“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
If you have ever been to New York, you will understand what I mean by “sensory overload”. In every way the experience is an overload of the senses – in some ways it is exhilarating whilst other ways it is exhausting. Hence I thought that the Lewis Carroll quote from the Alice in Wonderland bronze found in Central Park is particularly apt… and I mean that New York is a “mad” city in the nicest possible way!
Being an advocate of a fairly clean diet I believe that eating in New York can be both a challenge and a liberation. A challenge in that there is a lot of this:
Food trucks… everywhere
And a liberation in that there is the opportunity to try so many new things.
I really love to travel but it is also really important to me that my family eats well. So I rely heavily on my own research and word-of-mouth recommendations to get prepared before as well as during my trip.
Some tips on preparing?
1. Google. I Googled (isn’t it incredible that this is now a verb!) several times before I left for New York, looking for “organic food + New York”; “wholefood + New York”; “great food + New York”… you get the idea.
2. After plenty of reading I set myself a Pinterest board to keep a track of all the places I thought looked like a potential.
3. I even checked the map to make sure I knew a couple of good restaurants as well as fresh produce stores (Wholefoods Market is fantastic) close to where we were staying.
4. And I made a few reservations before I left. I think all the restaurants that I came across had an online booking system, so this made the process fairly simple. Had I known how critical it is to book in New York, I may have booked a few more. But making a few bookings ahead of time really was handy. It also took some of the stress of thinking about food out of the daily agenda.
I would say that the key to enjoying your trip and taking the stress out of food is (as always) be prepared (there’s no way of getting around it).
I recently travelled to New York with my mum (how lucky am I!) for two weeks. My goal was to “hit the ground running” as we had a lot to cover. Arriving at 3pm a Monday afternoon and scheduling a tour shuttle for 8.00 the following morning, I knew there wasn’t much time to start hunting the streets for a nourishing breakfast. So I pre-ordered organic juices to be delivered to our hotel, ready and waiting to refresh! My choice? Organic Avenue – little outlets all over Manhattan … and it turns out that they deliver!
A small selection of the juices on display at Organic Avenue
Now if you are partial to a coffee you may find yourself sorely disappointed in New York. Americans have a whole different way of making coffee and even for a novice like myself, I didn’t think their coffee was anything to get excited by, or even bother trying. For the coffee addicts in our team this was tough, until we discovered Little Collins, a boutique coffee bar set up by an Australian paying homage to beautiful Little Collins St in Melbourne. Great coffee and delicious small eats.
If you can’t make it to Lexington and 55th (ie. Little Collins), then Joe Coffee is a chain found all over Manhattan which also satiates the desire for an Australian-style coffee!
For casual lunch and dinner dining I enjoyed and would thoroughly recommend Eataly – a little touch of Italy on 5th Avenue which is a smorgasbord of fresh produce shops, cafes, meals-to-go, and sit-down restaurants. The Green Table at Chelsea Markets was well and truly buzzing with fresh, local food. Back 40 in SoHo and The East Village was another fabulous farm-to-plate discovery. We had a fun breakfast at Balthazar – this place is bustling from the moment it opens its doors. Be sure to book, even for 8am. And Hangawi was such a beautiful find close to our hotel. We enjoyed a couple of relaxing, traditional vegetarian Korean meals. An oasis after a long day walking and enduring traffic and busyness!
We were also lucky enough to try a few restaurants that were a little more upmarket. My favourite for atmosphere was Buddakan – I took plenty of photos but absolutely none of them do it any justice. This is probably the best photo I have found of the grand entrance. Spectacular. The Spice Market in the Meatpacking District was also great atmosphere, delicious food and well worth the effort to book!
The Spice Market
Discovering the treasure trove of restaurants by Jean-George Vongerichten was also an absolute stroke of luck. On previous trips to New York I have loved eating at ABC Kitchen. Unable to secure a booking on this trip, we tried ABC Cocina as well as The Mercer Kitchen. Really, you can’t go wrong! (Just be sure to book).
My salmon at The Mercer Kitchen
Keep your wits about you – good food can make or break a trip! After all, your holiday is all about spending time with people about whom you care. Food is certainly one thing that my family has in common – we all really appreciate good food. So this is one of the many reasons why I think it is important to invest a bit of time before your trip, so that you can be prepared to eat well and be happy!
My sister-in-law, Kellie, me and mum enjoying breakfast on a very special occasion at The Plaza.
How about you? do you find food a challenge when you travel? Do you get yourself prepared? Where do you love to eat in New York?