Image credit: Instagram.com/joethommas
New York is the ultimate city destination. But how does one tackle this vibrant beast without missing a thing? Some strategic planning will put you on the front foot, and we suggest breaking down the Big Apple by areas, so you can immerse yourself in the personalities of each of the different neighbourhoods. Taxis are super easy to come by and the subway is fast, but walking lets you get lost in all the diverse pockets that make NYC such a dynamic place to visit. Side note: if you’re doing an extended stay of seven or more days, I recommend spending three nights uptown to be near Central Park and four nights downtown to live like a local.
Here is a round-up of my favourite places to dine and the places to explore. Sure it’s long, but you can sleep on the flight home, as you won’t want to miss a thing!
Stumptown Coffee. Image credit: Instagram.com/stumptowncoffee
BUT FIRST, COFFEE
Even within the last few years, NYC’s coffee offering has stepped it up, big time. There are now tons of Aussies showing the locals how to make a solid flat white and cortado… and you will usually find some smashed avocado on the menu, too.
The best coffee, hands down, on the island (and in Brooklyn). Open early every day – I love both the West Village post and the one in the foyer of the Ace Hotel in equal measure.
West Village: West 8th Avenue between 5th and 6th Avenue,West Village. Ace Hotel: West 29th Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue.
Joe Coffee Company
More and more of these are popping up.
There are lots of these scattered throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.
An Aussie team making excellent coffee all over Manhattan, with the newest café opening in Nolita in May this year (pictured, above).
Laughing Man Coffee Company
Aussie actor Hugh Jackman owns this company, which has a focus on supporting fair trade coffee industries around the world and giving back to their local communities.
184 Duane Street, Tribeca; 300 Vesey St, at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
It’s run by Aussies, so you’ll get a Vegemite toast fix, as well as a top-of-the-line flat white.
667 Lexington Avenue, between 55th & 56th.
These Italian coffee bars are dotted throughout the island; my favourite is the Upper East Side post – for stellar people watching.
1000 Madison Avenue.
Sant Ambroeus, SoHo. Image credit: Instagram.com/tiff_panda
THE EATING HIT LIST
Get to these any way you can for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or drinks.
More than coffee, this place boasts a full Italian menu as well as bar snacks and takeaway options. The focaccine is to die for. There’s a few outposts, but I love the one on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side, because the people watching is next level.
1000 Madison Avenue, Upper East Side.
A classic mainstay of uptown girls, lunch at Fred’s is a quintessential NYC experience not to be missed – for the people watching, as much as the extensive choice of chopped salads. Bonus: you get to wander through Barney’s before and after.
660 Madison Avenue, Upper East Side.
Owned by the same peeps as Café Cluny, this is traditional French fare served in a bustling dining room. A great find on the Upper West Side, where there aren’t as many good eating options as other areas of Manhattan.
200 West 70th Street, Upper West Side.
Freemans. Image credit: Instagram.com/classicalecs
I stumbled upon this when I needed a pre-marathon day carb fix – and what a winner it was. Boasting classic Italian favourites and crowd pleasers, the eggplant parmigiana was the best I have ever had.
235 Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side.
Beauty & Essex
A fabulous and cool Lower East Side dining room and bar.
146 Essex Street, Lower East Side.
Hidden down a laneway on the Lower East Side, Freemans is a unique experience serving classic American fare.
End of Freemans Alley, off Rivington Street between Chrystie and the Bowery on the Lower East Side.
ABC Cocina. Image credit: Instagram.com/abccocina
The Standard Grill
A classic bistro with great food in a fun room. Located underneath the beginning of the High Line.
848 Washington Street, Meatpacking District.
ABC Cocina (and also ABC Kitchen, ABCV)
A classic NYC hotspot for a reason – each outpost has its own distinct personality. We ate at ABC Cocina and I am still dreaming of the fish tacos.
38 East 19th Street, Flatiron.
A local gem tucked in the West Village; great for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
284 West 12th Street, West Village.
Waverly Inn. Image credit: Instagram.com/wildwestvillage
New York does French-style food so well, and this menu of innovative French dishes in a stunning room in the West Village is a must-do.
24 5th Avenue, West Village.
Part restaurant café, part French speakeasy, Buvette is a trés glamorous neighbourhood eatery you wish was at the end of your street. Great any time of the day; from breakfast to last drinks.
42 Grove Street, Greenwich Village.
Dark and moody, you won’t know which Hollywood heavy hitter is sitting next to you. Sublime food, wine list and impeccable service. Put it in your top three.
16 Bank Street, Greenwich Village.
Don Angie. Image credit: Instagram.com/nicole_franzen
A corner neighbourhood favourite.
103 Greenwich Avenue, West Village.
You really do wish this was on your corner. Open from first thing until lights out, you can eat every meal here – and who wouldn’t want to?
172 Waverly Place, West Village.
While you’re spoilt for options in the West Village area, here is another one that is yum.
18 Greenwich Avenue, West Village.
Café Clover. Image credit: Instagram.com/clovernewyork
Society Café at the Walker Hotel
Another example of classic American bistro dining done so well.
The Walker Hotel, 52 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village.
With a focus on healthy and clean food, you can feel good as you look good in this Insta-favourite café in the West Village.
10 Downing Street, West Village.
The best bagels in NYC.
500 Avenue of the Americas, Greenwich Village.
Balthazar. Image credit: Instagram.com/balthazarny
A buzzy Italian bolthole loved by locals, it’s also highly likely you’ll enjoy a celebrity sighting over your pasta, too.
268 6th Avenue, West Village.
The original classic French brasserie created by legendary restaurateur Keith McNally in 1997, it’s still one of the buzziest and best dining rooms in NYC, two decades on.
80 Spring Street, SoHo.
In a city with a lot of good tacos, these are hands-down the best. Run, don’t walk.
114 Kenmare Street, SoHo.
La Mercerie. Image credit: Instagram.com/siobhaise
An interior wonderland, this French café sits at the front of the impressive Roman and Williams Guild store. Every detail, including the cutlery and tableware, is so perfect you will want to take it all home.
53 Howard Street, SoHo.
Café Altro Paradiso
A fresh and inventive Italian-inspired menu in a small and intimate room.
234 Spring Street, SoHo.
Yes, another Keith McNally spot. This hearty French fare will tick the pit-stop box while you’re wandering the streets of SoHo.
59 Grand Street, SoHo.
Le Coucou. Image credit: Instagram.com/honestlywtf
Come here for incredible French cuisine from Parisian chef Daniel Rose, served in an elegant bistro setting. Rose collaborated with restaurateur Stephen Starr for this chic restaurant located at the 11 Howard hotel.
11 Howard, 138 Lafayette Street, Nolita.
An old favourite that is a NYC institution, it does the greatest avocado on toast.
242 Mott Street, Nolita (corner of Prince Street).
Great room, great people and delicious modern Italian-inspired food. Don’t miss it.
5 King Street, SoHo.
Augustine. Image credit: Instagram.com/mostlyaboutcoffee
Another smash hit from Keith McNally, this French brasserie is perfect at any mealtime and is part of The Beekman Hotel. Make sure you find time to have a drink in the fabulous lobby bar at the hotel, too.
5 Beekman Street, Lower Manhattan.
This new French bistro and bar in Tribeca is the latest offering from Keith McNally – and another smash-hit success.
241 West Broadway, Tribeca.
Olive’s. Image credit: Instagram.com/nyc
ON A SWEET NOTE
Even if you don’t usually have a sweet tooth, you will find yourself needing to eat cake as you rack up the kilometres traipsing all over Manhattan. Hot tip: the best chocolate chip cookies and carrot cake can be found at Olive’s in SoHo and Dean & DeLuca SoHo.
Dean & DeLuca. Image credit: Instagram.com/deandeluca_jp
LUNCH ON THE RUN
The original and the best is Dean & DeLuca Prince Street SoHo. They stock anything you feel like and it’s so easy to grab and go.
Great for buying fruit, snacks and any sort of food on the run. I like the one at Columbus Circle, which is near the bottom of Central Park.
High Line. Image credit: Instagram.com/francicampus
WHEN YOU’RE NOT EATING (OR SHOPPING)
Some highlights to squeeze into your itinerary…
- Walk the High Line – it’s the best thing to do first, as you get the best perspective of the city from up high. Recently extended, the re-purposing of the old railway line and establishment of a green public space is the ultimate oasis amongst the chaos of the city.
- Wander around the Meatpacking District. The Whitney Museum of American Art has relocated there, and there are amazing stores and shops around that area, notably Jeffrey and Intermix. The Meatpacking District still has operational butchers and meat workers located there, and you’ll spot trucks with carcasses hanging out the back among the high-end boutiques and hotels. It’s amazing to see the two sitting side by side.
Brooklyn. Image credit: Instagram.com/joethommas
- Brooklyn is a parallel city that you will need days to scour. There’s a lot of fabulous things to discover in the neighbourhoods of Williamsburg, Dumbo (don’t miss the view from the new Soho House Dumbo), Bushwick, Greenpoint and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
- Chelsea Market offers great food and coffee options, you will walk past this on your way from the Meatpacking down to SoHo.
- See a basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Buy tickets from stubhub.com, an authorised reseller.
Tribeca. Image credit: Instagram.com/masha__filonova
- Tribeca is great to just walk and walk.
- Nolita (North of Little Italy) is also a great walking neighbourhood. It offers great boutiques and Café Gitane is also located here. The 11 Howard hotel is near here too.
- There are so many great things going on up in Harlem, I would recommend doing a bus tour which covers the area, so you can hear a guide run through the history and points of interest.
MoMa. Image credit: Instagram.com/mosathm
You could dedicate your entire visit to museums and galleries and you still wouldn’t cover it all off… but make a start with these ones: