East Coast Road Trip – Part 2!
Hello hello, again, Foodie Friends 🙂 Hope you’ve had a great weekend! For the second of this three-part travel edition of Foodie Adventures, we’re taking you to the Big Apple 🍎🗽- the one and only New York City, NY (plus bonus, Staten Island!) – so join us for our recommendations for fun, food, and sights along the way! 🙌
To pick up where we left off (check out Part 1 of the blog here to catch up if you’re just joining us now, and Part 3 if you’d like to read the last of the trilogy), this week we meet again for our next installment, the most requested section of our trip by far, New York City!
This was definitely the busiest and most whirlwind-like two days of the trip we had by far, but it was a blast!
We’re so grateful to all the friends and foodie followers that helped give us recommendations on what to eat and where to go in NYC and the surrounding boroughs. For all the places we didn’t make it to this time (only hit about 15 of the 88 on the link below), we’ve included our Google Maps list with notes on what we were recommended to try from each location! We’ll certainly be heading back again soon since there’s definitely a lot of stuff we wanted to see but simply didn’t have the time or energy for this go around.
See more recommendations here: https://goo.gl/maps/jRRm8zuxvpiqF7S2A
We only had two days in New York City, so we wanted to make the best of it! One of our foodie friends, @thenearlywedcoach gave me a gazillion recommendations before we left that really helped to bolster up my list. I have a food bucket list from almost all 50 states, the UK and Canada, which I used as a basis for the majority of this trip, with New York being one of the most populous state lists that I have. I’m always looking for a local’s take on where we should go, especially someone who has lived there in the last bunch of years, and Erikka definitely fits the bill! My cousin Chantal, who runs @ChantalGalipeauStudio, also gave us quite a few recommendations that we took on this trip as well, including The Highline Park and the view that you saw above. She went to school in New York City for fashion design at Pratt!
We ended up staying at the Artezen Hotel, closer to the lower end of Manhattan, which was a couple of blocks away from Wall Street and a short walk away from the World Trade Center. The first tip I will recommend in New York City is to wear good walking shoes, and get yourself a public transportation pass! We ended up getting the one-week pass for the Metro, which allowed us to hop on any bus or subway an unlimited amount of times for a whole week when we were there. This was great as we didn’t pay for every single trip that we went on. It was pretty affordable at around $30 per person for one whole week’s worth of unlimited swipes. I can’t tell you the number of times that we used it in the two days that we were there. 🙌🚉
After we got checked in, we ended up walking to Eataly, which was a recommendation from our buddy Chef Vince, who used to work and live in New York City. This Italian market is on the third story of the Liberty Street building, which includes anything from oils and all kinds of vinegar, to a fish market, a cheese market, a meat market, a make-your-own-fresh pasta place, pizzas, and more!
We went with the focaccia for lunch, Jamie with the Sopresatta, topped with spicy salami, tomatoes, and Mike’s hot honey, and I had the Ratatouille, which was a vegetarian, no cheese, focaccia, topped with eggplant onions, peppers, and other veggies. They were both delicious and hearty and I could absolutely see myself frequenting this place if I lived close by.
This gave us the boost that we needed to get us through more sightseeing which included checking out the World Trade Center, checking out multiple shopping venues (lots of watch boutiques for Jamie), and the Chelsea Market for me! Check out the slideshow below for more pics from our tour around some of the attractions we saw:
Dinner that night was special as it was our big date night out for our vacation. We decided to pick a restaurant across the bridge in Brooklyn called Oxomoco. Jamie found this restaurant as it had made the 2019 Michelin Star list of best restaurants, and the menu looked fantastic! We started with drinks at the bar as we ended up being a little early for a reservation. He had the Paraiso Tropical, a drink with pineapple charanda (an alcoholic spirit derived from sugarcane, similar to rum), passion fruit, and chili.
For an appetizer, we got the Soya-marinated Tuna Tostada, topped with avocado, salsa, and radishes. This tasted like if someone made you a homemade frito the size of a small tortilla and topped it with sushi-grade marinated tuna and avocado – and it was amazing!! I could have eaten three more of them, it was so good. Definitely in the top one or two things we tried.
Next was the Habanero Tomato Tonnato, with heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers, basil, and chicharrones. I liked the tomatoes and the different textures in this, but it wasn’t my favorite out of the three.
Last but most certainly not least, and in contention for top place in my book, was the Lamb Barbacoa tacos. These included squash blossoms, watercress, and salsa pipicha (an herb native to Mexican cooking, it has a strong taste akin to fresh coriander with overtones of lemon and star anise). The crust and char on the lamb contrasted with how juicy and tender it was in this taco, was soo good. Jamie definitely found a great one with this restaurant! My compliments to Chef Justin Bazdarich and Chef De Cuisine Emilio Cerra on this one.
Being lactose intolerant in New York City though it’s hard to find a great pizza place that also caters to your non-dairy needs, so imagine how happy I was finding out that a couple blocks up the street from Oxomoco was Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop, which specialized in pies that have vegan cheese on them! So before we caught the subway back to our hotel for the night, Jamie and I popped over for a slice of their vegan special, which included slow-cooked tomato sauce, NUMU mozzarella, Follow Your Heart parmesan, Bee-Hive vegan sausage, caramelized onions, and a drizzle of roasted red pepper sauce.
This pizza had the sauce and the crust that I so dearly missed in pizzas from New England, and I really did love the taste of it! I would be really happy if you put a whole pizza like that in front of me, and I would ask for more. They have multiple locations besides this one in Brooklyn, would definitely recommend checking them out for this and their other more dairy forward options as well.
Katz Deli in NYC, New York.
You all know how much I love baked goods. So you can imagine how hard it was to pick a breakfast spot for our only sit-down morning for brunch. When it came down to it, Breads Bakery, known for its homemade challah and chocolate babka fit the bill. I felt that I would be letting all of my local Jewish friends down if I did not go to at least one awesome Jewish bakery while I was in town. Jamie and I started out with coffee, of course, and then he got an apple crumb tart, while I got an almond croissant and a chocolate babka.
I did take pictures of all of their challahs lining the wall though, which were very impressive. We sat outside, as the weather was absolutely awesome for the majority of the trip. The croissant reminded me of some of the ones I’ve had in some great French bakeries or the ones I’ve had in France in my travels, and the chocolate rugelach had such a great rich chocolate flavor that it almost tasted like a brownie! Jamie loved his apple crumb too, I don’t think I even got a bite of that one.
After this, we took Chantal’s recommendation of checking out The Highline Park. This slightly out-of-the-way spot is a park that was built around a high set of train tracks that used to run above some city buildings, which they’ve now turned into a walkable garden and green space that you can see fantastic views from. Check out the slideshow below for some great pictures I took on our walk.
The coolest story we have from the Highline is on the way back, we ran into an entire film crew, production team, and a set of about 20 to 30 models that were in the process of setting up for and shooting a commercial, which was super cool to be able to observe part of.
Next was heading to Harlem to make sure we kept our reservation for Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster restaurant for lunch. Luckily, his place is less than 200 feet from the subway so it was super easy to get to. Loved the decor inside the restaurant and he had different recipes from some of the menu items on blackboards on the walls, which was really cool. We started with an appetizer of their Uptown Guac, which was made with avocado, and served with pineapple salsa and fried garlic blooms for dipping! It was a super unique way to eat guac and I loved the fried garlic.
Jamie, of course, got their famous Crispy Bird Sandwich, topped with buffalo chicken, cheddar, charred onion, pickles, and fries on the side. I got their Yardbird By The Piece, topped with hot honey and “chicken shake” (I chose the thigh and the drum stick on the recommendation of our lovely waitress), and collard greens as my side. The chicken was absolutely delicious, super crispy with just the right amount of sweetness and heat. I liked the collards too, but being from New England I’m no collards expert, so it’s hard to judge, as I haven’t eaten a lot of them yet since living in the South.
To walk off that big meal, we decided to cut through Central Park to get to our next subway stop to Staten Island! We got to see some cool gardens and statues, views of the ponds and gazebos by the water, but we didn’t venture far enough into Central Park to see the zoo this time. We’ll definitely have to make the effort to do that next time.
Once we boarded the ferry to Staten Island, we got to see the Statue of Liberty from afar which I did get pictures of! The weather wasn’t super great at this point to be doing a lot of stuff outdoors or we may have tried to go visit the island too, but there’s always next time.
There wasn’t a whole lot to do within walking distance on Staten Island besides shopping, but I did get a gorgeous fall-themed jumpsuit from a local shop called Vanity House Designs, and Jamie snagged this really cute picture of me at this art installation in the outdoor mall.
We could not leave New York City without hitting up a New York Deli either, and Katz Deli was one of two of the most highly recommended ones on our list. So a few more subway rides later, and there we were. As you walk in the door, you get a ticket that you use to walk up to the meat counter, where you then get asked what kind of sandwich you’d like and what meat you’d like on it. They cut it and assemble it directly in front of you, and write what you got on that ticket. Then they give you your food, you sit down to eat it, then pay for it after the fact.
It was really cool watching them slice off an entire hunk of thick juicy pastrami for our Reuben in front of us, and they even gave us little pieces of the pastrami to eat as we were waiting in line like you would at a traditional grocery store deli when they ask you if it’s cut to the right thickness. We ended up going with a traditional Reuben, a half sandwich (since we were still fairly full from lunch and Jamie and I were splitting it), and a bowl of matzo ball soup. The soup tasted exactly like if your Jewish Bubby made it. It is absolutely the Jewish equivalent of a bowl of Grandma’s chicken noodle soup. It was super-rich and the matzo ball itself was just the right kind of springy consistency that you want in a matzo ball. They also gave us a plate of both half-sour and full sour pickles to go along with our dinner.
But the piece de resistance has got to be the Reuben. If there was such a thing as pastrami butter – this is it. You take a bite into this sandwich and the rye bread is so soft and the pastrami just absolutely melts in your mouth and it almost just disintegrates into this juicy harmony with the sauerkraut and the Russian dressing. It was almost painful giving the sandwich back to Jamie so that he could have another bite and vice versa. We very much almost jumped back in line and ordered another half a sandwich because it was that good.
It was so good, in fact, that my birthday is in less than two weeks this month, and we were sitting across from a sign in their Deli that advertised a “birthday box” they offer, in which they’ll send you 1lb of everything you need to make their Ruben’s at home – the pickles, the pastrami, the dressing, the rye bread, everything! They’ll even throw in some black and white cookies just for the heck of it. I told Jamie that there was nothing more that I wanted for my birthday than to bring my friends over and have them experience the same Rubens that we experienced for my birthday. I wanted to simply have people come over and make sandwiches and just have a good time of it, so that’s what we’re doing!
The walls of the deli are also plastered with celebrity pictures and famous people that have visited to take pictures with the Katz family, and I can 100% percent see why people come here and why it has so much hype. Ruben’s have always been my favorite sandwich, but after tasting this Ruben, it will be very very hard to eat Ruben’s anywhere else.
Last but not least, we had one more recommendation from Erikka that we had to check out on the way to Philly as we were leaving. We grabbed coffee and donuts from The Doughnut Plant, which were the makers of the creme brulee stuffed donut in New York City! Jamie got their new seasonal special, the Apple Cardamom sourdough donut, with fresh apples and aromatic, citrusy spice cardamom in the glaze (which was also Vegan!). I got another seasonal favorite, the Pumpkin Cake donut, made with real pumpkin in the dough and glaze and topped with roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas). These were delish and they had such unique donut flavors on the menu, I wish we had gotten the chance to try more of them! They also had gluten-free donuts along with the vegan one Jamie tried which was awesome to see.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this shorter form guide, and stay tuned for our last edition on Philadelphia, PA; Washington, D.C.; and Alexandria, VA, next time! 😁
So how was your weekend, Foodie Friends? Do you have a favorite place or attraction from one of these places we should go to next time? Are you excited about the last installment of the travel blog? Sound out in the comments below to let us know your suggestions of what dishes to make or places we should visit next. As always, feel free to like, comment, & share 🤗