Staten Island Ferry, New York

New York City – Beyond Broadway…

Ahhhh, New York. How do you even begin to review the city that never sleeps???

Here’s how. I’m sure many of you have been to Manhattan, but have you spent much time in the other boroughs? As I have discovered, while Manhattan is of course an endless treasure chest of good times and great eats, there’s much to be said for the food and fun in Queens, Brooklyn and the other boroughs as well.

In fact, on my most recent trip to New York I never even set foot in Manhattan. It was all Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, baby.

Queens

Let’s start with Queens. Since my husband and bestie are both from there, I may be a tad biased, but their food game is more than a little serious.

Bagels

First of all, if you go to New York and you don’t seek out a good bagel, you are an idiot. I suggest that you get said bagel at Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Co. (which oddly has no locations in Brooklyn). In addition to three separate spots in Astoria, Queens, there’s also one in Manhattan if you don’t feel like venturing out of the city.

Brooklyn Bagel

Brooklyn Bagel (in Queens!)

Despite their wide variety of bagel and schmear (as well as some decent coffee and bagel sandwiches), I always get the same thing. A plain or sesame bagel with bacon scallion cream cheese. Whoever first decided to marry bacon with scallions is a genius in the truest sense. These bagels are colossal and covered with way too much schmear, but it wouldn’t be as good any other way.

Greek food

While you’re in Queens, you had better get some Greek food. With a sizable Greek population, you can’t go wrong getting a gyro here. On my most recent trip, I stopped into a little place called Avli for a gyro the size of my head and a side salad. The feta on the salad was so fresh and lacked the typical off-putting bitter bite of most fetas. Although I was utterly stuffed, I could not stop shoveling this food into my mouth.

Fresh ATL vs. Gyro

Fresh ATL vs. Gyro

Pizza

Speaking of idiots, if you don’t get pizza in NYC you need serious help. And I know just the spot! If you head over to Jamaica Ave. in Queens, you can get the best slice of pizza you have ever had in your life for just $3 at Margherita Pizza.

Jamaican Beef Patties

But save room! After your slice, you’ll want to walk across the street to Jamaican Flavors for the best freakin’ Jamaican beef patties on the planet.

Now listen, I don’t even normally like Jamaican beef patties. Something about the crust turns me off. But these patties – served directly from a counter on the street – are unlike anything I have ever tasted. The crust is so light and flaky and sweet it almost doesn’t matter what’s inside. But since they have jerk chicken, you might as well get that! I am so hooked on their jerk chicken patties. They also have other flavors including beef, regular chicken and vegetable.

Where to Stay

Besides food, Queens has the best spot in the city to stay in my opinion. Long Island City, Queens boasts affordable hotels, free street parking, and amazing views of the city. I have always found that the more affordable hotels in Manhattan are subpar, but not in LIC. On my last trip, we stayed at the LIC Hotel and it was great!

View from LIC Hotel

View from LIC Hotel

LIC Hotel Rooftop

LIC Hotel Rooftop

Brooklyn

Smorgasburg

If you’re near Brooklyn in the warmer months, you should check out Smorgasburg, which features 75 – 100 local food vendors on Saturdays and Sundays. With Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Hawaiian, Trinidadian, and the list goes on, my head was spinning at the ridiculous diversity of the food offered at this event.

First I had to try the latest Internet coffee craze – coffee with lemon – from Stand Coffee. Their Almond Palmer drink is a mix of cold brew coffee with almond milk, lemon and vanilla over ice. It was…interesting. Not bad, but not my fave.

Stand Coffee, Smorgasburg, Brooklyn

Stand Coffee, Smorgasburg, Brooklyn

Next was the palourie from one of the Caribbean food vendors, Island Tingz. Since it’s basically balls of savory fried dough covered in a hot pepper sauce, it’s really hard to go wrong with palourie. This wasn’t the best version I’d had, but it still hit the spot.

Palourie, Island Tingz, Smorgasburg, Brooklyn

Palourie from Island Tingz at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn

The main reason I went to Smorgasburg was to try out the Chinese street food, jianbing. I used to get these delicious crepes from heaven all the time when I was studying abroad in Beijing, and have yet to find them where I live in Atlanta.

Jianbing is like a Chinese breakfast wrap filled with egg, scallions, cilantro, fried wonton and vibrant, sweet and spicy sauces. Typically, it is a flavor and texture explosion. Unfortunately, the Smorgasburg version from Jianbing Co. was pretty flavorless and highly disappointing, but at least I tried.

Jianbing Co., Smorgasburg, Brooklyn

Jianbing Co., Smorgasburg, Brooklyn

Jianbing, Smorgasburg, Brooklyn

Jianbing to go!

While the food at Smorgasburg was hit or miss, I’d still highly recommend it for the experience. Where else would you be able to try so many types of cuisines and food trends in one place? Also, the location of the Sunday Smorgasburg in Prospect Park is just gorgeous and great for walking around and just hanging out.

Brooklyn Bridge

On another Brooklyn note, walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is fun too. And when you get to the other side, you are rewarded with a variety of good eats all within a few feet of one another – including Grimaldi’s famous pizza, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, and Jacques Torres Chocolate.

View from the Brooklyn Bridge

View from the Brooklyn Bridge

Under the Brooklyn Bridge

Under the Brooklyn Bridge

The Bronx

Da Bronx!

As for the Bronx, I haven’t spent much time there in many years (except for attending a wedding on my last trip), so I can’t really recommend the good spots. I do remember enjoying some time on Fordham Road years back, which is the Bronx version of Queens’ Jamaica Ave. Basically, it’s the happening street where you can experience a lot of local culture – from the people to the shops to the food.

Staten Island

Riding the Staten Island Ferry is one of my favorite things to do in New York. The fare is cheap and the views are priceless!!! Not to mention you get to see Lady Liberty up close and personal as you float by her.

View from the Staten Island Ferry

View from the Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry, New York

With my gal pals on the ferry!

Manhattan

As for Manhattan, obviously you could eat your face off there for decades and still barely scratch the surface. I have been to New York so many times it’s hard to recall all of the wonderful places I have dined. My favorite by far though is the Excellent Pork Chop House in Chinatown. It’s comfort food at its most glorious!

Chinatown, Manhattan

Chinatown, Manhattan

I also recently tried Jin Ramen in Harlem and it was a revelation. I always order the Tonkotsu at any ramen spot, and this one was as good as any other I’ve tried. Jin Ramen is also right next to Riverside Park, another beautiful place to stroll in New York.

Jin Ramen, Harlem, New York

Jin Ramen, Harlem – Perfect on a chilly day!

I could go on forever about this precious city, so I’ll try to do another NYC post soon!

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