn't notice the) grape pop (that I put on the counter and even said "did you get this pop, too?") so all was forgiven.  But the fries were totally delish and not lame with the cheese sauce like most places that only give you enough cheese for four fries (Taco Bell) or overuse the cheese so that all of your fries are inedible mush (any Coney Island here). Perf amount, good enough price. It's a good find if you're hungry for food but don't want to find a table.

Stuffed Ice Cream: A Hundred YAYS
...And secretly one of the reasons I came to NYC. I'm mostly kidding but the heart wants what the heart wants. I was so stoked for this place. I don't even remember the price because I did not care much at all. But I think it was maybe $7 for three scoops. I couldn't pick between Kookie Monster or Red Velvet Cookie Dough (natch got the Fruity Pebbles immediately) so I figured, when in Stuffed, do as the tourists do and I got them all. No regrets. I pretended to think about buying one of their flower cones that's basically an IG display of all of their flavors but who am I kidding? Even I couldn't take that on. The staff is friendly and answered every question, waited patiently whilst I fought with myself on flavor choices and gave me a sticker. Go here. Go here immediately. Unless you're highly lactose intolerant, and then maybe just get a waffle cone while everyone else has a good time. Sorry.




Veselka: Fried Yay!
I honestly only knew of this place because of Gossip Girl but who am I to turn down pierogi? Fun fact- did you know that the pierogi is the plural? pierog is the singular but since pierogi are never served in a unit of one it's just commonly called pierogi either way. I got a small order of goat cheese and potato fried up real nice. It was inexpensive, filling and delicious. I sat at the bar area where they let me eat and read for over an hour without worrying about turnover. It's packed like much of East Village is, but I think it's mostly locals. It's Ukrainian chaos- super busy, loud, fast paced but delightful. Nobody is pushing for your seat or looking to pusha tips by ushering you aside or clearing your place before you've started packing up. There's no waitstaff saying "when you're ready" or "no rush" when they leave your check, which is really refreshing. I recommend coming here. I'd have gone twice if there were time.

Kellogg's NYC- I could live here. Yayayayay!
I love cereal. I always have. Always will. So naturally I made my way to the Kellogg's cafe in my favorite part of the city, Union Square. It's a mix of touristy and casual. I sat next to a group having a business meeting and immediately wanted to work where they work. I paid about $8 for a bowl of cereal. But, hey that's the price of most breakfasts, right? I did a full on suicide slide (as Mid-Westerners call it when you get every pop flavor in the same cup) in my bowl: Cinnamon Cork Flakes, Wildberry Fruit Loops, Special K with Red berries, Corn Pops, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies with a smattering of black, blue and strawberries. Milk and berries were extra. I remember thinking "Really, though?" with the price but the bowl is deeper than it seems and I almost couldn't finish. So don't feel discouraged by it. Plus 'We're Back; A Dinosaur Story' was playing on the big screen there and the whole cafe was bright with childhood memories, had a ping pong table and a comfy lounge area. Worth it to see in person even if you don't eat. But it's fun to see tubes of your favorite cereals on display like that, and then they give you a bowl and spoon to have at it. So have at it.

The Bagel Store- Fuckin NAY
I was pumped to go here. I was in Brooklyn on foot en route to meet Matthew Gray Gubler. True story. Mapped this place, which was on the way, super stoked, like, FINALLY the time has come after years of Food Network shows and videos talking this place up. And It. Was. Awful. I suppose it was because it was 4pm or so, but the bagel itself was dry as shit. Just straight up difficult to eat. I got the birthday cake funfetti cream cheese because that was the most popular. I barely remember it. What I do remember is that the bagel alone was $4.45 and with cream cheese it was $7.30 plus tax FOR A BAGEL. So, it's definitely a tourist spot and not a place to go for good bagels. Being a bagel lover myself, I was saddened beyond reason and that's basically why I started this whole list. Fuck you, Bagel Store. I kept the bagel in my bag until after I met Matthew, got back to my room and ate it then. Nowhere in the history of the world for an adult should it take an hour to CHOKE DOWN a room temp bagel and cream cheese. It was awful. But I paid that much for it, so I had to eat it. I couldn't finish it. It was terrible and full of disappointment. Like Magnolia, it's for tourists on Instagram. It's not for eating.

Bread Brothers Bagel Cafe- Pure Fuckin Yay
Easily the best bagel I had in 8 days. I got an egg bagel, which not everyone carries, and an herbed goat cheese schmear. I walked to their Bushwick location (after walking around a big ass block trying to look like I knew where I was going for some reason) from my Bushwick AirBnB (Holla, Dave! His mom and I went to the same high school and she might know my dad! WEIRD because I only just met him in Brooklyn for a BnB stay!). It wound up being a mile and a half walk to and fro and I damn near walked back for a second bagel. It was that good. There's a Manhattan location as well that I wish I had found sooner than my last day in the city. But isn't that always how it goes? I look forward to returning.

So, a long list, but hopefully some light was shed on what was too touristy and what if worth a glance. Everything is vegetarian friendly here, of course, which was pretty easy for a squirrel-like eater like me who can live off of pizza and bagels for days on end!

This was as good as it got. 

Let me know what you think- do you agree with my votes? Or do you have any Yays or Nays of your own? Let me know in the comments and I can add stuff to my already piled high to-do list for my next NYC trip.

Until then, my sweets.

Comments

  1. I absolutely loved reading this post! I go to NYC all the time and I'm always looking for new restaurants to check out (and avoid). I haven't tried any of these on this list, but the cheese fries and stuffed ice cream look so delicious! I walked by the Kelloggs cafe a few times and always wondered what it was like! What a fun idea! I've been wanting to try the Bagel Spot too because its so hyped up, but I read a lot of reviews that had a similar experience you had. Thanks for sharing your recommendations! I hope you enjoyed your time in NYC! :)

    melissakacar.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you! Stuffed was incredible, and kellogg's is way better a working space than starbucks or something and probably cheaper!

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  2. I love your honesty! This makes me crave a trip to NYC so dang bad. I NEEDS it in my life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Thank you, writing it made me really sad and missing it, too!!

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