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New York City’s Cheap, Fabulous and Famous Foods

As the C.E.O. (Chief Eating Officer) of TravelFoodandDrink.com I was in New York City to attend Travel + Leisure magazine’s 40th Anniversary and their Global Bazaar.  I was also there to eat (that’s my job) it was a great event, even though there wasn’t much to eat by the time I arrived.  I did manage to drink up a storm of Caribbean rum punch, and beer from Singapore, Belgium and even Fiji.

When I was finally able to eat the following day  I wanted to see some of the well-known places that are either cheap, fabulous, or famous. Unfortunately they can also be touristy, but they are still worth a visit because they are icons to foodies and the culinary traveler. I wasn’t looking to discover a “great find” off the grid, I knew the places I was heading were found a long time ago, some of them over a 100 years ago.  They are all very casual, t-shirts, shorts, missing sock, no problem, just bring cash.  These are the places I went: The legendary Katz’s Deli for a hot pastrami on rye with mustard, an amazing sandwich loaded with very moist and tender pastrami,  $15.95 (not cheap) plus tax .  Lombardi’s pizza, it’s the first licensed pizzeria in America, great pizza cooked in a coal-fired oven since 1905. After getting pizza I went to the fabulous Rice to Riches at 37 Spring Street in the Nolita neighborhood (across from Lombardi’s), you won’t find anywhere like this place, foodies will really enjoy looking around this funny place and trying their selections of rice pudding. I had the rice pudding with raisins and cinnamon for $4 lots of  flavors like panna cotta, cookies n cream, french toast, tiramisu, plus toppings. New Yorkers that are in a hurry and craving a hot dog go to Gray’s Papaya on the corner of 6th Ave. and 8th Street, that’s where I grabbed 2 hot dogs with sauerkraut and a Papaya drink for $4.95.  Street food carts are everywhere 3 favorites of New Yorker’s are Biryani Cart (get the Chicken tiki masala) located on the SW corner of 46th and 6th, Halal Guys at the SE corner of 53rd and 6th, and Kwik Meal on the SW corner of 53rd and 6th that’s where I purchased a satisfying chicken pita cooked to order for $5, which I consumed on a massive rock in Central Park. Afterwards I stopped by the Hello Deli to say hello to Rupert Jee, the owner of the deli who appears on the David Letterman Show.

Here are some other iconic New York places that should be on your culinary tour: Didn’t go to Carnegie Deli this time but it’s just as famous, and has HUGE sandwiches.  Get a steak at Peter Lugar’s in Brooklyn, they say it’s the best steak you’ll ever eat.  They also have great burgers, and an amazing side of bacon.  Other local choices for pizza are Ray’s (several locations), John’s Pizzeria at 278 Bleeker Street or the super famous Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn. Whenever I want Manhattan Clam Chowder, and local oysters I go to the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station and sit at the counter for quick service.  For  Italian food shopping, eating and drinking check out chef extraordinaire Mario Batali’s newest venture,  Eataly near the Flat Iron Bldg. It is the largest artisanal  Italian food and wine marketplace in the world.  You can have an expresso, dessert, or take some bread and prosciutto cotto for later, or sit down and order pannini, pizza, or pasta with wine.  There is also an amazing place called FoodParc that is cheap, and delicious with something for everyone, try the RedFarm Stand section for Asian cuisine. FoodParc is on Sixth Avenue between 29th and 30th streets. For a historic drink, step back in time and order an ale at McSorley’s Ale House at 15 E. 7th Street it’s a very old place and a unique experience where some things haven’t changed in a century.  For a drink with a view go to the lounge at The View on the 48th floor of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, it’s the only revolving restaurant in the city. Or drink at the bar next to the Boathouse restaurant in Central Park it has a nice view of the lake and you can relax with a drink and appetizer instead of going into the crowded restaurant.

If you want to discover some lesser known, less touristy places with amazing food culture then take the L train to Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Check out places like Bedford Cheese Shop, Saltie, Rye, or Spuyten Duyvil. Go explore on your own, and blaze your culinary trail.