Here’s a food report of my family’s recent trip to New York City (Manhattan only), humbly submitted to provide info to anyone planning to visit there. The cast of characters: Baby Boomers mom and dad, a just-finished-high-school 18 year old, and a heading-to-junior-high 12 year old.
Most restaurants mentioned below are also reviewed elsewhere on Roadfood, so I didn’t include a lot of address or phone info here.
We four Chicagoans fell in love with New York style pizza, those coal-fired brick oven pies. We had John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker in Greenwich Village, Patsy’s on 60th between 2nd and 3rd, and Angelo’s on 57th. Yum, yum and yum. The crust is fab. Patsy’s and Angelo’s appeared to use fresh mozzarella and John’s appeared to use regular mozzarella. They’re all casual, but Patsy’s and Angelo’s décor was “prettier” while John’s décor was “Roadfood-ier”. We always order plain cheese pizza and often prefer to drink water as a beverage, so the cost for pizza meals was very low.
We tried hot dogs and sausage from Sabrett street carts, deemed them good but not extraordinary. We went to Papaya King on 86th (this is a one-and-only location, all other papaya ‘n’ hot dog places are knock-offs, copycats or otherwise unrelated). Papaya King was a big disappointment for our family. The tropical juices were not very appealing. We were very un-impressed with the hot dogs (tasted good but in an ordinary way) and likewise ordinary buns, although the bun being toasted on the outside was a plus. I normally adore onions prepared almost any style, but the seasoned onions I ordered on the dogs were so unpleasant I scraped them off and masked what was left with mustard. The Cajun fries my son ordered were very mild, which is good for me, but would be a disappointment to Cajun fans expecting something spicy. In another Roadfood thread someone said the hot dogs are the same Sabrett brand as the street carts, but I think that was one of the copycat locations. I thought the Papaya King dog had a better flavor and crisper casing than the Sabrett street cart dog.
For deli food, we tried Carnegie Deli, Pastrami Queen, Café Edison, and Roxy. We liked them all (lower points for Roxy). I know there is a lot of discussion on Roadfood and elsewhere about which New York deli is the best, but we didn’t approach these meals like reviewers, we were just hoping to get a good to excellent lunch or dinner, and we did.
At the Carnegie Deli, we had corned beef sandwiches (excellent) and potato pancakes (very good). The corned beef was very lean, which is okay with us. The Carnegie was our first meal on our first day, so I’m sure that made it seem special and we were very happy.
The meal we ate at Roxy was only because time was late and Café Edison was already closed, so the situation was set up for disappointment. However, teenager loved the hamburger and French fries, little guy loved the scrambled eggs with huge sausage links. DH (darling husband) and I were disappointed in the brisket sandwich: dry-ish and not flavorful enough. Potato pancakes were awful.
Next night we were sure to get to Café Edison on time. Attention families: several Café Edison prices are low, so if you’re trying to find good food at a reasonable cost, this is it. Tender matzo balls were served swimming in a huge bowl of thick chicken noodle soup rather than plain broth. We had a corned beef sandwich (excellent) and cherry blintzes (excellent). The corned beef was fatty, which is okay with us (hmmm, above at Carnegie we liked it lean, I guess we never met a corned beef we didn’t like!). French toast was excellent. Pancakes were very good, although one of the three was inexplicably burned. Please read all the other reviews about Café Edison on Roadfood website and in the Stern’s books.
Pastrami Queen (Lexington near 86th) was way excellent. We had corned beef (excellent), pastrami (way excellent). My family is extremely fussy about potato pancakes because DH makes superlative thin potato pancakes at home using grandma’s recipe BUT we thought that the three thick potato pancakes here fried crispy brown were great. Little guy had three frankfurters (way excellent, so much better than the Sabrett street cart and Papaya King).
One more deli comment: before we left for our trip, I only had time to go to the Roadfood “Restaurants” page and print the list of restaurant reviews there, I didn’t have time to search the Roadfood forum reviews. After we got back, I couldn’t resist torturing myself by reading the forum reviews to validate what we tried and cry about what we’d missed. Sure enough, that’s when I learned that most of you agree that Katz deli is the one that’s “not to be missed”. If your trip to New York has not taken place yet then keep that in mind when you go. Oh, well. Next time I’ll do my forum search even if I’m awake into the wee hours!
One night we went to Serendipity3, a famous-reputation restaurant (for desserts and a ridiculously long wait), but we stuck it out to get the ice cream that we wanted. We agreed that it was worth it. Their claim to fame is "Frrrozen Hot Chocolate" (intriguing). It's sorta like a chocolate milkshake served in an over-sized sundae bowl, topped with whipped cream, but indeed the milkshake part was unique and tasted really good. Visually it looked like all one consistency, but when you sipped it with the straw the bottom seemed like a thinner but richer chocolate with a delicious taste. Tried to analyze and guess how it might have been prepared, such as combining a traditional milkshake with a syrup-y cocoa liquid? Or maybe it did start out as one consistency but part of it separated to the bottom? Our kids had a dense chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and sundae toppings called "Forbidden Chocolate" or something like that. It was delicious, too.