Greetings from the Great White North!
The back story: I've done the tourist thing over a dozen times in the city, as both a high school student, drunken university kid and then as a teacher bringing my students to your fine city as well, so I am not planning on spending too much time seeing sights. In the last few years I have become a big-time food and wine lover, and had an amazing four days in London, UK recently driven purely by food destinations - markets, stores, free samples, wine tourist traps, and of course restaurants - meeting very specific interests of mine I hope to acheive the same in NYC
The trip: I am coming to the New York area for a wedding in Long Island on Easter Sunday and am doing a pre-wedding trip to NYC - will be staying in Jersey for cost reasons, and busing in to Manhattan for a jam-packed day trip on the Saturday. I plan on arriving in the city by 9 AM and leaving around 9 PM.
What I'm looking for: I want to seek out the best that Manhattan has to offer in terms of healthy, exciting food, both in shopping and eating destinations. I will be on foot and looking to explore destinations that are close by to one another - foodie neighbourhoods if you will. I will at some in the day want to walk through Times Square, Rock, Fifth Ave, and the lower Park, and possibly also Soho, Tribeca, Financial District, but I am not opposed to walking the length of the Island in food exploration.
I love open-air markets (not sure if it's the season yet), anywhere that has free samples (Whole Foods does up here sometimes) or great open salad bars for exploring, anything with a great selection of unique food products. I will be on a budget, so I don't know if I'll be actively shopping in these places, but I'd love to check them out. If there are any great wine-focused stores in the city as well I'd love that.
I have seen The Pump and Energy Kitchen mentioned many times in other similar threads, so I will plan on doing lunch in one of these locations. I might also do the Whole Foods salad bar, tho we do have that in Toronto. How would Josie's be for a nicer sit-down dinner, perhaps where I will drag my not-so-healthy cheese/meat loving fiance along? Is there anywhere else where we can pay under $20 for mains for a nice vibe and great fish/veggie selections? Or an Indian spot that's got a nice buzz for that price point?
Specifics - My favourite dishes: lentil soup, taboule, bean salads, beet salads, grilled salmon, veggie curries, veggie stir fries, indian dishes like daal or chana masala or eggplant bharta. - extra points to anywhere that offers any of these.
Okay, so this is the longest post ever. I am hoping that some of you will take up the challenge and point me toward some choice destinations or routes of exploration, and I'll gladly return the favour should you come to TO.