So I've done a post on my top 5 favourite places to eat in New York, but for all who have been/are going/have subsequently moved there, you'll know that 5 could never possibly cover the innumerable options available to you on any given street corner. We did our fair share of eating and drinking while we were there, and I figured it made logical sense to use my weight gain and bank account weight loss for the good of someone else too. I've included my top 5 again because I enjoy nostalgic reminiscing, But also for ease of reference when planning your New York eat-athon. Enjoy.
A note on where to stay (because I needed this information before I left) - this depends on what you're in New York for, but for eating, and if your trip is long enough, I would recommend a combination of Williamsburg and somewhere in the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village (encompasses West and East Village) Soho or Chelsea. I'm not remotely a neighbourhood expert but every foodie place we went was pretty much in these areas, and having stayed in the Upper East Side before, it was a very refreshing change from all the crowds.
Cafe Henrie - This was one of my favourite brunches in New York. The interior is super cute, the waitress was bubbly and generally great, they were playing new Frank Ocean and I knew the words which made me feel very cool and relevant, and the breakfast bowl was HEAVEN, as was the acai. I find breakfast bowls of both description can go one of three ways: visually stunning but bland, bland visually but stunning taste wise, or the happy combination of both. These were both. Also, my sister's chai was SPOT. ON.
Bluestone Lane Collective - There are a number of these little white and bright cafes dotted around New York, but we stumbled into the Carmine Street location. The menu made us terribly excited, but it is an Australian run cafe, so I am unsure if that is a bit depressing and plebbish of us. Regardless, we got enormous almond milk iced lattes, I had a gluten free donut, and a great time was had by all. The rainbow bowls were nice, but nothing you couldn't whip up yourself. Pick something you couldn't make at home.
Babu Ji - Despite being Melbournian, I had no idea that Babu Ji was in fact started in St Kilda, and is also a relative of Horn Please, which is a casual five minute walk from my apartment in Fitzroy. Not knowing this, we were very excited to go, and saved it for the last night, partly because last supper but mostly because we tried a few days earlier and couldn't get in. If you don't do spicy then be very clear on that, as my sister struggled hilariously with dishes that 'aren't that spicy.' The food is lovely though, and lots of options for dietaries.
Beauty and Essex - I don't have any photos of this place, as a friend took us there for dinner and, to be honest, I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The menu doesn't look overly gluten free or vegetarian friendly, but they do loads of alterations if you let them know. 2 tips for this place, and I shall say no more: order the peach toast if it's on, and go to the bathroom with a tip handy.
Happy Bones Coffee - We just got a quick takeaway here on our way to other activities, but it was good, good coffee, and, unlike the 'fancy' coffee places in Melbourne, they happily offer almond milk, without sneering and or/flat out refusing.
Butchers Daughter - This one likely needs no introduction, and not to me either, because I ate there a good four times while I was in America (there is one in LA too!) Great with dietaries, so great, in fact, that when I ordered a vegan caesar salad, forgetting, like a true idiot, that breadcrumbs are made of bread, the waitress swapped it for a gluten free version without batting an eyelid.
Bocaphe - A lil Vietnamese inspired place right next to Jack's Wife Frieda, for those who are not interested in waiting ten hours for a table. I had the veg noodle salad, made gluten free by using zucchini noodles. I also had a Vietnamese iced coffee which was divine, although it took me a while to figure out how to use the contraption for it. Peak awkward solo traveller.
Tacombi - All my photos of Tacombi are rubbish - it was my first day, I was travelling alone at the time, and I am not the sort of person who can spend hours arranging my food whilst in public. If it doesn't work in five minutes, I am both embarrassed and hungry. This was one of those times. Not the best tacos you will ever eat in your life, but nice drinks, super cute decor (at the Bleeker Street venue) and a good option if you stumble upon it.
Morgensteins Ice Cream - excuse the average night time photo, but I was alone at 9pm on a Saturday, while amazingly sassy youths were dancing to hip hop while waiting for their ice creams, and I was feeling very uncool. Taking photos of a tub of ice cream did not help. I had fresh pistachio and BANANA AGAVE, and it was delighftul. Right down the road from Freeman's alley too, if you are so inclined for gram purposes.
By Chloe - Again, apologies for the basic photo, but I had been out walking all day, had queued 30 minutes for this burger, and I was in no mood to be fiddling with things for the sake of an Instagram. THIS WAS SO GOOD. Worth the low blood sugar 30 minute wait. Everything is vegan, although you would never guess, and I imagine they've had pretty much every dietary thrown at them. I had a black bean burger on a gluten free bun, and it was honestly one of the best burgers I've ever had. The accompanying pink lemonade - with a hit of fresh ginger - hit the spot big time.
Dessert By Chloe - If you're in the hood, and by the hood I mean the Bleeker Street By Chloe, I am afraid I cannot allow you to leave without having purchased something from the Dessert By Chloe shop next door. All vegan, with gluten free options for those of you interested. Mine was so rich I thought I couldn't finish it, and then I got back to the hotel and immediately stuffed the rest in my mouth.
Egg Shop - Egg Shop is an example of how to do a bowl of veg and eggs well. They're pretty simple menu options, but of four people at brunch, none of us could stop raving about how good our own bowl was. I tried two bowls (the perks of travelling with a vegetarian sister) and they were both spot on. As were the coffees. As is the exterior. As is the fact they serve hard cocktails at lunch.
Milk Bar Store - I think this is just one of those things you have to do in New York. Sadly, for the gluten free among us, the 'cereal' flavour is not an option, but they do have a gluten free cola flavour with rainbow sprinkles, so you won't miss out entirely. We went to the Lower East Side store/hole in the wall, but our native New Yorker friend told us that the Momofuku ramen store with a Milk Bar attached is a gorgeous sight, so I'd suggest going to that one instead.
Gotan Brooklyn - There are a bunch of these sprinkled around Manhattan, but I stumbled into the Brooklyn venue after getting in at midnight the night before. The acai bowl was delicious, although being altered to be gf made it 'for my eyes only' type of meal, but I dragged my sister back when she arrived, and had an excellent special. Doesn't look like much, but every element was lovely. Here's a photo of my Instagram husband struggling with all the miscellaneous pieces she had to hold.
Goa Taco - We discovered this place on Uber Eats before we actually discovered it, perusing Uber Eats for cultural research reasons only, of course... After our initial dinner place fell through (closed on Mondays, wah) we found ourseleves at Goa Taco, which is absolutely tiny, particularly when there's four of you. Can't speak for my travel companions, but it was the best fallback meal I've ever had. They serve paratha tacos with Indian inspired fillings - plenty of veg options, and if you're gluten free they create a little salad bowl with the taco filling. SO GOOD.
Cheese Grille - I mean it's kind of laughable that one of my favourite places to eat was a grilled cheese sandwich shop, but really. The Mediterranean (basil, two cheeses, tomato and truffle oil) on gluten free bread was the highlight of my day on about three different days. I had no time for taking photos, only for devouring.
Sixty Lower East Side Rooftop - We stayed at Sixty Hotel on the Lower East Side, and for a few days we didn't bother to check out the bar (instead becoming obsessed with Law And Order because we're wild) but we were certainly glad we eventually did. One of the nicest, most unimpeded views of the city that I came across in Manhattan. Absolutely delightful, and I hear the view from their Soho hotel is just as good.
Mr Purple - This bar was so great that we ended up coming back twice in two days. In a manner similar to The High Line bar, the view is (I assume) what most people go for - however the difference is a) there's a pool, b) it's table service (outside at least) and c) the cocktails are not premixed. It's more chill, there's less of a touristy crowd and you can see The Chrysler Building and all the other heavyweight sights while you sip on an old fashioned and feel v haughty and posh.
The High Line at The Standard - I assume this is a trendy place to be seen, because it was absolutely packed when we rocked up for sunset. The drinks are average, the lines are huge, and there are a decent proportion of wanky individuals around. However, the view itself, particularly at sunset and in nice weather, is more than worth having tourists elbow you out of the way so they can get selfies while seductively draping an American flag around their shoulders.
Wythe Hotel - Post Smorgasburg, on basically the only rainy day we had, we decided to go and day drink at The Wythe, which was an excellent choice. I had too many cocktails then I care to admit for a daytime venture, and we managed to snag a window seat, entirely by accident, with panoramic views of Manhattan. Which, by the way, do not get old regardless of how many rooftop bars you sit in.
Loopy Doopy - Three words. Icypoles in Prosecco. Potentially not as attractive for winter visitors, but they were a real treat in the sunshine when I was there. A bit of a trek away, in the financial district, but worth stopping in if you're in the vicinity.
Mace - A trendy little hole in the wall with the most interest cocktail list I've ever seen. I had a 'black sesame' cocktail, which was pretty much a creamy, sesame-y, alcoholic milkshake. Heaven. Pictured is my sister's drink, which had something to do with bananas and cinnamon. She wouldn't let me drink much of it.
TOURISTY THINGS WORTH DOING
Top of The Rock (Or observation deck) - no explanation needed, but just a reiteration that it's worth doing.
Cycle around Central Park - This one is weather dependent, but Central Park obviously must be involved in your trip in some form. We walked back via Fifth Avenue, were overwhelmed by both the amount of people and the scent of weed, and were happy to retreat back to Greenwich village domain, but it must be done all the same.
The High Line - At the end of the day, it's really just a leafy walk over New York Streets, but it's a pretty cool fusion of city and nature, and there are some cityscapes to be found. Plus it strays very close to Chelsea Markets, among other things, and you can kill two birds with one stone.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and sit in DUMBO park - This walk was absolutely lovely and I would recommend it to anyone. Brooklyn Bridge is iconic, and Dumbo offers some stunning views of both Manhattan and of the bridge from a different vantage point. We also walked through Brooklyn Heights to get the subway back to Manhattan, and that was a sight in itself. For whatever reason the name Brooklyn Heights didn't suggest idyllic street settings to me, but I stood corrected, as happens most days of my life.
Smorgasburg - You've undoubtedly heard of the weekend food market in Brooklyn by the water, set in front of an astounding view of Manhattan and Manhattan Bridge. While I didn't find too many options for a gf pescetarian/I had a mild hangover and thus finite patience, but I did find these hand cut truffle potato chips with what I believe was lemon aioli, and that made hungover interactions with others worth my time. Definitely go and check it out.