It wouldn’t be a trip to New York without good food, and if you’re going to eat something, look to the classics.
It can be hard to give food recommendations because the food scene is so fickle and ever changing – what was hot and new last week is going to be old news, possibly even shut down in a month or two. So when you’ve got institutions that have been around for decades and are still pulling in massive crowds, you know they’re worth visiting.
205 E Houston St, New York
You remember that who “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in When Harry Met Sally? That was here. That helped put this place on the map. But you’re not visiting to get your photo taken at the table it went down at, because there’s a much, much better reason to come here. And that’s to eat. A pastrami and mustard on rye sandwich piled to a ridiculous height, that may well be the most tasty sandwich anywhere. Also, get a knish – basically a mashed potato nugget with a thick, crispy, golden crust, which is so heavy and filling you won’t be able to move for 20 minutes after eating it. Not that that’s a problem.
Fair warning – the sandwiches are not cheap, but they are absolute behemoths, so that well and truly balances out. Also, it’s a cash only thing, so come prepared. And they get hella busy – we went right on opening time and the place filled up pretty quickly! But it’s a classic for a reason – opened in 1888 and still going strong, you haven’t experienced New York without a visit to Katz’s.
Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St, New York
One of the most commonly associated foods with New York is the bagel – everyone I know who’s been to NYC has made the effort to try one smothered in cream cheese and topped with salmon. Classic. I wanted to make sure that the bagel I tried was as goof as it could get, and general consensus was Russ & Daughters. They just celebrated their centenary, having kicked off in 1914, and haven’t stopped serving the city since. They’re one of the last “appetizing” shops anywhere – appetizing being best translated in this context as the foods that one eats with their bagel, such as the cured and smoked salmon varieties, and many different types of cream cheeses on offer here.
We visited around midday and the line was out the door, as it apparently is every day. I ordered myself an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and Scottish smoked salmon. It was perfect. Nothing else I write about it will do it justice; I know there are limitless choices in bagels in New York, but Russ & Daughters is where you NEED to be getting yours from!