How often do you get a 50% discount on visiting one of the most expensive cities in the world? Not often and when you do, you don’t say no.
Michelle was asked recently to speak at a conference in Manhattan. With her expenses covered, I decided to tag along for a little adventure. While she networked, dropped knowledge and impressed executives, I wandered the streets and ate my face off for 36 hours.
We pulled into Penn Station and immediately crossed the street and tucked into some Sicilian slices from NY Pizza Suprema. This has quickly become a tradition for us. There’s no better way to re-indoctrinate yourself to NY and prepare your stomach for the impending NYC food avalanche than hitting up this pizza joint on 8th at 31st Street.
Don’t be filled by the address or generic storefront, this place is the real deal. The NY-style slices are fine, but they really shine with the Sicilian slices. Light, fluffy dough, solid sauce, maybe a bit too much cheese, but hard to argue after being stuck on a train for 3 hours.
After sating ourselves on pizza, we walked over to Grand Central, dropped off our bags at the hotel and then continued walking up to Central Park. The key to eating your face off is walking constantly between feedings. Do not sit. Do not lay down. Especially do not lay down.
After some ice coffee and wandering around the park, we headed back down to Grand Central and hit up the happy hour specials at the Oyster Bar. If you’ve never hit up the Oyster’s dark bar in the basement of Grand Central, you are missing out on a little piece of NYC culinary history. Not to mention very fresh seafood. Worth the mid-town stop.
A dozen briny, slimy oysters and cold beer joined the pizza at the party in my tummy.
I’ll admit the food started weighing on us by the time we checked in. We had plans to head downtown somewhere for dinner and ice cream, but as the sun set, so did that plan. Eating in midtown, especially after dark, can be a risky proposition. There just aren’t a lot of restaurants that do dinner and don’t wholly cater to tourists.
After some frantic googling, we decided to take a chance on Sip Sak, a Turkish restaurant that was an easy walk over on 2nd Avenue.
I was a little worried when we walked in and found only a few tables occupied, but it turns out we were early for NYC dinner. An hour into the meal the restaurant was full of locals. The risk paid off. The food was a bit pricey, but it all tasted good.
The pide bread provided with the very smooth hummus was a revelation. I must try making this bread at home. I ate the entire basket without stopping to take a picture. So good. Sort of cross between the taste of an Italian Scali and the texture of a traditional pita.
We were both also pleasantly surprised with the light red Turkish wine the waiter recommended. Who knew? Well, the Turks, probably, but not us, until now.
After splitting a creamy almond pudding for dessert, we stumbled back to the hotel to digest and prepare for the next day.
We started the next day by walking up Park Ave to the Eggs Travaganza food truck for some egg sandwiches just to prime the stomach with something light.
After first breakfast, we split up and Michelle’s stomach was saved from further harm. I tightened my belt and walked downtown to continue my quest.
First stop: Eataly. I haven’t made it to the one in Boston yet, but took a spin around Batali’s (almost overwhelming) Italian market, but didn’t eat anything. It was early and most stalls beyond the espresso one where still setting up. Plus, I had richer things on my mind.
I walked a few blocks further west and had my second breakfast at the Doughnut Plant, a shop now famed for its elaborate and unique cake or yeast doughnuts. Happily there was a very short line.
While tempted by just about the entire menu, I opted for a cake one, the Brooklyn black out. A chocolate doughnut, dipped in chocolate with chocolate crumbs on top. It was deliciously moist, like an undercooked brownie in the best possible way.
Enough about books, it had been about an hour since I’d last eaten. I headed over to Chelsea Market for lunch. I love the growing popularity of these artisanal food markets. It’s a great way to sample some of the best a city has to offer in a short time without traveling to each storefront.
Consider that mistake rectified and the hummus was as smooth and velvety as advertised. I eat and make a lot of hummus and this was near the top in terms of texture. The pita was fresh baked and warm, but I was still reeling from the Turkish pide the night before, so it paled a bit in comparison.
I took a short break for some Stumptown cold brew to keep the energy up.
Then I dove back in for a second lunch course of Asian tacos at Takumi. If you create a restaurant combining tacos and sushi, I will definitely eat it. I tried a tuna sashimi and a shrimp taco combo. I would have preferred soft tortillas to the crisp ones, but the flavors were still strong and unique.
Remember rule #1 of eating your way through a city: keep walking. After the tacos, I ducked outside and walked the High Line for a few blocks to build the appetite back up. I love the way the Big Dig ultimately transformed downtown Boston, but in an alternate universe, something like the High Line would also have been a great solution. Just an stunning park and great example of creative re-use.
I met up Michelle and she was just in time to join me first dessert. More cold brew, Blue Bottle this time, plus a shared cup of olive oil and pistachio gelato.
Then it was time to walk back up to Penn Station, but not before one more stop! We needed train eats and stopped at Sullivan St. Bakery for some to-go sandwiches.
The bread, as expected, was excellent though my ceci had a few too many flavors going on. Michelle’s deemed her simpler prosciutto one better.
We also snagged few Fat Witches at Chelsea Market for train dessert. It’s, of course, uncivilized to travel by rail without dessert!
Three hours later we were back home, full, fat and happy. Not a bad way to spend 36 hours.