My Pick of the Places to Eat and Drink in New York 2018

We recently had an epic holiday in New York during the summer season. We were undoubtedly spoilt for choice in terms of places to eat and drink. Even after 10 days of meandering our way through the city, we felt that we had barely scratched the surface. Below are some of the top places we hit. For ease of reference, I have organised this blog post under different headings – Cafés, Restaurants, Bars and Something Special.

CAFÉS

Champion Coffee

You will see several branches of this coffee chain dotted around Brooklyn and Manhattan. They do delicious coffee against some banging beats in the background and feature good strong WiFi which is a blessing for avid Instagrammers like me. In certain branches, we found the service a bit brusque; service could be better in terms of engagement. Nevertheless, if you want to grab a bite on the cheap they do a decent Smashed Avocado and Egg Sandwich for under $5 each.

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Location : Various

Sweetleaf Coffee Roasters

Kris loved their coffee and I fell in love with their picture-perfect interiors. There are lots of reclaimed furniture, distressed surfaces and antique pieces to surround yourself with. Their coffee was good too; nicely extracted, although Kris thought Champion beat it by a nose.

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Location : Various

Caffe Vita

They are an independent coffee shop with branches in Seattle, Los Angeles and Portland. The only one in Manhattan is located quite close to foodie hotspots like Katz’s Deli and Russ & Daughters, so you don’t have a massive schlep to find it. It is a small and narrow joint with minimal seating, interiors done in black and orange and chill-out vibes.

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Location: 576 Johnson Ave , Brooklyn, NY 11237 

El Rey

We found them through the Best Coffee app. Kris ordered the Cold Brew, which went down really well. They don’t have any WiFi though, so not a place for working away on your laptop or checking social media on your phone; rather, they encourage coffee and conversations. They have a small and well-curated food menu as well.

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Location : 100 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

BARS

Brooklyn Lantern

This is attached to The Box House Hotel where we stayed. Whilst hotel bars normally don’t rank high on my list, this one impressed with its colourful stained glass interiors, great service and good collection of domestic craft beers. This was something unexpected from most hotel bars I have stayed in and hence it gets a big thumbs up from me. If you are in Brooklyn, do check it out.

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Location : 77 Box Street, Brooklyn NY 11222 

Leave Rochelle Out Of It

If you are a whiskey lover, this is the place for you. This is a quirky and popular boozer with an encyclopaedic collection of whiskies. Whilst downing your liquor, keep an eye out for their wordy posters full of edgy and cheeky mirth.

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Location: 205 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002

The Garden

Sounds cliched, but it truly is a green urban oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle. Part of the boutique design hotel The Standard in East Village, it is a beautifully serene place to grab some drinks under the canopy of trees and twinkling fairy lights.

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Location : 25 Cooper Square, Bowery at East 5th Street, New York, NY 10003

The Bar at Cipriani Dolci

Whilst its location might scream tourist trap, actually it was a quite a pleasant and elegant bar to grab a glass of fizz and soak in the vibes and views of the magnificent Grand Central Terminal. The food on neighbouring tables looked gorgeous too. Go just before the busy lunch time service and ask nicely for a table on the balcony and watch the crowds rush past below. It’s fascinating!

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Location : Grand Central Terminal

Rock Center Café

Part of the landmark Rockefeller Center, this is a hybrid of a bar and a café that is popular with the tourists, minus the traps. Get there for 5 pm before the office crowd descends, grab one of the loungers in front of the fountain and enjoy the happy hour till 7 pm, where you can nab an enticing Margarita for half price. If you feel peckish, you can order one of their epic looking desserts. The service was one of the best we experienced for downtown Manhattan.

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Location : 20 West 50th Street, Concourse Level

Dead Rabbit NYC

Featured in the top five of Time Out’s World’s 50 Best Bars in 2017, this iconic watering hole is inspired from a traditional Irish pub. The vibes are part tavern/part cocktail bar and popular for post-work tipples. The staff are lovely and chatty and the cocktails inspired.

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Location : 30 Water Street, New York, NY 10004

The Penrose

A popular restaurant and bar on Upper East Side, it serves many different local craft beers and other superlative tipples. There is a more formal dining area at the back and the food looked like delicious comfort grub.

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Location : 1590 Second Ave, New York, NY 

Coyote Ugly Saloon

If you, like me, are a fan of the movie, then stop by the original pub where you can feel the vibes over a beer and a shot or two. The interiors are colourful and kitsch with bras hanging all around. We stumbled upon it during the day but really the best time to visit is Fridays and Saturday nights for the full Coyote Ugly experience!

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Location : 153 First Avenue, New York, NY 10003

Grand Central Oyster Bar NYC

Under the main concourse at Grand Central Station is this underground bar and restaurant, serving fresh fish and seafood. Full of under-arch aesthetics, this is a great place for eating freshly shucked oysters and quaffing delicious wines and fizz.

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Location : 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

Attaboy

Arrive early or prepare to queue for a couple of hours at this sought-after bar. In true speakeasy style, it looks nothing like a bar from the outside, except for a mysterious worn-out grey steel door and the apartment number. Inside it is cozy and mostly dark, the only light coming from the warm glow of the flickering candles. A long bar occupies the majority of the space and there are some booths at the back, but mostly its standing room only. They only take a limited number of guests in at a time. There is no drinks menu and the skilled mixologists will conjure up cocktails based on your preferences. Totally our kind of place!

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Location : 134 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002

Amor Y Amargo

Translated to Love and Bitters, we explored this bar was whilst waiting to get inside Death and Co. (see below), as it is literally a few doors down. This place serves the crowd-pleasing bitters in the form of Old Fashioneds, Negronis and Manhattans and was practically Disneyland for Kris.

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Location : 443 East 6th Street, NYC 10009

Death and Company

We spent our last evening in this stylish cocktail bar. You have to put your name down at the front and the wait will be a couple of hours. Inside, it is spacious with booth-style seating so best for groups. They have a captivating menu of complex cocktails. Staff are pretty clued up. They also do a bit of food but really you are here for the cocktails.

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Location : 433 East 6th Street, NYC 10009

The Four Horsemen 

Our last pit stop for a drink before driving to the airport was this charming little wine bar. A great spot to perch with your special someone and quaff down some quality wine. The food menu looked great too and they take reservations!

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Location : 295 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211

RESTAURANTS

Ria Bella

A casual and friendly neighbourhood eatery in Brooklyn. The pizzas here are thin-crusted and delicious. You can take away a slice or two or dine in to enjoy their warm and friendly service.

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Location : 1049 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Eataly

No first visit to NYC is complete without a trip to Eataly Flatiron. It is predominantly a high-end store, selling all sorts of Italian goods (think an Italian version of John Lewis). They also have a number of sit-down places to eat and drink if you want to take a break from all that shopping and browsing. Il Pastaio Di Eataly is a great option for some fresh pasta and counter-friendly service, although expect to queue if you arrive between 8-9 pm. Thankfully, you can put your name down and head to the Rooftop Garden Bar for some aperitifs.

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Location : 200 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010

Russ and Daughters Café

A sit-down version of the original iconic smoked fish mecca, queuing for a table here comes with the territory. We tucked into seeded bagels, smoked salmon and stuffed omelettes. This is a popular place for brunch or lunch, especially if you are a fish and seafood lover.

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Location : 27 Orchard Street, NYC

George’s 

Hidden amongst the towering buildings of the Financial District of Manhattan and close to the World Trade Centre is this cosy little diner/cafe. It has been in operation since 1950 and had to be rebuilt after the 9/11 attacks. There are about 100 items on the menu, the interiors are old school and the staff are sweet. We tried some of the American classics such as the Rueben Sandwich and Philly Cheese Steak.

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Location : 89 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10006

Juniors

Here is a massive cost-saving tip for you: Go to Juniors with an empty stomach first thing in the morning and you don’t have to eat for the rest of the day. Everything is massive here – from the portions to the interiors to the hearts of the people serving us. We preferred the French toast over the griddled cakes (pancakes). Even more epic was their cheesecake, which was simply the best cheesecake I have had in my life.

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Location : various

Momofuku Noodle Bar

This is one of those bucket list places for a foodie visiting New York City. By now, we had mastered the art of avoiding queues in NYC so we arrived five minutes before opening and got seated pretty much straightway. All the food is exceptional here but the standouts for us were the Smoked Chicken Wings (lovely umami flavours), Beef Noodle Soup (soul nourishing) and the Shrimp Buns (bursting with seafood). Now that I have tried the first branch, I can’t wait to try the rest.

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Location : 171 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003

St. Anselm

Our dearest friend Sarah recommended this steakhouse in trendy Williamsburg. I am glad we saved the best for the last. On a Friday and Saturday night, you will be hard pressed to find a spot but go for lunch on a Sunday and you can have a much more relaxed affair. Everything we ordered was stellar (from steaks to sides), with strong support coming from the wines.

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Location : 355 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211

SOMETHING SPECIAL

Katz

Katz’s Deli is a New York institution and should be on everyone’s list of top things to do in New York. We had heard about the intimidating service, but our experience was quite the opposite. The legendary sandwiches sound pricey but actually they are big enough to share between two. The thick cut Pastrami and Rye is a must order; so are the Latkes and Matzo Ball soup. The hype is real.

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Location : 205 East Houston Street, New York City, 10002

Smorgasburg

I will be eternally grateful to Kris for introducing me to Smorgasburg. I am notorious for not repeating places but was happy to break my own rules for this one. We were here for the first and last day of our trip. A street food market that takes place every weekend, we gorged on Lobster Nest from Lobsterdamus, Whole Squid from Yakisoba NYC and Ramen Burgers from Ramen Shack NYC. If you are in New York, make a point to visit here. You can thank me later.

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Location : East River State Park , 90 Kent Ave. (at N. 7 St.) Brooklyn

So those are my top picks for eating and drinking in New York City. We feel lucky to have managed to tick off so many in the time we had.

Have you been to New York recently? What are your favourite restaurants and bars there? Drop me a comment below so I can mark it for my next visit.

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