Friday, November 19, 2010

Scott and Ree's Guide to New York City: Part 1, Restaurants

We are not experts (whatever that means) on New York, but plenty of people ask us all the time about what to do/see/eat while visiting the Big Apple. It's one of my favorite places in the world (right behind Paris, duh) & we go at least once a year,  so without further ado, here's Part One, Restaurants.

Our Short List:

Brasserie Les Halles

This French restaurant is owned by Anthony Bourdain and has traditional French cafe-type dishes. Surprisingly, its affordable too! We first went there for my 30th birthday last year and also visited last summer. It has a bustling, dark interior, wood paneling and white tablecloths. No reservations are needed, but might be useful if you are visiting on a weekend evening. There's two locations in New York, but we have only been to the Park Avenue South location.
I've ordered the steak frites and the steak au poivre and both were excellent. (Randomly, they have the best butter that I have ever tasted! Its cold, smooth and creamy, not too salty but has an amazing fresh taste. And I cannot figure out who their supplier for that butter is either, or I would buy some and ship it to Birmingham!)

This Brooklyn classic is tucked under the Brooklyn Bridge and is a short subway ride away from Manhattan. In nice weather, and if you feel like some exercise, it is fun to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. You can get some great photos of Manhattan from the bridge!
Be prepared for a wait--we've never caught it when there isn't a wait. But the pizza and atmosphere are well worth it! While you sit and wait on your order at the checkered-tableclothed tables, you can watch the pizza chefs toss the dough, throw the toppings around and slide the pizzas in and out of the ovens. It's a noisy, crowded, fast-paced New York pizza joint, and so much fun!

Great views from across the Brooklyn Bridge!

Worth the wait!

This bakery's popularity exploded after being in a popular TV show, but it remains a nice little spot to grab a snack and explore a unique NY neighborhood. We usually go to the one in Greenwich Village, but have stopped at the Rockefeller shop too, out of cupcake desperation.
There's no seating at the Greenwich Village location, but in nice weather, we like to sit in the little park thats across the street and enjoy the neighborhood while enjoying our cupcakes. And cupcakes particularly are the draw here, my favorites are the ones with sprinkles!
In rainy or snowy weather, take your little cupcake box and head to Grand Central Terminal or to Rockefeller Center to people watch while cupcaking!

This restaurant is always crowded as well, as it's a popular tourist spot. The main thing here is their signature Frozzzzzen Hot Chocolate. It's like a chocolate milkshake/sundae thing, and its reeeeeally good. Its topped with plenty of whipped cream and served with a spoon and a straw. It's more than enough to share with a friend. However, they have a minimum charge per person that is required here. So if you only come for dessert, everyone has to order a dessert and a drink to spend enough. So, that's kind of a bummer, unless you go and also order regular meal. So we reccommend Serendipity with these reservations. 
Chocolaty goodness!

The restaurant is very cute, decorated in fanciful Art Deco style. Its a fun girls place for sure!

Fun Lunch Options in NYC:
Shenanigans in Central Park after lunch

Enjoying our lunch, just watch out for the squirrels!
  • Find a deli or sandwich shop that's not a huge chain--grab a sandwich and head to Central Park. Find a shady bench and enjoy! Hands down the best way to eat lunch!

  • Bryant Park- There's lots of options around the park to grab lunch and there's also a cafe. We haven't eaten at the park cafe, but I'm sure its worth trying out! This is personally my favorite spot in the city! Its a small park, but it seems to be where locals eat and enjoy good weather on their lunch breaks. In the warm months, they have an abundance of cafe tables and chairs set up on the lawn. In winter they convert the lawn to an ice rink and have little booths set up for shopping. Southwest Air sponsors a patio that sells drinks and appetizers and even provides Snuggies and patio heaters in cooler weather!

Even though it was rainy, Bryant Park was still a great lunch spot!

Fun Dinner Options in NYC:
  • Little Italy: Yes, its a tourist trap, but decent Italian food can be found here. We don't have a particular favorite, so take a little time and look at menu boards and decide what fits your craving and budget. In the summertime, most restaurants have patio seating. After dinner, find a gelato stand and you can't go wrong!
  • The Upper East Side: This posh residential area of Manhattan is sprinkled with restaurants of all price points. Do a little research and find something that sounds good! We've eaten at a couple of good places, so be adventurous and try something new!
Our General Advice:
  • Try to eat local! Why would you spend all that money to go to the best city in the world and eat at a place you have at home?? 
  • Your meals don't have to be expensive either--we are usually dragging a group of college students around, so we definately can eat on the cheaper side! And work deals like hotel breakfasts too. 
  • I haven't done food carts or trucks, but that's a huge trend right now in bigger cities. Great for lunch and late night. Next trip I'm wanting to research that and see what I find!
  • Avoid Times Square area like the plague...I try not to go there in general anyway, but its worth seeing the spectacle, especially at night, if you've never been. But don't eat there. Please. The restaurants will be sub-par and over-priced. 
  • Remember that you are in arguably the food capital of the world--try a new type of cuisine! Do a little research ahead of time if you know you want a type of cuisine. Rachel was in the city at the same time I was last August, and she had researched Greek restaurants, so we met at one of them for lunch!

Bon appetit and happy travels!


Rachel said...

I really want to go back!!! Too bad now is not exactly the **best** time for that...


Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

The frozen hot chocolate looks like a meal in itself! Though I'm surprised that they have a minimum charge...