I never pay attention to where I am when I visit New York City and her boroughs. Instead, I blindly follow the natives — mainly Maya — around from restaurant to bar to coffee shop to bar to restaurant. And the touristy things? They’re pretty low on the list of priorities. I’ve seen more of Buttermilk Channel than I have the Statue of Liberty.
In my most recent trip, we shared Maya (and her one bedroom apartment) with her mom and sister; she wasn’t as available as she’d been in the past. With the exception of a few meals, we would be navigating the city on our own, with heavy reliance on the map function of the iPhone. The result was mixed: more mess-ups on the subway and a chance to do something touristy. (Enjoy the shot above taken from the Staten Island Ferry.) Somehow, though, we managed to stay hydrated and well fed.
Here is a brief photo tour of our many food and beverage stops, organized not by day, but by area of the city. Because, essentially, my cell phone taught me geography.
Manhattan: East Village
I came for the housemade noodles, I stayed for the pork buns. IF Tip: Make sure this is the main culinary event of your day.
We’re Ippudo regulars at IF. See what we’ve written about it here.
Inspired by the beautiful book that adorns many a friend’s coffee table but too full to eat a proper meal, we stopped in for pretzel truffles and mango lassi ice cream. IF Tip: If tables are full, many varieties of rich truffles are available across the street at Milk Bar.
Manhattan: Union Square
Our first stop of the trip — we came directly from Newark — Num Pang’s sandwiches (grilled Khmer sausage and a pork belly banh mi) were a pleasant welcome to the city. IF Tip: Drop off your luggage before you squeeze into the minuscule upstairs eating area.
This place is one of Maya’s go-to’s. Read about it here.
Only two things can get Maya to get up early and be on time: persistance from her mother and the prize of a table at one of the tiniest dim sum places I’ve ever seen. IF Tip: No carts here, so order sparingly; otherwise all your food will arrive at the same time, causing a dim sum coma.
Brooklyn: Carroll Gardens
The Monday night special (three courses for $25) lured me back to Buttermilk for my third visit. The namesake chicken (and waffles) were both incredible and overwhelming in size. IF Tip: Find a way to stuff their perfect popovers in a pocket or purse for a later snack; it will allow room for the second or third piece of chicken.
Sample (This is where Maya and I typically go to work up an appetite before dinner.)
Char No. 4 (Try the fried pork nuggets.)
Ki Sushi (Learn why this is one of Maya’s perennial-favorite New York eats here.)
Brooklyn: Park Slope
One part carryout, one part bar and one part specialty delicatessen, this place (recommended by friend and booze-writer Joshua Bernstein) was pretty much heaven for Ben. IF Tip: If you order the cheese board, ask for extra pickled onions.
With love for both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, this bar (a mid-afternoon stop for us) had a thorough beer selection from all over, cask ales and a secret stash of San Francisco’s It’s-It ice cream sandwiches. (And plenty of coverage of the Summer Olympic Games.) IF Tip:Your choice of restroom indicates your coastal allegiance; choose wisely.
The chalkboard outside promises one thing: beer. This was enough to lure us in for an afternoon pint. The $20 credit card minimum paired with the friendly service convinced us to stay for another. IF Tip: Chat up the bartender; she might just be a recent transplant from Columbus.
Brooklyn: Coney Island
Styrofoam plates, fresh clams and plenty of beer on the boardwalk make Ruby’s an institution. IF Tip: Snagging a table outside requires serious seagull-like stalking skills.
Brooklyn: Brighton Beach
A short boardwalk strut from Coney Island, this Brighton Beach find was a Russian/Ukrainian respite from a summer rainstorm. And it was, it turns out, dumpling heaven. (We’ll write more on it soon.) IF Tip: Let the servers order for you.
Worried about us eating too much over two days? No worries. This was three.