Any photographer, traveler, or food enthusiast in general should visit NYC at the very least once if possible.
Ok, that’s easier for some than others of course.
It’s exactly 114 miles from my front steps to the center of Times Square. Needless to say this gives me all the opportunity in the world, minus actually living in the city, to visit as much as I want and spend countless hours exploring what I consider to be the best city in the world.
I have found myself in NYC many times since I figured out long ago what a quick escape it can be from my hometown. I’ve trekked miles up and down 7th avenue, strolled across the Brooklyn Bridge admiring Roebling’s Masterpiece, snapped panoramic pics atop Rockefeller Center, rode the subways, walked thru central park …. all of the tourist stuff I checked off a long time ago.
I’ve since added different destinations to my list(s) when I make a stop on the island these days. Sadly there are some incredible food joints I’ve never made it to yet. So today was important, particularly because I needed to check off some of NYC’s finest food joints from my list and not hold my head in shame anymore. No more ‘ah darn never tried that place yet”, or “I’ll have to make it there someday” …. excuses.
So I jotted down a few select places all relatively close to each other, hopped the train and off I went.
My first stop was Joe Juniors for coffee and breakfast. I read good things about Joe’s from Lucky Peach and realized small places like this are getting harder to find. I made my way in only to find a setting that could not have been written better in a movie scene. At the first table sat a guy, maybe a few years older than me with a wrinkled suit on and flip flops, sipping away at his coffee. Behind him, two hipsters talking quietly about something quintessential New York. At the first bar stool an older gentleman with a Veterans hat on (I think from WWII). Besides him a young couple showing just the right amount of PDA to make things uncomfortable for the rest us. I snagged a coffee and egg/sausage sandwich, paid my bill and left overhearing one of the everyday customers arguing about the Mets to his friend behind the counter.
You can’t write this stuff any better.
Next stop was Artichoke Basille Pizza. Two Words – Margarita Slice! Rustic, cheesy, incredible. Eat it outside along the fence and watch people walk by surely jealous of your newly found love.
Let me preference this next stop with the admission that I am a big fan of David Chang and what he has accomplished. The Momofuku restaurants are incredible and you can’t possibly go wrong at any of them – just show up early or you’ll be waiting a while – especially at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Well worth it to get there early!
By this time I needed some caffeine so I stopped off at the Momofuku Milk Bar for an expresso. I folded like a lawn chair under the pressure and also bought (3) cookies to which I proceeded to devour outside the shop with no shame.
Somehow I managed to find myself at Van Leeuwin Artisan Ice Cream. Contrary to the above cookie admission, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth these days as I once did (more of a salty guy), but I do enjoy the occasional cone. In fact, I had recently purchased the VL Artisan Ice Cream cook book (mostly because the photography is awesome) … so I figured it can’t hurt. Sampled the Salted Caramel which was… well salty but delicious. The shop had the A/C on so it was a nice respite from the late summer humidity in NYC which can be oppressive to say the least.
The next stop was a necessity. One must always stop in either Russ & Daughters or KATZ’s a few stores down when in NYC. Since I had been to KATZ’s recently and wanted to bring some things home with me I decided to brave the line and get some goodies at Russ & Daughters. I left with 6 Bagels and a can of Herring. If I had a cooler with me, filled with ice, and a limo waiting outside to drive me around to my other destinations, I would have bought much … let me stress … much smoked salmon!
As shameful as it is, prior to today, and seemingly impossible as one can imagine, I had not visited Papaya King before. Yes, I’ve heard Bourdain sings its praises before and seen all the colorful neon signs before. Yet today, with head held high, I had my first dog at Papaya King … and of course the Papaya drink. Out of all the stops I made today this was my most favorite. Buzzing with neon everywhere around me I sat looking out at St.Marks place chowing down on my hot dog, smothered with kraut and corn beef, sipping my ice cold papaya drink. It was, shall I say….incredible.
Feet tired and eyes now blurry from the glow of my Mac, this is where the food adventure for today ends.