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New York food: The Empire State of godlike flavours



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Nothing can be better than New York food

The Big Apple is well-known for its generous open-mindedness and the diversity of nations inhabiting its boroughs. This has a big impact on the local food available. That’s one of the main reasons people keep on falling in love with New York, and it’s exactly what’s making it one of the best places to visit. Some would say it’s a shame that New York state has no In-N-Out or Wawa, but who needs those if you can experience the best street food available, right?

I went to the States with my girlfriend Danuta for a couple of weeks of basic chilling-around, shopping, can’t-miss sightseeing, a Yankees’ game, and all the other stuff you can’t miss while visiting the concrete jungle. One of the quests on my journey was to create a juicy list of dope places to grab the very best meals in town. All of the spots below are definitely worth your precious time while visiting New York City.

Korilla BBQ

Korilla is much more than just a burrito with a Korean filling – Martin Carter Smehlik New york foodKorilla is much more than just a burrito with a Korean filling – Martin Carter Smehlik

I adore fusions. Especially the exotic ones. Some people claim Korilla is like Chipotle getting a Korean makeover, but it’s much more than that. They know how to play this game well and by combining Korean BBQ with Mexican cuisine they are sticking to the current bowl/burrito trend.

Each dishes is highly customisable; you always need to choose a base, protein, rice, top’d, side and sauce. It creates a swirling vortex of heavenly flavours. You simply can’t go wrong with any combination.

There are few things to be pointed out – some meals are meant to be cold, some of them warm. Don’t get confused by it. And if you’re coming for tacos, you’d better show up for lunch rather than dinner. Tacos sell out super quickly every day.

New York foodCuisine: Korean/Mexican fusion
Location: near corner of St. Marks Pl. & 3rd Ave in East Village
More locations: KBBQ by Korilla (SoHo), KBBQ by Korilla (Midtown Manhattan/Tudor City), KBBQ by Korilla (Midtown East), Korilla Truck (upcoming locations shared daily via Instagram and Twitter)
Price range: $$
What we ate:
 A rice bowl with tofu and the burrito bulgogi
Tips: Go early if you wanna get tacos!
Possible alternatives: Kimchi Grill (Crown Heights/Prospect Heights) and Kobeque (Koreatown/Midtown East)

Wafels & Dinges

Bacon plus waffles is a winning combination – Martin Carter Smehlik - New york foodBacon plus waffles is a winning combination – Martin Carter Smehlik

The very tempting and somehow familiar aroma percolating out of the cute yellow stands of Wafels & Dinges is highly addictive indeed. You can find them all around the Manhattan, but we visited the one in Herald Square. The view from the stand at Pier 45 will put a spell on you as well.

Their bacon on waffles? Love it! And the freshly squeezed lemonade? Yes, please!

Cuisine: Belgian Waffles (in the Brussels and Liege style)
Location: Herald Square 102 West 35th Street in Midtown/Garment District, close to the Empire State Building and right by Macy’s
New york foodMore locations: W&D Commissary & Kitchen (Boerum Hill), Flagship W&D Café (East Village), The Landing at Pier 45 (Greenwich Village), Bryant Park (Midtown), W&D Pagadder Cart (Central Park entrance), W&D Vedette Cart (Central Park, near Wollman Rink), W&D Bierbeek Cart (Central Park/Upper West Side), W&D Chancar Cart (Upper West Side)
Price range: $-$$
What we ate: A bacon waffle with Vermont maple syrup and powdered sugar, a small waffle with strawberry, bananas & whipped cream and freshly squeezed lemonade
Tips: The hashbrown waffle isn’t available everywhere
Alternatives: Petite Abeille (Union Square), Le Pain Quotidien (Theater District) and Buvette (West Village)

The Cinnamon Snail

Cinnamon Snail's magical food is enough to turn anyone vegetarian – Martin Carter Smehlik - New York foodCinnamon Snail’s magical food is enough to turn anyone vegetarian – Martin Carter Smehlik

What an amazing experience – even for a highly carnivorous person like me.
If I were ever to become a vegan or vegetarian, Cinnamon Snail could proudly take the blame.

Cuisine: Vegan sandwiches, burgers and pastries
Location: West 33rd Street and 7th avenue in Manhattan, at the Pennsy, next to Pennsylvania Station
New York foodMore locations: Cinnamon Snail Food Truck (New Jersey), #FIDISNAIL (Williamsburg)
Price range: $$
What we ate: French lentil burger, 
coconut and Thai basil glazed donuts
Tips: No matter what you’re gonna get, make sure to include at least one of their famous donuts in the order
Alternatives: Le Botaniste (Lenox Hill), Terri (Financial District) and Dun-Well Doughnuts (East Williamsburg/Bushwick)


BaoHaus is part-owned by Eddie Huang, who is much more than just a restaurateur – Martin Carter Smehlik - New York foodBAOHAUS is part-owned by Eddie Huang, who is much more than just a restaurateur – Martin Carter Smehlik

I’m not gonna lie. I’m a big fan of Eddie Huang and once again I have proven to myself why at BAOHAUS. Chairman bao really is the thing to have! The signature house-made ice cold Lang Lang tea with lemonade is also great. And those sweet bao fries topped with pandan were absolutely outta this planet, both in their colour and taste.

Some may not like the old school rap bustling out of the speakers, card-only payments and limited seating, but imho this is exactly what is making BAOHAUS the best place for a quick snack while cruising through the East Village area.

new york food

Cuisine: Taiwanese bao
Location: 238 E 14th St in the East Village
Price range: $
What we ate: Chairman bao, birdhaus bao, fried fish bao, sweet bao fries with pandan and lang lang (a cold green tea & lemonade)
Tips: Google Eddie Huang before coming to this place 
Alternatives: Gua Bao (East Village), Momofuku Noodle Bar (East Village), Super Taste (Chinatown) and Taipei Hong (Flushing)

Phil’s Steaks

Phil's Steaks' Philly steaks are the stuff of New York legend – Martin Carter Smehlik - New York foodPhil’s Steaks’ Philly steaks are the stuff of New York legend – Martin Carter Smehlik

We were on our way to Central Park and when we saw Phil’s Steaks’ “NYC’s 1st original Philly cheesesteak truck jawn” right across the street. It brought huge smiles to our faces. While waiting in line, I realized that it doesn’t really matter if you’re an upper-class businessman from Wall Street or a liberal alternative hipster-chick from Bushwick. You can see that the one thing all sorts of people have in common is love for the jawn.

Cuisine: Philadelphia cheesesteaks
New york foodLocation: The location is shared at around 11AM every day at @philssteaks
Price range: $-$$
What we ate: A provolone six-inch steak with fried onions, the six-inch Wilson (vegetarian) with American cheese, sautéed mushrooms and Jalapeños, route 11 potato chips and aranciata rossa San Pellegrino
Tips: Give that baby some ketchup and be ready to get messy!
Alternatives: Empanada Mama (Hell’s Kitchen), Whitmans (East Village) and Shorty’s (Hell’s Kitchen and NoMad)

Ditch Plains

Could anything sound better than a mac and cheese roll? Martin Carter Smehlik - New York foodCould anything sound better than a mac and cheese hot dog? Martin Carter Smehlik

Ditch Plains is named after famous surfing beach in the city of Montauk, NY (which is also called The End of the World). During our trip across Long Island we made it to Ditch Plains beach, so we can hereby confirm that this NYC restaurant truly does its famous name proud. If you really don’t feel like having a Ditch dog (a hot dog with mac and cheese), you can’t go wrong with the lobster roll. Both of these signature meals were just great!

new york food

Cuisine: New American/Seafood
Location: 29 Bedford St in Greenwich Village
Price range: $$
What we ate: The lobster roll, Ditch dog, banana pudding, and Pacifico Draft
Tips: Get yourself familiar with the TV series The Affair. Thank me later
Alternatives: Cull & Pistol (Chelsea), Luke’s Lobster (East Village), Pearl Oyster Bar (West Village) and The Mermaid Inn (Upper West Side)

Caracas Arepa

Perhaps the best Venezuelan food in New York can be found at Caracas Arepa – Martin Carter Smehlik - New York foodPerhaps the best Venezuelan food in New York can be found at Caracas Arepa – Martin Carter Smehlik

Williamsburg is swarming with tremendous places to grab a bite to eat, but this one stands out against such tough competition. Caracas brings the unforgettable taste of meat infused with blend of herbs and spices inside a crunchy corn-flour staple topped with a lot of cheese, house-made sauces and splashed with a local NYC brewed beer. My taste buds are still thankful for this experience.

Cuisine: Venezuelan
Location: 291 Grand St in Williamsburg
More locations: Caracas Arepa Bar (Rockaway Park) and Caracas Arepa Bar (East Village)
new york foodPrice Range: $
What we ate:
 The arepa de pollo (chicken with caramelised onion and cheddar), arepa playa deluxe (tilapia with garlic infused oil and herb mayo), vegetable soup with a lunch salad, chocolate mousse, and Flag lager beer

Tips: Upgrade your arepa into a lunch combo (which adds soup or salad) for only 50¢. What a bargain!
Alternatives: Arepa Factory (East Village or Columbus Circle), El Cocotero (Chelsea), and Patacon Pisao (Lower East Side)

Melt Bakery

Melt Bakery is the most satisfying thing to bump into on a hot day – Melt Bakery New York foodMelt Bakery is the most satisfying thing to bump into on a hot day – Melt Bakery

It’s so satisfying when you stumble upon a stand of Melt Bakery during a hot summer walk through the High Line park. The adventurous flavour mixes of ice cream sandwiches served by pleasant staff instantly made our day much better than it already was.

new york food

Cuisine: Ice cream sandwiches
Location: High Line park in Chelsea
More locations: Melt Madison Sq (NoMad/Rose Hill), Melt Washington Sq (Greenwich Village), Melt Orchard St (Lower East Side), and Melt Dumbo (DUMBO)
Price range: $
What we ate: Classic (Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies + Vanilla Ice Cream)
Tips: Get some water with that or face the thirst later on 
Alternatives: Ice & Vice (Two Bridges), Schmackary’s (Hell’s Kitchen), and Davey’s Ice Cream (East Village)


Yonekichi is perfect for a light snack after a night's drinking – Martin Carter Smehlik - New York foodYonekichi is perfect for a light snack after a night’s drinking – Martin Carter Smehlik

Yonekichi’s rice burger was the solution for my slight Independence Day hangover. It’s an extremely tasty but surprisingly light quick-fix snack which won’t leave you as stuffed as a regular burger would.

new york food

Cuisine: Rice Burgers
Location: 238A E 9th St in East Village
More locations: 746 9th Ave (Hell’s Kitchen)
Price range: $$
What we ate: A tsukune regular, kakiage with egg, and the signature combo (furi furi, ume konbu and neko sider)
Tips: Definitely grab a yuzu ginger lemonade
Alternatives: Umami Burger (Greenwich Village), and Kobeyaki (Chelsea)


Roberta's is both authentic and alternative at the same time – Martin Carter Smehlik - New York foodRoberta’s is both authentic and alternative at the same time – Martin Carter Smehlik

Since Williamsburg’s rental prices skyrocketed in recent years, many people will tell you that the neighbourhood of Bushwick has replaced it in the coolness stakes. We were so lucky to stay with local legend, yoga teacher, well-known NYC bartender and musician called Idgy Dean. Thanks to this wonderful lady we experienced an authentic sneak peek into the real life of a true local. One of the things on the she showed us to add to your New York bucket-list is to visit Roberta’s.

This spot really is something different. You will feel it immediately while entering through the iconic red door. It’s not only about the unbelievable (as they call it) Neapolitan pizza with an NYC twist but also about the incredible atmosphere, sleek warehouse architecture, wide palette of local beers, great music, and a very interesting seating plan. Places like Roberta’s are those shaping the Bushwick paradise, and clearly showing off the culture of Brooklyn’s hip community.

Cuisine: Alternative Italian
New York foodLocation: 261 Moore St in Bushwick
Price range: $$
What we ate: A Speckenwolf (with extra pepperoni and garlic), the famous original pizza (with extra mushrooms), squid with lemon, scallion and chilli, bread pudding, Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin muscadet wine, and Brooklyn Brewery X Roberta’s 257 draft beer
Tips: Master your pizza knowledge here
Alternatives: Paulie Gee’s (Greenpoint), Milkflower (Astoria), Saraghina (Bedford-Stuyvesant), and Emily (Clinton Hill)

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