6 days in New York is nowhere near long enough to even make a dent in even a small shortlist of joints to hit, checking back I think we managed around 50% of the places pre-selected and added onto a GMap (over use of which landed me with a mobile bill of over £400 when we returned back to the UK).
Of course, one of the beauties of visiting a city as vibrantly foodie as NYC, is randomly bumping into places; diners, food stands, bars as you wander around. Here’s just three places that fall into that bracket that you might want to add to your shortlist when you visit (but hey, be sensible, buy a local SIM like I DIDN’T [shudders]).
Pony Bar, Hell’s Kitchen
The chances of the closest bar to your hotel turning out to be the best bar you find all week, is pretty slim. But in The Pony Bar, we struck lucky. A fairly recent addition to this district over on the West side of Manhattan, The Pony Bar is based on a pretty simple, but difficult to execute premise; 20 local(ish) craft beers on a daily changing menu served for a flat $5 price. Expect everything from Pales to Stouts, via IPAs, Blondes and Blanches, mainly served in 14oz glasses (so a pint-ish size, with 8oz for the pricier and high alcohol brews).
TV screens on the walls display the name, origin and ABV of each and whilst we didn’t sample any of the food on offer, what passed by (burgers, pulled meat sandwiches et al) looked perfectly complimentary to the much-lengthier beer menu (and far, far better than what we ate in a much complimented, but massively disappointing Barbecue joint a couple of blocks away). It gets busy – as all good places inevitably do – but if you’re anywhere near and fancy a beer, it’s a great way to work your way through many of the best beers that the US microbrewery industry currently offers.
Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market – formerly a biscuit warehouse – sits on the southern end of The Highline and is sort of an indoor semi-permanent version of London’s own Borough Market (and just as busy and tourist dense). Amidst this sits Dickson’s; a high-end butchers shop selling properly reared heritage meats and, luckily for us with a mid-morning post-walk hunger, their own beef hotdogs to take-away for a couple of dollars.
Our choice of toppings – pickled jalapeños – complemented the richness of the ‘dog perfectly. It’s a little off the beaten track in the market, not in the main food court bit and it’s not obvious that you can buy hot food. But seek it out, away from the throng and you’ll be well-rewarded.
Coppelia, W 14th Street (Chelsea-ish, between 6th & 7th Ave)
Another fairly new NYC venue is this 24 hour-a-day Latin diner, serving up a variety of dishes from The Caribbean / South America. Oh and Korea, for reasons that we never established (but most likely as a result of the success of Kogi in Los Angeles trending Mexican/Korean fusion across to the East Coast).
Korean Tacos (Skirt steak, Jalapeno Kimchi, Salsa Verde and accompanying Rice and Beans) and Cubano sandwich (Roasted pork and ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard) were quickly ordered, along with a Passion Fruit Float. Weirdly, the float turned out to be the real star, a real kick of fresh fruit undiluted by the ice-cream…. I regretted being boring and sticking to beer.
The last proper Cubano sandwich I’d eaten was in Florida, 20 years before and I still recall the importance of the mustard in the mix. It should be painted onto the bread before toasting, so every morsel of meat inside gets an accompanying sting as you bit into it. Coppelia’s version hit that mark, if perhaps a little less brave with the mustard than I’d ideally like (but perfectly adequate for those with normal functioning taste buds).
The Tacos too were a little light on the heat – jalapeños being maybe slightly too subtle for the Kimchi crema – but the balance of the dish is undeniably good. Skirt was cooked perfectly (note; why don’t we use more skirt steak in the UK ?) and despite the heat-issue, turn out that Kimchi works as well in a Taco, as it seems to do with ‘dogs and burgers. Given that Coppelia is open 24 hours a day, both of these would do wonders for a post Pony Bar dinner. Now there’s a suggestion I must retain for future use.
Pony Bar, 637, 10th Ave (45st & 10 Ave), NYC [website]
Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave, NYC [website]
Coppelia, 207 West 14th Street (between 6th & 7th Ave), NYC [website]