NYC Food Experiences
By Jessica Festa
One of the best ways to explore a new destination is through the palate. For those traveling to New York City, you’ll have no limit to the number of food-focused activities you can partake in. From ambient aerial dining to learning to make your own pizza, here is a guide to NYC’s top food experiences.
Expert tip: Want to make the most of your tip in NYC? Check out these amazing New York student vacation packages , including specials for teachers and students!
1. Head to a rooftop
Is there anything more ambient than dining on a rooftop? Luckily, New York City has plenty. One recommendation is Upstairs at the Kimberly, where farm-to-fork tapas (the spiced duck cigars with pomegranate dipping sauce are amazing!) and craft cocktails are paired with front-row views of the Chrysler Building, its spires especially beautiful at night when illuminated. Another great option is the Gallow Green , which sits on top of the quirky McKittrick Hotel, a warehouse-turned-live theater for the interactive Sleep No More performance. In the rooftop eatery overlooking Manhattan’s West Side, strings of bare bulbs, pebble garden floors and weathered wooden tables create a whimsical ambience, while punch bowls, glazed quail skewers, mini pork pies and elderflower cheesecake satisfy the palate.
2. Take a cooking class
Taking a cooking class in NYC is not only fun, it can help you really appreciate your food. While there are myriad of courses to choose from, it’s best to go with a class that reflects the local culture. During a pizza-making class with Pizza A Casa you’ll learn to make your own dough all the way to topping your creation, baking it and eating. Another yummy class is an Artisan Pretzel course with the Institute of Culinary Education, where you’ll leave understanding how to make delicious giant soft pretzels from scratch, complete with sweet and savory toppings and dipping sauces. While not a cooking class, per say, a Foraging Tour with “Wildman” Steve Brill educates you how to put together truly local meals using the bounty of NYC parks.
3. Savor the best of NYC pizza
New York City is littered with 99 cent pizza shops and storefronts claiming to be “New York’s Best Pizza.” While I’m not saying these venues are bad, you should spend your money savoring pizza only from the top NYC shops. One local favorite is Artichoke Basille’s Pizza , known for hearty pizza wedges topped with everything from olive oil and fresh basil to crab sauce to spinach artichoke dip — not to mention beer and wine at their Chelsea location. If you like Sicilian pies, take the train into Brooklyn and visit L&B Spumoni Gardens , renowned for their square slices topped with tangy tomato sauce atop fresh mozzarella (and homemade spumoni). And at Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen, Chef and Owner Nicola Accardi draws from his travels through Italy and serves out-of-this-world pizzas cooked to perfection in a 7,000-pound wood burning double oven made from Vesuvio volcanic clay. Yum!
4. Explore desserts in the West Village
Those with a sweet tooth should head to Manhattan’s West Village, home to NYC’s best sweeteries. Like cupcakes? Choose between Sweet Revenge, which specializes in pairing made-from-scratch cupcakes (think peanut butter cake stuffed with ganache and topped with peanut butter fudge) with wine and beer, or Molly’s Cupcakes where you can make your own treat or choose from the decadent display case before sitting at one of the their courter swings or playing a board game from their expansive selection. If it’s gelato you’re after, Popbar serves artisanal gelato made fresh each day and dipped in sweet sauces before being coated in toppings. There’s also Grom , an Italian gelato company sourcing only the best ingredients, like organic stone fruits from Piedmont and lemons from Sicily. And at Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar one can indulge their cocoa craving with a selection of chocolate martinis, fondue, a chocolate fountain, dessert pizza, truffles, molten cake and more.
5. Go farm-to-fork
One way to get a true taste of local culture is through a farm-to-fork restaurant serving dishes crafted from locally-sourced ingredients. If you head to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood and walk down Bedford Avenue and its surrounds, you’ll find almost nothing but, with sustainable eateries like Wild, Allswell , Traif and Brooklyn Oenology , a New York winery also serving local nibbles. In Manhattan, don’t miss ABC Kitchen , where ingredients are not only locally and humanely sourced, but healthy and free of any chemicals or hormones. The grilled bread topped with house-made ricotta and fig compote, and the fried organic chicken with collard greens are both menu standouts.
Jessica Festa is the editor of the online food, culture and responsible travel magazine, Epicure & Culture as the solo and offbeat travel blog, Jessie on a Journey . She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana. You can also follow Jessie’s adventures on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.