Last week I was invited to a dinner called Transatlantic Tables, hosted by Open Table. The dinner was at Hundred Acres, an adorable restaurant in SoHo that is known for their fresh and local food, all prepared by Chef Ayesha and her team. I was in a serious food coma after the evening!
Connected is a series of influencer gatherings that blend the restaurant and tech worlds around the world. This specific event, #ConnectedByOT, chose restaurants and influencers in London and New York City due to their similarities of sustainable food sourcing and local community connection.
But that’s not all, one influencer from each event will swap tables for a chance to meet and dine with each other in both cities! I seriously got chills of excitement thinking I could have the opportunity to visit London and embark on three of my favorite things: Eating, traveling and taking a disgusting amount of photos to document the whole damn thing! The challenge for each influencer is to write an open letter to the opposite city discussing why the NYC (or London) food scene is special to us and where they should dine during their visit.
Below you can get a glimpse of the delicious photos from #ConnectedByOT, and read my open letter to London. Enjoy!
Your New York City Food Guide
Hey there foodie friend!
I’m so excited we have connected through Open Table! My name is Audree and I’m the blogger behind Simply Audree Kate. I am a fashion and lifestyle blogger (and a wannabe food blogger.) I have always had a love affair with food and sometimes I seriously ask myself why I chose fashion over food. The question remains unknown to this day. I moved to New York City a year ago and I’m still discovering new restaurants, favorite dishes and drinks each and every day. It’s seriously foodie heaven over here.
I have never had the pleasure of visiting London (no judging…) and I’m literally jumping out of my seat just thinking about the fact that I could possibly have the opportunity to visit and savor the cuisine! I absolutely love traveling, and eating is always a huge part of that. I enjoy discovering new places to eat or going to a local favorite spot and soaking in the culture and stories around me. I am looking forward to reading all of your local recommendations too!
So friend, have you been to New York City before? If you have, you can agree that it’s a bit hectic over here. There’s really no rhyme or reason to the madness, but that’s what makes this little place my favorite city in the United States. Each day brings a new adventure and story, and the options are endless.
When I first moved to New York City I was overwhelmed with options. Which place actually had the best pizza, or the best coffee? And where the hell do I even go to brunch? Instead of worrying about finding the “best” place the first time, I decided to enjoy the journey. My friends and I would randomly pick a restaurant while walking around and give it a try – and honestly, that’s how we have found some of our favorite hidden gems of the city, like Artichoke Pizza or Paul’s Da Burger Joint (I swear I’m not making these names up). I also slowly started asking friends and co-workers for their favorite spots to eat, or I would jot down a name in my phone notes if I saw a really busy restaurant while walking around. Like I said, there really isn’t any rhyme or reason to figuring out the food scene in NYC and that’s what makes it so incredible.
I’ve decided to break down my favorite picks for you to try on your New York City food adventure. Now I may not be an expert, but I will say that your stomach will be happy, and you’ll have ‘grams for days! Let’s begin!
BREAKFAST / BRUNCH
There are basically two types of people in New York. Those who brunch and those who look at their friend’s brunch via Instagram. I heard that you guys like brunch, so I think you’ll do just fine starting your NYC adventure. Also to clarify, there are two types of brunch – regular weekday (non-alcoholic) brunch, or bottomless, which we will dive into next.
First up is possibly my favorite breakfast spot in the city, Alice’s Tea Cup. There are three locations of Alice’s Tea Cup and each one is themed after the Disney movie, “Alice In Wonderland.” One of their specialities is Mad Morning Tea where you can order a three-tiered stand with different food and a pot of tea. One of my personal favs is Alice’s Curious French Toast (pic below).
When New York and London were chosen for this collaboration, I know they were chosen for their similarities of sustainable food sourcing and local community connection. Both the Egg Shop and The Butcher’s Daughter are trendy, hearty breakfast places that fit the bill. The Egg Shop is a tiny restaurant where you’re sitting directly next to your neighbor and the entire place is most likely smaller than my dinky Upper East Side crib. It’s homey and their Cruisers (egg scrambles in a bowl – pic below) is something to write home about! The Butcher’s Daughter is a 100% vegetarian and non-dairy restaurant, and most items are vegan and gluten-free as well! This is a great option for a healthy, well-prepared breakfast. But beware, the line to get in on a Saturday morning is a bit of a wait, so don’t forget your coffee or something to read.
Now I hope you enjoy mimosas and margaritas as much as I do. I could eat breakfast food any time, any day – but throw in a few drinks and good company, and you’ve got yourself the perfect Saturday. A couple years I discovered Vamos! with some friends while we were interning in the city. It’s our hidden brunch gem! You get five drink tickets for sangria or margaritas (I suggest the margs) during your brunch. Once the drinks start flowing, the DJ kicks up the tunes and people are dancing, taking tequila shots, and the rest is history! Another favorite is Calle Ocho – the wait list is about two months, but it’s so worth it! Make your reservation at Calle Ocho with Open Table here! My last favorite brunch is San Marzano. Their brunch menu is open to either breakfast foods or pasta, so I recommend getting some of both to enjoy with your mimosas. They’re all so tasty, but wait, you have a few more meals left!
Now I don’t really have any tea places (other than Alice’s Tea Cup) to take you to, but I do have a couple coffee joints that are beyond grammable. First up, Cafe Henrie. This retro cafe is on the outskirts of Chinatown and perfect for a midday cup o’ joe. The retro and flashy interior reminds me of what New York City would be like in the 70’s. The people there are way cooler than I ever will be, and the menu is simple and direct. You can also grab a quick bite there, but honestly, aren’t you full from brunch?
Next is my wild card for fashion lovers and the basic B’s of the world – Ralph’s Coffee. This little cafe is nestled into Ralph Lauren’s flagship store on 5th ave. The crisp white interior and bar reminds me of an old candy shop or diner and it’s never overcrowded or filled with too many tourists. It’s the perfect escape during your shopping trip!
Now that we’re caffeinated, brunched, possibly filled with mimosas, let’s adventure to lunch! The first place I’m going to brag about is quite possibly the best slice of pizza I have ever had. Every New Yorker you meet will probably tell you something different about what they think is the best slice. But this is not your typical, fold-in-half, greasy (well maybe greasy) classic slice from wherever. This my friend, is Artichoke Pizza. There are three Artichoke locations in the city, but I suggest going to the one in Chelsea for the sit-down dining experience. I’ve gone to Artichoke during every visit to NYC before I moved, I’ve brought every visitor of mine to Artichoke, and honestly, I am kind of weirdly obsessed. You have to order a slice of Artichoke (it’d be wrong if you didn’t). One slice takes up two paper plates (pic below) and the only way I can describe it, is it’s artichoke dip on garlic bread. It’s unique, delicious and will possibly give you heartburn…but you’ll agree it’s the best slice in town.
Other lunch options are Meatball Shop – a restaurant literally based around meatballs, from sandwiches, to sliders, to a plain bowl of balls, you name it, they got it. Uma Temakeria is the place where sushi burritos are taking over the Instagram world. Why eat six pieces of sushi when you can just eat it all at once? Another place I love is The Grey Dog. This simple cafe serves hearty food like mac n’ cheese and sandwiches. It’s the perfect lunch spot when you’re seeking something from your mom’s kitchen.
Along with brunch, happy hour is almost ritualistic for New Yorkers.I have picked a few of my favorite places you can you stop by for after-work drinks, a view and the perfect gram. My first choice is Tavern on the Green. Tucked away in the middle of Central Park, Tavern on the Green, is a classic staple to the New York social life. It has a huge outdoor patio and you can enjoy a cocktail under a canopy of lights and trees all around you. This is the go-to place during spring and summer. If you’re looking for a place a little more hip, and possibly a little more noisy, my suggestion is POD 39 Rooftop. In The Pod Hotel, the rooftop bar is midtown’s coolest place for happy hour. The downstairs is an uber trendy dinner place (discussed below) and you will take a glass elevator to the top for drinks, exposed walls and a view of the city. I love their margarita with a spicy salt rim – it is the perfect southwestern touch to the city. Other trendy spots are Loopy Doopy, where you get a colorful popsicle in your cocktail – it’s like grown-up toddler drinks, or Vandal where the walls are covered in graffiti and music is bumping through the restaurant. Make your reservation at Vandal with Open Table here!
Still hungry? I like your style. One of the first places I had dinner in the city was Carmines. It was recommended from a family friend and I had no idea what to expect. There is typically about an hour wait to get in and the crowd is Broadway goers (it’s in the heart of The Theatre District) or large families looking to get their grub on. Carmines is an authentic family-owned Italian restaurant. Big emphasis on family. Don’t make the mistake I first made where each person orders an entree – they are made to order family style so one dish will feed your table (See the size of the portions in pics below!).
I’m originally from Arizona and I love Mexican food. My top southwestern picks are Salvation Taco and La Esquina. Salvation Taco is the restaurant below POD 39 rooftop. It is a colorful oasis with big colorful lanterns and long family-style wooden tables and fabric stools. The salsa and guacamole are great, the drinks are strong and the tacos are mmhmmm tasty! La Esquina is a casual corner taqueria in lower Manhattan, where you have to get elotes callejeros! There is also a tequila bar downstairs! Make your reservation at La Esquina with Open Table here!
If you’re looking for that good, all-american burger, I have two places you have to try! First is Paul’s Da Burger Joint. I came across this place while wandering around one weekend. It looks like a hole-in-the-wall (honestly the best places to eat always are) with cheeky signs outside and a giant burger statue. It looked like heaven. It’s simple, cheap and no-fuss. My other suggestion is J.G. Melon. Gigi Hadid actually claims it as her favorite burger place, so you know it’s model/celeb worthy! Found in the Upper East Side, J.G. Melon is also your classic, good-for-the-soul burger joint.
OUTDOOR / MARKETPLACE EATING
If you’re looking to switch things up, step outside of a restaurant and say goodbye to daunting menus, try an outdoor marketplace. New York has so many different food options and I love attending events like Smorgasburg or Broadway Bites to try off-the-beaten path foods and restaurants I might not find right in Manhattan. Smorgasburg is a weekend delight for New Yorkers. Combined with Brooklyn Flea Market, you can find a ramen burger (pic below) or eat ice cream out of an actual cone made from a waffle. If you’re looking for something similar, or a little closer to home, Broadway Bites is a pop-up food market in Midtown during the summer and fall with a variety of food from spring rolls to actual oven brick pizza (pic below). Both are delicious and easy on the wallet.
Another great addition to a non-traditional restaurant is Chelsea Market. Chelsea Market is one of my favorite places in the city – it’s an indoor market filled with mini restaurants, grocery shopping, books, art and culture. You can pop in one shop for lobster or step across the walkway to get the most amazing pastry. It’s unique, and a must-see for any foodie visiting NYC.
I know the last thing you’re probably wanting is dessert right now, but you have to have a little, just the tiniest bit of room for a special dessert. If you have ever seen the classic rom-com, “Serendipity,” the two main characters get frozen hot chocolate together at Serendipity 3 – and I must admit, it’s pretty special! It’s a bowl of hot chocolate, almost like ice cream, but topped with whip cream and other delights. The wait to get in might be long, but it’s worth it! On the theme of speakeasy bars and alcohol that will be discussed in the next section, I figured we could then go to Prohibition Bakery with mini cupcakes filled with various types of alcohol. Yes, you heard me right, alcoholic cupcakes – your pregame just got a little tastier!
If you’re looking for the perfect picture, try Black Tap with those insane milkshakes, or Big Gay Ice Cream, who has large ice cream cones with names like Salty Pimp or Mermaid. Last but certainly not least, my favorite Seamless discovery, Holey Cream. It’s a donut ice cream sandwich. It’s heavenly, deadly and beyond savory.
Last up on the foodie tour, dranks! Something I find special to New York are all the speakeasy bars in the city. A few months ago I went on a New York Craft Cocktail Tour and visited the best tucked away places to grab a cocktail in the city. My favorite is Blind Barber. You have to make a reservation, but this place on the outside is a fully functioning barber shop, and behind the sliding door is a hidden bar. It’s filled with tatted Lower East Side artists and good conversation. It’s a must-drink in the city. Another speakeasy is The Garret. The one on the West Side is above a Five Guys Restaurant. You have to walk to the back of the restaurant, near the grill and pass a bouncer. You have to have a reservation, like all speakeasies, but it’s a true hidden NYC gem. You can see more in the pics below. I also thoroughly enjoy Sweetwater Social from our cocktail tour. This is not an actual speakeasy, but it reminds me of the perfect guys-guy bar with foosball, a bar wall to wall, and drinks called Porn Star Martini and Johnny Cakes.
Up next is Refinery Hotel. This is a great date spot; you get a view of The Empire State Building while you can sip on a delicious Old Fashioned, and it’s filled with interesting and professional New Yorkers. The last bar in my recommendations, is Happy Ending. This former massage-parlor-themed spot is now a super trendy and elite spot for the Lower East Side. It’s a lounge/nightclub with a hint of irony.
So London friend, I might not be a professional food or drink critic, but I can say that I am in love with New York City, the culture, the food, and most of all the journey it has taken me on. I cannot wait to see where you decide to eat and drink while you’re in the city, and hopefully I can also experience your recommendations during my trip to London!
Another great thing I can say about New York, is that the options are endless here. But my best piece of advice is: Eat a hotdog from a street vendor, all bagels are great because of the water, and when in doubt, randomly pick a place to eat because 9.5/10 it’s delicious.
See you around friend! xo
*Post in collaboration with Open Table