Eating my way through spring break in New York City

 A Smashed Avocado Toast Benedict sandwich from The Butcher's Daughter in the West Village. Over spring break, The Daily Campus' associate managing editor tried new foods from all over New York City. (Photo by Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

A Smashed Avocado Toast Benedict sandwich from The Butcher's Daughter in the West Village. Over spring break, The Daily Campus' associate managing editor tried new foods from all over New York City. (Photo by Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

One of my favorite pastimes is finding new places to eat. What better time to do that than spring break? More importantly, where better to try new foods than New York City, a place full of food from all over the world?

Breakfast

Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery, Midtown: One of the conveniences of this restaurant was that it was located right next to the hotel I was staying at. Junior’s is famous for their cheesecake, but I didn’t have a chance to try their famed dessert early in the morning. So I settled for something lighter and picked a granola and berries bowl from the “Yogurt, Grains and Fruit” section. I was pleasantly surprised by the massive bowl of granola I received with  strawberries and blueberries on top. The granola was crunchy. The bowl itself could have used just another handful of berries. The hefty glass of milk was a nice touch and the granola, berries and milk combination was a satisfying and filling choice for the beginning of the day. Rating: 3.5/5

Brunch

 Harefield (Photo by Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

Harefield (Photo by Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

Harefield Road, Brooklyn: The rustic decorations and wood flooring of this place was instantly inviting. I almost felt as if I was in a cabin with a few of my closest friends. The table where I was sitting was tucked away in the back with a lot of natural lighting, which only added to the meal. The brunch menu was not overwhelming and looked as if it boasted generous portions. I ordered the salmon toast which consisted of smoked salmon on pumpernickel with cream cheese, capers and a hard boiled egg laid out over a salad. The dish itself was beautiful and the salmon was served in a generous portion. It was a light, fresh but filling meal. I also had a bite of my friend’s French toast, which was made with challah bread and  fresh blueberries and strawberries and it was equally as amazing. I would definitely come back for brunch and order the French toast. Rating: 5/5

The Butcher’s Daughter, West Village: I just want to say, the interior of this restaurant was impressive and not a seat that you sit down in wouldn’t be Instagrammable. I felt as if I was sitting in a hidden botanical paradise. The wood, metal and planters perfectly balanced out the atmosphere. I ordered the Smashed Avocado Toast Benedict which came with two poached eggs, curried hollandaise, avocado and nine-grain toast with a side of roasted potato hash. Everything was served in a generous portion. As soon as the plate was set down in front of me, the good lighting and wooden table meant that I had to take my phone out for quick photo before I dug in. The potatoes were perfectly seasoned and the sandwich was perfectly balanced. This plant-based restaurant is a place I would certainly come back to, if not to just buy a latte and people-watch while soaking in the rays of sun coming in from the large windows. There were smartly dressed people all around me taking photos with generous portions of food, so the aesthetic deserves its own rating. Food Rating: 5/5

Dinner

Cafe Habana, Lower Manhattan: The atmosphere of this place was insane. It’s comparable to stepping into your grandmother’s house and being welcomed by the aroma of good food and loud conversation: comfortable and familiar. I loved the Cuban influences all throughout the restaurant, as its menu consists of authentic Cuban food. Advanced warning, get here early if you want a spot as the place is pretty small and there’s a no call ahead. I ordered the Portobello y guacamole burger that had a sliced grilled Portobello mushroom, guacamole, jalapenos and onions. The burger also came with house-made fries. An amazing burger doesn’t have to have meat in it, and this burger was no exception. The layers of the burger and the guacamole portions were both very generous. The fries themselves were very crispy and perfectly thin. With a slight ketchup dip, it was perfect. The food and buzz of conversation in the small, homey Cuban restaurant made for a great dining experience. Rating: 5/5

Halal Guys, Midtown: I know there’s a Halal Guys in New Haven, but the one in New Haven is not anywhere near comparable to the one in New York. So if you happen to be considering Halal Guys in New Haven, fill your car up with gas or take the train into the city and get yourself the real thing. My personal favorite is the falafel platter with a ton of white sauce. However, I came for a late night snack and a whole platter was not something that I would be able to finish. I opted for the hummus and pita. All I can say is, this food truck needs to sell their hummus at a store near me because the hummus was perfectly dense and creamy with the pita bread. The pita bread was perfectly soft and thick, perfect for spreading hummus on. Of course, I added a little dash of white sauce to each bite because what’s a snack from the Halal Guys without some of that amazing sauce? Rating: 5/5

Boka, NoHo: I had cravings for Asian food and I found the solution in this Korean eatery. I could smell the Korean chicken wings while I was waiting for a table which smelled heavenly. My friends and I started off by ordering the spicy salmon rice ball and the spicy tuna rice ball. I took a bite of the spicy tuna, my absolute favorite when it comes to sushi, and the warm rice with the spicy tuna was a perfect balance. The rice was portioned perfectly to go along with the fish. For the main meal, I ordered the Kimchi Bibimbap in a hot stone pot. The rice, vegetables and kimchi all mixed perfectly together with the kochujang sauce. If you’ve eaten this meal before, you know that the best part of the meal is the last bits of rice that stick to the bottom of the bowl. Rating: 4/5

 Eataly (Photo by Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

Eataly (Photo by Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

Eataly, Flatiron: I didn’t feel as if I was transported to a European food market, but the smell of pasta and row upon row of food items awash in the smell of fresh pizza was amazing. I came in here hungry, and the options were overwhelming. I happened to come here on Pi Day, so I decided the obvious choice was to buy a slice of pizza. I got a slice of kale pizza. Kale. Pizza. It doesn’t sound appetizing but the spices and other flavors they had on the pizza made for surprisingly pleasant combination of crispy and buttery. Eataly overall is an orchestra for the nose and home of inventive pizza slices. Not to mention, the wood and lights really added to the aesthetic. Rating: 4/5

Dessert/Drinks

Milk Bar, Chelsea: What drew me to this dessert spot was the giant neon “Milk” sign. Neon signs are aesthetically pleasing and was a great introduction to what was one of the best milkshakes I’ve had. I order the Chocolate-Pretzel-Dulce Milkquake and it did not disappoint. It was a nice thick consistency with the chocolate being not too overpowering in taste and a slight salty aftertaste. This was my first meal since coming into the city. Starting off with dessert first is always a good idea. Rating: 4/5

Green Symphony, Midtown: This health foods restaurant was a nice light lunch with guilt-free options. I was craving a smoothie and the options were plentiful. I got a Ginger Snap smoothie, consisting of apple, pear and ginger. The drink was refreshing and did not have an overpowering ginger taste, which has been a problem when I order drinks with ginger. To go along with my drink, at the suggestion of the cashier, I also bought a matcha banana bread slice. The bread was light and not heavy on the matcha. It was nice and crumbly, making me wish I had bought a hot drink to go with the bread instead. Rating: 4/5

Meet Fresh, NoHo: This Taiwan-based chain had a line out the door when I came later in the evening. Best known for its pudding, I opted instead for a milk tea. The milk tea was a perfect ending to the dinner I had previously and was not too sweet at all. Why I opted for a cold drink in the blustering winds, I have no idea. But I will never pass on a good milk tea and tasting how good this one was, I will definitely come back to pair it with one of the puddings. Rating: 4.5/5

Matcha Bar, Chelsea: Skip the coffee and go for one of the drinks at Matcha Bar instead. I ordered one of their specialty drinks iced, and it was light and refreshing after a full day of thrift shopping. The matcha is not overpowering at all, especially with the specialty drinks. The barwas small and homey with a small nook to sit down and have quiet conversation. I’m a really big fan of matcha and this was a must-try on my list for a long time. Rating: 4.5/5

Bibble and Sip, Midtown: I came here for a cup of coffee because of the high Yelp reviews. I was not disappointed in the least. The location reminded of an elevated version of Starbucks, with more invention in drinks anda smaller menu. I paired my hot coffee with their earl grey infused banana bread and it was the perfect combination for the windy day. The coffee was not overpowering, especially with the coconut milk I added. For the bread itself, the tea taste was strong and the bread was perfectly crumbly. It was crowded where I stood at a high table to enjoy my breakfast but the atmosphere and warmth was worth it. Rating: 4.5/5

Blue Bottle Coffee, Flatiron: The simple wooden tables and chairs with the shortmenu was nothing compare to the warm drink that I ordered here. I ordered the caffe latte. Not only was the design beautiful on top of the latte, the drink was warm and frothy, comforting in spite of the chilly weather just outside the door. The conversation of other patronswas very soothing. A high rating goes to the people working there as well. Rating: 4/5

 Golden Toast (Photo by Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

Golden Toast (Photo by Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

Spot Dessert Bar, NoHo: If you’re looking for an Instagrammable dessert spot to make all your friends jealous, this is definitely the place. Be prepared to wait in line, especially if you plan on heading here after dinner. It’s a small, intimate but brightly illuminated room with a wide variety of imaginative dessert options. My friends and I ordered two desserts. The first one that came out was the Golden Toast. The crisp buttered toast, strawberries, whipped cream and condensed milk ice cream need to be put on a single fork and swallowed in one bite. It was not too sweet and super light. It tasted like breakfast dessert and the toast itself was a nice shade of yellow. The second dessert that was ordered was the Milky Puff that consisted of a honeycomb pasty and milk ice cream. The honeycomb section was really soft and flaky but my favorite part was the milk ice cream. It was light and creamy. The atmosphere was a great place to enjoy dessert and have conversation. Instagram foodies rejoice! Rating: 5/5

For Five Coffee Shop, Midtown: As soon as you walk into this coffee shop, not only are you greeted by the aroma of coffee, but also a brightly-lit blue neon sign. I am obsessed with neon signs and this place instantly had a special place in my heart. I got a matcha latte and it was perfectly frothy and warm. The added bonus was the barista showed me how they made the design on top of their lattes and now I’m added latte designing to my bucket list. For anyone interested, it takes about a year. Rating: 5/5

Petee’s Pie Company, Lower East Side: The bakery was very small and I was almost on top of the person in front of me. Everyone was trying to escape the cold and grab a slice of pie. For the price that I paid for the slice, the apples were not that impressive but the crust was very nice and buttery. The apples almost tasted as if they came from can. This wasn’t the best slice of pie I had, but it kept my Pi Day cravings at bay. Rating: 2.5/5

Tag the Daily Campus if you end up going to any of these locations. Hopefully these will help jumpstart your next food adventures in the city. My plate is always open for new food suggestions. If you have suggestions for places I should try, please reach out. I’m always looking for new foodie friends.


Kimberly Nguyen is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.nguyen@uconn.edu.