How do you plan a trip to New York City? Most people start with the places they want to see, followed by the activities they want to do. That’s a great approach, but what if we told you there is a better approach to planning your trip to the City That Never Sleeps? Well there is. Just for a second forget about the Empire State Building, 5th Avenue, Central Park, and Wall Street. Forget about the Statue of Liberty, taxis, the Rockefeller Center, or getting a selfie with the Charging Bulls ball sack. Our method gets you there in due time. Now that your mind is clear, you’re ready to learn the secret that’ll take your ordinary trip to The Big Apple and make it extraordinary. Ready? The one thing you will plan your trip around is…Food! That’s right, food; the sustenance of life. Everyone is aware of pizza and bagels, two staples of the NYC food scene, but there are a few other foods you’d be remiss to leave the city without trying. Here’s Plane Sailing’s definitive list of foods to plan your New York City trip around (and where to get them)!
*See map at bottom of post for locations*
Walk down 5th Ave., Broadway, or around Central Park and grab yourself a “dirty water dog” from any hot dog stand to get a real New York experience. Or actually, don’t. Instead, grab a Coney Island bound D, F, N, or Q train and head out to Brooklyn for the legendary Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs! Nathan’s has been dishing out classic all beef hot dogs since 1916, and is easily worth the trip out of Manhattan. Grab a dog or two, some crinkle cut fries, and an old fashioned lemonade before taking a stroll along the boardwalk. During the summer, take a wild ride on the Cyclone, a wooden roller coaster located just next door at Luna Park, but maybe let that hot dog digest before you do! There’s plenty on offer here, so get out of Manhattan, get yourself a REAL hot dog, and see a different side of NYC!
A long time staple of the New York City food scene, Katz’s Deli serves up no frills, classic deli sandwiches. I’m not talking cold sliced meats from your local supermarket. We’re talking warm, tender, perfectly cooked pastrami, piled high on rye bread with mustard, and a pickle on the side. The simplicity of the food is the key, and boy do they make “simple” taste so damn good! The décor looks like it hasn’t changed since they opened, and everything about the place feels right. Although the price tag is a little more than you might pay elsewhere for a *similar* meal, you’ll forget about everything else after the first bite.
Handheld mashed potatoes. Do I have your attention yet? You may never have heard of a knish, but it’ll be on your mind long after your trip has ended. Grab one on the street from any vendor if you want to be disappointed. Actually, don’t. Head to Yonah Schimmel’s Knishery on the Lower East Side to get this lightly breaded, mashed potato filled treat. They’ve been in the business for more than 100 years and it’s easy to see why. The knishes are perfect, and the prices are fair. Alternatively, check out Knish Nosh in Queens (especially if you fancy pierogies to go with your knish!).
This is something I just had to introduce Amy to. Our entire relationship we’ve waged war over baked vs. no bake cheesecake. I kept telling her she just hadn’t had a proper baked cheesecake, and I would prove it to her when we got to New York. People often debate what crust, texture, and consistency makes for the perfect cheesecake and therefore where you find the best. For me, the answer lies in Little Italy at Eileen’s Special Cheesecake. It’s the perfect flavour combination with a hint of lemon zing to bring it all together. They have plenty of variety to choose from, but we recommend keeping it simple and sticking to plain cheesecake with strawberry on top. Classic.
New York Bagels. Is it the water? Is it the passion? Whatever it is, you cannot get a bagel ANYWHERE else in the world like a New York City Bagel. Believe me, I’ve tried. You just can’t do it. Most bagel shops in the city churn out decent everyday bagels so make sure you don’t leave without having at least one. If you really want to treat yourself though, try Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side. I’d been hearing about them for years from my cousin who swears they’re the best. I figured it wasn’t worth going out of my way when there was an abundance of closer options. I was wrong. I was very wrong. The bagels at Absolute were an epiphany for me. Not too hard, not too soft, and perfectly flavoured. Just the right amount of cream cheese as not to take away from the delicious tastes of the bagel is the proverbial icing on the cake. The homemade lox is worth the extra if you’re a fan. Grab a bagel or two, or three and walk into central park for an ideal breakfast spot and perfect start to any morning.
Heavily endorsed by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (admit it, you just sang that), there is no food more famous in the Big Apple than pizza. If you’ve been to New York and somehow left without having a greasy slice, slap yourself. Also, if you don’t like pizza, slap yourself. Large slices dripping with grease are widely available throughout the city. Pop in, grab a slice and experience one of the reasons that make this city a food lover’s paradise. It’s not over complicated and ridiculous like they do it in Chicago. Just thin crust, sauce, and cheese topped ecstasy. If you want what is quite possibly the best pizza in town, check out Lombardi’s in Little Italy. Not your typical New York pizza, but boasting to be America’s first pizzeria, Lombardi’s is legendary. The crust is thin and crispy, but foldable. The sauce is unbelievably good. The cheese is surprisingly sparse, but somehow the exact right amount. If there is just one food you absolutely for any reason must not leave New York City without trying, it’s pizza. And if you do, slap yourself.
So what do you think? Did we nail it or miss something? Have a favourite spot to share? Let us know in the comment section!