Eating in New York City is one of the easiest things to do, with the choice of pretty much any cuisine you can think of. If you’re stuck, or want to easily separate the good from the bad, the internet can enlighten you (or overwhelm you, although you’re probably feeling that way already). Yelp is one such online tool that works in your favour in the big US cities, because Americans leave a lot of reviews on it. It’s great because you can filter quite finitely and still produce a great list of choices, you can trust its ratings (“4.5/5 from 900 reviews” – yeah, I’d say that’s going to be pretty telling), and the negative reviews are so often hilarious.
Below is a list of locations we ate at and immensely enjoyed in New York and Chicago. I’ve put them alphabetically because I’m not good at picking favourites. You can read my little review if you want, or just trust me and take the address…
$$ Brooklyn Bowl – 61 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn
An odd one to start with given it’s a bowling alley, but on a recommendation we headed here for some wings and were not disappointed. If anything, it’s a really cool environment to get some grub, with amazing tunes playing and the opportunity to bowl with your dinner. They also had a really solid gig guide, so there’s way too many reasons to visit.
$$ DuMont Burger – 314 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn
Upon enquiry, we learnt that a DuMac & Cheese is, indeed, a complete burger topped with mac & cheese… Only in America. This place has good reviews because it has excellent burgers. Just don’t forget to add cheese… Or mac & cheese.
$ Ganservoort Market – 52 Gansevoort St, New York
This is a market food court a minute’s walk from the end of the Highline. It’s a haven for hipsters and serves up some amazing options. Be ready to wait for a seat if you’re visiting in prime lunch hours, though – this was place was very popular.
$ Hallo Berlin Push Cart – 54th Street & 5th Ave (Mon – Fri 12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m)
Best. Food. Cart. This guy has been serving German fair in midtown for years and years and years. And it is SO good! There are a great range of German snags to choose from, along with the expected toppings that all come together so well. He’ll bundle it all up for you and you can walk 5 minutes up 5th to Central Park to chow down.
$ Harlem Shake – 100 W 124th St, New York
This is easy burger fair in Harlem, with a cool diner feel and great tunes. Hard to believe all the signatures of the wall.
$ Leo’s Bagels – 3 Hanover Square # 6, New York
Simply very nice bagels and a quick and easy option if you’re stuck downtown.
$$ Luke’s Lobster – 93 E 7th St, New York
Lobster aint cheap, but it sure is tasty. A single roll snack or a full variety feast, Luke’s keeps the menu very straightforward. The lobster and crab rolls are so yum!
$ Pizza Boss – 1469 2nd Ave, New York
This unassuming pizza shop is a total surprise. It’s as straightforward as most of the others, but the pizza is fresh, crispy and not oily! Lots of variety. Listening to the guy explain what a Hawaiian is and why it is so was pretty funny, too.
$ Soba- ya – 229 E 9th St, New York
This place does soba noodles so well there’s no need to serve anything else. Cold, hot and DIY options are available though, so there’s plenty of variety still. Make sure you grab a seat at the bar and watch a pretty stellar production line.
$ Taïm – 45 Spring St, New York
One of two Taïm locations in New York, this was super easy, fresh and fast falafel and vegetarian food. They make three types of falafel and serve in a variety of plates and sandwiches.
$ Taqueria Tehuitzingo – 578 Ninth Ave, New York
This is one quick, cheap, fresh and tasty option with a large range of meats that you should keep up your sleeve, especially if heading to the Theatre District where there is otherwise so much rubbish to be had. A pair of tacos for a few bucks and you’re satisfied, another pair and you’re stuffed.
$$ Tavola – 488 Ninth Ave, New York
On the edge of Hell’s Kitchen, this pizzeria is very popular and very good. The inside has a real warmth about it, with an Italian grocer setup and ceiling fans that are all connected to one belt (it’s cooler to see, I promise). The pizza was great, and you can expect a relaxed dine-in experience, not fast and furious.
$ Zabar’s – 2245 Broadway, New York
Deli business is serious in New York and this place is the real deal. We tried some pretty smashing toasties and a great Danish, but everything here looked gooood – bagels, soup, muffins, all sorts of sweets. It’s another seriously busy spot so be patient or get your grub to go.
$ Antique Taco – 1360 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
Cheap, but not cheap for tacos. In saying that, the mixes they’ve come up with are awesome! You’ll be lining up at the door for a while (don’t try and sneak a seat – they’ll catch you), but it’s worth it!
$ Brobagel – 1931 W N Ave, Chicago
I walked in here because they had a sign saying they’d won an award for their garlic bagel with sriracha cream cheese. I went back several times. The bagels are brilliant and their sandwich creations provide a clever and very filling lunch.
$ Dough Bros Pizzeria & Sub Shop – 400 N State St, Chicago
Went in here for a sub and got two meals in one. Excellent meat with crispy eggplant – was a top lunch. Seriously though, you may want to consider sharing.
$$ Piece Brewery & Pizzeria – 1927 W North Ave, Chicago
A little pricier for pizza, but you’ll have enough for lunch the next day. This is a sports bar, brewery and pizzeria all-in-one, with a nice selection of house made beers and a make-your-own pizza menu. They come out on massive trays because they are massive.
$$ Pizzeria Due – 619 N Wabash Ave, Chicago
Why go to Uno when there’s no line at Due? It was still full, though. And the deep dish was great – super saucy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Who cares if everyone comes here, it’s well worth it.
$ Portillo’s – 100 W Ontario St, Chicago
Speaking of everyone going to a place, when you enter Portillo’s at lunch time you don’t so much joint a line as you do get consumed in a wave. Shuffle forward, place an order, then shuffle to your left. The production line of food prep is worth it alone, although the hot dogs are pretty flash, too! On top of that, I had the opportunity to order a chocolate cake shake… I wouldn’t exactly recommend that last bit.