New York Weekend

By Kate Smith

New York has three sides for me:  Ritzy, Cult-Status and Keepin-It-Real New York. This is my attempt to blend all three facets of the city that’s taken me under its exciting, grubby wing this past year...

Ritzy New York is doing cocktails at the Peninsula Hotel. Cult-Status New York is eating a cupcake at Magnolia bakery. Keepin-it-real New York is a $1.50 holy cannoli from Fortunato Brothers Pasticceria in Williamsburg.

Let’s talk Manhattan first. Buvette in the West Village is great for a Stateside Parisian breakfast. If it’s American you’re after, the newly reopened Empire Diner is now doing delicious brunches over in Chelsea. Empire’s chrome railway car is a landmark in itself – just watch Woody Allen’s Manhattan.  For me, the city is about wandering the neighbourhoods; Washington Square is pulsing with activity where strangers strike up conversation.

Tribeca is glorious for its beautiful red-brick buildings and for sitting in the dive bar Puffy’s Tavern while watching the Gordon Gekkos swagger towards more salubrious wine bars.

Head to the East Village to imagine the bohemian world that belonged to Patti Smith when nobody dared go beyond Ave A… Not even the police. Now it’s full of hipsters and countless watering-holes like Library bar for a grungy scene to Café Cambodge for a chilled wine with dollar oysters. Supper is also located in this hood, the most atmospheric Italian restaurant around.

I think it’s a sin to come to New York and not eat steak. I love the Minetta Tavern and Nigella loves it too so I needn’t say more. This restaurant has a dark, old-school New York vibe and the Aligot mash is insanely good.

My favourite place to go for drinks at sunset is the top of the Standard Hotel. It’s expensive but you’ll feel like you’re in The Great Gatsby.

If you’re brave enough to go beyond the pale to Brooklyn, your spirit of adventure will be rewarded. On Sunday, take the subway to DUMBO where the best food vendors set up shop on the waterfront for Smorgasburg.

My personal rules are: Get here at noon before the crowds; Share a Bruffin AND/OR a Dough Doughnut for pre-game snack; Avoid Ramen Burgers which are a tasteless fad with a silly long line.

You can’t go wrong with brisket (try Mighty Quinn’s); Always finish the market with Gooey Butter Cake from Gooey & Co.

The backdrop to this dining experience is downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. You should then waddle to the pier and catch a ferry up the East River to Williamsburg North. This is where Smorgasburg’s sister-market, The Brooklyn Flea, resides at the moment. (Both will be in Crown Heights for the winter but check www.brooklynflea.com as the 2015 outdoor locations are still to be confirmed).

You'll find fun bits of Americana, frames salvaged from old barns, crafty goods like Birdhouse Jewelry and yet more food.

If you still have the urge to shop, walk up North 7th to another market called Artists & Fleas, then up to Bedford Ave which is Williamsburg’s main drag. It’s a noisy, busy, hedonistic street with door-to-door shops, bars and eateries.

I love getting messy with a barbecue feast at the epic Fette Sau on Metropolitan. Follow this with drinks at the bar under Rye (it’s cool without being wall-to-wall hipster).

 Then continue the merriment at the Knitting Factory. On Saturday nights they have live music, on Sundays they have a brilliant comedy night hosted by SNL and 30 Rock writer Hannibal Buress.

The best of the rest...

Juiciest burger in town? Burger Joint (it’s behind some secret curtains. Shhhh.)

Best pizza slice? Joe’s in Greenwich village.

Cheapest, tastiest dumplings? Vanessa’s in Chinatown, $1.59 for four.

Mani-pedis are ridiculously cheap here compared to London prices so I would highly recommend fitting one in.  Ave A Nail does the job for less than 20 bucks. You’re welcome.

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