If there’s one thing you can’t fault this city for, it’s food. Their extensive variety puts even the abundant SoCal selections to shame. Not only that, but it’s practically a gluten free paradise which thrilled me to no end. About every corner in Manhattan you can find Halal carts, but only a few of them actually are worth visiting, according to my guide. That didn’t stop me from sniffing the grilled kabobs like a curious hound when hiking through the city.
Shake Shack (DoBro)
My first official meal in the city and frankly the best one. There are multiple locations but I headed to the one near the apartment. There was hardly a line at 11:30 when they’ve just opened but I knew later in the day a sea of customers would descend. It’s a nondescript building, very clean and modern looking with black and green motif.
I didn’t expect much after hearing everyone rave about its greatness, but my philosophy is that when you have a name you should make it count. Therefore, the shakes should knock my socks off. They feature frozen custard (their own recipe made daily on the premises) and use it as a base to their shakes; I chose the flavor of the week which was red velvet. The problem I have with shakes and dessert in general is the excessive amount of sugar, but here they’re light on sweetness, smooth and rich in flavor at the same time. My verdict? Instant love with this blissful concoction that took me to the moon and back. I would only make the cup slightly more artistic since it is their signature item and for what you pay, should be a visual marvel, not a humble minimum.
Their other items were pretty great I have to admit. Even if I prefer skinny fries their crinkle cut ones were definitely crunchy and cooked to perfection. Their patty is made from Angus beef, seasoned with a crispy charred exterior. I didn’t have a lot of the bun because of my intolerance but they’re toasted of the standard diner variety.
I feel like a traitor to my state preferring it over In-N-Out but I can’t fight this feeling anymore, I’m so gone for them. I would say though that it’s hardly comparable since they’re probably more than triple the price of my local legend. Yes, I will be back to partake in your shakes, and since one recently opened up on my coastline, it will be soon.
Il Buco (SoHo)
Our birthday celebration took us to this authentic Italian spot in the ever so hipsterlicious neighborhood where you may find all the artsy Ho Hey bohemian type shops and population. The homey atmosphere and European waiters took me back to Venice. Our server explained the menu changes daily depending on what the chef found at the market that morning. Also there are no changes allowed since the ingredients are chosen to harmonize in a particular way. I liked that control freak aspect, it makes sense in a non corporate setting. I wished I could partake of all the fresh handmade pasta but alas.
Side note: they don’t carry soda (!)
A Parisienne chef crossed the ocean to bring America the gift of an entirely gluten free bakery. With bakeries I learned there’s a tricky aspect I call game of timing. If you walk in first thing when they open, which is what I did, they don’t have everything on their menu ready since the baker works on making things fresh throughout the day. Should you try to visit later on, you risk missing out on popular items that will sell out as soon as they’re available. I was dying to try their chocolate tart but since it was too early, settled for other items instead.
Brioche: incorrectly named muffins (brioche is supposed to be a rich fluffy yeast bread), I loved the blackberry ones, the dough was slightly sweet and the almonds on top were a nice touch; the chocolate one was dry and tasteless
Blackberry tart: berries were fine, a vanilla bean base and a dry gritty crust was not very pleasant, I think they should go for a traditional pate sucree which would be more tender
It was a priority for me to visit this shop but next time I’ll skip it and explore the 20 other bakeries on the same street that offer gluten free items.
Side note: Is it just me or are places opening later and later, like why would bakeries open anytime after 8am? All customers want to eat their bread before they go to work or school, do they not want to wake up for more profit? Makes no sense!!!! <end rant>
Pio Bagel (DoBro)
Somehow I forgot that New York is famous for their bagels (I knew about the pizza, but missed my chance, grr). This building is across the street from where I was staying and I didn’t consider going in until I saw a sign saying they carry gluten free ones. Hold the phone! The morning of my departure, I stopped in first thing. I appreciate these kinds of places since they’re tasked with feeding people on the way to work, in a sense, fueling America one morning at a time.
I went with the classic bagel with cream cheese. And guess what, it tasted like the normal chewy bagel, unbelievable. I took another one in sandwich form so I could later devour it on the plane. I noticed they were generous with their meat and wrapped the whole thing twice with butcher paper – now that’s quality. I long to have one again, bagels will haunt my dreams for a while.