Two weeks ago Alli and I spent 5 glorious days in NYC eating everything we possibly could with my best friend Mike. Thankfully Mike was very generous and we stayed at his apartment in the East Village for the entire trip, which means we were able to spend all of our money on eating and drinking (but mostly eating).
This week we’ll have posts about all of the food we ate during our stay, they’ll be broken up into a few parts for easier reading and to break up the photo galleries. If you’d like to just see the pictures, check out our gallery on facebook here. Today we are going to be talking about our trip to Peter Lugers, Shake Shack, some miscellaneous trips and some of the places we went to drink. We’ll have a post on the various Asian cuisines we tried tomorrow, in the mean time you can check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our trip if you’d like.
Shake Shack. When we announced we were going to New York City a couple weeks ago, we had a wide variety of suggestions on where to eat. But the one restaurant that was named over and over was Shake Shack. Unless you knew better, you would assume that Shake Shack is just some burger stand in a park that at times has an absolutely insane line. But Shake Shack has built a dedicated following because their burgers are fantastic and Danny Meyer knows what he’s doing. The line was long but we lucked out and the total wait from start to finish was only 30 minutes because the workers in side the ‘shack’ work at an impressive pace. The burger was delicious, I can’t say anything individually was outstanding but a combination of good ingredients and proper preparation made for one of my favorite meals of the trip. This isn’t a burger that costs $30 or is beef that is made up of expensive cuts of meat. But the simplicity of the burger is what makes it so great. Their ShakeMeister ale (brewed by Brooklyn Brewery) is truly underrated and was a very solid American Pale Ale that pairs nicely with a burger and french fries. I know everyone in Buffalo is all about Five Guys but Shake Shack is a whole different beast.
Peter Luger Steak House. When planning our trip to NYC we didn’t really plan on visiting a lot of “big name” restaurants. We had planned on eating certain cuisines rather then visiting specific well known restaurants (that will be our next visit). That said, we knew we had to go to Peter Luger Steak House, Alli is a steak fanatic and we’ve watched enough Food Network/Travel Channel to know about the reputation this place has. It’s definitely not a “hip” restaurant, located in Brooklyn the restaurant is certainly legendary but the clientele act like it’s just a normal neighborhood joint. The food lived up to the hype; we ordered the steak for 3 and the pre-sliced sections were cooked wonderfully. The steak was some of the best I’ve ever had in my life and the juices in the bottom of the plate made for the best dipping sauce for our french fries. The surprise of the night was how good their slices of bacon were (pictured above), not only were they incredibly thick slices but the strong, salty/smokey flavor was insane. Mike, Alli and myself all looked at each other after the first bite and gave each other the “holy sh*t” look.
Miscellaneous. Several of the meals that we ate weren’t exactly planned, case in point were our visits to Luke’s Lobster and Pommes Frites. For some reason I had thrown Luke’s Lobster on my wish list and couldn’t remember why. But as we were making a food crawl on a Friday afternoon, we realized we were nearby and stopped in for a quick lobster roll (pictured above). I’ve never been to Maine, so I won’t comment on how their lobster roll compares to a “traditional” roll from New England. I will say, however, that it blows the roll I tried at Dug’s Dive and the Italian Heritage Festival out of the water, honestly it’s not even remotely close in either case. The lobster in this roll was basically poached in butter, placed in a perfectly toasted New England style roll and sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. For $17 it’s actually surprisingly cheap for the quantity and quality of the roll, Alli ordered their crab roll and wasn’t that thrilled (stick with the lobster).
Pommes Frites happened because on a night when we had been getting our drink on (more on that below) and were in dire need for some drunk eats. Pommes Frites only serves one thing, authentic Belgian french fries (pictured in gallery) with various dipping sauces (usually some flavored mayo). It was a match made in heaven, we loved their fries so much that we actually visited their East Village location two nights in a row. The place is tiny and has a couple tables for indoor dining, but since we were within walking distance from the apartment we took them to go on both of our visits. While I can’t say for certain, I remember really enjoying their roasted garlic mayo and pomegranate teryiaki mayo. If you ask Alli, she will tell you they were the best french fries shes ever had…and she’s had a lot of french fries.
Boozin’. Alli and I have been to NYC three times and for some reason or another we never went out drinking during any of our visits. That changed with our visit two weeks ago. Over the last couple of months Mike has been slowly getting me into the cocktail world with his stories of Speakeasies, scotch tastings and explaining the world of bitters. So we knew that on this trip, we would definitely try a couple cool places to drink. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the places we went to drink in our 5 days in NYC.
I knew that we had to visit McSorley’s Old Ale House, it’s New York’s oldest bar (Abe Lincoln drank there!) and is notorious for their rude service and incredibly limited drink menu (literally, they only serve two beers and nothing else). We walked into the tiny cramped bar with saw dust on the wooden floors to find a corner table, sat down and ordered 4 lights (pale ale) and 2 darks (black lager). My favorite feature of Founding Father’s is having McSorely’s Pale Ale on tap, I was a little sad to know that it tastes almost exactly the same at their iconic bar (it’s currently brewed by Pabst). That said, the atmosphere and knowing you are in a bar with so much history is worth it. While hanging out in Williamsburg (after our amazing meal at Peter Lugers) we stopped at a bar that I instantly fell in love with, Barcade. Think 1 part 1980’s arcade and 1 part craft beer bar. While the arcade games were incredibly frustrating and I ended up accidentally breaking a pint glass, I loved their beer selection and the atmosphere. Anything in Williamsburg is going to have a serious hipster vibe, but this was a bar that I could spend some serious time in.
Another awesome dive was the KGB Bar, which looks exactly like what you’re thinking. A very dark bar with red walls and Soviet Union propaganda everywhere. The bar is awesome and makes you feel like your conspiring against the United States, we ordered some absurdly large Russian beers and took in the atmosphere. It would be cooler if the bartender was actually Russian, but it’s a great dive regardless.
We didn’t just keep our drinking to dives, we managed to hit up some popular and hip cocktail bars. David Chang is currently working towards owning New York City and one of his newest ventures is the “hidden” cocktail bar behind Ssam called Booker and Dax. With no problem at all we found a seat on a slow Wednesday night. Behind the bar you’ll find the normal liquors but also some toys that make their bartenders look like mad scientists. They have some centrifuge’s that will make mixed drinks but on our visit we ordered a couple of their “hot” drinks where they mix together a drink and then ignite the liquor with a 1500 degree poker. The show itself is worth the $15 price tag for the drink, my drink reminded me of an apple cider hot toddy but with an incredibly complex flavor.
While waiting to get access to another Speakeasy, we stopped by the Cuban themed Cienfuegos to kill some time. I’m still a rookie when it comes to hard liquor and even more so when it comes to tequila, but I was pleasantly surprised with how delicious my drink was (I remember jalapeno’s being involved). The design of the bar was very hip and it seemed like every piece of furniture was carefully selected from a very cool thrift store. We visited that bar while waiting to hear back from the door man at Death & Company, one of NYC’s hippest bars and finest speakeasies. Even though we ended up waiting close to 2 hours for a table, the entire experience from the door man, service inside and actual drinks was top notch. I ordered another tequila drink and loved it. Even Alli who is very picky with her choice of alcohol found a drink that she enjoyed.