Hey there... my girlfriend and I were recently in New York and I used this board for a lot of research for info on where to eat so I thought I'd share our experience.
Just a quick note, we're in our late 20's, live in downtown Toronto and are huge fans of bakeries and delicious food. I suppose we had high expectations with food in New York as we live in a city where great food is at our doorstep.
- Billy's Bakery, TriBeCa location: This was our favourite cupcakery... we went first thing in the morning and really enjoyed them. Everything was perfect...great icing and great cake, one of the best cupcakes I've ever had.. that's all there is to it. We both had vanilla.
- Buttercup Bakery, East Side location: This was our second favourite place for cupcakes. The icing on these bad boys is amazing... Everything about them was delicious. I had vanilla, my girlfriend had lemon.
- Magnolia, 30 Rockefeller Center location: Not the original location but I still thought these were great cupcakes and I've eaten a lot of cupcakes. I'm not sure why this place gets so much flack because it's genuinely good. The cake was so moist and the icing tasted more whipped than usual but this was delicious. I had vanilla, my girlfriend had red velvet.
- Crumbs, UWS location: These cupcakes are like the size of softballs... they were really good but they're almost too big. I had mint, my girlfriend had peanut butter chocolate.
- Cupcake Truck, near Madison Square Park: We just got a couple mini oreo cupcakes... they were okay, nothing special.
- Crumbs, 3rd St location: Got a B&W cookie from Crumbs... I wanted to go to William Greenberg but we didn't ended up in the UES. I had never had a B&W cookie before and was surprised it wasn't a sugar cookie. It were good but I'm not hooked on them.
- Levain, UWS: I got a peanut butter chocolate cookie and it was incredible. It was more like a brownie actually... the dough was so thick and chewy. Definitely one of the best cookies I've ever eaten.
- Fat Witch, Chelsea Market: It was good but nothing special... This was a let down but the Chelsea Market was amazing.
- Junior's, Times Square location: Had the cheesecake here. Not the original location but we didn't have time to go to Brooklyn. It was a pleasant surprise... better than anything I've had elsewhere.
- Lombardi's: Not much to say...we only had a 15 minute wait here. It was a good pie but I've had better in Toronto. I'm glad I went for the history of the place but I wouldn't write home about it.
- Russ & Daughters: Wow! Neither of even really wanted a New York bagel as we were convinced Montreal bagels were superior in every way. We both had a bagel and lox on an everything bagel from R&D. My god... it was incredible. I'm a convert now...forget Montreal.
- Blue Smoke: Our best meal in New York and the best barbecue either of us had ever eaten. We considered going back actually but didn't get a chance. I had the pulled pork platter and my girlfriend had ribs. Maybe it's the fact we're from Canada and haven't been exposed to authentic southern barbecue but Blue Smoke was delicious.
- Shake Shack: We got burgers, fries and shakes here. We went back another time to grab a concrete from the B-line. The malted milkshake and the concrete were without a doubt, the best we had ever had...truly amazing! The burger and fries were also good but we have a favourite place in Toronto that is a little better. We waited for 45 mins and thought it was worth the wait.
- Clinton St. Baking Co: It was too hot to eat pancakes and we went here for lunch so we ate sandwiches. This was our second favourite meal. We only waited about 10 mins, though we were told it was a 45 min wait. We didn't leave to wander around the LES like most other people waiting for food did so we got in ahead a lot of other people. I had a chicken sandwich and my girlfriend had a tilapia sandwich.. I was surprised about how many other tourists were here. I read such great things about it here, I figured it'd be all locals. I think everyone in there had an m&m's store bag. Regardless, the sandwiches were awesome and we loved the place.
- Artisanal: We both had steak frites here and enjoyed our meal. It's a nice place to go for a fancy meal under $200 for two. There's nothing really exciting or special about it though. I was just happy to get a Hofbrau beer as I hadn't drank one since I was at Oktoberfest in Munich a few years ago. You can't get Hofbrau in Toronto.
- AOC: We had omelets here for breakfast... they were very good. We had no intentions of going here...it just looked like a nice place without a line up. We were pleasantly surprised by this place.
- Epistrophy: This place was near our hotel and I wasn't keen on the craziness of Little Italy, so we found a small place without a crowd. It was warm, cozy and quite good. We both had pasta and crustini.
You can't get red Boylan Birch Beer in Toronto so I tried that and enjoyed it... original birch beer is a little better though. I also had a sarsaparilla, as those are near impossible to find here as well. I forget the brand but I got it from Whole Foods. I really liked it but I'll stick to Boylan for my fancy sodas. Finally, I had some Brooklyn Lagers, which were tasty as well. I wonder if I can find it in Canada?
I'm happy to say we didn't eat a bad thing or have bad service anywhere. Fat Witch was the only disappoint but Russ & Daughters was a huge surprise. Thanks for all the past contributions to this forum, which aided my research immensely! I hope this helps somebody else in the future.