{stories and snapshots from my new york city life.}


Off-the-Beaten-Path NYC Food Tour

My name is Jenn and I eat in New York City. Oh sure, I live and work here too, but eating is really my main priority and preferred activity. I want NYC tourists to think beyond Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, brunch at Pastis, and the famous frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity. Granted, these places are awesome. Their wait time? Not so awesome. On that note, here are some great out-of-the-way places considered local favorites. Tell ‘em Jenn sent ya. Just don’t expect any special treatment because of it.

photo by nyc.metblogs.com
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (chinatownicecreamfactory.com)
While you’re casing Chinatown for that perfect knock-off Gucci bag, make sure you take the time to veer off busy Canal onto some of the more narrow and isolated streets. Here is where you’ll find the better restaurants, tea shops and the awesome Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. They specialize in exotic flavors like black sesame, taro, lychee, mango, ginger, almond cookie and my personal favorite, red bean.

photo by Much to My Delight

Economy Candy
Sweet tooth still not satisfied? Head to the LES to this old-fashioned, family-run penny candy store. It’s been around since 1937 and still carries all the old-school candies your parents liked as kids. Remember the scene in 13 Going on 30 where they tried to track down a classic candy called Razzles? They found them here.

photo by roadfood.com

Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop 
No trip to NYC is complete without visiting an old school Jewish deli. Other delis get more coverage in visitor guides and movie scenes (Meg Ryan's famously faked moment of pleasure took place at Katz's downtown), but Eisenberg's offers the same classic NY taste for a fraction of the price. Skip the $17 pastrami at the bigger joints (no seriously, that’s what they cost—and they charge you an extra $3 “sharing fee” if you decide to split with a friend) and come to this humble lunch counter where the matzoh balls are bigger than your fist and the egg creams flow like Manischewitz wine.

photo by Much to My Delight

Chelsea Market 
This place is no secret, but I couldn’t do a roundup on New York City food and not include Chelsea Market, a collection of bakeries, specialty food shops and restaurants in one super-cool industrial space. Here you’ll find everything from live lobsters to artisanal cheeses to hand-painted, just-out-of-the-oven cookies. Get your taste buds ready to party!

photo by amateurgourmet.com 

Tomoe Sushi
There’s a reason the line wraps around the corner 30 minutes before Tomoe Sushi opens for lunch. What this unassuming sushi place lacks in d├ęcor it more than makes up for with unbelievable freshness and incredible quality. Even my aunt (who lived in Japan for four years) said this was the best sushi she’d ever tasted. I wholeheartedly agree.

photo by Much to My Delight

McNulty’s Teas
If you’re into exotic teas and classic coffees, you need to come see what’s brewin' at this West Village institution. There are over 100 apothecary jars filled with every tea leaf imaginable (I picked up chocolate tea and matcha green tea powder on my last visit) and the tin ceilings, creaky wood floors and antique cash register make each visitor feel like they stepped back in time.
photo by jamiesstomach.blogspot.com

Arthur Avenue Retail Market (arthuravenue.com)
Even a lot of New Yorkers don’t realize that the real Little Italy isn’t in Manhattan—it’s in the Belmont section of the Bronx, and is worth the trip. This place is like a covered Italian bazaar and houses five pastry shops, four butchers, two pasta-makers, six bread stores, three pork stores, five gourmet delicatessens, two fish markets, and three gourmet coffee shops. They even have cigar rollers up front!

photo by eatbigapple.com

Alice’s Tea Cup 
Girly-girls of all ages go ga-ga for this quaint and cozy tea shop where the tea menu is longer than the phone book and the scones are so delicious you won’t even be paying attention to how much butter is in them. It’s a wonderful, whimsical place—the walls are covered with Alice in Wonderland scenes and tiny pink butterflies. Translation: Leave your boyfriend at the hotel.

And the best part? You’ll do so much walking in New York that any calories you ingest will be quickly burned off and you’ll basically break even. That’s the real reason so many tourists pick up an “I heart NYC” t-shirt before flying out—ravenous eating with no discernible weight gain. Happy eating!


  1. I've been wanting to go to Alice's Tea Cup for about 2 years. Maybe I'll make it on my next trip! Also, I did not break even with weight gain on my last trip. No sirree. A horrifying gain but worth every pound!

  2. Okay, I know who I'm calling for a tour guide! I want to go, just to eat at all those wonderful places. I prefer skipping the overrated places and going straight for the good stuff. Thanks for sharing all your hot spots with us! Have a great weekend.

  3. oh I love this! makes me want to head back to NYC soon! this is so helpful for people that just have a few days to see the best spots and don't have the time to find them themselves. :)

  4. Totally bookmarking this for our trip next month!

  5. Love this list! We went to Economy Candy a few months back, and were in awe of the choices.

    I also would love to go Chinatown Ice Cream Factory at some point...it's on my list of places to visit in NYC.

  6. Going to put these on my list. My very favorite place to eat in New York is The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. It makes me feel 'New York'.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Fantastic guide! I love that you grabbed great, little-known spots like this. Thanks so much for sharing!

    -xoxo Noe ADELLA AVENUE

  8. bookmarking this for my next trip to NYC! alice's tea cup? sounds adorable.

  9. Hi Jen-
    I'm saving this for the next time I visit NYC! Thanks for putting it together. I'm also your latest follower. :-)

  10. I am printing this off and keeping it for my next trip! I am so jealous that you live there, love NYC!!!

  11. I am SO going on this tour!
    We actually used economy candy for table decorations (bulk rock candy) and party favors at our wedding. We also had our reception right around the corner from it on the LES so I'm super sweet on Economy :)

  12. Hi Jenn,

    Is there a way to contact you offline to request permission to use one of your photos in a publication?

    Thank you,