Best (or worst) place for cheesecake: Junior’s
You will get recommendations for Junior’s cheesecake not only from your travel guide, but also from your American friends. This is real American cheesecake, they will tell you, an absolute must! The problem is, it’s so dense, rich and sweet, that not only your fork will get stuck in the high, heavy mixture, but your appetite as well. Two bites are enough to satisfy the average European sweet tooth. If you have a hot chocolate to go with your cheesecake, the sugar rush will almost certainly kill you. When it not only looks like it’s bad for you, tastes like it’s bad for you, but it also makes you sick, then you know this is probably not for you. Like so many American staples, the flavours are bigger, bolder and they shout at you “this is America!”
Locations in Brooklyn, Time Square and Grand Central
Best place for Scandinavian cuisine: Aska
Making the Nordic influence felt in Williamsburg, Aska is headed up by Fredrik Berselius, who refined his culinary skills at restaurants including Per Se and Corton. Aska's menu reflects Fredrik's Swedish roots and uses local ingredients from the north-east. Fred previously ran the pop-up, Frej at the same address. The small restaurant unites two key trends: Williamsburg and Nordic cuisine, the latter having finally made its way across the north Atlantic. The restaurant and bar is small with an art and design studio attached, allowing young up-and-coming artists of the neighbourhood to showcase their work. Witnessing what this man can do with a humble beetroot is reason enough to make the trip to Williamsburg. The tasting menu is offered at $65pp.
90 Wythe Av
Best place for dinner with a view: The View Restaurant and Lounge, Marriott Marquis
The only revolving roof top restaurant in the city, this place is worth queuing for, especially when approaching sundown. The food is exquisite and the cocktails delicious, but the real attraction is that you get to see New York from every angle.
New York Marriott Marquis,
47th & 48th Floors
Best place for good fast food: Soupman, Financial District
A fast-food diner isn’t necessarily a place for fine gourmets, but the lobster bisque at Soupman is not to be sneezed at and particularly welcome in New York’s recent super cold winters.
Locations all over town
Best place for Pastrami Sandwiches: Katz's Delicatessen
This is the place where Sally had her famous moment in When Harry Met Sally, but this is not the reason you should go there. The pastrami sandwich is the epitome of New York. At Katz’s Delicatessen, which must be in every single New York travel guide, you get a coupon at the door and stand in line to order at the counter. Once you’ve ordered, you get a sample of the meat – be it pastrami, corned beef or brisket – to whet your appetite while you wait. Find yourself a seat and dig in. You will experience the juiciest meat, stacked several centimetres high within rye bread. As a side you will get pickled gherkins, half of them long pickled in brine, half of them fresher and less salty. This is the taste of New York, and although you get tourists from around the world, you also get locals from round the corner, because this is surely the best pastrami sandwich in town. Make sure you have enough water with you, as the saltiness of the meat will kick in within minutes.
205 East Houston Street
New York City
Best place for pastries: Financiers Patisserie, Financial District
This place in the Financial District serves French-style cakes and pastries. A little haven for those who are ready to flee the in-your-face American flavours.
Locations all over town
Best place for modern-day ‘roadside’ style burgers: Shake Shack
The Shake Shack serves two varieties of food: burgers and frozen custard. Both of which are among the best to be had anywhere. The frozen custard is smooth, creamy and full of flavour, and the milkshakes an utter success.
Locations all over town
Best place for bagels: Ess-a-Bagel (21st, 1st Av.)
Bagel with cream cheese is another staple food that you cannot get a way from when in New York. But this place outdoes them all. More than 10 varieties of the freshest, crunchiest and softest hand-rolled bagels, filled with a variety of almost 20 different cream cheeses – from lox to strawberry, from Jalapeno to Chocolate Chip – presented at the counter as appealingly as in an ice cream parlour, and just as exciting to try.
831 3rd Avenue and
359 1st Avenue
Best place for cookies, cakes and steamed pork buns: Momofuku Milkbar
An extension of David Chang’s East Village Asian restaurant, Momofuku, Momofuku Milkbar is a spunky NYC bakery headed by Christian Tosi serving delicious cookies and cakes, which prove very popular with the neighbourhood kids. Momofuku’s famous steamed pork buns are also on offer, freshly made by the barista. This is a welcome change from your usual burger, with the perfect combination of sweet hoisin, green onions, roasted pork belly, and crunchy pickled cucumbers, topped with a poached egg. And with a cookie in your hand, you will be happily on your way.
561 Columbus Ave
New York – with several other locations around town
Best place for Cuban Sandwiches: Margon Restaurant
The Cuban Sandwich at the Margon Restaurant offers a feast of flavours that punch at each other until you defeat them. The place itself looks shabby and more like a hole in the wall, but the staff is extraordinarily friendly, even if they are closing, they will prepare their juicy delicacy with a smile. So cheap and so delicious, the Cuban Sandwich is not to be missed.
136 W 46th St
Best place for a taste of Dallas: Dallas BBQ: 42nd Street
If you think that barbecue is sizzling up some sausages over a grill, then you clearly haven’t heard of the concept of American BBQ yet. In the US, barbecue is a slow process where the meat is heated over a considerable period of time. Go for the Bar-B-Q Beef Ribs in Dallas BBQ and you will get several racks of beef, smothered in the house brand of BBQ sauce. If your mouth, nose and cheeks aren’t covered in the stuff within the first 10 seconds, you haven’t done it right.
241 W 42nd St
Best place for pies: Little Pie Company, Midtown Manhattan
The Little Pie Company is a very unassuming little place just off Times Square. The pies are made from scratch right in the kitchen next to the little café. These mouth-watering little pies will give you a run for their money. Particularly the taste of fresh fruity goodness in the Three Berries Pie will blow your mind.
424 West 43 Street
Best out-of-town spot: Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Tarrytown
Award-season might be over, but Dan Barber from Blue Hill at Stone Barns is nevertheless awarded three stars from a very happy customer. Located in Upstate New York outside Tarrytown, Stone Barns is a farm that produces meat and vegetables and sells it to Blue Hill, a gourmet restaurant inside the farm complex. Pursuing the farm-to-table concept, Dan Barber isn’t just the chef, he is an innovator. He experiments tirelessly to get the most beautiful flavours out of the simplest ingredients, just by caring for them, rearing them with love and then preparing them with the utmost respect. His menu is exclusively dictated by what the farming hands dug up from the fields that day, and particularly in the coldest winter, you get young vegetables that cannot be any sweeter and full of flavour. A simple salad leaf will cause a taste explosion in your mouth that you could never have imagined. The farmers at Stone Barns grow over 200 varieties of produce year-round and raise laying hens, broiler chickens, turkeys, geese, sheep, pigs and bees on 80 acres of land. The farm also organises education days as well as gardening and tasting workshops. What cannot be grown on the farm will be bought from producers in the Hudson Valley area, people who Barber meets on a daily basis, to get the best organic produce possible. Barber and his incredibly friendly and caring service crew will make your meal an adventure that will make you laugh with delight at the inventiveness, and sigh in awe of the utter brilliance of Dan Barber’s creations.
630 Bedford Road
Best for fine dining in Manhattan: Daniel
Situated in the heart of Manhattan’s East Side, chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant Daniel is a must-see if you’re looking for fine dining in Manhattan. With three Michelin stars, restaurant Daniel offers guests award-winning French cuisine, world-class wines and a great ambiance.
60 East 65th Street
The place-to-be: The Standard Hotel
Boasting an American Grill restaurant headed by chef Daniel Silvermann (protégé of Gordon Bunshaft at the prestigious Lever House) and an 18th floor bar, this creation by super-hotelier Andre Balazs is the place of the moment in NYC. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations and gets booked up very quickly, so make sure you get there early. And who wouldn’t when you can spend time in the bar, which has full-circle views of Manhattan and the River Hudson from its floor to ceiling windows.
848 Washington at 13th Street
One to watch: Social Eatz
Social Eatz serves American food with an Asian twist. The Pork Bun consists of a steamed bun, heavenly soft and light, filled with juicy pulled pork and Asian spices and sauces. Unfortunately, it is currently closed for refurbishment, but it will be interesting to see what they will come up with next.
232 E 53rd St
Harlem has had a bit of a renaissance recently, with lots of little hard to get into restaurants. But what it’s really known for is its Jazz and soul food – and you won’t miss a beat by paying a visit to Red Rooster. Corn bread and honey butter, fried ‘yard-bird’ (chicken, in Harlem slang) and white mace gravy are just some of the options on the menu, which oozes with southern American soul.
310 Lenox Ave
Microbreweries are also big in NYC - another trend that is continuing to grow. The Brooklyn Brewery is a good spot for good year-round, seasonal and specialty world beers.
79 N 11th St, Brooklyn
Things to avoid
Filled with culinary brilliance, the only thing we suggest you steer clear of while in New York is the tap water, it has an awful taste and you will find water dispensers everywhere, the cinema, the opera, many shops, the museums etc., a sure sign that summers in New York can get very hot. These are supposed to be filtered but it makes no difference to the taste. You will also be served ice-cold tap water with most meals without asking for it. But if you can, pay extra and get bottled water, you will do your taste buds a big favour.
By Eva-Luise Schwarz