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A Must-Taste New York Food Guide by Kirsten Alana

It’s the most populous city in the U.S.

With a population of 8,336,697 and over 40 million visitors per year, New York City is a global hub of business and commerce, banking and finance, world trade, transportation, real estate, theater, fashion, art, and the list goes on.

And you know what that means…

There’s some damn good eats!

New York food is influenced by the city’s immigrant history.  European immigrants made the city famous for bagels, cheesecake and New York-style pizza.  But today, the options are endless, from Classic American food served at dinners and coffee shops to over 4,000 mobile food vendors slinging falafels, kebabs, hot dogs and pretzels.

And Kirsten Alana should know.

Kirsten lives in Queens and is a photographer and travel writer following her passion for food, art and culture around the world and shares her insider tips in this New York food guide…

New York Food by Kirsten Alana

What’s the best way to get around New York?

I prefer walking because I like to really see the city and always prefer to discover new things. It’s not practical to walk from my apartment into Manhattan, so I take the subway when I have longer distances to traverse.

A cab is always my very last resort, our drivers are the worst and never know where they’re going anyway. It’s not like London where the cabbies know every nook and cranny of the city.

What’s the best time to visit New York?

Spring or Fall

What are the boroughs of New York?

There are 5 boroughs: Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn & Staten Island.

They’re each difficult to merely summarize. There’s enough going on in each place for them to be considered cities unto themselves.

  • Brooklyn is the hottest borough right now, for food, drinking and real estate.
  • Queens is always underrated and has great shopping and dining as well as its own Flea Market not unlike neighboring Brooklyn. It also has an incredible Korea town in Flushing and there’s still the ode to Greece in my area of Astoria.
  • Aside from being the only borough to officially have a ‘the’ in its title, The Bronx is also considered to be the birthplace of rap/hip hop music and it’s the home of the Yankees.
  • Manhattan is, of course, where most tourists spend the majority of their time – though I hope that is changing and will continue to change.

Aside from those surface level details, again, it’s difficult to boil the different boroughs down because there’s just too much going on in each.

What advice can you give women about what to pack?

This is one of the fashion capitals of the world, alongside such cities as Milan and Paris, so I would recommend packing and wearing basics, while allowing for an extra bag to carry home all the new clothes and accessories you’ll inevitably buy while visiting!

If you’re coming in the winter, pack very warm clothes. There’s something about the winter in New York City that disparages even me, and I was born and raised in frigid New England.

What are three things every woman must do in New York?

  1. Wander and shop in SoHo.
  2. Visit the baths and get a massage at Aire Ancient Baths in TriBeCa.
  3. Indulge in French macarons from LaDuree.

What’s the most over-rated thing to do in New York?

Visit Times Square.

What are the three best places for street food in New York?

  1. Palenque food truck – order a quinoa arepa with grilled chicken.
  2. Mike & Willie’s food truck – Great tacos and sliders. The ‘Lime Chicken’ is my favorite.
  3. Pop It, Baby! popsicle truck – get the hibiscus lime on a hot summer day.

What’s the best bakery to cure a sweet tooth?

Eric Kayser.

What are best dishes/food that screams New York?

  • A slice of cheap pizza,
  • a burger and a shake from Shake Shack,
  • a hot dog from a street cart (with sauerkraut and mustard),
  • a Salty Pimp ice cream cone from the Big Gay ice cream truck and
  • Cannoli from Ferrara in Little Italy.

For Asian food, I think the best noodles in the city are at Xi’an while the soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai are a must and Nom Wah Tea Parlor has the best dim sum.

I happen to love the salads at The Smith, the gnocchi at Ca Va Brasserie and the Bloody Mary at Tiny’s and The Bar Upstairs.

Where should women go for the best happy hour specials?

  • Acme Bar & Grill on Great Jones Street offers ladies two for one on Wednesday.
  • Mona’s on Avenue B between 13th & 14th, one of my favorites dives, offers Guinness on tap for $3 on Thursday.
  • The happy hour at Blind Tiger Ale House on Hudson starts at noon and lasts all the way until 8 PM.
  • You only need $3 at Fiddlesticks on Greenwich to get any drink you desire discounted until 10 PM from Monday through Friday.

What’s a common cocktail to order in New York?

I don’t know what most people order though I suspect it’s something like a vodka soda because so many women are so absurdly conscious of their caloric intake.

I visit Macao Trading Co. and ask their bartenders to just surprise me. I’ve never been let down.

The Butterfly Lounge, not far away from Macao, also makes the classics really well.  I always order a Tom Collins there.

What is the most common misconception about New York?

We have the reputation for being very rude.

In fact, we’re very nice and helpful if you ask. We want people to know the best of our city. Unfortunately, unless you do ask, you’ll find most of us tightly wound in the stresses of life that this big city is particularly good at inducing. So that concentration and intent, often comes off as rudeness.

The pace of life is far different here than in other places and that can be difficult for visitors to grasp.

Are there any culture shocks women should expect?

Women are more outspoken and independent here than in other places. That can assert itself in ways which are difficult to handle, make it seem hard for a visitor to “fit in.”

Where’s the best photo opportunity in New York?

Take the Staten Island Ferry, the boat to Red Hook or walk the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. All will afford stunning views of the city skyline in the most beautiful color palate.

What other advice or tips can you give?

Don’t be afraid to visit on your own. My first few visits to the city were solo and I fell in love. It’s not a place you need to come with friends, family or a man. Though that can be enjoyable in a different way!

Any other thoughts or advice for our women readers?

Stay open, try new things, make friends! And don’t skip the MET Museum. Follow your visit with drinks at their rooftop bar and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of Manhattan and Central Park.

Thank you Kirsten Alana for participating in this interview.  For more info on Kirsten, please visit  kirstenalana.com and aviatorsandacamera.com.

Comments

  1. Your article about food has inspired me to try some my street food in my own city! There’s so much to see and do and eat in NYC, a short visit it tough to fit everything into your itinerary and your stomach! But that doesn’t mean next time I won’t try. 🙂 Thanks for some great suggestions!

    • I agree Heather. Every time I visit New York I always wish I had more time to try more street food and restaurants. I love the diversity. It’s a great city for foodies.

    • What’s so great about street food is that it’s usually inexpensive and it’s so much more low key than restaurant food. Also you really get to know a city by the food that’s served on its streets!

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