Before moving to NYC, I always lived in small towns. My family moved around a lot when I was younger so I got to live in different parts of the country. But, after my first trip to NYC I knew I wanted to live here, at least for a few years. However, I didn’t realize that living in NYC is very different than coming here as a tourist for a weekend. Adjusting to life in the city was harder than I’d expected but one thing that helped was the abundance of food options NYC has to offer. You’ll find great food that fits any budget. Below are some of my favorite spots.
Sushirrito on 12 West 23rd Street, cross street 5th Ave (Flatiron District) – sushi burrito is unique because it combines sushi with Latin flavors. Their menu includes tuna, salmon, shrimp tempura, beef, pork belly and more. So far, I’ve tried Geisha’s Kiss which is Yellowfin tuna, piquillo peppers, ginger guac and few other ingredients. I’ve also tried Latin Ninja which has salmon, crispy platanos, and hearts of romaine. Both of them tasted great and were filling. The rolls (or burritos) are freshly made after you place your order. Most of the rolls are between $10 to $14 which is super affordable considering sushi can get expensive. The portions are just the right size and you don’t end up feeling overly full at the end. It’s a great option if you are in a rush but don’t want fast food or are sick of the chicken over rice from the street carts all over NYC.
Inday on 1133 Broadway, cross street 26th St (Flatiron District) – a fast-casual Indian restaurant where the food isn’t very Indian. There are Indian flavors but they aren’t
strong or over powering like you expect with typical Indian food. You pick the base which can be purple basmati rice, quinoa, not-rice which is made from cauliflower and a few other options. My two favorites are quinoa and cauliflower-rice. Then you pick a protein. My favorite is chicken tikka but Salmon is also really good. Other options are turkey meatballs, falafel, and steak. I’ve tried all of these and honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Then you pick a sauce and I always go with chickpea ranch. At the end the staff usually give a small piece of papadum but I prefer the fried onions. Papadum is usually not cooked properly and I like the little extra crunch that fried onions add to the bowl. Most bowls are between $11 to $14 and they are very filling. It’s a great option if you are looking for something healthy and filling that’s prepared fresh daily.
Haandi on 113 Lexington ave, cross street 28th St (Murry Hill) – One of my favorite spots in the city. It’s not fancy at all but they do have some of the best Indian and Pakistani food in the city. You walk up to the counter, look at the food there, and tell them what you want. Their beef kebabs are always great but my usual order also includes chicken haleem. The only thing that would make haleem better is if they made it from beef. The chicken tikka are a hit or a miss. I haven’t tried any of their vegetarian items but my advice is stick to meat options. The owners are Pakistani and they know how to cook meats well. It’s taxi drivers favorite spot for lunch and dinner. No matter what time of day it is, you’ll see a row of taxis parked outside the restaurant. I always end up over-eating at this place and taking a cab home. They prefer cash but will accept credit card above a certain amount, though you might end up with more food than you could eat. On average, the cost is about $10 to $15 per person.
Daily Provision on 103 East 19th Street (Union Square) – a small place with blue exterior. They have one of the best roast beef sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. The sandwich has freshly baked everything bagel and I’m not sure what they do to the beef but it is delicious! The sandwich is simple, flavorful and filling. It cost around $13. Their breakfast menu is also worth trying. They recently added Salt and Straw’s ice cream to their menu. My favorite was the Salted Caraway Rye with Strawberry. Definitely worth stopping by this place.
Famous Sichuan on 10 Pell Street, cross street Bowery (Chinatown) – Don’t expect good or fast service at this place but their hot pot is great. I usually go with a large group (the only way to enjoy hot pot), get both the spicy and non-spicy broth everyone can adjust the spice level to their liking. Sometimes you’ll have to ask more than once before they’ll give you a ladle. Once, I dropped my soup spoon on the floor so I asked for a new spoon. The waiter just said NO and walked away before I could process exactly what had happened. I called him again and asked for a soup spoon and again, he said NO and walked away. I thought, third time is the charm and if not, I’ll be quick enough to ask WHY before he runs off. Turns out, all their spoons were in the wash and he didn’t have a clean spoon to give me. We usually have to ask for water at least 3 times before we actually get it. Despite bad service, I still go there ever winter because their hot pot is good and not very expensive. I also highly recommend their dan dan noodles. Their dumplings are pretty good but Lam Zhou has better dumplings.
Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle on 144 E Broadway (Chinatown) – Hole in the wall place with amazing dumplings and noodles. The place is small and easy to miss. Their fried dumplings are some of the best in the city. I also really liked their beef brisket soup noodle. It’s a really small place and during lunch and dinner hours, you may not get a place to sit. But you do get to watch a guy in the back making the noodles by hand and it’s amazing (check out the video on my Instagram). It’s cash only but very cheap. Eight fried dumplings for $3, beef brisket soup noodle for $6.50 and 50 frozen dumplings for just $10. The service at this place isn’t great so don’t expect the staff to give you too much time or attention. This is definitely one of my favorite spots in the city for fried dumplings and handmade noodles.
Xi’an Famous Foods has many locations throughout the city. My favorites at this place are spicy cumin lamb burger and spicy and tingly beef noodles. The food is good but I don’t eat there as much as I used to. While their prices have doubled from a few years ago, it’s still not very expensive. They have been featured in many food related shows so it can get busy at times. Try to go either as soon as they open or after about 2 pm so you don’t have to stand in a long line. Most of their locations are small and seating is first come first serve.
Fields Good Chicken has multiple locations but I’ve only been to the one in Flatiron – great rotisserie chicken options that include salads, rice bowls and whole or half bird. The food is fresh, delicious, filling and costs around $15 but could get pricey if you get a whole bird. They do have many sides like rice and beans, roasted broccoli, kale and butternut squash but the best side is Mexican corn off the cobb. Karma salad bowl and Mo’ Miso rice bowl were amazing and I highly recommend both. It’s a great option if you don’t have a lot of time for lunch.
Little Tong Noodle Shop on 177 First Ave (East Village) serves food from Chinese province Yunnan and entrees are all rice noodles cooked in different broth and seasonings. Their Mala Dan Dan Mixian (rice noodles) was okay but their Grandma’s Chicken Mixian was delicious. I was there with a few friends and we also got 3 sides of chili oil which turned out to be way too much. Just one would have been enough between 3 people. The Ghost chicken and pork chao shou (wonton) appetizers were also good. The only slightly annoying thing about this restaurant was the slow service. Especially considering how fast service generally is on Saturday night in Manhattan. But, the tip was already included so we didn’t have to do any math at the end.
Ikinari Steaks on 90 East 10th Street (East Village) is a Japanese steak place where you buy steaks by the grams, get it cooked to order and eat standing up. The minimum for a rib eye is 300 grams (about 10.5 oz). I like my steak to be medium rare so that’s how I ordered it but since it’s served on a hot, cast iron plate, my steak was over cooked. The restaurant does recommend getting all steaks rare and I would agree since the hot plate will continue to cook the steak once you get it. The garlic and pepper fried rice, also served on a hot, cast iron pan, was also delicious. They also have a rewards program where the weight of your steak gets added to your card and you get one free 300 grams rib eye steak on your birthday! Their lunch special, 300 grams of shoulder cut with rice for $22 is definitely worth the price. This restaurant is a non-tipping restaurant. If you don’t want to smell like steak, they also offer mouthwash in the bathroom and a bottle of Febreze outside the restaurant. The service was fast and it’s not super expensive considering the quality of the steak. Go to my Instagram for video of my steak being cut and weighted.
Made Nice on 8 West 28th Street (Flatiron district) is the new, fast-casual restaurant by the same group as Eleven Madison Park (recently listed as the world’s best restaurant). During lunch the line can get very long but it moves fast. I’ve had their Salmon Roosti which was absolutely delicious. It didn’t look like a lot of food but I didn’t get hungry again until dinner time. There was a lot of salmon in the salad so I guess it kept me full. After just one meal at this restaurant, I can’t wait to eat at Eleven Madison Park (eventually….)
Ribalta on 48 East 12th Street (Union Square) is a great place for Neapolitan Pizza. Their DOC pizza as by far the best I’ve had in the city. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata. I also had baby octopus cooked in San Marzano tomato sauce, olives and capers. The octopus was tender and perfectly cooked. The tomato sauce was great to dip the bread in at the end. I would highly recommend the DOC pizza and the octopus. The restaurant is huge so I’m assuming the wait time probably isn’t too bad. I went as soon as they opened so I had no trouble getting a table.
Lady M is a small, cute little dessert place and they have a few branches throughout Manhattan. They have the BEST green tea mille crepe I’ve ever had. If you want to buy the whole cake, make sure and place your order early in the day because if you wait till last minute, all the green tea mille crepes will be gone. They also have amazingly good Earl Grey mille crepe. Each layer is soft and light. The cake doesn’t feel too dense or overly sweet. It’s light, fluffy and with just the right amount of sweetness. I never thought green tea and Earl Grey cakes can taste this good. It’s definitely worth stopping by.
Spot Dessert Bar has many locations and on weekends, almost every location will have a long line. Some desserts change based on seasons. Matcha Lava cake, one of their signature dessert, is delicious, very rich and available year round. I like desserts but I have a hard time finishing any of their desserts by myself. Chocolate forest cake was also amazing and the pistachio ice cream was heavenly. The Harvest (top photo) is really cool because it comes with black rose milk tea which you use to “water” the harvest before eating it. Kabocha cake was one of the best pumpkin cakes I’ve have. It was very different from what you get during Thanksgiving but I think this tastes much better. Of all the desserts I’ve tried, my least favorite has to be Milky Puff (bottom photo) but even that wasn’t so bad. This is my go-to dessert place.