…..I would not describe myself as a city girl, but ever since my friend Dan started school at New York University, I have looked forward to my weekend visits with him each year where we can pretend, if only for a few days, that we are New York foodies. Dan and I are planners, so the restaurants we want to hit are set before I even step off my glamorous Peter Pan Bus in Port Authority. This city is one of the country’s top food destinations with so many hidden gems and trendy spots, it’s hard to decide where to go. These are my absolute favorites and must-haves for a weekend in the Big Apple.
…..No matter how you get to the city, coming in on a Friday will leave you feeling tired and annoyed with traffic when you finally make it. This is why an immediate snack is important to start off your weekend right.
Snack: Pommes Frites, 128 Macdougal St, New York, NY
The small french fry shop of our dreams. Their double-cooked, hand-cut fries have just the right amount of fluffy potato in them to warm your soul after you realize you just went broke buying half of the over 20 sauces they offer. Dan and I have been in a committed relationship with the black truffle sauce for as long as I can remember, but some of our other favorites are the roasted garlic aioli, parmesan peppercorn, dill lemon and Irish curry. You cannot go wrong with whichever sauce you choose.
Dinner: Ngam, 99 3rd Ave, New York, NY
Residing in one of our favorite foodie neighborhoods, the East Village, Ngam is one of the city’s Thai staples. Their cozy restaurant featuring an open kitchen allows customers to see the love and passion that go into all of their innovative dishes. Chef Hong Thaimee believes in using only fresh, local ingredients for her food to make sure each plate is full of the flavor Thai cuisine is known for. Her Authentic Old School Pad Thai, Spicy Drunken Noodle, Green Curry Fried Rice, “Hung Lay” Braised Pork Belly and Pork Shoulder and Cutie Duckling are some of the dishes we look forward to most every time we get to go back to Ngam.
Late Night: Mamoun’s Falafel, multiple locations
Hole-in-the-wall. Authentic. Cheap. These are the words everyone wants to hear when thinking about their perfect late night food. Open from 11 a.m.- 5 a.m., Mamoun’s Falafel will be there for you when you need it the most. Come here for their homemade falafel, shawarma or kebabs. You will not be disapointed. The tahineh sauce adds the perfect lightness to their pita sandwiches that make them unforgettable and one of our favorite late night treats.
Breakfast: Dominique Ansel Bakery, 189 Spring St, New York, NY
The Cronut may have brought this innovative French bakery into the spotlight, but it is not all it has to offer. While I am going to strongly recommend getting here right when it opens at 8 a.m., so you can taste the delectable treat (that changes flavors every month), you would be missing out if you did not try some of Ansel’s many other creations. By far, his most underrated pastry is the DKA or Dominque Kouign Aman. A Kouign Aman is made by taking buttery croissant dough, condensing it to look sort of like a muffin, rolling it in sugar then baking it until it has a caramelized crust on the outside. It is like a dessert croissant, richer and sweeter than the original. Perhaps more fun than the Cronut, Ansel’s frozen s’more is a refreshing summer treat and comes with a show. On the outside, it may look like a regular honey marshmallow they torch right in front of you, but this one is filled with vanilla ice cream that is coated in a chocolate cookie wafer called feulletine. Whatever you get at DA Bakery you cannot go wrong, but be sure to try Ansel’s not over-hyped hybrid treat before you leave.
Lunch: DEZ, 227 Mulberry St, New York, NY
If you are a fan of fast-casual restaurants By Chloe or The Sosta, it’s time to get on the DEZ bandwagon. All three trendy and Insta-worthy spots are co-founded by restaurant maven Samantha Wasser who knows how to create a hit. For DEZ, Wasser teamed up with, one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Eden Grinshpan to create this recently opened, Middle Eastern success. Of Israeli descent, Grinshpan excels in Middle Eastern food. She spent months tirelessly testing out different creations for her first restaurant and it shows. Her shawarma burger is a flavor bomb that will have you coming back for more at least once a week. The jeweled rice bowl with baharat grilled chicken, pistachio, herbs and mint lemon yogurt is the perfect meal for your usually bland lunch break and her variety of mezes will have you craving vegetables more than ever before, especially the roasted cauliflower with currant chimichurri. Don’t forget their tasty soft serve for dessert!
Dinner: Lilia, 567 Union Ave, Brooklyn, NY
This restaurant, set in a redone auto-body shop in Williamsburg, will be your splurge restaurant for the weekend. Both on your wallet and your waistline, but don’t hold back because if you manage to get a reservation here, you should try everything while you can. Led by James Beard award-winning chef Missy Robbins, Lilia makes your elevated, upscale pasta dreams come true. This is what Italian should be. Every dish is delicate and precise. Robbins’ passion and attention to detail shine through no matter what plate hits the table next. Dan and I like to fill up on pasta, so we start with the Italian broccoli and cauliflower dishes to get our veggies in. For pasta, our must-haves are the malfadini with pink peppercorns and parmigiano, the spaghetti with lemon, pine nuts and parmigiano and the sheeps milk cheese filled agnolotti with saffron, dried tomato and honey. If you aren’t full after trying these, order the grilled lamb leg steak with roman spices, fennel and celery for a night you will never forget.
Late Night: Joe’s Pizza, multiple locations
If you have never heard of Joe’s Pizza, it is time to crawl out of the rock you’ve been living under and visit this beloved New York slice joint. Open until 4 a.m. and packed at every hour, you will always feel at home when you visit. The pizza is simple, but the flavor is not. These slices are some of the tastiest with robust red sauce and an abundance of cheese. Visiting Joe’s is the perfect way to start or end your nights in the city, and you may even spot a celebrity!
Sunday is always a bittersweet day for me because I am leaving Dan and a city filled with delicious food and fun activities, but I also get to go home and relax from my busy weekend. My favorite thing to do on my last day is getting a big brunch to fill me up for the ride home, and egg shop is the perfect place.
Brunch: Egg Shop, multiple locations
Calling all egg fanatics this is the restaurant of your dreams. Run by three egg lovers, each dish features eggs in an exciting way with flavor combinations that will blow your mind. The egg shop B.E.C. with Vermont white cheddar, black forest bacon, tomato jam and fresh pickled jalapeno is sweet and salty in the most amazing way hitting every taste bud. All of their ingredients are local and handmade making their food even more delicious. Some of our other favorites are the BLT benedict, avo & egg and el camino cruiser with a poached egg, avocado, pulled pork carnitas, black bean salsa, red cabbage, fried tortilla and cilantro. If you end up loving this egg-cellent shop as much us, be sure to pick up their cookbook!
Enjoy your NYC Weekend!