10 of My Favorite Things To Eat in NYC
Before the Instagram story polls, I already knew my followers were *predominately* female (58%), around my age (25-34), and living in NYC (thanks, "insights"). BUT it turns out those stats may not be all-knowing.
I thought this group of humans would just want to see some cute outfits, hear beauty advice, and learn about my makeup routine but the truth is: Y'ALL LOVE TO EAT JUST LIKE ME! A whopping 88% are interested in seeing recipes, hitting up the best brunches in the city, finding the most "Instagrammable" food spots, etc.
So in honor of you all, my first real post will revolve entirely around food.
What you may or may not know about me is that I come from a family of food obsessed humans and was raised with the simple mentality: food is life.
Being a (now former) O'Keefe means daily excitement revolves around meals. It means during breakfast you're thinking about what's for lunch. When you go to dinner, it's not just dinner. Apps, entrees, dessert, and drinks are the norm and every restaurant is a tapas restaurant because any dish on the table is fair game. In fact, it's standard protocol to stick your fork into someone else's plate.
I grew up in the restaurant business by default and then by choice. I started learning the ins and outs of the food industry and serving tables at the restaurant my parents owned in our hometown when I was younger. Shortly thereafter, I moved to NYC to attend college, immediately got a part time job at Hillstone (formerly Houstons), and went on to work for the company for seven years at a few of their different concepts. I'd say working for Hillstone is similar to being part of a cult, (hi everyone!) but I will be forever grateful for the unique knowledge, genuine relationships, and life experiences I gained there.
My parents currently own an amazing restaurant in Lake George, NY called The Huddle (2x winner of Best Restaurant in Bolton Landing...#humblebrag), which is now a home away from home and one of our favorite places in the whole entire world to be. :)
With all that being said, it's no surprise I take my food outings here in NYC very seriously.
No, I'm not claiming these are the best restaurants in all of New York (I've still never been to Eleven Madison Park OR Per Se, ugh) and I'm not even claiming these are the best food items within each restaurant. What I am enlightening you to, rather, are a few of my own personal favorites this city has offered my mouth up until this very point of my life.
My faves. In no particular category or order. According to MOI.
1. Pumpkin Scone at Alice's Teacup (@alicesteacupnyc)
Alice's Teacup has three "chapters" (locations) in the city. Each is its own quaint and whimsical place, usually packed with the likes of little girls alongside their mums, bridal themed brunches, and girlfriends who lunch. The wait can be long but if you get a chance to go, you need to try this heavenly fall-inspired scone. They have different flavors of scones each day but the pumpkin one is always available. It comes out warm next to a ramekin of cream and preserves (I always ask for an extra one), and paired with the "birthday tea" it's the perfect treat. It will put a smile on your face and bring magic into your belly.
2. Cheeseburger (CHBG) at Hillstone (@hillstonerestaurants)
Hillstone is most famously known for their fall-off-the-bone barbecue pork ribs and Chicago-style spinach dip yet I'm about to talk some sense into you re: their cheeseburger which I believe to be the best of all time. You may think I'm biased, but everything on their menu is truly perfection so it's devastatingly hard to choose one item to single out. This burger though. It comes open faced (unless you ask for it cut in half... Hillstone hack) on a house baked, toasted, buttered sesame seed bun, topped with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, diced white onion, pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, and melted cheddar cheese (I also add sautéed onions and avocado). Not only is it extremely beautiful, it's better than PJ Clarke's, Burger & Barrel, Bareburger, and whoever the hell else thinks they have the best burger in town. Get the fries, get a side of "must" for dipping, and just trust me.
I've had many a macaron in my lifetime. These are as legit as it gets. The SoHo location has a full menu and adorable garden seating in the back; perfect for teatime with girlfriends. The uptown location is smaller, no food menu, and not really meant for dining in, although I have. The rose and vanilla macarons are my two favorites but there are tons of flavors and they come in the cutest little boxes which make for the best (and most bougie) personal snack as you're window shopping down Madison Ave. Pair with a bottle of champagne and voila; the prettiest and most delicious thing you could possibly bring to your next dinner party!
4. Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice at Koi (@koirestaurants)
Anyone who knows me knows Koi is my favorite. NYC, LA, uptown, downtown, doesn't matter. Just give me my crispy rice and a lychee martini (with an extra lychee if I'm feelin' cute) and instantly: the happiest, most satisfied version of myself. The crispy rice can also be topped with spicy yellowtail or truffle avocado, but just listen to me and do the spicy tuna.
5. Whole Wheat Everything Bagel at New York City Bagel & Coffee House (@nycbch)
These bagels have the perfect doughy inside vs. crispy outside ratio and I will be forever thankful that I live in such close proximity to them. They're also humungous and about the size of an average person's head but I believe in you. My go to order in case you were wondering: whole wheat everything bagel, scooped out and extra toasted with low fat scallion cream cheese and sliced tomato.
6. Breakfast Bowl at Jacks Wife Freda (@jackswifefreda)
All of the drinks and food at JWF are on point but I have a special place in my heart for the breakfast bowl. Poached eggs, red quinoa, kale, spaghetti squash, grilled tomato, avocado (side by side, NOT all mixed together which is very aesthetically pleasing to me) and this special green sauce which comes on the side. It sounds simple and it sounds like I could easily make it for myself at home if I weren't lazy, but there's something magical about this bowl and every time I have it I'm filled with delight so here it is on the list.
7. Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelette at Sarabeth's (@sarabethsofficial)
While we're on the subject of breakfast foods, it seems like a perfect time to share my all-time absolute favorite dish at my most frequented brunch location. The spinach and goat cheese omelette (or really any omelette) at Sarabeth's is happiness on a plate. It's actually the fluffiest omelette on the earth. In fact, I challenge you to find one fluffier.
8. Petite Filet Mignon at Mastro's Steakhouse (@mastrosofficial)
I was introduced to Mastro's menu because I sing there occasionally (they have live music every single night). Whether you're a filet person, or hungry enough for the 24 oz. porterhouse, you really can't go wrong here when it comes to the steak. The meat is so unbelievably tender, juicy, perfectly seasoned, and even better when paired with the lobster mashed potatoes (*cue heart eyes emoji*) or the chopped salad. If you're really going for it, definitely finish with their famous warm butter cake. An evening of pure decadence fully worth the food coma.
9. Birthday Cake at Momofuku Milk Bar (@milkbarstore)
Momofuku Milk Bar may be known for their cereal milk soft serve ice cream topped with corn flakes, or their crack pie (which are both delicious, don't get me wrong), but do NOT sleep on this epic cakesterpiece. It's crumbly, moist in all the right places, and SO rich. The perfect addition to any birthday party.
10. Satay of Chilean Seabass at Tao (@taony)
Oh, tender sweet miso-glazed magnificence on a stick, how I love you. These literally fall off the skewer and melt in your mouth. Go for the seabass and Japanese Tea Garden martini (or any of their other specialty cocktails), and stay for the swanky vibes. Pro tip: starting with drinks and apps at Tao is usually a guarantee for a ridiculous story-worthy night. At least in my experience. ;)
As you can probably tell, this is a list that is super close to my heart. I hope you venture out to try at least one thing on it if you haven't. If you're my friend, I know you most certainly already have. :)