The best pastrami sandwich ever, cereal milk ice cream, corn prepared the Mexican way—here’s another dose of delicious but affordable eats in New York (and a few splurges, of course).
Unidentified Flying Chickens (UFC)
71-22 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights
The New York Times gave UFC a thumbs-up which it deserves. This place serves the best Korean fried chicken in New York. It’s totally worth the trip to Queens. The place recently got a hip makeover and now serves different kinds of craft beer. My friends and I usually grab a table on the ground floor, but its basement has a more bar-like atmosphere that’s perfect for drinking.
What to order: The soy garlic wings—lots of it ($10 for 10 pieces, $18 for 20). We also get the coleslaw ($1.75), macaroni salad ($1.75) and steamed rice ($1.75).
Bonus: If you are an Ugly Betty fan, going to UFC means you are in Betty’s neighborhood. Just a few steps away from UFC, you can spot the Himalayan Yak restaurant where Daniel once went on a date. Betty’s family’s house is also a short walk away (92nd street near Elmhurst Ave.)—it’s owned by a Haitian family.
Momofuku Milk Bar
East Village – 251 East 13th St.
Midtown – 15 West 56th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues
Upper West Side – 561 Columbus Ave. at 87th St.
Williamsburg – 382 Metropolitan Ave.
Carroll Gardens – 360 Smith St. at 2nd Place
Momofuku Milk Bar, the brainchild of Momofuku chef and founder David Chang and Christina Tosi, is a great place for dessert fans who are looking for unusual sweet treats.
What to order: Crack Pie ($5.50 per slice). It’s as addicting as the name suggests. Get the Cereal Milk Soft Serve, too ($4.50)—it tastes exactly like the milk that’s left at the bottom of your bowl when you’re done eating your cornflakes. Good stuff.
The Compost Cookie ($2) is really popular as well.
East Village – 65 Fourth Ave.
Westside – 321 West 51st St.
The New York branches of this Japanese ramen chain are a bit more expensive than Totto Ramen, and the lines can be pretty long. So it’s a good idea to go there early.
Ippudo is also opening at SM Megamall soon, so you might want to try it here instead of in New York.
What to order: Ramen, any ramen ($15) and the hirata buns ($9 for two).
Bryant Park – 11 West 40th St.
Chelsea Piers – Pier 62 at 12th Ave.
The Cube – 440 East 29th St.
Flat Iron – 11 East 20th St.
Lincoln Center – 61 West 62nd St.
Midtown – 555 5th Ave.
Midtown East – 245 Park Ave.
NYPL Performing Arts – 40 Lincoln Center Plaza 65th St.
NYPL Schwarzman Building-5th Ave. and 42nd St.
Rockefeller Center – 1 Rockefeller Plaza 49th St.
Tribeca – 397 Greenwich St.
The Tunnel – 269 11th Ave. and 27th St.
The Village – 60 East 8th St.
West Chelsea – 601 West 26th St.
One of the owners of this sandwich chain is “Top Chef” head judge Tom Colicchio. One Roasted Turkey was all it took to convince me of ’wichcraft’s magic—yes, its sandwiches are incredible.
What to order: The Roasted Turkey (with avocado, bacon, onion relish and aioli on ciabatta roll, $10.10). Or any other sandwich.
And don’t forget to get a cream’wich (oatmeal cookie sandwich with cinnamon cream, $1.38)—it’s one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave.
Buddakan can also be found at Chelsea Market but it deserves its own entry. This is one of the more expensive places on this list, but I included it for good reason—the food is fantastic.
What to order: The Crispy Calamari Salad ($14) is a must; the serving is generous. I also enjoyed the Chili Rock Shrimp ($15), Black Pepper Beef ($28) and Mongolian Lamb Chops ($30).
Madison Square Park near Madison Ave. and East 23rd St.
Upper West Side – 366 Columbus Ave.
Upper East Side – 154 East 86th St.
Battery Park – 215 Murray St.
Theater District – 691 8th Ave.
Shake Shack, which started as a hotdog cart in Madison Park, has come a long way. This New York institution now has branches in different US cities as well as in the United Kingdom, Russia, Turkey and all over the Middle East.
We can’t say we’re surprised though—we think this burger place is headed for world domination.
But my favorite branch will always be the one in Madison Square Park.
What to order: A Shackburger (cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce, $4.75). Vegetarians will enjoy the ’Shroom Burger (crisp-fried Portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses and topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce, $6.85).
If you’re really hungry, go for the Shack Stack, a killer combination of a cheeseburger and a ’Shroom Burger ($8.95).
Love the Cheese Fries ($3.85), too—the sauce is a blend of cheddar and American cheese. And don’t forget to get a shake; I love the Caramel ($5) and Fair Shake (coffee shake made with organic Arabica fair trade beans, $5.50).
You might also want to try the Concretes— homemade frozen custard ice cream (single dip at $3.25; double dip, $4.25).
205 East Houston St. (corner of Ludlow St.)
Katz’s Deli is famous not only for that scene in “When Harry Met Sally,” but mainly because of its pastrami. I dream about Katz’s Deli’s pastrami all the time. The place can be intimidating for first-timers but just grab your ticket from the guy at the door (don’t lose it!), order your sandwich and eat a few pastrami slices while waiting for your sandwich.
There’s a different counter for fries and drinks.
What to order: The pastrami sandwich ($18.45). Or you can get a corned beef sandwich ($17.45). Or a Reuben ($18.95). The sandwiches are huge, two people can share them. And if you love pickles, you’re in luck. The place gives a whole plate of them with each sandwich.
Bonus: Katz’s Deli stays open all night on Fridays and Saturdays.
123 2nd Ave. (between 7th St. and St. Marks Place)
Pommes Frites is my favorite New York place for fries. This tiny joint serves nothing but fries with all kinds of dips. There are so many dips they will make your head spin. But don’t worry, the mostly Filipino staff will let you taste the dips before making you choose. The servings are super generous. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a table but most people get their fries to go.
What to order: Fries! (regular, $4.50; large, $6.25; double, $7.75) The sweet mango chutney mayo is my favorite dip.
Bonus: Eat your fries while walking around St. Marks. And if you feel like drinking a bacon shake ($7) with your fries, stop by Mark (33 St. Mark’s Place). It’s just a short walk from Pommes Frites.
Ed’s Lobster Bar
222 Lafayette St.
I still feel a little guilty for spending $30 on a sandwich (and for doing it twice!), but Ed’s Lobster Bar’s lobster roll is hard to resist. I just might eat it again.
What to order: The Lobster Roll (market price, but it was around $30 plus tax when I went) and the Lobster Ravioli ($25). So, so good.
Store 3A 455 Main St. Roosevelt Island
Actually, I just put this on the list so you’ll go to Roosevelt Island. A lot of visitors miss out on seeing this tiny part of New York. But the food’s good, too.
What to order: The lobster roll (the sushi kind, not the sandwich, $13) and the red bean ice cream ($3).
Bonus: This is important. When you leave the restaurant, don’t take the subway. Ride the Roosevelt Island Tram back to Manhattan (it will take you to the Upper East Side). You get a quick and fun ride and a fantastic view for just a swipe of your Metrocard.
Le Parker Meridien hotel (119 West 56th St.)
If you’ve had enough Shake Shack, you might want to try this secret place. My favorite thing about it? The location—it’s hidden in a hotel lobby.
Part the maroon curtain to find it. But avoid this place during peak hours—the lines can be crazy long.
What to order: The cheeseburger ($8.27), which was included in GQ’s list of 20 Burgers You Must Eat Before You Die. Get fries ($3.90) and a milkshake ($5.97), too. I love its vanilla milkshake.
248 Mulberry St.
If you’ve always wondered what it’s like to eat a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, go to Parm in Soho on a Thursday night.
What to order: The Italian Thanksgiving nightly special (white turkey meat, gravy, cranberry mostarda, Italian sausage stuffing, green beans, $25). But it’s served only on Thursday nights.
And get the Pizza Knots ($5) too.
Café Habana To Go
17 Prince St. at Elizabeth St.
If you can’t wait until the weekend to go to Brooklyn Flea to get your elote fix, Café Habana is the place for you.