I’ve spent the last year in New York almost solely preparing for this article: here is everything I’ve learned about landmark food in Manhattan, laid out as a one-day food tour. You will have the most delicious day of your life. You will also gain half a stone. On balance, worth it.
On the first morning of a family holiday to New York in 2014, we went for breakfast at The Standard Grill, under the High Line Park, opposite the Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District. The pancakes and French toast were literally perfect, but when the brioche doughnuts arrived, their centres filled with a warm vanilla rum custard, my 10-year-old son asked if we could live here. I said yes. A year later, we moved.
The City Bakery isn’t much to look at, but it serves the most outstanding hot chocolate, complete with a floating marshmallow; it is only a five-minute detour from my school run, so on your behalf, I have researched this item many times. These are the dudes who invented the Pretzel Croissant: inside, a buttery croissant; outside, a chewy, salty pretzel. Sorry for saying ‘dudes’.
For my birthday, my children took me out to dinner, and we changed restaurants for each course. It makes for an exciting meal…
At The Breslin, for $15 you can experience April Bloomfield’s Michelin-starred herbed Caesar salad. It's a New York classic, executed perfectly by a Brit. She insists all the ingredients, even the bowl, are chilled.
Once you've finished, dash over to the Lower East Side for chicken & waffles at the Clinton Street Baking Company. It serves buttermilk-battered Southern-fried chicken, drenched in a sweet honey-Tabasco sauce, on top of Belgian waffles with warm maple butter.
The legendary Eastern European chocolate babka from Breads Bakery at Union Square is a flaky, soft brioche rippled with chocolate mixed with Nutella. Team it with a slice of Junior's baked vanilla cheesecake, which has singlehandedly stopped New Yorkers making their own.
This was easy: Serendipity 3’s frozen hot chocolate… thick, cold, famous. If you’re still peckish, try a chocolate pizza from Max Brenner: sweet pizza dough, melted chocolate, marshmallows, peanut butter sauce & toasted hazelnuts, or pop to 16 Handles and get the cinnamon rice pudding frozen yogurt instead – it’s 175 calories per serving and everything I love in life.
May I suggest a quickie at the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central station; the old office of a 1920s tycoon and one of the most beautiful rooms in Manhattan. Try the Golden Age cocktail of vodka, vermouth, caramelised coconut purée & rose champagne.
Buddakan in the Meatpacking District is an epic, almost biblical room with 40ft-high ceilings and a 50ft-long table down the middle. Order the soup dumplings – little dim sum packages filled with meat and a miso-based broth. You nibble the top of the parcel, suck out the soup as decorously as is possible (it’s not possible), then down the remaining dumpling: they’re sensational.
Now leg it to Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, or any of the popular Korean BBQ restaurants. The table doubles as a BBQ cooker, and you’ll be brought wafer-thin meat, amazing vegetables and intense sauces to cook on the hot griddle, while pouring beaten egg into the gully at the edge for an omelette palate cleanser between dishes. My 14-year-old son had his birthday supper here – it’s delicious, theatrical and very East Village cool.
I’ve moved us to Mexican and chosen Bodega Negra, which will serve you a mysterious white chocolate dome the size of a football. The waiter arrives, pours hot caramel sauce all over it, the sphere dissolves and inside is a molten chocolate cake covered in a slightly spicy cinnamon ice cream.
Surely that in itself is enough to justify the airfare? Buy a pair of elasticated trousers, pretend you’re writing an article about it all (that’s what I did), and good luck.
Try out some more tasty American recipes in our collection of the very best.
Do you have a favourite New York eatery? Let us know in the comments below...