Trip Report New York City (Manhattan)

Junior Burger
2005/08/03 09:07:27
Here’s a food report of my family’s recent trip to New York City (Manhattan only), humbly submitted to provide info to anyone planning to visit there. The cast of characters: Baby Boomers mom and dad, a just-finished-high-school 18 year old, and a heading-to-junior-high 12 year old.

Most restaurants mentioned below are also reviewed elsewhere on Roadfood, so I didn’t include a lot of address or phone info here.

We four Chicagoans fell in love with New York style pizza, those coal-fired brick oven pies. We had John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker in Greenwich Village, Patsy’s on 60th between 2nd and 3rd, and Angelo’s on 57th. Yum, yum and yum. The crust is fab. Patsy’s and Angelo’s appeared to use fresh mozzarella and John’s appeared to use regular mozzarella. They’re all casual, but Patsy’s and Angelo’s décor was “prettier” while John’s décor was “Roadfood-ier”. We always order plain cheese pizza and often prefer to drink water as a beverage, so the cost for pizza meals was very low.

We tried hot dogs and sausage from Sabrett street carts, deemed them good but not extraordinary. We went to Papaya King on 86th (this is a one-and-only location, all other papaya ‘n’ hot dog places are knock-offs, copycats or otherwise unrelated). Papaya King was a big disappointment for our family. The tropical juices were not very appealing. We were very un-impressed with the hot dogs (tasted good but in an ordinary way) and likewise ordinary buns, although the bun being toasted on the outside was a plus. I normally adore onions prepared almost any style, but the seasoned onions I ordered on the dogs were so unpleasant I scraped them off and masked what was left with mustard. The Cajun fries my son ordered were very mild, which is good for me, but would be a disappointment to Cajun fans expecting something spicy. In another Roadfood thread someone said the hot dogs are the same Sabrett brand as the street carts, but I think that was one of the copycat locations. I thought the Papaya King dog had a better flavor and crisper casing than the Sabrett street cart dog.

For deli food, we tried Carnegie Deli, Pastrami Queen, Café Edison, and Roxy. We liked them all (lower points for Roxy). I know there is a lot of discussion on Roadfood and elsewhere about which New York deli is the best, but we didn’t approach these meals like reviewers, we were just hoping to get a good to excellent lunch or dinner, and we did.

At the Carnegie Deli, we had corned beef sandwiches (excellent) and potato pancakes (very good). The corned beef was very lean, which is okay with us. The Carnegie was our first meal on our first day, so I’m sure that made it seem special and we were very happy.

The meal we ate at Roxy was only because time was late and Café Edison was already closed, so the situation was set up for disappointment. However, teenager loved the hamburger and French fries, little guy loved the scrambled eggs with huge sausage links. DH (darling husband) and I were disappointed in the brisket sandwich: dry-ish and not flavorful enough. Potato pancakes were awful.

Next night we were sure to get to Café Edison on time. Attention families: several Café Edison prices are low, so if you’re trying to find good food at a reasonable cost, this is it. Tender matzo balls were served swimming in a huge bowl of thick chicken noodle soup rather than plain broth. We had a corned beef sandwich (excellent) and cherry blintzes (excellent). The corned beef was fatty, which is okay with us (hmmm, above at Carnegie we liked it lean, I guess we never met a corned beef we didn’t like!). French toast was excellent. Pancakes were very good, although one of the three was inexplicably burned. Please read all the other reviews about Café Edison on Roadfood website and in the Stern’s books.

Pastrami Queen (Lexington near 86th) was way excellent. We had corned beef (excellent), pastrami (way excellent). My family is extremely fussy about potato pancakes because DH makes superlative thin potato pancakes at home using grandma’s recipe BUT we thought that the three thick potato pancakes here fried crispy brown were great. Little guy had three frankfurters (way excellent, so much better than the Sabrett street cart and Papaya King).

One more deli comment: before we left for our trip, I only had time to go to the Roadfood “Restaurants” page and print the list of restaurant reviews there, I didn’t have time to search the Roadfood forum reviews. After we got back, I couldn’t resist torturing myself by reading the forum reviews to validate what we tried and cry about what we’d missed. Sure enough, that’s when I learned that most of you agree that Katz deli is the one that’s “not to be missed”. If your trip to New York has not taken place yet then keep that in mind when you go. Oh, well. Next time I’ll do my forum search even if I’m awake into the wee hours!

One night we went to Serendipity3, a famous-reputation restaurant (for desserts and a ridiculously long wait), but we stuck it out to get the ice cream that we wanted. We agreed that it was worth it. Their claim to fame is "Frrrozen Hot Chocolate" (intriguing). It's sorta like a chocolate milkshake served in an over-sized sundae bowl, topped with whipped cream, but indeed the milkshake part was unique and tasted really good. Visually it looked like all one consistency, but when you sipped it with the straw the bottom seemed like a thinner but richer chocolate with a delicious taste. Tried to analyze and guess how it might have been prepared, such as combining a traditional milkshake with a syrup-y cocoa liquid? Or maybe it did start out as one consistency but part of it separated to the bottom? Our kids had a dense chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and sundae toppings called "Forbidden Chocolate" or something like that. It was delicious, too.

RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 09:24:53
great review Imthemom way excellent!
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 09:34:08

That's the kind of feedback (no pun!) we like to read. Good Report. Hope the remainder of the trip was a success!
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 10:08:18
This is another poster who "gets it", meaning she contributed to this site in the truest sense of what this site is all about.
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 10:52:51
Great report. Not surprised that you were disappointed with Payaya King. And was pleasantly surprised you liked Pastrami Queen as much as you did. A lot of people thought it never recaptured the quality of its forebearer Pastrami King, formerly located in Queens.

Lots of royalty bandied about in this post....
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 11:14:16
Mom, Thanks for the review. Doesn't sound like your family goes for a little lox and bagel for breakfast, but when you return for that sandwich at Katz's, try to get to Barney Greengrass for wonderful fish and egg dishes.

So tell us, if the tables were turned, where would you send us to in Chicago?
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 12:05:25
Thank you for a very enjoyable and informative report.
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 20:00:05
Now this is what Road Food is all about.
Not "where can I find tutti frutti twizzlers"
or "The horsemeat at Arby's is better than the horsemeat at burger king"

If we had more people like Imthemom then perhaps all the Road Food gems wouldn't go out of business to be replaced by Crapplebees.
Junior Burger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 21:09:51
I’m so pleased that you’re enjoying my story and grateful for the kind words and “high fives” from all of ya. Although I didn’t write for the purpose of getting responses or compliments, I admit that it’s fun to read the answers that people send. I’m proud that long-time members or experienced posters feel that I’m tuned in to the original spirit of’s like getting an A+ from a favorite teacher! signman, I noted your question about Chicago and I appreciate you asking. I’ll put together an answer and post it under its own topic. But it might take me a while to get to it as I’m preparing to move my son to college and I haven’t had as much time to lurk on Roadfood. Thanks again, everyone.
Born in OKC
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 21:22:42
Glad you liked the Cafe Edison.
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/03 21:58:43
Hi Mom ...

I agree ... nice report. I've been to many of the above and am glad you got the hang of NYC (east coast) pizza ... next time Barney Greengrass, your main missed opportunity.
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/04 00:01:41
Great feedback about nyc. Made me think of it in a different way. You must be a way cool mom. Open minded enough to embrace diversity, which really nyc is all about. Now tell us where to eat in Illinois.
mr chips
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/04 01:36:49
Great report. Thanks for the info about NYC.
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/04 02:52:14
I agree with you about the Papaya King at 86th Street...I used to live nearby, and there is absolutely nothing special about their products. The "juices" are definitely watered down immensely, and the hot dogs taste very ordinary...nothing better than your average street vendor dog in New York.
Junior Burger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/04 06:53:51
I am in the city about three times a month. Katz Deli is the best. Their pastami makes Carnegie's look like McDonald's on steroids.

Last week my husband and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (what a view and its free!) and ate pizza at Girmaldi's under the bridge and close to an ice-cream place that was mobbed with customers. He thinks Girmaldis is close to Pepes in New Haven.

I think it is hard to find Roadfood in Manhattan.
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/04 11:28:15
RE: Road food in NYC.
I think it is easy to find. But think about it - we don't really have "roads" in Manhattan, we have streets, ergo "street food".
What I am referring to are the food vendors around town.
What about the street gyros? Grilled Ethiopian chicken? "Halo Berlin: Worst/wurst".
And the really big find - Red Hook Park (Brooklyn) on summer weekends where the Latin Americans/South Americans gather to play soccer and eat (and sell) homemade Latin foods - empanadas, tacos, rice dishes, salads, fresh fruits, homemade hot suaces - this is REAL "road food/street food"
Big Ben
Junior Burger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/08/04 19:46:26
Sadly true about Papaya King, which used to be so good that though there were only three locations, one was right across the street. The dogs were lighter than air with that distinctive snap and a tang from the onions; the papaya juice was the weighty part of the meal, balancing the pH perfectly. Now all that's left are the snap and the memories.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/09/30 20:03:32
I used to really like the Roxy. But, last time I went to the Dog Show (as in AKC...not Sabrett), I took a break and ran up to the Roxy. I had the chopped liver. It was hard and cold. It shouldn't have been served. Lesson: Only eat chopped liver in Delis that are known for it. They sell a lot, it moves, and therefore it's fresh, like at NYC's 2nd Avenue Deli.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/09/30 22:47:09
You're right about that chopped liver. I've got to see what it looks like first. If there's a crust, I'm not eating it.
RE: Trip Report New York City (Manhattan) 2005/10/01 05:03:44
Great job, Mom. Thanks.
I agree with your take on Papaya King.