If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’re probably already sick of me banging on about #HungryHarrietGoesToNYC but for those of you who aren’t in the loop, allow me tell you all about why my jeans are so bloody tight right now…
Last week I flew all the way across the Atlantic to New Jersey where my (not so little) little brother graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University. The Uni campus is situated in Teaneck, which is one gorgeous corner of the globe that you must visit if you get the chance to. Just like the American suburbia you see in the movies, Teaneck is full of raised timber houses, perfectly preened lawns and those cute yellow school buses but travel about 10/15 minutes out of town and you’ll reach Hackensack where things get a bit more Ferris Bueller’s Day Off than Miss Honey & Matilda.
If you do happen to find yourself in the Garden State, Hackensack or Hoboken are the places to be for all-American eateries and the kind of jukebox bars where Bud Lite comes with a whiskey chaser. So in true Hungry Harriet style, I let my stomach lead the way and found some pretty awesome places to grab a bite:
White Manna Hamburgers
There’s no denying that my other half and I love a good burger so while my brother whisked my proud parents off for a pre-graduation ceremony banquet at the University, we went in search of White Manna. Opened up in 1939, this classic American diner is definitely a unique dining must-do if you’re in Hackensack. I can’t say the food itself is exactly gourmet but if you’re after a traditional, roadside diner experience then you have to get to White Manna at some point.
We sat on bar stools at the counter (the only seats available here), sipping thick vanilla milkshakes, while our mini cheeseburgers were flipped on the grill in front of us amidst the company of band tee-clad students and two NYPD officers simultaneously slurping their shakes. If it wasn’t for the newspaper clipping on the walls and the stream of regulars swinging by for their usual, I’d have expected Nicolas Winding Refn to come round the corner shouting ‘CUT, CUT!’
Maggiano’s Little Italy
If you’re looking for something more sophisticated than Hooters but that will still be kind to your budget then Maggiano’s Little Italy at the Riverside Mall, NJ is top dollar. We ventured here on my brother’s recommendation after his graduation ceremony at the MetLife Stadium and were treated like nothing short of royalty. As the name suggests, the menu is traditional Italian cuisine that is as authentic as you like and generous in portion size (obviously). Maggiano’s even offers complimentary second helpings of some of their most popular dishes for you to take away in a box for another day.
The Cheesecake Factory (duh!)
Did you really go to the States if you didn’t pay the Cheesecake Factory a visit? This place is everything you expect American food to be – BIG and bad. Bad as in heavenly indulgent. With classic delicacies like loaded tator tots and s’mores flavoured cheesecake, mixed together with a selection of Asian and Mexican dishes, TCF never sacrifices quality for novelty. Oh and don’t you dare miss out on the Oreo shake, all 1630 calories of it.
The Brass Rail
The view of the New York skyline and Jersey City from Hoboken pier is absolutely mind blowing so I recommend indulging in a garlic skirt steak and shoestring fires (tender enough to cut with a spoon) or a chipotle basted chicken breast at The Brass Rail bar-come-bistro then walking down the waters edge and digesting the jaw dropping view.
We finished our trip off with 3 days in New York, New York and what a helluva town (great big massive city) it is. The Big Apple is one of the most spectacular, unforgettable places on this planet – in the whole solar system in fact – and it leaves a sweeter taste in my mouth every time I leave. It really is a magical melting pot of cultures and most definitely when it comes down to its eclectic culinary landscape.
NYC is a big ol’ place where you can get everything from vegan sushi burritos to a rack of ribs so big you’ll need two seats home on the plane so I implore you to be open minded when you enter the Concrete Jungle in search of scran. Go ahead and try new things, taste something you’ve never tasted before, order something off the menu you can’t even say because that’s what adventure is all about, right?
With so much to do and so little time (and stomach space), edible experimentation wasn’t high on our list of priorities. We had shit to do and see and food was fuel but boy did we find some tasty filling stations on our way:
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer
Home of the ‘Crazy Shake’, we actually stumbled upon Black Tap by hunger-propelled accident. This graffiti-clad urban gaff was attached to our traditional 1950’s New York hotel (The Blakely) in Midtown Manhattan – a kooky little juxtaposition of interiors and great restaurant to stop by if you like burgers with ALL the toppings and milkshakes with even MORE of the toppings.
Their milkshakes (and burgers) bring all the boys (and girls) to the yard so make sure you book ahead to avoid queuing.
Eataly NYC Flatiron
This fancy little market sits pretty on New York’s famous 5th Ave and houses a whole host of concessions, delis and brands for you to sink your teeth into but what drew us there in the first place was the Nutella cafe. Yep, you read that right – the Nutella cafe.
A whole cafe dedicated to Nutella-based crepes, pastries, gelatos and coffees. Go for a Nutella Affogatto (ice cream, coffee and Nutella) with a Nutella Cannoli. Mmm.
‘As in the shop?’ you might ask… Yep, Wholefoods as in the famous health store that prides itself on minimalist ingredients and the kind of produce that is going to make your insides and your outsides glow. If corndogs really aren’t your bag or if you just need a break from the belly-busting portions that NYC throws your way, the Wholefoods deli is the perfect place to catch your breath. We had breakfast there twice and believe me when I say there isn’t much you can’t find in the Wholefoods wonderland. We had everything from sushi and scrambled eggs to wholemeal pastries and bespoke smoothies around our breakfast table.
Artichoke Basille Pizza
After wandering the beautiful Chelsea Highline and the Meatpacking District markets in 86 degree heat, we needed something substantial and what better place to refuel on something hearty than Artichoke? A popular chain around the city I’m told, Artichoke is a cool grungy hangout where you can tuck into a traditional pizza pie.
Order by the slice or go the whole nine yards with a full pizza, just know that you better be hungry here. Oh and as much as your taste buds might tremble in fear from the idea of artichoke on pizza, just give it a go. You won’t regret it.
As you might have gathered by now, there is an abundance of Italian food on offer in the city and we took full advantage of it. I mean, come on, New York was home to the Mafia after all – they’ve got to get their spaghetti some place, right? Bistro Milano is a beautiful modern restaurant in the heart of Midtown NY with the best Quattro Formaggi I’ve ever tasted but if you want something unapologetically traditional then head down to Monte’s Trattoria in Greenwich Village.
An intimate Italian eatery beneath the cobbles of the village, complete with red check tablecloths, the best Chicken Parmigiana I’ve had the pleasure of devouring and an ambiance that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside. Plus, it’s only over the road from Insomnia Cookies and daaaaaamn, those hot, fresh, gooey cookies are good…