Finding a place to eat in New York can be an overwhelming experience. These are my favourite eating spots in the city away from the madness of Midtown.
Roberta’s, 261 Moore Street, Brooklyn
Some people will tell you Grimaldi’s, also in Brooklyn, is the best Pizza in NYC. Don’t listen to them; Roberta’s serves the best pizza you will ever taste. Located just outside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s ‘of-the-moment’ hippest quarter, Roberta’s hides behind an entrance so unremarkable you will miss it at first. Take the L train to Morgan Avenue and don’t be disappointed by the barren surroundings, this area hides more than a few surprises. The ever evolving menu features a variety of pizzas with inventive topping combinations; past offerings have included honey, mozzarella, tomato and chili, and lamb meatballs with blue cheese, kale and oregano. On my most recent trip I had the Crispy Glover, topped with tomato, taleggio cheese, guanciale (an Italian cured meat), onion, breadcrumbs and chili. Every single pizza is expertly cooked and every topping lovingly placed. Full of ambiance and off the beaten tourist track, a meal here is a great experience.
The Spotted Pig, 314 West 11th Street, West Village
The Spotted Pig is a popular gastro-pub serving traditional British and Italian food, the influence of British chef and co-owner Alison Bloomfield being very evident in both the menu and the set-up. It has a Michelin star yet remains laidback and affordable. Housed over two floors of a brownstone, the exterior is decorated with plants, fitting the picturesque surroundings of the West Village and the walls inside are covered in quirky memorabilia. Brunch, lunch and dinner are served or you can pop in for a casual drink at the pub-style bar. The menu manages to be rustic yet refined; plates range from steamed mussels with green curry and coconut milk to the chargrilled burger with Roquefort and shoestring fries (enhanced by dried rosemary and garlic). There’s a dish here to suit all tastes.
Chelsea Market, 75 9th Avenue, Chelsea
This two-floor covered food court is a foodie heaven and conveniently located just around the corner from the 14th Street entrance to the High Line, so you can grab a picnic or food to go and take it up with you. It’s packed full of restaurants, delis, bakeries and also has a vintage flea mini-market selling clothes and jewelry at the back. The building is a former cookie factory where the Oreo was invented in 1912. Must-visits are the Fat Witch Bakery with its amazing variety of brownies and Mŏkbar, a Korean-Japanese fusion restaurant serving the latest New York food fad of ramen noodles.
Cocina Economica Mexico, 452 Amsterdam Avenue, Upper West Side
A far cry from the gaudy, faux Mexican eateries to be found in abundance throughout the city, this small restaurant serves authentic Mexican food with friendly service in a cosy, warm atmosphere. All the dishes you’d hope to find are here – nachos, burritos, ceviche, quesadillas – alongside traditional, lesser known dishes such as avocado cornbread (to die for) and cactus, in addition to regular specials. Banana fans must try the banana empanada for dessert: a fried banana pastry with banana gelato and caramelised bananas. Drinks flow at the bar: the restaurant has a divine range of cocktails including the Spicy Cucumber Mojito and Maya Cocoa (a mixture of Kahlua, agavero and dark chocolate). To top it all off, Cocina Economica Mexico offers seriously good value for money; I paid $31 for a 3 course meal and cocktail, all of which were well made with quality ingredients.
Peacefood Cafe, 460 Amsterdam Avenue, Upper West Side
This vegan bakery and cafe is located just a few doors down from Cocina Economica Mexico and again serves well made dishes at a fantastically reasonable price. They have a second location downtown at 41 East 11th Street. Choose from salads, paninis, lasagna, tempura and more, all of which are of course completely dairy and meat free. The menu also includes a range of delicious drinks including smoothies, juices and organic coffees, all imaginatively devised – try the ginger soy latte or summer cooler (watermelon, mint, agave and ice). Finish off your meal with a sweet treat from the mouthwatering bakery display, perhaps the peanut butter cheesecake or key-lime pie.