We let our noses be our eyes and our tastebuds be our guides.
I know it’s probably hard to believe, but ... food is like a REALLY big part of our lives. We just live off food. Like, we think about it multiple times a day. Ok, so we're not exactly in a league of our own. We all love food. We all live off food, but can we just take a moment to appreciate that not all food is crafted equally? Because food is more than just a means to survive. It can take a moment and escalate it to a memory. I can recall a meal and instantly mouth starts watering. It's happening to me right now. As a matter of fact, that’s not a memory, that’s a feeling. I feel food... but then again, doesn’t everyone? Steer clear of a person who says they can’t feel food. Can’t be trusted.
So while we were in NY, we didn't want to play it safe. In a city where good food options are aplenty and cuisine style runs the gamut, we didn't want to step foot into a place we could find back home in Florida ... unless we needed Wi-Fi (thanks Starbucks ;D). We had two dessert places and a historic pizza place on our short list, but we left the rest to chance. If it felt right, we would walk in.
And that’s what happened right off the bat. We were driving to the city and passed through Poughkeepsie and the tummies were ‘arumbling. A quick google maps search gave us a couple of options but one stood out above the rest. Alex’s Restaurant. It felt providential and the reviews were promising. Originally opened in 1911 by Grecian Alex Pappas, Alex’s Restaurant takes diner items and takes them up a notch with special twists and tantalizing flavor. I ordered a souvlaki pita with a side of mac and cheese and Alex (my Alex) ordered a greek panini and spinach feta fries because everything’s betta with feta. You can quote me on that. Please quote me on that. In short, Alex’s was a goldmine and the fact that it was found accidentally made it scrumptiously serendipitous.
A friend told us about this historic pizza place called Lombardi’s. It opened its doors in 1905 in NYC’s Little Italy and thus boasts the distinguished title of America’s First Pizzeria. Whether that’s true or not, it’s definitely been around a long time - 113 years to be exact and you can't argue with history and pizza pedigree. We got a white pizza with sweet Italian sausage - my mouth is watering right now. Pizza can't disappoint us. Alex would be happy if you put tomato sauce and cheese on cardboard and called it artisan pizza. So this was going to be a good review regardless, but wow… it was really good. The flavors were present and accounted for and it tasted even better the next day for breakfast.
Instagram is a powerful thing. That explore page? A black hole for time and productivity, but a beacon of light for food spots to try… and videos of happy babies and puppies. Before our trip, Alex noticed several posts of these enormous gooey cookies baked by Chip NYC. And not just your regular degular chocolate chip. Think bigger. Think carrot cake cookies, s’mores cookies, red velvet cookies, Nutella sea salt cookies, cookies and cream cookies, APPLE PIE COOKIES. I’m just really excited and my mouth is now watering again. Sorry not sorry. So we made a late night cookie run to Chip NYC in Astoria and prayed there wasn’t a line. We got sprinkle cookies, and butterscotch toffee cookies. It was an experience and a half. It took me three days to finish my two cookies.
Walking through the city can work up an appetite so after a few hours of a fast-paced trot through the big apple, we slowed for sustenance. The window of Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen (does this restaurant have a nick name?) revealed a packed dining room with tables flanked by strangers. My first thought was ugh… I don’t want to sit with strangers. Then I thought, who does? This place must be worth it if everyone else is making the sacrifice. So we sat next to two couples on a double date and pretended we couldn’t hear their whole conversation. I ordered stir-fried ramen with shrimp and Alex ordered roast duck ramen. Guys. The duck. I seriously contemplated the possibility of ever being this overcome with such flavor ever again. And it was only $11.25!!! I’m at a loss for words here. I just need everyone to try it.
Nostalgia tastes so so good. The Magnolia Bakery is proof of that. One summer, many years ago, we visited our dad in NYC for a week and one of the things we remember vividly was waiting in line to get a box of these cupcakes he had been telling us about. It was such a good memory I wanted to relive it. Of course, it was just me and Alex this time and the store had miraculously shrunken, but the line was still long and the product was the same - perfect. We ordered what they called a slice (more like a wedge) of hummingbird cake and coconut creme cake, salted caramel banana pudding and a cupcake for good measure. We brought our spoil to Central Park and replayed the NYC trip of 2004 in our heads as we listened to a saxophone bass duo serenading passers-by. We were carried by the sweet clouds of nostalgia.
Bronxville is a quintessential town complete with clean streets and locals that smile and say hi as you pass. At first, it felt like a twilight zone, but I quickly felt like I could belong in a place like that. Naturally, Bronxville had a hipster coffee shop, Slave to the Grind, which we walked into and right out after we realized our hipster levels were just not up to snuff. It also had a diner called… wait for it… Bronxville Diner. 5 stars for cuteness and décor, but 3 stars for the food. I just didn’t feel anything, you know? On the bright side, there was a bagel place called Park Place Bagels which we visited twice. Sure, a tiny mouse ran in the first time we went, but that’s what happens when the door is left open. He was quickly escorted back outside and we carried on as normal. Anyway, the bagels were all that and more so we had to go back.