February 5, 2017 Leave your thoughts
Hello everybody! I’m still alive! I assure you that I have neither joined a nomadic beat poetry group nor relocated to a cave in Tahiti to hide from the Trump administration. I am still here, in all of my potato glory, in New York City. I’m in the second semester of my freshman year at NYU, which I think is pretty darn crazy. It feels like I just got here! At least in terms of my personal life, I haven’t been this happy in a long time. I love my classes, I love my professors, I love my friends, I love my yoga studio, I love my city. Such a stark contrast to how unhappy and unfulfilled I often felt in high school. Even though younger Abby knew how great college was going to be, I wish I could go back in time and reassure her how much better things were going to get.
Everything I’ve been doing has totally rocked my world. I’ve marched in protests with tens of thousands of other people. Gone exploring in all kinds of cool places, often completely on my own. Dug through endless racks at thrift stores, danced my heart out at folk rock concerts in Brooklyn, written essays and papers about xenophobia in cuisine and the history of gluten, taken yoga classes with live blues music. So freaking cool. I love it all.
Oh, and the food here? Freaking phenomenal. While I don’t eat out all of the time (because I’m required to be on a meal plan — yuck — and don’t want to turn into a broke bowling ball), I try my best to get out and see what kinds of culinary delights the Big Apple has to offer. Here are some of my favorite places that I’ve been to thus far!
23 Clinton Street (Lower East Side)
I love tea. I love bubbles. So what could be better than bubble tea?!
For some reason, they don’t have boba where I’m from in Connecticut. Which, by the way, makes absolutely no sense. Connecticut is filled with basic white people, and basic white people love ~slightly~ exotic things, particularly fruity beverages. Oh, and balls. Tehee! So why no bubble tea, Fairfield County? Still a mystery to me.
Anyway, Boba Guys is my remedy for all of my bubble tea-deprived years. Located in a cool, slightly grungy neighborhood just south of Houston Street, it’s a great place to stop while exploring the eastern side of downtown. Boba Guys uses really high quality ingredients, which Ms. Food Studies Major beyond appreciates. Real, freshly-brewed teas, tapioca balls made in house, organic milk and non-dairy milks? Sign me up!
My favorite drink is the strawberry tea fresca, which is sweet and super fruity. Definitely a solid pick for a hot spring or summer day. Other great options include the matcha latte, chamomile mint and lychee green tea. I’ve also had a pumpkin spice tea before, which was surprisingly good (and unsurprisingly basic). I’d also suggest that if you, like me, are not the biggest fan of diabetes, you order your tea at 50% sweetness or less. The only thing you’ll be missing out on is elevated blood sugar levels.
Recommended activities nearby: Wander around the Lower East Side. Clinton Street is cool, as is nearby Ludlow Street. You’re also not far from the Williamsburg Bridge, which will take you right to the heart of hipsterdom in a good 45 minutes. If you walk west, you’ll also find yourself in Nolita, one of my favorite neighborhoods. Very worth a visit.
Nearest subway: Delancey Street (F line) or Essex Street (J, M, and Z)
Tompkins Square Bagels
165 Avenue A (Alphabet City/East Village)
“Oh babe, meet me at Tompkins Square (Bagels)…” — Not Mumford & Sons
My personal favorite breakfast spot in all of New York. Located in the quiet, neighborhood-y East Village, this place screams cozy and casual. They bake bagels fresh every day and offer a wide breadth of cream cheeses and spreads, ranging from scallion-bacon to cookie dough.
While I’ve tried a variety of combinations, my favorite is a toasted everything bagel with scallion cream cheese, avocado and tomato, maybe with lox if I’m feeling fancy. I also really like a toasted French toast or cinnamon raisin bagel with banana and mixed berry cream cheese when I’m in a sweeter mood.
Although I’ve never been to Tompkins Square Bagels when it’s super busy, rumor has it that lines are insane on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I’d definitely recommend coming on the early side (definitely before 8:30 or 9) and/or on a weekday when it’s pleasantly calm. It’s also cash-only, so come prepared!
Recommended activities: I know Alphabet City got a bad rep “before my time,” but at least from my point of view, it’s a fine place for wandering around during the day. Tompkins Square Park is right across the street (as implied in the name), and there’s a cute garden nearby along Avenue B. Keep your eyes peeled for an enormous mural featuring kitties imbibing in all kinds of illegal substances. There are also some bomb thrift stores along 1st Avenue, my favorite being AuH2O on 7th Street between 1st and 2nd.
Nearest subway: 1st Ave (L line)
167 West 74th Street (Upper West Side)
I just sold you with that picture. Need I say more?
These cookies are gargantuan. Maybe large enough to be considered a pet. Can you have a pet cookie? Hmm. Anyway, think warm, soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Boy they are good. Everyone loves the classic (chocolate chip with walnuts), but I actually preferred the oatmeal raisin and double chocolate. So freaking phenomenal.
There’s usually a line, so get ready to wait fifteen to twenty minutes for your carby goodness. It’s so worth it though. I’d also recommend bringing a friend along — that way, you can try more than one of their four flavors and not feel like a gluttonous monster for doing so.
Recommended activities nearby: Central Park is five minutes away, so maybe go for a walk (or run) to burn off some calories? Haha? The Museum of Natural History also isn’t far, and no one can ever say no to giant rocks and dinosaurs. (Still my favorite museum).
Nearest subway: 72nd Street/Broadway (1/2/3 line)
509 Amsterdam Avenue (Upper West Side)
So, funny story about this place. I was supposed to meet a friend there for brunch, but she couldn’t make it last-minute. Instead of turning around and heading back downtown, I decided to stay and have brunch by myself. Hey, I’m a pretty cool potato, I don’t mind spending time with myself!
After waiting for an hour (as Sunday brunch goes in New York), I was seated by the door and handed their extensive Southern-inspired menu featuring every gravy, cheese and maple syrup-drowned creation known to man. Yes, I ordered both the fried chicken and pancakes and macaroni and cheese. Both. My appetite is infinite (although I did have leftovers for three days). Everyone waiting in line found it slightly appalling and completely hysterical that I was enjoying so much food on my own and completely having a ball with it. (Did I dance while eating my food? You bet your ass!)
Everything was absolutely delicious. Jacob’s Pickles does dinner, too (and it’s a lot less crowded, plus you can make reservations) so if you hate lines, that might be a better option. But if you love comfort food, you gotta check this place out.
Recommended activities nearby: Not far from Central Park, so if it’s a nice day, go for a walk. I’d suggest heading north, since the park is a lot less crowded (and really beautiful) up in the 90’s and 100’s. If you’re looking for some culture, go across the park and veer down south, where you’ll find yourself at the Met.
Nearest subway: 86th Street (1/2 line)
40-09 30th Ave, Astoria (Queens)
On a sunny day in November, my best buddy Kara and I boarded the N train from Union Square and wound our way over to Queens. Our mission? Brunch, baby.
Queens Comfort is one of the strangest yet most wonderful places I’ve ever eaten at. It’s quite unassuming on the outside, but the lines on the weekend tell you something magical awaits inside. For brunch, they have a DJ who works the line of hungry yuppies, handing out free samples of cheesy, bready delights and telling racy Yo Mama jokes to keep everyone occupied. It’s quite the experience.
Once you make it inside, you’ll be greeted by the most random collection of 80’s and 90’s memorabilia you’ve ever seen. There will definitely be loud music and you’ll be squished in next to some equally intrigued strangers. But you’ll enjoy it all, because the food is…WOW. Here, I discovered that Disco Tots — tater tots doused in cheese and gravy — would be my preferred way to contract heart disease. You can’t go wrong with any of their egg dishes. And please make sure you save room for a Rolo blondie sundae for dessert. (I still have to come back here for dinner sometime!) OH, also, CASH ONLY. What is with me and cash-only places?!
Recommended activities nearby: Astoria Park isn’t too far and is nice for walking around when it isn’t winter. The Museum of Moving Image is also nearby, and while I personally haven’t been, I’ve heard it’s a fun place for film-loving folks.
Nearest subway: 30th Avenue (N/W line)
Ice & Vice
221 East Broadway (Two Bridges)
Ice & Vice has some of the most creative ice cream flavors you’ll find in the city. Case in point? The Food Baby, with raspberry coulis, doughnut chunks and sprinkles. You can also get cool ice cream cones (hi, blue corn) or a doughnut on top of your ice cream if you’ve had a particularly gruesome breakup.
I’ve eaten a lot of ice cream in New York (and everywhere), and this is one of my top two favorite places in the city. The texture is smooth and creamy, the flavors are innovative, the taste is far from sickeningly sweet. Plus, the menu is always changing, so you’ll have the opportunity to try something new every time you go there!
Recommended activities nearby: Unfortunately, there isn’t much nearby — this is definitely a place where you’ll go for the food and not the neighborhood. You aren’t too far from the Manhattan Bridge, which has phenomenal views of downtown and the Brooklyn Bridge on a clear day, but it leads you to a kinda boring section of Brooklyn, so it’s a toss-up.
Nearest subway: East Broadway (F line)
484 Broome Street (Soho)
Located in the heart of Soho, this is hands-down the classiest chocolate parlor you will ever go to. It’s always meticulously decorated and the hot chocolate is always knock-your-socks-off.
At Maribelle, they take hot chocolate seriously. You can pick from over a dozen different options, ranging from bitter dark chocolate to sweet white chocolate. Once you’ve made your selection, they’ll bring out your chocolate in the most adorable teacups you’ve ever seen. It’s like drinking liquid chocolate goodness — the wonderful nectar of the cocoa gods.
If you tend to lean more on the sweet side, get your chocolate American-style with milk. If you, like me, are a chocolate pursuit, go for the European-style, which is made with just water. And either way, get it with whipped cream on the side. You won’t be sorry. Get a madeline too if you’re feeling French.
Recommended activities nearby: Even if you don’t like shopping, Soho is fun to walk around just for the architecture and the posh vibe. I’d stay away from Broadway and walk down West Broadway instead, which I find to be cooler and more mellow. You’ll find neat streets to explore regardless of whether you venture east or west, north or south.
Nearest subway: Prince Street (N/R/W line), Canal Street (1 line), or Spring Street (6 line)
Ample Hills Creamery
623 Vanderbilt Avenue (Park Slope)
My other favorite ice cream place in New York. A very different vibe than Ice & Vice: much more neighborhood-y, totally different flavors. Ample Hills uses super high-quality ingredients (organic in a lot of cases) and is big on mix-ins. Cookies, chocolate-covered potato chips, saltine crackers — you name it, they’ve put it in ice cream.
My two favorite flavors are the Nonna D’s Lace Cookie, which is a brown-sugar based ice cream with lace cookies mixed in, and the Salted Crack Caramel, a dark caramel ice cream with chocolate-covered crackers. It never fails to hit the spot. And — bonus — they always have creative flavors being rotating in, including one that was Gilmore Girls-themed.
While it’s a bit of a hike to get out to Park Slope from Manhattan — and Ample Hills has other locations — I really like going to their original location. It’s an adorable place and super family-friendly. Definitely worth a visit.
Recommended activities nearby: There is a fantastic used bookstore across the street on Vanderbilt Avenue that I love popping into. Prospect Park is also right down the road — and it’s totally worth a visit. (I actually like it better than Central Park!) Keep your eyes peeled if you’re walking near the boathouse — there’s a tree by the pond that I love to climb with a great people-watching perch. If you see a dangling pair of Doc Martens, you might’ve found me!
Nearest subway: 7th Avenue (B or Q line)
90 Kent Avenue (Williamsburg)
Ah yes. We all know that I’m a hipster at heart. And where do the hipsters go? Williamsburg, a neighborhood I shamelessly love.
During the summer, Smorgasburg — an outdoor food market — comes to town every Saturday, featuring an insane amount of food vendors. I’ve been twice, and both times, my socks have totally been knocked off. It’s crowded and overwhelming, but the food you’ll eat will blow you away.
My favorite places include Home Frite (READ: PARMESAN FRIES WITH GARLIC AIOLI), Wowfulls (bubble waffles with ice cream) and Baonanas (banana pudding, surprisingly fantastic). You can also get popular items like the Ramen Burger (OVERRATED AF) or the Raindrop Cake (…why would you want to eat water though…). They also have a good selection of ethnic food, ranging from Jamaican to vegan Indian to Korean. You are sure to find something you like.
Definitely bring a bottle of water if it’s a hot day, and WEAR SUNSCREEN! Go with friends, get a bunch of things to share, and enjoy your lunch by the East River with fabulous views of Manhattan.
Recommended activities nearby: I love walking down Bedford Avenue, which is just up the street. There’s some cool street art and great boutiques (my favorite being Bodhi, which has Indian-inspired clothes), many of which aren’t insanely expensive. The Buffalo Exchange on Driggs Avenue is, in my opinion, one of the best thrift stores in the city. There are also some cute coffee shops to relax in, too.
Nearest subway: Bedford Avenue (L line)
11 Abingdon Square (West Village)
Low-quality photo, high-quality food. For some reason, it has always been my dream to have Ethiopian food. I think it was inspired by an episode of Arthur, where Sue Ellen and Muffy go into the city to visit Sue Ellen’s old nanny. Once there, they go to an Ethiopian restaurant, where Muffy is appalled by everyone eating with their hands. Since then, I’ve always been completely fascinated by the cuisine.
Well, my dream came true once I started exploring New York and discovered a bomb Ethiopian place not too far from where I live. It’s dark, cozy and tiny, so definitely make a reservation. The food is so good. Spicy, but beyond flavorful. I recommend getting a platter for two (which is really enough food to feed four), where you get to pick a variety of chicken, meat and vegetarian dishes that they serve on and with injera, a sourdough flat bread made with teff flour. Be prepared for leftovers that will stink up your mini fridge with garlic and spices.
The people there are super nice, too. It’s run by a husband and wife who are both lovely. The service is usually well-paced and they’re happy to give you doggie bags. Oh, and CASH ONLY! Again, what is it with me and cash-only places?
Recommended activities nearby: If you go on a Friday or Saturday night, head over to the Whitney afterwards — it’s open until 10! Otherwise take some time to wander around the West Village. It’s so charming at night with all of the lights twinkling. You can also wind your way south, where you’ll find yourself in Greenwich Village, one of the coolest parts of the city. (Just watch out for guys in Whoopie Cushions!)
Nearest subway: 14th Street (A/C/E line or L line)
Well, that’s it for now! I still need to take pictures of some of my other favorite places (cough, by Chloe and Prince Street Pizza, cough), some I haven’t listed, some I still need to check out in the first place. But don’t worry, you haven’t seen the last of the great foodie potato in New York.