This post has been a long time coming. I went to New York City last month for the FIRST TIME EVER. A few years ago, when I was interested in magazine writing, I had this dream of moving out to New York and working for a super cool publication like Bon Appétit or Food Network Magazine. My professional goals have shifted since then, but my fascination with New York City has remained constant.
My friend Emily and I went to NYC for “the best food festival-conference hybrid you’ll ever experience”. Brainfood was put on by Spoon University, an organization I’ve been involved with since my freshman year at Iowa. Spoon University is essentially an online magazine written by college students, for college students. Emily and I are, respectively, the editorial and marketing directors of the University of Iowa chapter. Brainfood was an all-day event consisting of speakers (think: Alton Brown + Hannah Hart), networking with professionals in the food industry, and tons of free samples.
Throughout the two other days we spent in NYC, we basically ate our way through the city while stopping at some must-see tourist spots (Central Park + Times Square + Brooklyn Bridge). The easiest way for me to organize this post is to just tell you everything we ate, in no particular order.
Samples at Brainfood
At Brainfood, we got to try a ton of different brands that are super big right now. Squish Marshmallows is an NYC-based company that sells homemade marshmallows made with natural ingredients. Handsome Brook Farm absolutely killed the game with beet + poached egg toast with hot sauce made with their very own organic, pasture-raised eggs. We got creative at the Fatty Sundays booth making our own chocolate-dipped pretzels. Oh, and we were greeted at the door by Baked by Melissa bite-sized cupcakes.
This was the literal definition of “do it for the insta”. It wasn’t tasty, but these spaghetti donuts have made quite the cameo on Instagram. In my opinion, it tasted like dried noodles that needed sauce. Can someone get me a plate of REAL spaghetti + meatballs, ASAP?
Located right across the street from the World Trade Center, Steve’s Pizza was one of the only businesses in the area not destroyed by the 9/11 attacks. On the day of the tragedy, they served up free slices to the service men and women who helped with the aftermath. My friend visited this little hole-in-the wall when she came to NYC in eighth grade and recommended we go back.
I got a slice of buffalo chicken and she got margherita, but after the first few bites we decided to switch because we liked the other’s better. Don’t get me wrong, the buffalo chicken was great but it was also really rich, and I thought the flavor of the basil on the margherita was incredible.
Yes, those are french fries with pomegranate teriyaki sauce. And yes, they were just as good and rich and greasy and tasty as they look. Pommes Frites is located a block away from Washington Square Park and NYU’s campus. Their menu boasts 30 different sauces, with unique ones like tequila lime chipotle and Bordeaux wine, figs, and sage. For the less daring, they also have traditional sauces like honey mustard and cheddar cheese.
We ordered a small order with both pomegranate teriyaki sauce and cheddar cheese. The cheddar cheese was nothing special, but the pomegranate teriyaki sauce added just the right amount of sweet to the salty fries.
Bread + Honey
Per recommendation of my travel partner, Emily, we stopped at Bread + Honey for a quick bite to eat after visiting Times Square. Not only was this organic market full of some of my favorite healthy snacks, they also had a hot food and salad bar with more than 48 freshly-made dishes.
Since I wasn’t hungry for something super filling, I grabbed a few pork dumplings and kimchi from the hot food bar. But the real star of the show was Emily’s bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich. I mean, come ON. LOOK at that thing. It was just as tasty as it looks and honestly some days I still regret not getting my own.
(Emily has a blog too. Check it out here.)
When in NYC, of course I had to try Magnolia Bakery’s banana pudding. Magnolia is known for their baked goods as well, but their banana pudding takes the cake as their most famous menu item.
I have to say, this banana pudding was great but I don’t know if I would say it’s an NYC must-have. Don’t get me wrong, it was super tasty, but it also tasted like something I could probably whip up in my own kitchen and it would cost a lot less. Just sayin’.
Daily Press Coffee
This cute little coffee shop was located only a few blocks from our Airbnb in Brooklyn. I wish I could have stayed and studied there for a few hours, because the exposed brick, natural light, and eclectic workers made for a great environment. They also had killer breakfast burritos made by the same guy EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. I ordered mine with chorizo and it was a great decision.
Side note:our Airbnb was so stinkin’ cute. From the awesome little reading nook under the stairs to the funky wallpaper, this place was awesome. The owners, Sara and Eric, were super friendly and helpful. They were actually the ones that recommended this place, and they certainly did not disappoint. Their home is also just two blocks from the C train, which basically took us anywhere we needed to go. If you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, Sara + Eric’s place is a great, affordable place to stay.
Otherwise known as the restaurant with terrible service and overpriced food, this place was so forgettable that I honestly couldn’t remember its name until I went back and looked at the location of this photo on my phone.
But you see, we didn’t exactly intend to go here. We wanted to get some famous Roberta’s Pizza, but we made the rookie mistake of not making a reservation on a Friday night. Not wanting to wait for over two hours, we decided to turn to Yelp for some help deciding where to eat. Forrest Point was a few blocks away and had decent reviews, so we decided to go.
Here’s my gripe: our waiter was really nice, but he forgot to put in our order and we waited over an hour for food. Then, when he realized his mistake, he came and told us that our burgers would be out any minute and he added an order of fries on the house. Super nice, right? He forgot about the fries too. Now, I understand that waiters have an incredibly difficult job, but to mess up twice and then never follow up with any kind of compensation seems a little unprofessional to me.
My burger was super decent and definitely not worth the price I paid for it, especially considering that it didn’t come with any sides.
After our super long day of networking + snacking, we decided we wanted our final bite to eat in NYC and hit up this super hip coffee shop in the neighborhood. They serve traditional coffee drinks, but their small menu of specialty grilled cheeses is what came highly recommended. I got the pulled pork grilled cheese which was paired with a cold tomato dipping sauce. It was just the comfort food I needed to end the day.
Aaaaaand there you have it. There’s literally everything I ate during my first (but certainly not last) trip to New York City. Honestly, I would love to go back and eat my way through the city, but I guess that’ll have to wait until I’m no longer a broke college student.
Here are a few other, non-food photos from my trip: