Native New Yorker and author, Marc Grossman, gives us the inside scoop on his just-released book, New York Cult Recipes, an ode to the city’s restaurants and food culture. Here he reveals five of his must-visit diners, delis, cafés and an old school luncheonette (and what to order) in five distinct neighbourhoods. And, we’ve paired each spot with something to see and a New York hotel stay, too…
UPPER EAST SIDE
Eat The Lexington Candy Shop is a third-generation family-operated luncheonette on the Upper East Side, marked by a landmark neon sign out front. On the menu you’ll find straightforward diner fare such as blueberry pancakes, burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and malt milkshakes made on vintage Hamilton Beach mixers with Bassett’s ice cream, as they’ve always been. MG
See Sadly, there’s no sock-hop to pop by, but you’ll be fuelled up for a trip to the nearby Whitney Museum of American Art or Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Stay Feel right at home in this well-heeled neighbourhood at The Surrey Hotel a glam Beaux Arts beauty.
Eat It’s not much from the outside, but step inside Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop and you’ll be struck by the cinematic appeal of the lunch counter packed with customers. The fourth owner since it opened in the late 1920s and longtime customer, Josh Konecky, has great respect for this institution and prides himself on not messing with the formula. Classic Eisenberg dishes – matzo ball soup, the tuna melt and meatloaf with mashed potatoes – are favourites of everyone from Mick Jagger to Spike Lee. Don’t be scared off by the lunchtime crowds: getting caught up in a sea of bustling locals is part of the fun. MG
See Walk off that that corn beef sandwich in nearby Madison Square Park and pose by the latest public art installation.
Stay Wondering where the cool kids hang out? Look no further than the lobby of the Ace Hotel on the way up to your room.
Eat Duck into the Stage Restaurant, a Ukrainian hole-in-the-wall off of Saint Mark’s Place for Eastern European delicacies such as sauerkraut pierogis smothered in caramelized onions, rich borscht soup, stuffed cabbage, potato pancakes and puffy blintzes. French toast, eggs with corned-beef hash and other greasy-spoon fare hold their own too at this cool neighborhood spot with a friendly, yet unobtrusive, staff. MG
See Continue with the theme and visit at the under-the-radar Ukrainian Museum, just a few blocks away.
Stay Elegant, but with an edge, The Bowery Hotel, perfectly reflects this changing neighbourhood.
Eat The rail-car style Square Diner with its grey tiled roof and blue-collar vibes is something of an anomaly in this now-upscale enclave, harking back to Tribeca’s pre-artsy industrial roots. Popular with local residents and police officers, the Square Diner has stood fast in a changing world by sticking with their low prices, friendly service, and, most importantly, tasty, honest no-frills food such as corned beef hash, fluffy buckwheat pancakes, Greek salad, root beer floats and apple pie à la mode. Not entirely stuck in another era though, their excellent veggie burger and sweet potato fries mean you can take your health-conscious friends, too.
See Stroll a few blocks west for a game of mini-golf or to watch boats bob on the Hudson River at Pier 25.
Stay Japanese-style spa, rustic-Italian restaurant and Parisian-inspired bar all play very nicely together at The Greenwich Hotel.
Eat An old-world coffee shop/Chinese tea parlour, Hop Shing is a favourite spot for the great American pastime of anonymously enjoying a cup of hot filtered coffee on a stool at a diner counter. The fact that almost everyone else is Chinese or NYPD certainly adds to Hop Shing’s otherworldly appeal, but what really clinches the deal is the classic selection of dim sum and pastries kept in the steam cases behind the counter. Pick and choose from roast pork buns, coconut buns, stuffed green peppers, bean curd rolls, fried shrimp balls, beef noodles and custard tarts. MG
See Learn more about the immigrant stories that shaped this city by signing up for one of the fascinating walking tours at the Tenement Museum.
Stay Climbing high above the squat LES walk-ups,the Hotel on Rivington is a buzzy tower of contemporary cool.
Hungry for more? We’re giving away five copies of New York Cult Recipes – enter by 31 October for your chance to win. And, take a look at our full list of boutique hotels in New York when planning your next NYC tour.