Since our anniversary falls within Thanksgiving week, we’ve made it a tradition to take time off to feed our wanderlust – and our stomachs. This year, we opted for staying stateside to explore New York City in new (to us) ways. While I’ve spent countless time in the city, my husband has not, and there’s a lot left to experience together. So, on Thanksgiving morning, we landed in LGA ready to enjoy classic New York City dining and dive into the most delectable dishes we could find.
What we experienced was a blend of both old and new restaurants, accessible and fine-dining options, and traditional and more eclectic menus, all of which left us craving more of the city. Where else can you stay up past your bedtime and enjoy a street-side snack under a canopy of neon lights? Or eat Chinese, Italian, Cuban and Turkish cuisine within the same block? Or enjoy a cocktail 60 stories above Manhattan?
Here are the highlights of our most recent dining experience – served up in a New York minute:
This well-known New York City dining staple has been serving up traditional dim sum since the early 1920s from its Doyers Street location in the heart of Chinatown. We were the first in line on that cold Thanksgiving morning to taste an array of hot, steamed delicacies, including the usual suspects like Shanghainese soup dumplings and siu-mai. There were some unexpected treats like chicken feet (a first for me – and yes, I loved it). Hands down, our favorites were the roast pork buns – the house special and an absolute must! Get yourself a warm pot of Longjing (Dragon Well) tea, and you’ll be set to kick off your day.
As if the views from this venue – perched 60 stories above Lower Manhattan – weren’t dreamy enough, the service was the very best (note: it’s a non-tipping restaurant). The down-to-earth, yet stunning ambiance enveloped our prix-fixe Thanksgiving dining experience. I ate the best beet salad of my life, wagyu & lobster tail, a side of the creamiest sweet potato casserole and a carrot crumble cheesecake that left me soaring. I could just as well blame the views or the exquisite wine pairing, but the whole night was the NYC of my dreams.
Most definitely not meant to be enjoyed, much less written about, in a New York minute. No words could sum up this nearly ethereal Michelin-starred dining experience (my very first!). Orchestrated by the incredible Chef Shigeyuki Tsunoda, this 2.5-hour reimagining of a traditional omakase dinner left me speechless. Amid 20+ freshly prepared courses (served at an eight-seat bar), engaging conversation and imaginative cocktails and Japanese whiskey flight, it’d be nearly impossible to pick a highlight –though after tasting three grades of maguro (tuna) and ankimo (monkish liver), sashimi will never be the same again.
While not my first visit to this little gem of a speakeasy in Chelsea, it was a nonnegotiable must for my gin-loving husband. Thankful to have scored a reservation, we made our way through the hidden entrance and into the dimly lit, 1920s-throwback bar, to our little table in the corner. Delicious handcrafted cocktails (the Garden Swizzle and the Golden, both musts) and an impressive table-side presentation of Nolet’s Gold Reserve were the perfect precursor to dinner.
You’ve likely seen this Spanish tapas bar all over the city (and in D.C.), but don’t let its visibility take away from its authenticity. For a comfortable, lively, delicious and well priced “kiosko” experience, look no further. We visited the West 40th Street location ahead of our date with The Rockettes at Radio CIty Music Hall. Just like its SoHo and Flatiron locations, it did not disappoint. My favorite nibbles? Pulpo a la plancha (always), boquerones and croquetas – with the mushroom ones being the most unexpected delight. And when our Venezuelan-born waiter confirmed that the churros were filled with San Ignacio dulce de leche (one or Argentina’s best brands), this Argentine just had to taste-test them. The verdict? Perfectos!
My husband loves Jewish delis. Give him lox and pickles and bagels, and he’s a happy man. Add in some caviar, and he’s bliss personified. So, I knew I needed to introduce him to Russ. If you haven’t been, know this: everything is good, everything is fresh, and everything about the experience makes you feel like you’ve been going there since 1914. We dined in at the Cafe on Orchard Street. For a special treat and unmatchable experience, be sure to also stop by the original Shop (on E. Houston). L’Chaim!
Yes, we ate a lot over the course of four days, but mostly, we filled up on truly distinct dining experiences that showcase what makes New York special. Anyone who has experienced the city through their stomachs knows all too well that it serves creativity, diversity, taste, playfulness, elegance, authenticity, and liveliness. It’s well worth the indulgence. Skip out on a cab – the 30+ miles you’ll log during your visit will help balance it out… right? Here’s hoping! ‘Till next time, NYC.