Travel Solo to New York: Top Five Food Finds

food new york city

The Burger Joint – hidden away in a fancy NYC hotel.

I spent a few steamy days in New York City this summer, and had some delicious food and wine experiences.

Here are my top five…this time.

1. Burger Joint

Wandering through the lobby of Le Parker Meridien hotel, I felt woefully under-dressed. That is, until I stepped into the Burger Joint. Identified only by a small burger-shaped neon sign at the end of a dark corridor lined with heavy drapes, you would be unlikely to just stumble across this restaurant. Stepping inside was like traveling back in time to the small-town diners of my youth, complete with vinyl booths, faux-wood paneling, and good, basic burgers and fries. In this busy, crowded spot you line up to order from a short menu, and you’d better be ready, or you’ll risk being sent back to the end of the line. There is plenty of time to chat with fellow diners while you wait for your food, then hover about waiting for a seat, then share table space wherever you can find it. It’s all a part of the fun.

2. Food Truck Drive-In

New York is famous for its wide array of food trucks, but as a solo traveler unfamiliar with the city, it can be challenging to run around the city trying to find them. What luck to be in town for The World’s

Food truck drive-in.

First Food Truck Drive-In Movie! Conceived as part of the NYC Food Film Festival, this event involved a variety of food trucks converging under the Brooklyn Bridge. Attendees wandered around, noshing on burgers, dumplings, pizza, waffles and ice cream, washing it all down with cold beer. After dark, a selection of short films about food were shown under the stars. It was absolutely lovely.

3. Pizza Moto

My favourite food at the Food Truck Drive-In did not actually come from a food truck, but rather, from a mobile wood-burning brick pizza oven on wheels. Pizza Moto served up piping hot, fragrant margherita pizzas, made from scratch right in front of my eyes. They also bake and serve pizza during performances of Shakespeare in the Park in Central Park, and at the Brooklyn Flea Market. Have oven, will travel.

4. Otto Enoteca

By planning ahead – precisely one month ahead – I was able to secure a reservation at one of Mario Batali’s restaurants. Otto, designed to resemble an Italian train station, was packed to the gills on a Thursday night. Luckily, I met friends there for dinner, so we were able to sample and share a number of dishes including a beautiful raw asparagus dish with parmesan cheese, an intriguing pasta dish with cauliflower, and a refreshing olive oil gelato drizzled with basil syrup. The wine list was extensive, with great (and generous) by-the-glass options. In speaking with their sommelier, I discovered that he hosts wine classes in the bar area on weekend afternoons. One more reason for a return trip!

5. People’s Pops

I fell in love with the concept of Peoples Pops before even trying them. Then I tasted one. Oh boy. Using local, organic, sustainably grown fruit and herbs in season, People’s make the most delicious frozen treats in unique and unusual flavors. I tried the roasted apricot, and it was extraordinary. I’d like to go back to try the watermelon-lemongrass, the cantaloupe-mint, the rhubarb-elderflower….whatever they happen to be making would be fine with me.

No matter how many times you visit New York, there will always be more tastes to explore. I say it every time, and I mean it: I can’t wait to return.

  • Bill

    Just the idea of a wood fired pizza from a food truck makes me want to get back to NYC.

  • Tracey

    Avril, that is so great to hear – thank you!

  • Avril

    Thanks again for another great column. I always look forward to this feature. It’s not only interesting, but it never fails to be mouth-watering too!!! You make me want to get out of my comfort zone & try new foods when I’m away from home. Can’t wait for the next one!

  • Tracey

    That’s great Teri – I’m sure you’ll enjoy Otto! If you go to the Burger Joint, there is a lovely candlelit space (The Knave) on the same floor, where you can have coffee afterwards.

  • Tracey

    Ashley, you should definitely go back sometime. The Food Truck Drive In may have been a one-off, but there is always something new to see and eat in NYC!

  • Teri

    Otto and Burger Joint are on my list for my trip to NYC in October. I’ve put a reminder in my calendar to book my reservation at Otto the moment they open up the reservations for mid-October.

  • Ashley Quinn

    WOW, New York sounds pretty exciting. I love food and you have totally enticed me to go back to New York,this time, for the food! My mouth is watering over the burger joint, however I would love to be able to check out the Food Truck Drive-In. Lots to look forward to –
    Thanks for posting :)

  • Tracey

    Thanks, Ellen – will do!

  • Ellen MacKay

    Next time you’re in NY city, craving a big juicy burger, try JG Melon on the Upper East Side or Astro around the corner from the MOMA!