Monday, June 15, 2015

What to Eat in NYC

If you follow me on instagram (@jessicaoglesby) then you probably already know this but, 2 weeks ago I went to New York City with my mom and sister to celebrate my 21st birthday. (thank you skymiles and cheap flights!)

Somehow this was my fourth time in New York City in 4 years!! I just can't stay away from this place!

For this birthday trip my one wish was to only eat great food. All I wanted to do was walk through the neighborhoods, see some sights, and eat some amazing food.

wish. granted.

So, here is my guide to a perfect long weekend of new york city eating.

First, a note about the rating system: in my opinion 5/5 is a place that I would 100% recommend to a friend. 4/5 is a cute and yummy food stop, but not a “you absolutely have to try this” kind of place. Whereas, a 3/5 would be place that I would only recommend you go to if you are in the neighborhood and feel so inclined. I had a starbucks bagel that was a 2/5 that I didn’t include on this list, but otherwise everything else we ate I’ve given a 3 to 5 star review of.  

T H U R S D A Y 

Roberta’s (Flatiron)
I totally would have made the trek out to Brooklyn for this pizza! But, luckily, we caught it on the last day of Madison Square Eats, a "pop-up culinary market" right by the Flatiron building. The market also had tons of other yummy food vendors, so be sure to check it out if you are in NYC in May or October. 

I got the original pizza, but also tried some of the margarita, which I think I liked a little more though.
Honestly, both were amazing! 

If you're in NYC definitely definitely check to see if there is a Roberta's pop-up anywhere near you! And if you are reaalllyyy serious about delicious pizza, then visit their restaurant in Brooklyn.
Next time I want to try the bee sting pizza!  

Tacombi (Fonda Nolita) 
The tacos are tiny and not cheap, but the atmosphere is fun! I especially love the VW bus serving tacos! I had the corn cup + a side of rice and beans. I mixed it all together and it was pretty good. 
I would give the food a 3.7/5 because for the price it just wasn't that spectacular. But the VW bus and string lights definitely bump this review up to a 4/5. 
Perfect for a fun lunch in the Soho area. 

F R I D A Y 

The Butcher’s Daughter (Soho)
This is one of those places that I want to go back to and try some more things before I form a solid opinion. I got the french toast which was really yummy, but not particularly special. I would love to try some of their other dishes. 4 stars for quality french toast and beautiful inside decor! 

Eataly (Flatiron)
Pizza #2 of the trip! It was quite good, but I’m a little grumpy about it because our order got lost and it took forever to get our food. It was definitely a quality pizza though! 

Just a little context: Eataly is this massive Italian market in the Flatiron district that also has a few different restaurants inside. It can be crowded, but it is super fun to walk around. So head straight back to La Pizza La Pasta (where we ate) and put your name on the waiting list, then look around!

William Greenberg (Plaza Hotel) 
I had never had a black & white cookie before this trip, but I'm a total convert now! This iconic NYC cookie is actually less of a cookie and more of cake. This one in particular was especially delicious. The white side wasn't dried out (like most other cookies) and it had the most perfect cakey texture. 

Seriously, this black & white cookie was awesome! 

The main bakery is on the upper east side, but I picked up my cookie from a  (kinda hidden/secret) William Greenberg bakery underneath The Plaza Hotel (in the food hall). Bonus points for location because we got our cookies to-go then crossed the street and ate them in Central Park. 

The Park (Chelsea/Highline) 
The ambiance here is everything! Totally worth the little bit of an extra wait to sit in The Garden area. Brick walls, glass ceiling, greenery, and twinkling lights. All of my favorite things. 

Best. Birthday. Dinner. Ever. 

I got the spaghetti squash & ricotta wood-fired pizza (pizza #3 of the trip) and it was pretty good, The crust was a 3/5 (too fluffy) but the squash/ricotta combo was great! 

Doughnut Plant (Chelsea) 
We stopped here for one last birthday dessert and I don't regret it one bit. 
Their Brooklyn Blackout cake doughnut really is as good as it gets!

Speaking of which, I also finally learned that there are two different "families" of donuts: yeast donuts and cake donuts. I had never really had the words to describe why I liked some kinds of donuts and not others, but now I do! I'm firmly a cake donut kind of person! Dense, small, and full of flavor, as oppose to the yeast donuts which are fluffy and have fillings. 

Next time I want to try their most famous menu item: the creme brulee donut.

S A T U R D A Y 

The Egg Shop (Soho)
I got the french toast, which was pretty yummy! Except for the “chocolate cream” topping listed on the menu turned out to be just chocolate milk in the bowl? So the bottom piece of french toast was way too soggy to eat. 

The egg shop is a really small place, but also super cute and "eggy". Fun brunch spot for sure! 

Also, please appreciate the covert selfie with the sister photo

Dean & Deluca (Soho) 
I accidentally discovered this shop when I was experiencing a ridiculously low blood sugar moment and just stumbled into the first place that looked like they had food! haha. 

I didn’t have very much time, so I just grabbed a bottle of fresh strawberry lemonade and a black & white cookie. 5/5 for the lemonade and 3.5/5 for the cookie (the white side was kinda dried out). 

I wish I would’ve had more time to look around though! I've been to other Dean & Deluca's in the city, but this location is HUGE! It’s more like a high-end grocery store. Definitely going to have to stop by another time.

Soho Park (soho) 
Definitely a 3 star kind of place. It was "a-ok" but no more than that. If you're a fries person though, get the fries + basil mayo dipping sauce!  Almost worth going to just for that amazing sauce!

S U N D A Y 

Smorgasburg (Brooklyn) 
Smorgasburg was one thing I desperately wanted to do on this trip. 

Our original plan was to go to their Williamsburg location on Saturday -- since it was supposed to be storming on Sunday -- but that didn't work out. So, I was pretty bummed, but resigned to missing out on it. Somehow though, Sunday afternoon turned out to be beautifully sunny! So, we rearranged our plans and headed over to Brooklyn! And I'm still pinching myself at how perfectly it all worked out! 

 This was literally my FAVORITE thing of the whole entire trip! 

Smorgasburg is a Brooklyn food market with 100+ amazing food vendors! We only had about 45min to spend at the actual market, otherwise I would've tried at least 5 different things. But the three things I did get were delicious: passionfruit lemonade, mango sticky rice in a bamboo boat, and a rice krispy ice cream sandwich. 

Also, the location was so amazing. To get there we had to walk through a beautiful tree-lined brownstone neighborhood, and then it is located right on the Brooklyn Bridge Park pier, so we had a gorgeous view of the manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Yes yes yes. 5 stars. double thumbs up. 100%. 

Levain Bakery (Upper West side) 
Levain cookies are literally the most delicious cookies I have ever had

I got the double chocolate chip and I don't think I can ever get anything else because it was so amazingly delicious. 

Pretty sure one cookie is about 800 calories, but who's counting! 

Don't make the mistake of going to NYC and not getting one these babies! 

Funny side story: the day before this, we actually went to Levain's but it was closed by the time we got there :( 
We were just standing on the sidewalk in front of the bakery talking about where to go next, when a homeless man came over, opened the trash can lid, and pulled out a crisp white bag that was filled with the day's unsold cookies!! I couldn't even believe it. I was THIS close to asking the homeless man if he would share one of his cookies with me! I didn't.. but now I regret it and I will always be in awe of that homeless man's resourcefulness! 

The Smith (Upper West Side) 
This place is definitely a little pricey, but it was really rainy and we were really hungry and really tired of walking, so we decided to just go for it. I ended up getting the mac & cheese starter for dinner, which was super delicious and much cheaper than an entree! I was a little worried that it would be too small, but I couldn't even finish it all! I definitely recommend it! 

Also, be sure to try out the photo booth in the basement before you leave! It costs $3 and we were totally unprepared when the camera started flashing, so we got a comically awful strip of photos. But it was a good time! 

M  O  N  D  A  Y 

Dean & Delucca (Midtown) 
We stopped by the New York Times building Dean & Delucca for a quick breakfast after dropping our luggage off at a luggage storage place. I had an everything bagel. It was good, not great, but I like Dean & Deluca over all! 

Two Hands (Chinatown)
Our last culinary stop in NYC was this bright cafe. It was at kind of random location, but it seemed pretty reasonably priced compared to other brunch spots in soho we had been to. I got the acai bowl which was really yummy, but left my teeth filled with seeds and stained purple.. haha

And then we left for JFK! :( :( :(  So thus concludes my NYC food report.

I wasn't kidding though when I said I didn't want this trip to ever end! I already am planning my next trip to NYC and making a list of places I didn't get to try, but really want to! 

To try out next time: 
City Bakery 
La Esquina Corner Deli
Chelsea Market 
Absolute Bagels 
Dominique Ansel's Bakery 
Artichoke Pizza 
Sigmund's Pretzels 

and too much more! NYC I miss you already. 


  1. Levain Bakery though. hands down the best cookies in the world. how do they do it?!?!

    1. No, but really. How?! I need their magic recipe asap.