By Elise Jones, babybites blog editor
I love to eat. I love to eat really, really, incredibly, ridiculously good food. Once I’m finished with one meal, I’m thinking about my next. No wonder my mid-section will never see the light of day again! One of the greatest things about living in NYC for 10 years was the thrill of finding a fantastic new food joint. With friends, family, natives, & out-of-towners, I searched the city high and low to locate my top restaurants that I would recommend without hesitation.
So without further ado, here is my list of the fab food joints that are must visits in NYC:
- Otto: This is my favorite type of food in a fantastic “I’m in on something good” environment. Go here and everyone is happy. The interior is modeled after an old train station. The wine list is 3 pages and the waiters know their stuff. The antipasti is my dream: meats, cheeses (with these amazing dipping sauces), & veggies. The brick oven pizza and homemade pastas will send you in the most pleasant food coma ever. Oh yeah, Mario Batali owns the joint.
- PJ Clarke’s: The original PJ Clarke’s has stood at E. 55th Street & Third Ave. for over 129 years. It has seen almost every famous person you can think of. Did I tell you it was a saloon? It has fantastic burgers and fries and stays open until 3 a.m. I was young at one point and found myself there quite a bit past the midnight hour. It is a true NY experience and institution.
- Topaz Thai: I was introduced to this small, underground place by a friend who had traveled to Thailand and swore this is the only place that even comes close to authentic Thai food in NYC (that’s a BOLD statement). I agree. I hate curry, but here, I eat it. The food is spicy and that’s the way I like it. It is located in midtown and very small. So no large groups and getting babies in won’t really work (no room for strollers or high chairs).
- Burger Joint: So the first time I went here, I thought I was in “Eyes Wide Shut” and needed a password to walk through the swank Le Parker Meridien lobby to get into this true burger joint in a tucked away corner. The line was long and filled with all types. The menu short: burgers, fries, drinks. Hey, if you’re as good at something as these guys are then no need to fluff up the menu. Space is tight, so take it to go.
- Zum Schneider: I’ll never forget my first time at Zum: me with a newborn, World Cup soccer matches, great friends, and authentic, delicious wiener schnitzel. This is as close to Bavaria as it gets at this Lower East Side “beer garden”. They have outdoor seating which rocks on those “I’ve gotta eat outside days”. The atmosphere is always jovial and my mood immediately lifts after stuffing myself with Zum’s German food.
- Republic: “Think noodles!” is the slogan of this Union Square Vietnamese noodle shop. I LOVE the glass noddles here and their Asian basil lemonade rocks. My husband always gets the pad thai. We bonded over noodles here and the table set-up (you share if your table isn’t full) definitely helped with our bonding *wink, wink*. Quick and inexpensive also makes me come back again and again.
- Cafe Noir: This might be the first place I had tapas. If not, then it’s the first place I remember sharing mussels, olives, calamari, and serrano ham/manchego cheese with a table full of new friends. This is definitely a night-time place and NOT for families. It’s sophisticated, cool and fashioned after a bistro in Morocco. Plus the music is moody, hip, and has a bit of a reputation.
- Friend of a Farmer: This was the first place I was taken out to lunch on my first day working in NYC. I have very fond memories of it: the comfort food, the warmth of the fireplace, and the convivial buzz of friends enjoying farm fresh food. The breads are yummy and the breakfasts fill you full of hearty food that readies you for a long day.
- Duke’s: as a displaced Southerner, I crave good Southern food. This place has pulled pork, po-boys, collard greens, & jambalaya. Plus great beer & drink specials. I love Southern food. The decor is kitschy like any hot plate lunch in the South would be.
- Peanut Butter & Co: Do you like peanut butter? Then just go. Eighteen types of PB sandwiches (my personal fave is the Nutella one). Heavenly milkshakes are also a must sample. My four-year old’s favorite place to eat… in the whole wide world.
- S’MAC: a place dedicated to mac n’ cheese. There are 12 different ways it is made: different cheeses, different stir-ins, and different spices. DELICIOUS!!