New York City
When taking on New York City one should really have a plan, or more specifically, a method of attack. Mine generally begins with food. It has been four years since I have been to NYC and I was seriously excited to eat. But again, one can’t go into it willy-nilly or total overload will ensue. The approaches are endless: go Sniff’s route and follow the dreamy plate of nostalgia, follow my friend Sparky’s lead and eat solely from street carts. Another would recommend taking a deep dive in a particular neighborhood.
I would like to say that there was rhyme and rhythm to our meals and constant consumption in between, but the only thread I can find when looking back on our four day trip was pure orgy-like indulgence. We ate when we passed something delicious, regardless of hunger or nutritional balance. Steering our obsessive noshing was my brother Brady and our good friend Sparky. We were in good hands. By the second day, I was shamelessly wandering around the city with a plastic tasting spoon jumping in and out of shops.
With only one reservation for the weekend – lunch at the Boathouse in Central Park – we were set free for spontaneous gluttony. A high point was Carter opening Brady’s hall closet, immediately seduced by the smell of cupcakes wafting up through the air vents from the cupcake shop below. Forgetting that he was looking for toilet paper, he dashed out the door and came back ten minutes later with a cappuccino cupcake, a chocolate chip cookie-dough cupcake and a glass of milk. The bakery in the bottom floor of their building is Crumbs; we are now able to add our two-cents to the classic NYC conversation of who has the best cupcakes. These definitely give Magnolia’s a run for their sprinkles; it can be argued that the frosting is much softer, free of a certain sugary hardness Magnolia’s can have.
If you have ever spent time in NYC you know what I am talking about, and it is NOT cupcakes. Everyone has THE BEST place for EVERYTHING. Best bagels. Best slices. Best burgers. Best sushi. Best mojito. Best dhosa. Best hala. My favorite this weekend was The Best Iced-Coffee in the City (not to be confused with The Best Coffee – that was across town). I can definitely get onboard with obsessive eating and bragging rights to having taken the time to truly get to know your subject, but New Yorkers really do take it to a comical level. Everyone has a place and a guy for everything. New Yorker's passion for proclaiming to know "the best of the best" is completely and totally absurd, bordering on psychotic, but it does make for a rather fun, in a manic sort of way, exploration of all the nooks and crannies in a city dense with discoveries. So, in a seemingly uncharted course ,we ate our way through four of the five burrows; our method of attack: to maintain The Best Stuffed Bellies in the City.
Sparky's Top 8 Best Of.....
Best Falafel - There may better falafel, but at $2.50, the price and quality definitely make Mahmoud's the place to beat.
Best Burritos - The dudes at Calexico have the market cornered on San Francisco- style burritos. Rice, beans, meat and Mexican goodness.
Best Tacos - For a more authentic feel, a trek up to Spanish Harlem to Taco Mix is well worth it. The only place in the city that I have found with actual factual al pastor on the spit. Chorizo is also tested and approved.
Best FroYo - There is much debate over which non-fat, all natural frozen yogurt is the best, but you can't go wrong with either Red Mango or Pinkberry. If you want to mix it up, Sixteen Handles has 16 different flavors and a ton of toppings -- live and active cultures are included. It's all DIY and you get charged at the end by the ounce. I had no idea how much an ounce costs, so my last bill was $100!
Best Halal - Halal has taken over the city. Beginners should start at the beginning -- The Original Famous Halal Cart at 53rd and 6th. Order the chicken over rice with a judicious amount of hot sauce. The hot sauce is like Middle Eastern lava.
Best Ice Coffee - No debate here, Abricos Cart is the only place to get New Orleans ice coffee. Cold filter coffee for a hot day; like a coffee milk shake.
Best Indian - Indian food in burrito form? Brilliant! Go to Birayini Cart and get an aloo gobi, a chicken tika masala and kati wrap and enjoy your ghee induced coma.
Best South Indian - Dhosa or Dosa, no matter how you spell it. This South Indian crepe is a real treat! And it's gluten free! If I lived in a house made of dosa, I would be homeless very quickly!