My dad and I went to New York in April, 2017. Obviously, we had to have something to eat, right? So this is what this post is about. Breakfast, lunch and Dinner in New York City. With misunderstanding of no-egg breakfasts and customisable food, an unexpected race and the price of the food, this post is perfect for anyone thinking of traveling to New York in the future. Watch out for those large pizzas!
Old New York had a Bar, with a dozen eggs here and a dozen eggs there
Eggs! I hate egg and my dad is allergic but New York struggles with the concept of an egg-free breakfast.
Most of our breakfast mornings started with us trying to find a place that would serve food without egg. Believe me my fellow Brits, it is a hard task, even the bread is dipped in egg unless you specifically ask them not to. But the request is not so simple, if you ask them to not include egg on anything, they will repeat your order to you in a confused tone.
No egg? What’s this talk? – why, I never.
So, just to make it clear, they love their egg in the US (or maybe it’s just New York)
We were there for a week and ended up having breakfast at Mcdonalds because we knew it was safe… kinda. As safe as a McDonalds can be. So most of our breakfasts were sausage baps—Yes, it’s a bap—which I didn’t mind. The city itself is interesting, we don’t need a foreign breakfast. In fact, I’m glad British and American food are not worlds apart, less anxiety.
Around the middle of the holiday, we found Bread and Butter on 7th Avenue who are happy to serve toast and yoghurt. So anyone else who wants a break from egg-related food has a general dislike for it or is allergic and in New York, I recommend this place. There is also a place directly opposite, but the name escapes me… any 7th Avenue, that’s your egg-free breakfast.
While you do get confused looks when you ask for a breakfast without egg, it’s not just custom orders for items containing egg that they struggle with. I quickly learned you had to specifically say what foods you wanted to be removed and which you didn’t.
For example, if you want a chicken sandwich without the lettuce and mayo in the UK, then you would say you want a plain chicken sandwich. What you expect to return is a chicken sandwich which contains:
- maybe butter
In the US, a plain chicken sandwich is just the chicken. I personally wasn’t served just the chicken but the server did ask me if I wanted bread or just the chicken and not in a jokey way. It was a lot of confusion and dad eventually told her to hold the salad and mayo. At last, she seemed to have got it.
Except, I got the salad and the mayo… ah well, I still ate it.
I am a really fussy eater. I practically customise my meals every single time and so going to New York taught me to be specifically clear what I wanted. This means listing everything I don’t want on my sandwich, burger or whatever I am ordering. It was a good experience and aside from the chicken sandwich, the other servers managed to understand my order.
Dad and I managed to eat our food at a reasonable price… that’s including the portion amount by the way. We did some research before travelling, knowing New York would be expensive due to its tourist population. So, we searched online and found places like Bill’s Burger and Grill, Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine.
They weren’t the most extravagant meals but they were around the same as a decent UK family restaurant in quality which is good. But unlike a UK restaurant, we got the price of lunch for around $9-12 dollars—including tip—each. So that would be equivalent to around £5-7, not bad. Then you look at the portions and realise they are around a third bigger, maybe more than you would get in the UK. So you really get what you pay for. And the food tasted fine, the places were jam-packed which was a good sign.
Then for dinner, we also did research beforehand and the average cost for dinner was $18-22 each, including the tip. That is roughly £13-17. This is definitely cheaper than most UK restaurants, where you average around £20 each. And again, the portions were bigger!
I think our biggest lunch, both in price and physically, was Dominos. You know it, of course, one of the famous and iconic pizza brands.
We ordered two regular-sized Pizzas, expecting like a 12inch but what we got instead is something resembling a 20inch pizza! Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish it all, but it was nice.
So, it’s true, the portions are large in the US!
If you are on a budget, avoid the restaurants in museums and keep to little diners or fast-food restaurants.
An Unexpected Race
This still makes me laugh and probably will always make me laugh. In the US they have a fast-food restaurant that goes by the name Shakeshack. And, boy, is that place crowded.
Dad and I went there a few times for lunch, they do the best curly chips (fries) that I have ever tried. But that’s not all, if you want to eat in, you have to race for it. What do I mean by that?
They obviously don’t expect you to run indoors but there’s this rule that if someone touches the table before you, it’s theirs. Something I realised after watching two or three tables get up and others touching the table practically as they stood. No wonder I couldn’t get a table at first.
Once I realised this, I never lost a table again. I actually found this quite fun and couldn’t wait to go back the next time… I may be a tad competitive.
Last Dinner in New York
We took more spending money than we could actually use between us, so on our last night, we decided to go to Olive Garden as a farewell to a lovely trip.
It was the most expensive place we visited throughout the whole trip coming to a total of $100 with a tip. But it was a gorgeous meal, as you would expect at that price!
Each table is given a bowl of bottomless soup for free, and a basket of breadsticks. Those breadsticks, honestly I could have had them as my meal and be happy. They were delicious…
I now want breadsticks…
Anyway, I had a lasagna which was probably bigger than my head. I ate a quarter of it before I was defeated but it was just as lovely as the breadsticks.
While New York is definitely expensive, you can find some cheap, decent and nice restaurants or diners with a bit of research. It is good to be aware of differences in language and culture, including the definition of plain. If you ever visit Shakeshack be prepared for some fun as you race to claim a table.
It’s definitely worth the experience.