So here's the deal. You're in the most famous city on Earth. You don't have much time. Maybe you only have one day to explore a borough in which Manhattan is your best bet for the full on city experience. But where to begin and how?
This is where your friend the NYC Citibike comes in. For just $12, you can rent a bicycle for one day and for $24, you can rent it for three days. So don't worry too much about the insane amount of calories you'll gain from a Tastecapade like this—with this handy bike path featuring awesome NYC eateries, you'll burn them all.
1. Russ & Daughters and Katz's Deli
Begin your bicycle ride in the Lower East Side of New York. Russ and Daughter’s is truly an institution in NYC. Food enthusiasts specifically come to NYC to venture into this Jewish deli and get a taste of the freshest fish.
From herring and salmon in mustard dill or curry sauces to special snacks like the chopped liver (my personal favorite) and the coveted Super Heebster, which is whitefish and baked salmon salad with horseradish dill cream cheese and wasabi flying fish roe on a bagel. Oh, and the best part? I spent just $6.36 for a meal of smoked fish and chopped liver.
Katz's deli is just one block down from Russ and its specialty is the pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs and is ranked the #2 deli in NYC.
As each customer enters Katz's, a door attendant hands them a printed, numbered ticket. As they receive their food from various stations/areas throughout the deli (separate for sandwiches, hot dogs, bottled drinks, fountain drinks, etc.), employees compute a running total of the pre-tax bill.
Katz's has even instituted a "lost ticket fee." If a customer loses a ticket, an additional $50 surcharge is added to the bill. The fee's purpose, as stated by the management, is to encourage patrons to go back and find the lost ticket in the hopes of preventing theft (substituting a smaller ticket for a larger one).
Just blocks over is Chinatown and nestled in it, is Little Italy which is certainly worth exploring. The Golden Steamer is a staple in Chinatown, known for its delicious sweet and savory steamed buns of which my favorites are the pumpkin bun, the roast pork and shitake mushroom buns, but any combination of pork-vegetables will be absolutely delicious. Each bun is only 80 cents.
You also won't go wrong with any of the dumplings at Vanessa's but the sesame pancake—a thin triangular shaped slice that is filled with egg, meat, or vegetables—is the real move. It only costs $1 and you can get four dumplings for $1. If that isn't affordable (and delicious), I don't know what is.
Now for a sweet little treat after all these savory munchies. Bike a few streets west toward the charming little neighborhood of SoHo, known as the location of many artists' lofts and art galleries and its variety of shops ranging from trendy upscale boutiques to national and international chain store outlets.
Here you will find the world famous Dominique Ansel Bakery. The man invented the Cronut™, a donut and croissant hybrid which rumor has it, has people lining up outside the shop at 4 am (a bit extreme). However, what isn’t a rumor is the very real queue outside the bakery at 8 am for these little treats that stretch out over an entire street. These Cronuts™ are gone by 9 am.
However, my personal favorite dessert at this bakery is the Cookie Shot which becomes available at 3 pm everyday. There’s nothing like drinking warm milk from an edible glass.
#SpoonTip: Wait for the milk to soften up the cookie glass for a few minutes and the milk will become more chocolatey too.
From SoHo, bike along Bleecker Street to pass by some quaint little shops and cafes and enjoy a break at Washington Square Park where locals and tourists play by the fountains, engage in games of chess, or take in the various street performances.
Bike up north along the Hudson River to the High Line in Chelsea, a 1.45-mile-long NYC linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. Enjoy the panoramic views of the Hudson River on one side, and views of hip cafes and shops that dot the streets of what is known as the Meatpacking District.
In the center of the High Line, there are coffee stands as well as People’s Pops, which sells delicious, fresh fruit popsicles. Descend the stairs to the Chelsea Market where you will first find Artists and Fleas—an independent market where collectors gather to showcase art, fashion, design and vintage collections.
Further down are several of NYC's best foodie institutions. Grab a panini-pressed sandwich as well as the famous Semolina Bread with Golden Raisins and Fennel at Amy's Bread, brownies from Fat Witch Bakery, a meat pie from the Tuck Shop, and halva (a crumbly Middle Eastern sweet) from Seed & Mill, but remember to save your tummy for the rest of the tour.
Now listen and listen well. You may love your grandma's baked goods. You may think you have perfected your chocolate chip cookie recipe at last. But I assure you, I have discovered the cookie to destroy all cookies.
The Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookie from Levain is a yeasty beasty that is baked such that its exterior is a wonderfully chewy texture with the gooeiest interior you could possibly imagine. The inside is almost entirely cookie dough and the cookie doesn't bake all the way through but that's the brilliance of it. Believe me. My friend didn't like walnuts but making her try this cookie has turned her world upside down (and mine too).
If you want a real workout, to see a different side of NYC and to get wonderful views from the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridges of the river, then begin your day at this is a wonderful little food festival called Smorgasburg that occurs every Sunday from 11 am - 3 pm in Prospect's Park the neighboring borough of Brooklyn.
The amazing thing about this Smorgasburg is that it is much less crowded than the one in Manhattan or in Williamsburg. There are no lines, at least for now (yes, not even for the Ramen Burger—crazy, I know).
These are just some great places for you to start if you only have a day to bike around NYC. There's so much to see and do that these definitely won't be the only things on your list, so if you want to find more, check out this great list of places to go to.