Friday, May 12, 2006

Destination: New York City

Maki of "I was just really hungry" (I certainly identify with that feeling!) is hosting an exciting event called Food Destinations. The challenge is to answer the question: "If my favorite foodie came to town, where would I take her/him?"

Which is certainly a huge challenge for me. The problem with living in the legendary Gotham City is that everything that had to be said about it food-wise has already been said. Or has it? Well, I fall into a certain demographic: an Indian vegetarian graduate student who has been living in NYC for half a decade. This means that the places I eat out at are veggie-friendly and super super cheap. Well, for what its worth, and in no particular order, here is my NYC foodie list:


Very New York Eats ...If you visit NYC, don't leave without tasting these three foods. They have one thing in common...CARBS baby, yeah!

1. Bagels: Much much more than simply a doughnut-shaped bread, bagels are traditionally boiled before being baked. A good bagel is chewy without being stodgy. You can find many great Bagel places in the city. Choose from a huge variety of bagels (sesame, poppy seed, plain, onion, jalapeno or the "everything bagel" ) and a myriad of cream cheeses (my two favorites are walnut raisin and vegetable). The picture above shows a sesame bagel with walnut-raisin cream cheese. V once ordered a jalapeno bagel with strawberry cream cheese, and now he wonders why everyone at Bagelworks (our local bagel place, where they make 'em right on the premises) gives him scared looks.

2. Thin-crust Pizza: There are entire blogs devoted to the noble search for good pizza in NYC, so go look for good options there.

3. Cheesecake: My personal favorite has got to be a tiny cozy bakery called "Two Little Red Hens" at 85th street and 2nd avenue. To my delight, a favorite blogger of mine loves this place too! Cheesecake is very easy to mess up (too sweet, too dense, too pasty...) but this bakery does it right.

Globe-trotting On The Subway... NYC is blessed with extraordinary diversity. For the royal sum of $2.00, you can hop on the subway and go visit the ethnic enclaves of Russia (Brighton Beach), India (Jackson Heights) or Greece (Astoria). So the next on the list:

4. Think of a country, any country that you like to visit, and then go eat in a restaurant that serves that cuisine. The internet is a wonderful resource for finding restaurants in NYC. One of my favorites: Ghenet for Ethiopian cuisine...there is something wonderful about getting together with friends and having a communal meal, Ethiopian style. Another good place for big group lunches is the self-explanatory Vegetarian Dim Sum House in Chinatown.

In the mood for Indian?...Try these (all of these next three restaurants are in the Murray Hill area of Manhattan, now informally referred to as Curry Hill):

5. Gujarati Thali: Show-casing the cuisine of the Western Indian state of Maharashtra, Vatan has some crazy decor, with the fake village scenes and all, but the food is amazing, and with the "unlimited" thali (multi-course) meal, you have to roll home at the end of the filling meal.

6. Southern Indian: Chennai Garden has impressively authentic South Indian fare (certified by V, who is Tamilian and M, who is a Kannadiga, so you don't have to take a Marathi girl's word for it). Try the "Gunpowder Masala Dosa" if you dare!

7. Indian-Chinese: You have to try this strange mingling of two very different cuisines. Every Indian I know gets regular cravings for Gobi Manchurian. And when that happens, it is Chinese Mirch to the rescue! Apart from favorites like Hakka noodles, try the crispy okra, which is not "authentic" Chinese-Indian, but addictive all the same.

Random foodie things...

8. Picnic in Central Park: Drop into any one of Manhattan's superb food stores: Zabar's, or Whole Foods, or even Gourmet Garage if you are a budget gourmet like me, and buy a baguette, a wedge of Brie, some fruit, kettle cooked potato chips and some fresh cookies, smuggle a bottle of wine into a bag, and go off and have a picnic in Central Park. Central park is the backyard of the whole city, and a great place for watching New Yorkers during their time off.

9. The Herb Garden at The Cloisters: This is an unsual one, but it is so worth trekking uptown and taking a look at The Cloisters, the medieval collection of the Met. The medieval herb garden is very cute, and the whole place is very charming. Foodie stuff apart, the unicorn tapestries are simply stunning (I was actually speechless for once in my life).

10. Hot Chocolate: To end the list on a sweet note, don't miss the hot chocolate at City Bakery (Union Square). I don't even like chocolate to be very honest, but that thick creamy hot chocolate is absolutely divine. If you happen to visit in February, it will be VERY cold and you will need hot chocolate anyway, so we are lucky that City Bakery conveniently has a Hot Chocolate Festival that whole month!

What can I say, it is a cliche, but I *heart* NY!

Click on the button for the round up of "Food Destinations" ...thanks, Maki, for hosting this event!


  1. What a lovely list, Nups. It reminds me when i used to have friends/family visit me at NYU it was never a one place-one meal visit. Certain places composed the appetizers, other places for a little something heavier, and then always somewhere else for cupcakes. Defintely a benefit of living in NY - revolving dinners are a piece of cake!

    ashamedly, i've never tried the cocoa at City Bakery. Would love to try their new unnamed off-shoot all-recycled though.

    In regards to bagels, it has long been my contention that Staten Island has hands-down the best bagels in NY. Early fall, PJ has a half-marathon there: we should picnic and cheer him on! :)

    thanks so much for stopping by this afternoon!

  2. Nupur - I'm so glad to have your recommendations for Indian restaurants in NYC! I've only been to a couple (or maybe even the same one each time, I'm not sure) on 6th Street.

  3. when i come to NYC next time, I should have this list printed out and going on a food adventure. Just the thought gives me so much joy.

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  5. Nupur,
    Is it Maharashtrian Thali or Gujarati Thali at Vatan?
    Btw, is V back with you?

  6. hi nupur, good so when i come to ny ,i know where to eat on a shoe string budget. great ! luv, yoma.

  7. Great list, homey, comfortable, fun ... just perfect. And I have an "idea" for a new series for both our blogs ... guess!

  8. Hey LO, would LOVE to go try bagels in staten island (I have never been there!!)

    Cathy, actually the ones on 6th are mostly Bangladeshi restaurants (not really Indian at all)...I hope you get to try some of these :)

    Shankari, I do hope you can visit is just such a fun city!

    Vaishali, thanks for stopping by. Vatan is a Gujarati thali.

    Hi Yoma, wish you could visit me here!

    AK, tell me :) and I hope you are participating in this event too!!

  9. OMG I have to go to Vatan today !!! I love that place and have taken my colleagues there and they were so impressed.

  10. Hi Nupur,
    That was a wonderful list...I just love the Bagels in NY..I was there just for a long weekend last year and dont remember the store we bought them from....Everything bagel and Sesame bagels are the ones I liked and we had it with a vegetable and a tomato spread that I fell in love with. After I got back to Cincinnati...I have been looking for the same great taste but have been unlucky till now...I guess its time for another NYC trip ;-)
    And hey still waiting for the wedding pics :-)

  11. nice list there nup,
    I was able to go to vatan before I left. I had a feeling that they need to slow down. Its great food , but it comes out way too fast, one course after the other. So a little weird for a slow eater like me who likes to savor each bite.

    there's a chain here that sells NY style bagles. I grab em for my bfast and love em.

  12. If only I'd had this list in the last week of April, I'd have DEFINITELY checked out at least one of these places, Nupur. I'll have it handy for the next time I'm in NY, though. And perhaps I'll even be lucky to meet up with one of my favourite bloggers :)

  13. Hi Nupur,

    My favoritest snack in the city are the honey-roasted coconut chunks that you get at the corner nut stands. Mmmmmm!

    Your blog makes me yearn for home (Mumbai) and brings back many fragrant memories of food, family, and friends.
    Thanks for creating this wonderful place for me to visit!

    And if you even want to start a Dinner Club/Food Group, I'm SO in.

    Prachi Gokhale

  14. Nupur, I go to Chennai Garden now and then for lunch buffet, you are right, it is healthy and delicious south indian meal! Got to try the others now..

  15. Hi Nupur,

    Wonderful list - for really good and easy on the pocket Thai food try Jaiya on Lex and 28th.
    Right across it is an Italian Ice Cream place - absolutely to die for :)

  16. re the thin crust pizza part... my fav is at Lombardi's in soho. sooooo good.

  17. Cheesecake has eggs in it, so it's not vegetarian.


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