Madison Park on a Sunday afternoon
David : Happy Thursday everyone, we just returned from NYC and thought it would be fun to share some of our food highlights for those of you headed eastbound this summer. When I say "we" I'm of course talking about myself and the incomparable Irene Hsu.
Irene : Thank you for that introduction! This was a special NYC trip in that we got to explore the city for the first time without our families in tow, which meant we had free reign over our activities for an entire weekend.
David : Sightseeing be damned, our priority for this trip was to eat things specific to NYC that we couldn't eat in LA. In between meals we would walk off the damage, drink coffee and people watch, then start the vicious cycle all over again. We have a lot to report so let's get started!
A Street Cart We Desire
David : For anyone who's not familiar with Halal Guys, there's multiple locations around the city but the one on 53rd and 6th has almost five-thousand five-star Yelp reviews, so that's where we went. Halal Guy's signature dish is this pie-sized tin of chicken, schwarma, and pita over rice that I'll simply refer to as DAAAAAAYAMN! It's the best six dollars you'll spend on anything legal.
We were too busy stuffing our faces to take a decent picture, so we stole this one from Yelp
Irene : THE WHITE SAUCE! I actually don't want to know EXACTLY what that sauce was or why it tasted so good, but I'd ditch fine dining in a second for another taste of that halal plate. You rarely expect a food stand to offer the kind of meal you want to dive into like you're Scrooge McDuck cherry-bombing into a pile of gold coins. Oh and be sure to add a couple drops of the hot sauce as well!
The $15 Lobster Roll
David : Two fistfuls of ocean-fresh lobster sandwiched between a buttery roll, multiple locations in Manhattan, what else is there to say?
Irene : Worth it!
Outside of Luke's on the Upper East Side
BASILLE'S ARTICHOKE PIZZA
A work of ARTichoke
Irene : This pizza is the blacked-out Escalade of pies: fabulous, roomy, and just the right amount of artichoke bling. Can someone please get this pie an agent?
David : I'm just glad you're a cheap date who loves pizza so much. This was good from the first bite to the last. One slice for each of us was more than enough.
All the cool kids eat here.
BEST BAGEL & COFFEE
Everything bagel with lox and scallion cream cheese
David : According to popular foodie lore, NYC bread products are the best in the world because of the minerals in the NYC tap water. Whether that's true or not, what I do know is that these were the two best bagel sandwiches we've ever eaten. Would you agree?
Egg, cheese and bacon bagel sandwich
Irene : Totally agree. It's pretty ballsy to call yourself the "Best," but these bagels live up to their name.
David : We didn't get a chance to try the famed bagels and lox at Russ and Daughters so we'll have to put that on the list for next time.
THE LITTLE OWL
Little Owl is a cozy farm-to-table eatery in the West Village that our friend Vanna counts as her favorite restaurant in NYC, and since she has impeccable taste in food (and friends) we made it a point to go. This was the only real sit-down meal we had all trip, so we'll spend a little more time dissecting this meal.
Inside the Little Owl, West Village
Irene : Little Owl and its relaxed ambiance was the highlight of our first day in New York and also where David became entranced by the diners' tailored casual wear.
David : Indeed I was. New Yorkers have this talent for dressing well without looking like they put any effort or thought into it. Respect! And the service here was friendly and top notch.
Irene : The melon carpaccio was the most memorable thing on the menu for me. I really loved the cheese in combination with fig and melon.
Seasonal Melon Carpaccio
David : It was memorable and we actually opted to order this as our first over their meatball sliders, which is the big star here according to Yelpers. But since we decided on the cheeseburger as one of our mains we figured one meat and bun dish was enough.
Irene : You know, I walked into Little Owl wanting to get those sliders but I don't regret choosing the cheeseburger at all because it was cooked EXACTLY as specified, medium rare. It was a healthy portion of meat too, big ball of beef bigger than David's biceps...
David : When I’m not flexing! Stop flirting with me Irene this is a family show, and don’t forget about the soft shelled crab over the bed of wild mushroom risotto.
Daily Special : Soft Shell Crab Risotto
Irene : One of the soft claws creeped me out so I made David eat it. But that risotto was very well executed, firm grains that came apart well in the creamy sauce. Good risotto is hard to cook.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with homemade Vanilla ice cream
David : Even though there’s plenty of farm-to-table options in So Cal, I would still recommend Little Owl to non-New Yorkers. It takes a lot to stand out in NYC and Little Owl distinguishes itself in a cool, understated way. It's like the Mos Def of New American cuisine!
Shake Shack burger and fries
David : The popular debate of the day is whether Shake Shack is better than In-n-Out. Let's just settle this silly East Coast vs. West Coast all-BEEF patty once and for all. What was true about Biggie vs. Pac is true about Shake Shack vs. In-N-Out, neither is better! They're both burger empires with unique offerings. Although I wouldn't wait as long as we did for our Shake Shack order again (30 minutes at the Madison Park location), they definitely know their way around burgers, shakes and fries. What do you think?
Irene : Yes, it was hard to compare the two places. Like Biggie, Shake Shack's burger was a lot meatier. But then again, In-n-Out's stand-out fries are what I'd like to have with me in the event of a Tupacalypse. I'd have to go back again (and again and again) to decide which place is better.
Sharp elbows gets you to the front
Irene : I had a Matrix moment here and that red cookie was like the Red Pill. All other macarons prior were just part of a stale batch fed to us by unimaginative drones and this LaduREE of light showed me the way macarons should feel and taste: light as air and melt-in-your-mouth delightful. And I'm pretty sure I now know kung fu.
Endorphin Biscuits - Box of 12
David : Bruce Lee would be proud. There isn't a seating area at Laduree so find a nearby sidewalk cafe, buy a coffee and host your very own macaron tasting. Corrado Bread and Pastry on 69th and Lexington is a good choice.
BIG GAY ICE CREAM
David : There's that funny scene at the end of Old School where Will Ferrell's character Frank The Tank blacks out and crushes James Carville in a political debate. I think that happened to you here. For a good five minutes you were singularly zen focused with that ice cream in your face! Did you leave your body?
Don't talk to me man I'm in the zone
Irene : MMMMMMMMMMMMMM
DIZZY'S COCA COLA CLUB AT LINCOLN CENTER
Irene : I loved this place! It was an exciting hub of creativity and enthusiasm. We hit up the late night show and a bunch of musicians kept going up on stage to try to one-up each other. Jazz is alive and kickin' in New York! Oh, and David's still got it too because he got hit on by a blonde sitting at a nearby table ;)
David : Too bad he wasn't my type #truestorydoe. We were usually too tired from the day to go hard at night but we gotta mention Dizzy's, it's a must for jazz fans. The late show ($20 cover, get there at 11 to line up) was an improvised free-for-all with a funny pecking order. The main act kicked off the show but OG players from the Lincoln Center Orchestra would commandeer the stage at-will with young upstarts from Julliard waiting in the wings. It was all in good fun and fascinating to watch them all improvise together. And gotta give it up to the Bryan Carter Trio though for their rendition of MJ's I Just Can't Stop Loving You, that was pure soul man. And that tap dance battle! I must really love this place to leave such a gushing review because I wasn't the only one getting hit on that night, ahem. Two horn players were playing their faces off in a vain effort to seduce you right from under me! Little did they know I had bought you Artichoke pizza earlier so they had no chance. Suckas!
Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed this first edition of LF On The Road! If you have your own suggestions for NYC please share them with us in the comments below. Up next - NOLA!