Exploring New York’s Food Scene

I made a spontaneous trip back to New York last week, after I scored a ticket to Beth Hart’s show at the Iridium.  It was taped for Front and Center which will air on PBS sometime soon.  I was excited to explore more of New York’s food scene, because it is an ever changing landscape of culinary excitement.  This unexpected 4-day stay brought me to some great Asian restaurants, a Australian coffee spot and a couple of dreamy dessert meccas.  Take out your Metro Card and hop the rails to the following tasty locations!


East Village


Recently, the East Village added Hanoi House, a Vietnamese joint, to its neighborhood.  After reading some great buzz about this place, I made it my very first stop last Sunday evening.  I am happy to report this place lives up to the hype.  I rolled in at the top of dinner service at this tiny spot and I was greeted by the lovely owners.  Since it was freezing that night I dove into a warm and colorful bowl of  root vegetable curry  which really hit all of the earthy spots on my taste buds.  



New York's food scene Hanoi House

Root veggie curry at Hanoi House in NYC



I also ordered some crispy crab and pork rolls which were accompanied by an array of fresh herbs.



New York's food scene Hanoi House

Crab and pork rolls at Hanoi House in NYC


I washed it all down with a beautiful glass of Cava Brut rosé.  Put this place on your New York food scene list pronto!  (119 St. Marks Place, 5 blocks south and 1/2 block east of the 1st Avenue stop on the L train.)



There is no bad time to have gelato.  Yeah, it was freezing in New York last Sunday but the call of Laboratorio del Gelato’s creamy goodness is hard to resist.   This spot has over 300 flavors in rotation, so everyone can find a scoop or three to satisfy their craving.  The good folks here scour the farmers’ markets and spice purveyors to bring us really unique gelato concoctions.  I loved their tarragon pink peppercorn, toasted almond and dark chocolate flavors.  Your mind will boggle has you try to choose your flavors.  Get the scoops here!



New York's food scene Laboratorio el Gelato

Best gelato in NYC is at Laboratorio in NYC – East Village



Laboratorio del Gelato is located right next door to Katz’s Deli, so loosen your belt and save your appetite!  – (188 Ludlow St.1 1/2 blocks east of the 2nd Avenue stop on the F train.)



Greenwich Village


Whether you are looking to get properly caffeinated or chow down on a delicious and healthy breakfast, head to Bluestone Lane Collective Cafe in Greenwich Village.  This import from Australia is serving up the most perfect coffee, especially their flat white.  It just might ruin you for every other version of this coffee concoction.


Bluestone Lane’s avocado toast is gorgeous and hearty but so is their gluten-free banana bread with berries, pecans and cream.  – (55 West Greenwich Ave, 3 blocks south of the 14th St. station on the 1, 2, 3 trains.)



New York's food scene Bluestone Lane

Australian Bluestone Lane Collective Cafe in Greenwich Village



New York's food scene Bluestone Lane

Awesome flat white at Bluestone Lane in NYC




Dominique Ansel Kitchen is a must-do on New York’s food scene because it is the home of the cronut.  But, if that door stopper of a pastry is not your jam, get the uber-light matcha beignets.  They are a culinary masterpiece!  I will back for the dreamy almond croissants!



New York's food scene Dominique Ansel

Matcha beignets at Dominique Ansel Kitchen


(137 Seventh Avenue, 5 blocks south of the 14 St. stop on the 1, 2, 3 trains.)



Upper East Side


If you are craving a slice on New York’s food scene and you cannot get down to Joe’s on 
Carmine St., head to Delizia on 1st Avenue.  Their entrees are cool but the slices here are worth having.  I grabbed the regular and basil slices.



New York's food scene Delizia pizza

Delizia pizza on New Yorks’s food scene


(1374 E. 73rd St., 1 block east and 1 block north of the 72nd St. stop on the Q train.)


I miss the great Chinese food that New York’s food scene has over Chicago (and everywhere else).  If you find yourself on Manhattan’s upper east side, make a stop at Cafe Evergreen for some great BBQ ribs and more.  Even the crunchy noodles and homemade duck sauce here make me nostalgic for New York.  Damn!



New York's food scene Cafe Evergreeb

The BEST riibs from Cafe Evergreen



New York's food scene Cafe Evergreen noodles


(1367 1st Avenue, one block east and 2 blocks north of the 72nd St. stop on the Q train.)



Upper West Side


What a complete surprise Legend 72 is!  This Chinese food is a breadth of fresh air on New York’s food scene.  It’s not a pretty spot but the food totally rocks!  There are 1/2 price drinks at Happy Hour from 5-8 pm.  You must have the cumin fried fish, shrimp dumplings and sauteed snow pea leaves.  This is the best Chinese food I have had outside of the Chinatown!


(127 W. 72nd. St.,1 block east of the 72nd St. stop on the 1,2,3 trains.)

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the local trains and buses to explore New York’s food scene. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, parking and road rage.  Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!

9 Great NYC pizza, burgers + more you need to try

I spent 2 weeks home in New York City visiting some great old haunts, as well as some new ones.  In case you missed my post from a couple of weeks ago, check out the yummy details here.   Then, go visit these 9 great NYC pizza, burgers and other spots around town.



Joe’s Pizza – NYC Pizza


New Yorkers can spend all day debating which are the best slices in town but you came to me today and I crown Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village the best NYC pizza.  This tiny spot on Carmine St. has the perfect thin, crunchy crust, well-balanced sauce and enough good olive oil and oregano to prove me right.  $2.75 a slice will make you feel like a true New Yorker eating at a 42-year old institution.  – 7 Carmine St., (Take the A,B,C,D,E,F,M trains to West 4th St.)



NYC pizza burgers Joe's Pizza in Greenwich Village

Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village has the best NYC pizza!



J.G. Melon – NYC Burgers


It doesn’t matter how many new burger joints open in NYC because they have an uphill climb to match the perfection that J.G. Melon has been serving since 1972.  The menu is small but the cheeseburger with pickles and a side of waffle fries is what you want here.  The Blood Mary is phenomenal!.



NYC pizza burgers J.G. Melon

J.G. Melon has the best NYC burger!


PRO TIP:  J.G. Melon is CASH ONLY!!!

1291 3rd Avenue (Take the Q train to 72nd St.  or the 6 train to 68th St. – Hunter College)



Porto Rico Importing Co.


When you cannot make up your mind about coffee while exploring NYC, head down to Greenwich Village to Porto Rico Importing Co, my version of “coffee heaven.”  Grab a cup or two of their featured international coffee roasts to sip on while you sniff through the huge bags of beans from all around the world.  You will want to buy some beans to take home.  I’ve been coming here for decades and this place is hard to resist. – 201 Bleecker St. (Take the A,B,C,D,E,F,M trains to West 4th St.)




NYC pizza burgers Port Rico Coffee




Leuca @ William Vale Hotel


This hot hotel restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is sexy and delicious.  My friend, Denyse, and I stopped by on Presidents Day for brunch and we were knocked out by the truly decadent menu.  We loved the French toast with rum-soaked raisins, guanciale and cream, as well as the Sicilian baked eggs over garlic toast.  Make sure you check walk off your meal along Bedford Avenue and check out all the other great eats and shopping in this up and coming neighborhood. – 111 N. 12th St. (Take the ‘L’ train to Bedford Ave.)



NYC pizza burgers Leuca William Vale Hotel

Rum-soaked raisin and guanciale French toast at Leuca



NYC pizza burgers Lueca in Brooklyn



NYC pizza burgers Leuca in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Sicilian baked eggs are a must-do at Leuca!



Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar @ Chelsea Market


Nothing makes me homesick for NYC like shellfish plucked fresh from local East coast waters.  Cull & Pistol has you covered with lobster, oysters, crab and more.   I highly recommend their Connecticut lobster roll which comes with a mound of perfectly crispy, hot fries.  Also, if you stop by Cull & Pistol during Happy Hour on weekdays, you will stay for $1 oysters and other discounted crustaceans, sliders and half-priced cocktails. – Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave. (Take the A,C,E,L trains to 14th St.)



NYC pizza burgers Cull & Pistol

The lobster roll at Cull & Pistol at Chelsea Market




Little Pie Company


This pie shop in Times Square has been baking delectable pies and cakes since 1985.  It is west of 9th Avenue so many locals and visitors miss it.  Trust me, you do not want to overlook this hidden gem.  Everything here is great but my favorites are the signature sour cream-apple pie and the exquisite carrot cake. – 424 W. 43rd St. (Take the A,C,E trains to 42nd St.-Port Authority).




NYC pizza burgers Little Pie Company in NYC



NYC pizza burgers Little Pie Company Times Square

Signature sour cream-apple pie at Little Pie Company in NYC



BXL Cafe


Whether you are catching a show in the Theatre District or just exploring Times Square, you should drop by BXL Cafe for some delicious Belgian pub fare.  The selection of mussels are great here and so are the entrees. The cocktails are on point, too! -125 W. 43rd St. (Take the 1,2,3,B,D,F,M trains to 42 St.)  





If you are craving some of the best NYC tacos, head to this upper east side spot.  The menu is huge but I recommend the fish tacos which you can get fried your grilled.  The grilled version totally rocks hard!  Don’t forget to order some fabulous guacamole and chips, as well as their “Sex in a Mexican Prison” cocktail.  The staff here is super nice and attentive. – 1735 2nd Ave. (Take the Q train to 86th or 96th St.)



NYC pizza burgers grilled fish tacos at Mole

Grilled fish tacos at Mole on the upper east side in New York



NYC pizza burgers Mole upper east side



Café Loup


French restaurants in NYC are plentiful but Café Loup near Union Square is a great, veteran French bistro.  I really love their French onion soup and salmon appetizer with toast points, cream cheese and capers.  – 105 W. 13th St. (Take the 1,2,3,4,5,6,L,N,Q,R,W trains to 14th St.)



NYC pizza burgers Cafe Loup in New York

French onion soup at Cafe Loup in NYC



NYC pizza burgers Cafe Loup in NYC

Smoked salmon appetizer at Cafe Loup


Pro Tip:  Café Loup has live music during weekend brunch

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the local trains and buses to these 9 great NYC pizza, burgers and more. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, parking and road rage.  Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!




Outstanding New York Eats You Don’t Want To Miss

There is no place like home, folks!  I get back to New York once or twice a year which is not nearly enough.  However, for the last 11 years, my life has been in Chicago (another fabulous city) and time marches on at a rather fast pace.  I am in NYC for 2 weeks (yay!) and I have wasted no time trolling the streets for the very best of New York eats.  Below are a few of the spots (by neighborhood) which you don’t want to miss whether you are a resident or a visitor to my hometown:


Upper East Side – New York Eats


Caffe Noi is a cozy little spot that will meet your coffee and free WiFi needs.  I love it because it is not overrun with people.  The baristas know what they are doing here and you will be surrounded with local, creative types who are writing screenplays and such.



New York Eats coffeehouses

Caffe Noi on the Upper east side in N.Y. is a great, little spot to get caffeinated!



New York Eats coffee shops Caffe Noi

Americano with steamed almond milk


Caffe Noi is located at 1465 2nd Ave.  – 4 blocks north of the 72nd St. stop on the Q train;  2 blocks east and 2 blocks south of the 77th/Lex stop on the 4, 6 trains.



Sable’s is a New York staple for great bagels, bialy’s and smoked fish from lox, to salmon to whitefish to caviar.  I stopped in for my ritual smoked tuna salad on everything bagel and a pickle. PERFECTION!



Sable's in New York City

Don’t forget a bagel or a bialy!



New York Eats Sable's deli upper east side

You want the good bagels and smoked fish when in NYC.


Sable’s is located at 1489 2nd Ave. – 5 blocks north of the 72nd St. stop on the Q train; 2 blocks east of the 77th/Lexington stop on the 4,6 trains.



The Sweet Shoppe is owned by a husband and wife team who will take you on trip down memory lane with their retro selection of hard-to-find candies and chocolates.  I found the “Ice Cubes” chocolates from my youth that my Bensonhurst nana used to keep in the fridge for me! They have great ice cream and gelato from a local vendor, so stop in for a cone or a milkshake.  This place is the size of a postage stamp but it’s so easy to get lost once you’re inside.  



New York Eats The Sweet Shoppe

The Sweet Shoppe is a great spot to find nostalgic candy.



New York Eats The Sweet Shoppe

The Sweet Shoppe in New York City



New York Eats The Sweet Shoppe

Valentines candy at The Sweet Shoppe



The Sweet Shoppe is located at 404 E. 73rd St. – 1 block east and 1 block north of the 72nd St. stop on the Q train.



Jones Wood Foundry offers a transportive experience on the Upper East Side at this British-inspired pub.  They serve great pints and some tasty food, including the rotating selection of pot pies, like this chicken and kale version.



New York Eats Jones Wood Foundry

Jones Wood Foundry on New York’s Upper east side is a cozy British pub.


Jones Wood Foundry is located at 401 E. 76th St. – 1 block east and 4 blocks north of the 72nd St. stop on the Q train.



Mo Il Gelato is a teeny, tiny hole in the wall with big flavors in the form of gelato.  You want to stop in here whether you are having a good day or a bad day because the lovely Italian owner has the flavors you need to celebrate or cure whatever is ailing you.  I love the Nocciolo (hazlenut-chocolate) and the pistachio gelati.  Not into gelato?  No worries, they also have hot soup!



New York Eats Mo il Gelato

The pistachio and Nocciolo gelati at Mo il Gelato are yummy!



Mo il Gelato is located at 956 Lexington Ave. – 1 1/2 blocks north of the 68th St.-Hunter College stop on the 6 train.



Harlem – New York Eats


Red Rooster has been on my list of restaurants to visit for some time.  Chef Marcus Samuelsson who is half Ethiopian and half Swedish is the owner and his ethnic influences are evident in the Southern comfort food dishes served at this sexy, Harlem spot.  I loved my dinner so much that I am planning my return for lunch or weekend brunch before I head back to Chicago.



New York Eats Red Rooster in Harlem, New York

Red Rooster in Harlem, NYC serves Southern comfort foods with Swedish and Ethiopian influences.


I recommend that you make a reservation and bring some friends because you will not be satisfied sampling only one dish.  Chef Samuelsson’s Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, pickles and perfectly roasted potatoes are a must-do!




New York Eats Red Rooster in Harlem

The signature Swedish meatballs wit lingonberries, crispy roast potatoes and pickles from Chef Marcus Samuelsson at Red Rooster in Harlem. It’s a must-do!



I usually pass on mac ‘n cheese these days because it tends to be too heavy, drowning in cheese and way too underwhelming.  Red Rooster blazes a trail with it’s own take on the classic by reinventing it as Mac ‘n Greens.  This version has less cheese, large rigatoni and savory greens. I thought I detected some harissa in the mix which would explain the spicy and smoky element I loved so much.  Just do it!



New York Eats Red Rooster's mac 'n cheese

The smoky Mac ‘n Greens at Red Rooster in New York


If you love jerk spice, you need to try the “Low Country Cat” which is Red Rooster’s jerk catfish with a wonderful red tomato rice and lima beans.  So heavenly!



New York Eats Red Rooster's catfish

“Low Country Cat” is a lovely jerk catfish dish with red tomato rice with lima beans at Red Rooster



Red Rooster is located at 310 Lenox Avenue – Outside of the of the 125th St. stop on the 6 train.



Lower East Side – New York Eats


Russ & Daughters Cafe was the long overdue addition to the landmark Russ & Daughters appetizing delicatessen around the corner.  This is where you want to come to get your lox, whitefish, sable and matzo ball soup.  The sweet side of the menu has you covered with decadent treats like babka French toast and honey cake.  I could go on but you should just plan a visit.



New York Eats Russ & Daughters Cafe

Russ & Daughters finally has a dine-in cafe around the corner from the historic deli.



The pastrami-cured salmon with Muenster cheese, sauerkraut and mustard on an everything bagel is a thing of beauty.  Wash it all down with an egg cream!




New York Eats Russ & Daughters lox

Pastrami-cured salmon with muenster cheese, sauerkraut and mustard on an everything bagel.



Russ & Daughters Cafe is located at 127 Orchard St. – 2 blocks west and 1/2 block north of the Delancy St. stop on the F train.



Rose and Basil is, quite possibly, the cutest and most original bakery in New York.  The owner is creating cakes, chocolates and coffee drinks infused with rose oil extract from roses imported from her Romanian mom’s garden!  The sweets are organic, often vegan and gluten-free.  She is serving La Colombe coffee and espresso which are my favorite coffee roasts.



New York Eats Rose and Basil lower east side

Rose and Basil is the cutest bakery in NYC!



New York Eats Rose and Basil bakery

Rose and Basil makes coffee drink, chocolates and cakes infused with rose petals from Romania!



New York Eats Rose and Basil chocolates

Chocolate-hazelnut on the left and lavender-chocolate on the right.



New York Eats Rose and Basil bakery

Rose and Basil in the East Village in NYC is like a little storybook spot!




New York Eats Rose and Basil bakery

Gluten free and vegan cakes are available at Rose and Basil in New York.




New York Eats Rose and Basil bakery

Organic, gluten-free and some vegan chocolates at Rose and Basil


Rose and Basil is located at 104 E. 7th St. – 7 blocks north and 1 /12 blocks east of the 2nd Avenue stop on the F train.



Veniero’s cafe and bakery has been a New York institution since 1894 for good reason.  You want to come here when you need a cannoli, tiramisu, Napolean, eclair, cheesecake and much more.  It’s a large place so get comfy, unbutton your pants and don’t feel guilty.  Veniero’s is a rite of passage for New Yorkers and wannabes.



New York Eats Veniero lower east side

Veniero on the Lower East Side, NYC




New York Eats Veniero's cannoli

Cannoli and other pastries at Veniero’s is a must-do for dessert in NYC!




New York Eats Veniero's bakery

Veniero’s is 103 years old and a New York institution!



Veneiro’s is located at 342 E. 11th St., 3 blocks south of the 1 Avenue stop on the L train.



Chelsea – New York Eats


I have family in Chelsea so I always find an excuse to head over to this west side neighborhood for some tasty meals.  Last night, my brother-in-law and I caught up over some Thai food at M Thai which is a sleek space with a traditional Thai-American menu.  The prices are right and the presentations are appealing  I liked the brightspicy basil tofu with brown rice because it is perfect in its simplicity.



Outstanding NYC eats M Thai

The veggie options at M Thai in Chelsea, NYC are quite tasty and light.



This place is perfect for a quiet meal or some alone time, as it is apparently never overrun with people.

M Thai is located at 200 8th Avenue, 3 blocks south of the 23rd St. stop on the A, C, E trains.



L.I.C. (Long Island City) – New York Eats


Before I moved to ChicagoI lived in Long Island City (L.I.C.), which is the Queens neighborhood closest to Manhattan.  It is only 2-3 short stops from midtown Manhattan on the #7 or E trains. I loved the 6 years I spent there and I cried when I left for Chicago.  This neighborhood began its boom in 2005 which continues today.  There are new restaurants and bars stretching from the East River and Vernon Blvd to Court Square.


John Brown Smokehouse is slinging Kansas City-style barbecue and it is fabulous.  I tried the ribs, burnt ends (a signature item) and the mac ‘n cheese which are all great.



New York Eats John Brown Smokehouse in New York

John Brown Smokehouse in L.I.C., Queens serves Kansas City BBQ



New York Eats John Brown Smokehouse in L.I.C., N.Y.

The burnt ends are a popular menu item here.



John Brown Smokehouse is located at 10-43 44th Drive (at 11th St.), 3 blocks east of the Court Square-23rd St. stop, along the E and M trains.  The 7 train is just an extra block west. 



The Mill Coffee Company is right near John Brown Smokehouse and it is a great addition to the L.I.C. neighborhood.  Check out their interesting strawberry-flavored coffee drinks. 



New York Eats coffeehouses in Queens

The Mill Coffee Company in L.I.C., Queens is a new addition to my old neighborhood.


Mill Coffee Company is located at 44-61 11th St., 3 blocks east of the Court Square-23rd St. stop, on the E and M trains.  The 7 train stop nearby, too.


All of these outstanding New York eats will take you from morning to night.  Stay tuned because I will be bringing you more New York eats in the next couple of weeks.

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the local trains and buses to these outstanding New York eats. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, parking and road rage.  Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!

You Need To Try These Fabulous Celebrity Chef Restaurants

Celebrity chef restaurants have taken us by storm in the last decade thanks to cable T.V. shows like Top Chef and Master Chef.  It is a vastly different landscape than when I grew up in an age when there were only of 3 or 4 T.V. stations.  Julia Child, Jacques Pépin and The Galloping Gourmet  were the only culinary heroes we had to watch back then.  While I am sure Julia Child would delight in our wide-spread food obsession and Instagram documentation of such, I wonder what she would think of the elevation of so many chefs to celebrity status.  I guess we will never know but, in the meantime, below are some fabulous, celebrity chef restaurants in Chicago which you should try:


Leña Brava – Chef Rick Bayless


This is the latest venture from Chef Rick Bayless who made it big in Chicago with his Mexican stalwarts, Frontera, Topolobampo and Xoco.



Celebrity Chef Restaurants Latin eats in Chicago cocktails at Lena Brava

Refreshing Mezcal cocktail at Lena Brava.



Leña Brava, focuses on seafood, although there is Continue reading

10 Fabulous Latin Eats You Should Have in Chicago

Winter is upon us here in Chicago and our thoughts often shift to warmer climates, as well as the food that we associate with them.  But, if you cannot escape the polar vortex, below is a list of “10 Fabulous Latin Eats in Chicago.”  Grab your coat and hop the rails to these tasty, local hot spots! Continue reading