Like New Orleans, New York City is filled with great food. From the street stands that sell roasted nuts, hot dogs, and pretzels to the upscale restaurants that sell wood-grilled salmon or filet mignon, there is something for everyone.
New York is pretty well-known for it’s pizza (because it’s delicious), but less well-known for the neglected sibling of the cheese-and-dough staple: garlic knots. Garlic is a pretty common standby for pizzerias–just look at garlic fingers in Nova Scotia–so while it’s not a new concept it doesn’t matter because they’re so delicious and surprisingly (for New York), cheap. Two garlic knots will set you back only a dollar, and believe me, it’s worth it. Basically two palm-sized balls of dough bursting with garlic and salt, these little creations are served with marinara sauce and after eating one you just want to hold your fingers together, put on a fake Italian accent and say “Magnifico.”
Hamburgers are one of the staples of my diet, so naturally, I’m always on the search for the elusive “perfect” burger. JG Melon’s is a restaurant known for it’s excellent burgers. In fact, how I heard about the restaurant was through watching a food network special about celebrity chefs and their favorite spots for the classic dish. JG Melon’s was Bobby Flay’s choice for the best burger in America, so naturally I had to at least check it out.
It was a decent burger with melted cheese, onions, and pickles, but overall I wasn’t overly impressed. To me, it didn’t seem much larger than a quarter-pounder at McDonald’s, and it cost $10 without any sides. I’m sorry, but if you are in the burger business, always include the fries with the burger even if it makes it $15 (which it ended up being). Skimping on the sides is never a good sign. The cheeseburgers at JG Melon’s are cooked on a griddle to keep their flavor, and if I remember correctly, they put the cheese on and then steam it until it melts. Perhaps my problem with it is that I asked for it well-done (the thought of eating a red, undercooked burger just makes me nauseous) and maybe that changed my experience from one of “You have to try a JG Melon burger” to one of: “Eh, it’s just a regular burger.”
Finally, as requested I looked for a famous NY doughnut shop, and though I’m not sure if it’s the right one, when I searched best doughnut shops in NY, Doughnut Plant always came up. And let me tell you, it was an adventure finding it. I took the metro down to Grand Avenue and was deep in the heart of Chinatown when it started pouring. Big, relentless drops of rain drenched the streets and I stood beneath an awning with several others to escape it. While waiting for the storm to subside, I entered a Chinese restaurant to eat some lunch. Quick tip for the traveler who doesn’t want to spend a fortune in NY: eat in Chinatown. The lunch special was five items plus a cup of soup (broth, really) for a total of $4, or $4.50 if you were sticking around the restaurant. Incredible. Granted, some of the food I didn’t recognize, and because I was nervous about inadvertently eating a dog or cat (or the whole fried fish with eyes and scales still intact), I stuck to the familiar items: spring roll, fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, chow mien, and French fries (please, no hate mail about the French fries until you’ve actually been to this place and seen some of the strange-smelling and looking dishes that are offered). Funny story, I walked down the street and found another restaurant with a better deal: $3.75 take-out, $4.00 eat-in.
Eventually, I got tired of sticking around so I walked through the rain and got appropriately drenched. Doughnut Plant offers some unique flavors like carrot cake pastries and blueberry flavored ones. Of course, I tried neither. Instead I got the “tres leches” doughnut, of which I had no idea what that meant and for some reason the name made me think it was leech flavored (it actually means three milks, whatever that means). The thing that really surprised me about the doughnut was it’s weight. The thing actually had some heft to it. I’m used to Tim Horton’s doughnuts, the ones that feel like air with icing on top, but this felt like it might’ve weighed half a pound. Anyway, it was delicious. There was custard or cream in the middle that was absolutely fantastic, and this is coming from a doughnut eater who usually avoids the ones that are filled with such things. Overall, I’d recommend it. Definitely worth the trek (and it was also nice that there was no line-up because of the rain).
So there you have it, three foods from NY.