Food & Drink / Travel

What to Eat in New York City – (Vacation like a Blogger)

The Best NYC Eats

You guys I LOVE New York City! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my husband and I got away last week for a few days and had the BEST time in NYC. And as any good blogger would, I shared lots of food and coffee pictures on instagram.

One of the most important parts of vacation is what I eat. I spend many hours each week shopping for and preparing meals for my family. So, when I’m exploring a new place, I want to eat interesting, delicious, new things (that I don’t have to cook). So, I’ve put together an Oleander + Palm What to eat in New York City guide. I’m sure there are a ton of “Best NYC Restaurant” lists and posts out there. But, when I searched, all that came up were either 1) way out of my budget or 2) just too predictable or touristy. So, my husband and I made it our J-O-B to find the yummiest, not-so-pricey, food in New York City. Now, we are not New York City experts (I’ve only been a total of 5 times) and have never lived there, but I think our list will definitely not disappoint you. Oh and I should mention that we walked or rode the subway everywhere, so these we are easy places to get to.

As Californians, Mexican food was definitely not on our radar (we’ve got the good stuff here). We were looking for fun eats that can’t be found in Bakersfield. We also are pretty thrifty and love to live big without spending a lot of coins. So, most of our meals and treats were easy on the wallet.

Vanessa’s Dumplings

We found this place by accident, but totally lucked out. And we both ate for under $11 total!!! That’s a huge win in NYC. You have to order the Honey Ginger Hot Tea, it has big chunks of spicy ginger in it. All of the dumplings were super fresh, but the spicy fried dumplings were our favorites.

Pastrami Queen

If there is a deli sandwich to be had, I always go for the pastrami or a reuben. So, I’ve had quite a few in my lifetime. I’m telling you that this was the best pastrami I have ever had. So ya, order the pastrami for sure, but the matze ball soup was really good on a cold day.

Cafe Henrie

Hip and totally trendy with some slightly inappropriate art (that’s the hip mom in me talking). Not sure if I’d want my teenagers to see the neon light near the bathrooms. I know, now you want to go see it. But, the food – I’m pretty sure everything here is good. I went for the instagram happy food like the Mr. Pink Bowl (which has beets and I LOVE beets) and the acai bowl. I also had a cardamom coffee with cream, and it was really yummy. If you are there for the instagram images, be sure to wait for a table near the windows. The back of the restaurant got a little dark. But, those pink tables by the window were perfection.

What to eat in NYC

Yemen Cafe

This is a must for us when we are in NYC and yes, we ate there twice in the 4 days that we were there. So, we did live in Yemen for two years, so this place feels familiar and brings back lots of memories. But, really, if you like unusual food, then you need to try Yemeni food, because it’s really yummy and super unique. Be sure to order salta or fahsa, it comes to the table bubbling in a stone dish. These are meat and veggie stews that you eat with warm, fresh flat bread. And definitely order the hot tea with milk, it’s bottomless and so delicious.

The best New York City food.


If you are in need of a late night sweet treat, a lot of their locations are open till 11 pm. Oh ya, we were making an ice cream and cookie run around 10:30 pm one night. Try any soft serve they have on tap. We’ve had the cream cheese sage (at Momofukus) and the cereal milk soft serve with the crunchy cereal topping was so good.

What to eat while in New York City


Everything you eat here will be fantastic. But, we do have a few favorites. The Nutella Cafe is a must. They have crepes, pastries, gelato, and fancy coffees topped with mounds of molten Nutella. We also love the roasted meat sandwiches that are served in the back of the store. There is a rotisserie that roasts a couple different kinds of meat everyday. It’s sliced right in front of you and piled on a fresh crunchy roll and topped with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and pepper. My son, who is 13, had the sandwich about 4 years ago and still refers to it as the best thing he’s ever had to eat.

New York City's best food

Shake Shack

There is usually a very long line. But, if you are just in need of a sweet treat, there is a separate shorter line for ordering frozen custard and shakes. I always just stick with a scoop of the chocolate frozen custard, but I know their shakes are pretty much off-the-hook.

Brooklyn Bagel or Milk + Honey

When in NYC, bagels and cream cheese are a must. Milk + Honey was right around the corner from our hotel, so it was a super convenient breakfast on the go. We also stopped in at Brooklyn Bagel one morning. They had a huge selection of bagel and cream cheese flavors. I’m sure any bagel you have in NYC will be better than most, but these were two spots we really enjoyed.


I kind of feel like I’m a donut expert and these are the best donuts I’ve ever had. You guys, I’ve had Blue Star, Randy’s, Tim Hortons, Voodoo, you name it. Besides my mom’s homemade donuts, these are #1. The Passionfruit Cocoa Nib and the Lemon Poppy Seed are my faves and usually I’m a chocolate or coconut girl. They have a location in Manhattan, but the trip to their Brooklyn shop is worth it, that’s where they are made. So, get there early and be ready for a carb experience like no other.

What to eat in New York City


I’m not a cheesecake expert, but you should have a slice or two. We had cheesecake after seeing a broadway show at Juniors. It’s probably a bit of a tourist trap, but it’s right in the theater district and the cheesecake was pretty awesome.

Martha Stewart Cafe

If you walk The High Line, which I totally recommend, be sure to walk an extra block to Martha’s Cafe. I had to! I’ve seriously been a fan of all things Martha since 1996, so I had to go. And in 100% honesty, it was the best latte I had the whole trip.

What to eat in New York City


I think this was our most expensive meal of the entire trip (around $50) and I’m pretty sure it was worth every penny. And actually it counted for two meals because we ate Sunday brunch at Buvette. The pastries are to die for, perfect little croissants, almond brioche and madeleines. We ordered a Croque Monsieur with gruyere, ham and herb d’provence – it’s really just the fanciest grilled cheese you’ve ever had.

Now, it’s your turn. What do you recommend folks eat while in NYC? A recommendation from a real person is always the best so I’d like to know what awesome things you’ve eaten there.


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