Can’t-Miss NYC Eats for the Newly-Made New Yorker (Part 1, Manhattan)
“As the college application season comes to a close, thousands of students around the world have decided that New York City is where they want to live and learn. For the unfamiliar, New York City has a tendency to overwhelm. And with more than 20,000 restaurants and eateries spanning the five boroughs, it can be difficult to determine exactly where and what you want to eat. So, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be some of New York City’s best spots to grab a bite. Bear in mind, this list is catered to college students who can’t afford to dine at four-star restaurants.
- Eataly: 200 5th Avenue, near Madison Square Park and the Flatiron Building. This gourmet market stocks a myriad ofItalian specialty goods, as well as conventional and exotic produce, homemadebreads and pastas, fresh meat and seafood, several sit-down restaurants, arooftop brewery and bar, and a café that serves homemade gelato and bakedgoods. One can easily spend an entire afternoon in Eataly, but be warned: thisbastion of gastronomy is not always the most frugal option.
- Dominique Ansel Bakery: 189 Spring Street, SOHO:Home of the famous “cronut,” this bakery specializes in complicated Frenchdesserts, but also offers sandwiches, salads, soups and ice cream. You cannot
go wrong with anything on the menu here.
- Momofuku Milk Bar: 251 East 13th
Street: one of David Chang’s many NYC institutions, goodies from this eccentric
sweets shop have probably appeared on your Instagram feed a few times. Most
flock to the Milk Bar to try their “Compost Cookies,” “Cereal Milk,” “Crack
Pie,” and cake truffles. This bakery also offers cake-making classes, where you
yourself may learn how to recreate some of their famous desserts.
- Levain Bakery: 167 West 74th Street,
a healthy walk from Barnard and Columbia! Levain lives up to all the hype. Anyone
who knows anything about NYC knows that Levain is THE place for cookies. And
these aren’t your average, rinky-dink little Chips Ahoy—cookies from Levain are
big, chunky, and full of flavor. Levain also sells freshly-baked breads and pastries,
but the cookies are what put this bakery on the map.
- Doughnut Plant: 220 West 23rd Street,
Chelsea. Head here for creative takes on the standard breakfast treat that are guaranteed
to satisfy. Flavors rotate and differ based on location (they have many
outposts throughout the city,) but frequent favorites include tres leches,
carrot cake, and chocolate blackout.
- Rice to Riches: 37 Spring Street, Nolita. If you’ve
ever lamented the underrepresentation of rice pudding in the New York food
scene, I have good news for you. Rice to Riches is a one-of-a-kind rice pudding
bar offering seasonal and year-round flavors, as well as unconventional
toppings, such as chunks of toasted pound cake. Buy yourself an 8 oz. “solo” bowl,
or bring 10 friends and tackle the 80 oz. “Moby” bowl.
- Veselka: 144 2nd Ave, East Village:
You might not have expected to find a Ukrainian diner and coffee shop on this
list, but hear me out. Veselka is a staple of the East Village frequented by
celebrities and commoners alike. The restaurant is open 24-hours, so you can
get handmade pierogis and Eastern European specialties such as stuffed cabbage
and potato pancakes at 3AM after a long night of uh, studying. Lovingly
prepared soups, breads, and pastries are also menu mainstays.
- Magnolia Bakery: 401 Bleecker Street, West
Village. Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg love Magnolia’s cupcakes, which are
quite good, but this bakery’s true claim to fame is the banana pudding. Let me
tell you, if I could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool with any single item,
I would fill it with Magnolia Bakery’s banana pudding.
- Big Gay Ice Cream Shop: 125 East 7th
Street, East Village. As if you didn’t immediately fall in love with this place
based on its name alone, BGIC has some of the best ice cream in the city. Their
best-selling cone, the “Salty Pimp,” consists of creamy soft serve vanilla ice
cream with dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip. It’s absolutely divine,
but every single item on their menu is a revelation. Lines are long in the
summer, but if you’re lucky, some friendly drag queens will keep you company as
you wait outside the store. No, I’m not kidding.
- Russ & Daughters: 179 East Houston Street, Lower
East Side. R&D is a traditional appetizing store that opened in 1914 to
cater to Jewish immigrants. This does not mean, however, that you have to be
Jewish to enjoy their legendary smoked fish and bagels. Though you may wish to
convert once you try one of their signature sandwiches. Don’t miss the homemade
babka and rugelach, either.
- Katz’s Delicatessen: 205 East Houston Street at
the corner of Ludlow, Lower East Side. I don’t have to tell you about Katz’s,
because chances are, you’ve heard of it before. Yes, Katz’s is a little bit expensive,
a little bit cliché, and a little bit tourist-y, but their food makes up for
all of this. The pastrami, corned beef, and brisket sandwiches are a religious
experience. Just make sure you order
your cold cuts on rye with a schmear of mustard, because any other preparation
would be an adulteration of the highest magnitude.
- Shopsin’s General Store: 120 Essex Street, located inside the Essex Street Market. I’ve got four words for you: “macaroni and cheese pancakes.” I’ve got three more words for you: “glazed doughnut sandwiches.” I’ve got six million more words for you, because the menu at Shopsin’s is more than 900 items long. But be forewarned, it’s very difficult to get a seat, your party cannot be more than four people, and it’s not unlikely for customers to be verbally assaulted while they eat. Don’t you just love New York?!
- Vegan Divas: 1437 1st Avenue. Okay, you probably haven’t heard of this place and you’re probably wondering why I’ve included a vegan boutique cafe on this list when we all know that butter and eggs make the world go ‘round. But Vegan Divas holds a special place in my heart. I first discovered this cafe and bakery in 2012 after I was displaced from my Long Island home by Hurricane Sandy. Okay, I wasn’t displaced, my house was fine, but we had no power and I was hella bored. So there I was, wandering aimlessly around the Upper East Side desperately searching for a wifi signal when their dainty blue awning somehow caught my eye. I’m not a vegan, I’m not even a vegetarian, but for some reason, I felt compelled to go inside. And I am so glad that I did! Vegan Divas offers a wide variety of low-calorie baked goods as well as salads, sandwiches, breakfast items (their granola is stellar) and beverages. The tofu chocolate mousse, chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate brownies, lemon raspberry muffins, olive oil corn muffins, and cinnamon sugar doughnuts are so insanely delicious that you won’t even remember that they’re devoid of animal products. I don’t have a bad thing to say about this place. The way to my heart is with anything from Vegan Divas.
- Ellary’s Greens: ellarysgreens 33 Carmine Street, West Village. “Health food” restaurants aren’t typically what you’d recommend to a friend who’s seeking out New York City’s essential eateries, but Ellary’s Greens is a sentimental favorite of mine. It’s where I fueled up before participating in my first LGBT rally (which took place around the corner at the Stonewall Inn). It’s also one of the few restaurants in a city that prides itself on pushing the boundaries of gluttony and gastronomy where you can get a delicious, hearty meal that won’t leave you belly-up in a pool of drool on the bathroom floor. Kidding, of course, but the truth is that anyone can make something yummy using butter, bacon, cream, and eggs; only an adept chef can produce food that is both tasty and nutritious without relying on those aforementioned culinary crutches. Ellary’s Greens is fit for meat-eaters, vegetarians, pescetarians, and vegans alike, with many dishes that cater to the lactose and/or gluten intolerant, as well as an array of housemade baked goods and freshly-squeezed juices. I recommend the tofu curry, any of the salads and vegetable sides, the “zinger” shot, and the avocado chocolate mousse. If eating healthy ain’t your speed, try the bacon mac & cheese… I hear it’s pretty good.