A Foodie's Layover in New York City Guide
New York City
Food & Wine
New York City is a destination that's on everyone's bucket list to visit, either for a vacation, anniversary, honeymoon, bachelorette or anything, you name it! However, not many think of it as a layover city. Although NYC is too big to explore in only 36-hours, it's not impossible to check out an international array of cuisines within this time frame. Representing over 150 different nationalities, New York City can give you a culinary experience that will make you think you went around the world. From Mexican to Czech, to Uruguayan and Chinese, you can expect to have a burst of flavors in each meal in a short amount of time.
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Things to do in New York City
MUST SEE PLACES
While you eat your way around the Big Apple.
Grand Central: Let's start with the obvious. Assuming you just landed at JFK, you can hop on the AirTrain ($7.75) and transfer to the Long Island Rail Road for about $8 and head straight to the iconic station and in under 40-minutes you will be in the heart of NYC.
Local Tip: Do not take the E train. It will take you forever to arrive at Midtown! So just please take the LIRR or an uber/cab.
5th Avenue: From Grand Central, you can walk over to 5th Avenue and along the way you will see Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. Once on 5th Avenue, you can take a stroll and check out the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany's and Louis Vuitton. Some window shopping? (or some actual shopping).
Central Park: If you keep going North on 5th Avenue, you will stumble upon my favorite park - Central Park. You can totally have your Home Alone moment with a picture in front of The Plaza Hotel and then cross the street into the park where you can continue to explore using a Citi Bike. Not a biker? That's fine, you can take a pedicab for the experience (Please note: These are the ultimate touristy thing to do, so they come with the hefty tourist price tag as well).
East River Ferry / Queens & Brooklyn Skyline: Hop on an $4 per way ferry (NYC) on the Upper East Side, on 90th Street, and head over to Wall Street. Along the route, you can sip on rose or craft beer on tap and admire the ever-changing Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan skyline. The cherry on top? You will go under the iconic Brooklyn Bridge where you will be able to appreciate the magnitude in size and capture a different POV selfie (not your traditional Brooklyn Bridge picture in DUMBO).
Local Tip: The NYC Ferries run all over the city, giving you a fast, efficient and fun commute between all boroughs; you can even head to Coney Island and enjoy some Nathan's by the boardwalk.
Wall Street/Battery Park: This will hit all your "old city vibes" stroll. With cobbled streets and some of the oldest taverns, you can walk past the famous Charging Bull and Fearless Girl statues and take a break in Battery Park. Get a view of the Freedom Tower as well as the Statue of Liberty.
Local Tip: Head over to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and go up the set of stairs located to the right before you enter. These will lead you to a terrace that has an unobstructed view of the Statue of Liberty that not many people know about. Every time I go, there is not one tourist or local in sight.
Manhattan's Chinatown/Little Italy: Beautiful temples, Mandarin signs everywhere and an array of Chinese restaurants cover the streets, but not for long. Walk North of Canal Street and you are quickly transported to Manhattan's Little Italy. With servers outside on the sidewalk telling you "ciao bella!" You will feel as if you are walking down a street in Rome.
Local Tip: This is the best area to grab quick souvenirs that are not heavily overpriced.
Jackson Heights, Queens: This is a great stop to get all your foodie's wishes come true. With cuisines ranging from Chinese, Nepalese, Mexican, Columbian, Argentinean, Uruguayan and Chilean. Jackson Heights is truly a melting pot and what NYC is all about.
Places to eat & drink in New York City
With over 27,000 restaurants, NYC is a foodie's paradise and this list will show you the way to an array of cuisines that you can visit within 36-hours. All of this is possible thanks to the transportation options this city has to offer - from subways to cabs, busses and Metro North (our regional trains), getting from point A to point B is a breeze (yes, even at 2am in the morning). Here is a list of the eateries you should catch while you are in the city!
Chivito D' Oro - This Uruguayan cuisine is a great stop either on your arrival or departure from JFK. With an assorted list of delicious grilled meats, you will not leave this place with an empty stomach. My recommendation: Parrillada Chivito D' Oro. (This is labeled for two, but can definitely feed four.)
Himalayan Yak - A Nepalese staple, this restaurant offers more of a sit-down service, but don't let that stop you from going. With beautiful decor from the second you open the doors, the calm ambiance and warm tones will set the mood for an amazing meal. My recommendation: Tibetan butter tea, Momos (available in Vegetarian, Chicken & Beef) and Thali Platter (traditional Nepali platter available with chicken, fish, sukuti or vegetarian).
Queens Night Market - This is a seasonal market, but if you are in town while it's on, I highly recommend it! With up to 100 food vendors, this is an experience. You will find all types of cuisines, from Jamaican to Mexican, Brazilian to Fujianese, you can sample all the flavors in the world if you'd like.
Quesadillas Doña Maty 2 (255 E 110th St, New York, NY 10029) - A Mexican staple in the East Harlem community. This family-owned and run business has the best quesadillas in town. If you are on the go, stop into their 110th Street location for a quick bite and I promise you won't be disappointed. My recommendation: Chori-Papa Quesadilla (Huitlacoche or Flor de Calabaza Quesadilla for my vegetarians).
Pio Pio (1746 First Ave, New York, NY 10128)- Be prepared to have the juiciest rotisserie chicken of your life at this Peruvian spot. What started in 1994 as a standalone restaurant in Queens, has now become a rotisserie chicken empire popular among locals. My favorite location is the Upper East Side One, located in a cozy narrow space, perfect for avoiding crowds. My recommendation: Red Sangria, Juanita's Chicken with a side of rice and beans.
Bohemian Spirit - This place will transport you straight to Prague. Located in the designated landmark, Bohemian National Hall, this place aims to bring a little bit of Central Europe to the Upper East Side. My recommendation: Black & Tan Beer (Half light and half dark beer mixed, not on the menu), Veal Schnitzel and Apple Strudel.
ChikaLicious Dessert Bar - If desserts are your main course, then welcome home. With a pre-fixe menu that consists of three dessert plates, your sweet tooth will be in heaven here. My recommendation: Mille Crepe Cake with Tahitian Vanilla Cream.
McSorley's Old Ale House - Bring your cash and your brave boots on if you head over to Astor Place. Established in 1854, this cash-only pub has been through the most and is still standing strong. What seems to be a museum and an antique shop, is a collection of memorabilia from their customers (living and dead). With a limited drink menu only offering Light or Dark beer, this place is the perfect stop after a lot of sightseeing and walking. You may see a ghost or two, but nothing to worry about as they are usually just the customers who reside permanently behind the bar. Definitely a must-stop place to stop by if you are into historical bars. My recommendation: Dark Beer.
Supreme Restaurant (100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013) - Craving soup dumplings? Come here. Some of my favorites in the city and freshly made to order. This cozy local place offers fast service and delicious food without breaking the bank. If you decide to stroll through Chinatown, this is definitely a great stop to grab a quick hearty meal to refuel. My recommendation: Pork Soup Dumplings.
The Wayland - Ready for a good cocktail and good sides? Look no further! The mixologists at this place are pure magic. With cocktails like "I Hear Banjos" and "Smoked & Roasted" you will definitely be the envy of all your IG friends. And the sides! Gourmet and simply delicious. From fried oysters to sausage bread, you will find something that suits your taste buds. My recommendation: I Hear Banjos cocktail, Purple Night cocktail, Pernil Romero Sandwich.
Need to Know
With limited time it can be very challenging to visit all the amazing restaurants NYC has to offer, but with strategic transportation (ferry, train and cabs) and an empty stomach you can definitely make your way to some amazing eateries that will give you small taste of what this vibrant, fast-paced city has to offer. So next time you are having an overnight layover in NYC, just grab this guide and hit at least one of the locations mentioned and I'm sure you will come back again for more!
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to New York City.