Yes, it finally happened. It was my first time in NYC, and I loved it.
As a foreigner from the shy, quiet neighbour called Canada, NYC’s vibrant energy and diverse flavours certainly enticed my palette again and again. During my five day stay, I am proud to say I probably burned more calories by walking than doing a year’s worth of cardio. Still, I stuffed myself full of food to the point that I am simultaneously at risk of diabetes and high cholesterol – such are the merits of a trip to the Big Apple.
If it’s your first time going to NYC, put your bags down because here is everything I learned.
1. List all your cravings
There’s a reason why New York City is considered a mascot for food. From the old classics to the ridiculous novelty treats, the food choices can be overwhelming —there are just so many options to choose from. To avoid any regrets, prioritize the food that you want to eat and steer clear of the McD’s by Times Square because, chances are, they make the same fries everywhere. Boring.
There are perhaps hundreds of restaurants in NYC that serve the exact same delicacy. Finding the best place to eat will be like getting a date on Tinder: you will have go through countless restaurant reviews to find somewhere that matches your personality, budget, and time constraint.
The greatest adventure is when you discover something new and unexpected. In the end, it will all be worth it. Look through Spoon University NYC campuses, Serious Eats, Trip Adviser, Yelp, etc. to read about what the locals have to say.
3. Make reservations early or prepare to line up
NYC is a busy city. Reservations are standard in the majority of places. Luckily, reservations are only a click away on Open Table, a site that gives you access to over 3,600 restaurants.
However, there are still places that don’t take reservations. In this case, be prepared to line up way in advance, as seats get filled as soon as doors open and lines can be upwards of two hours in wait time. Lines are an indication of popularity in NYC, though, so you definitely know that you made the right decision when you’re in line with 50 other people in the cold.
4. Look outside of central New York
Some of the most legendary internet sensations like Dough, hailed as the best doughnut joint in NYC, are located outside of the bustling metropolis. Another rising star is the New Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, a cultural centre for some great ethnic cuisine.
5. Don’t forget the classics
There’s a reason why even New Yorkers don’t mess with these recipes.
6. Don’t just stick with up-scale dining
You surely missed flavor town if you haven’t experienced the food truck culture on the streets, or eaten in a packed Chinese storefront with barely enough room to move your arms.
7. Make sure to give proper gratitude
Yes, it is an insult to tip less than 20%. With the falling loonie, a trip to our downstairs neighbor has become that much more impossible.
8. Eat at unconventional times
If you weren’t able to get a reservation and want to avoid the long lines, go around two or three in the afternoon. Most restaurants are empty at this time, as it is right after brunch but still too early for dinner. However, some popular restaurants will temporarily close at around four to prepare for the upcoming dinner rush.
9. Focus on the experience
Eating in NYC is an experience. To the pickiest eater, some food might not cut it, but it’s really the service, atmosphere, history, and entertainment that makes the whole package an unforgettable one.
10. It’s okay to overeat
Because when’s the next time you’ll be coming back?
11. Have fun
Go crazy and enjoy this experience. It’s going to be epic, and remember to get yourself a rainbow bagel while you’re at it.