05 February 2010

Where should I eat and visit in the USA? (5 Feb 2010)

I need your help to eat!

There's nothing like good pre-planning before travelling, especially overseas, and I'm now trying to work out where all the best (and cheapest) places will be to eat at when I plan to visit the United States for the first time in October this year. I'm looking for good value and great tasting food as well as things I MUST see and do. I was inspired to do this post by My Food Trail whose getting ready for her travels in April to the USA so it will be great to see where she ends up visiting which will hopefully inspire me to add more places to my list. Unfortunately I'll only have about 3-4 weeks of time which I know is very short so that's why I want to find out what's the best of the best to update my list below before I go. So far the tentative travel spots, touristy things and food wish lists I've come across are:

San Francisco
• Clam Chowder - Boudin Sourdough
• French/Vietnamese - Le Colonial
Slanted Door - Vietnamese

Las Vegas
• Checking it out at night
• Spotting Elvis

New York
• McDonald's – Big Mac Super Sized
The High Line - Elevated Park
Moss - Shop
Two Boots - Pizza by the slice

• Halloween (31 Oct 2010)

Food Search:

I'd love to hear your thoughts on your favourite places to visit and eat in the United States which I should consider :-)


Unknown said...

when in Las Vegas, def check out The Peppermill coffee shop on the strip... not necessarily for the quality of the food but the portions will blow you away!

ms s loveridge said...

For NYC, please check out New York Foodism.

Rilsta said...

Thanks for the link! I shall be watching your comments with great interest too! :)

Will definitely be posting about my experiences so hopefully you get some ideas!

YaYa said...

Lucky, lucky you! New York my recommendation is Carnegie Deli: http://www.carnegiedeli.com/home.php for cheesecake and genuine Jewish deli food. Looking forward to living vicariously via your posts!

Zina @ tastedbytwo said...

Very, VERY jealous that you're heading to the states. Here are some places to get your tummy rumbling: Pirate Cat Cafe and Studio (Bacon Lattes!) San Fran; Fleur de Lys San Fran/Vegas; Sushi Samba Vegas/New York; Magnolia Bakery New York; Momofuku New York; WD50 New York.

Lobo said...

When I think of food in the US I think of BIG and when I think of big I think of Man vs Food. One episode that made my mouth water more than usual was the French dipped sandwiches at Philippe's. 1001 North Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Crusty french rolls filled with meat and dipped in meat juice. If you get there Fedex one back to me! =)

Debbie Ann said...

San Francisco:

Tartine Bakery at 18th and Guerrero, the ham and cheese croissant.

Zuni - either the roast chicken, or the hamburger and shoestring fries (after 10 pm) and a ceasar salad

Quince - pasta

Hog Island oysters

Ferry bldg farmers mkt Saturday morning, have mexican food at primavera, actually also have mexican food in the mission, burritos, tacos.
really too much to list.

Brenda's for new orleans food

Blue bottle coffee on Linden alley

check out chowhound.com

pojaya said...

Prices for yum cha in NY Chinatown is so cheap it makes me cry.

Quality is a notch below ours, but more than edible!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I can definitely recommend doing the expensive restaurants at lunchtime as many of them have price fixe menus and the prices are markedly better than at dinner which is very expensive! Have fun!

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Wow, that's planning WELL in advance! When in Vegas, check out each casino on the strip, but especially Luxor, Bellagio, Wynn, and Venetian. One of the best Chinese meals I've ever experienced was at Pearl MGM; and why not blow the budget at the only three Michelin starred noshery, Joel Robuchon, also at the MGM. :) I went on a small plane from Vegas to Grand Canyon and you get to see a lot, so it's well worth it, but dunno about the helicopter. New York has wonderful places to eat day and night, and a lot are very cheap. I remember a special meal there at Lucky Cheng's, where we were served by drag queens .... :)

the happy blogger said...

San Francisco is just FULL of cheap and less cheap GREAT eateries. I think its the decor they do best. FARALLON is a fab restaurant with amazing glass jellyfish lightfittings (sounds tackie but is far from it). $$$ On the cheaper scale, the BAR at POSTRIO is fab and buzzy. The restaurant Postrio is exxy, its a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and is beautiful, but if you just want to eat at the bar, grab a cocktail and enjoy the buzz it doesn't cost you. There's this great authentic diner too (will have to look up the name) where you get the biggest brekky in the world with a 50's dressed waitress with sour attitude. NYC : I had a GREAT experince in Grand Central Station. Carnegie Deli was good. The other places I went may not be there anymore!

foodwink said...

I second having those massive dungeness crabs at the San Francisco Fish Market.

Also had the best tempuras in Japantown San Francisco. But unfortunately I can't recall the name of the restaurant because it was so long ago.

Gummi Baby said...

Unless you're dining at reknowned establishments, forget the hotel restaurants and eat at your local diner. The servings are huge, the food is MOSTLY fresh and you'll be amongst the locals! Weirdly I have a fascination for America's vending machines too. They have such a huge range of STUFF that we never see here in Oz. Have a great trip! :D

Anonymous said...

food trip to nyc & montreal last october:


Anna said...

Ohh what a wonderful idea! I was going to suggest the Magnolia Bakery in New York, but I see that it's already included in your intinerary! :) Can't wait to hear about your trip

fleury said...

I'm a bit of a usa-nut so have lot's of great food recc's for you!

Most are pretty recognised but there's a few secrets in there :) All the cities on your list are great..I think they are pretty doable in a few weeks. You only want a few days in vegas anyhow or you run out of money hah :p

-Zuni roast chicken
-farmerbrown soul food
-In n Out burger at fishermans wharf (easiest located in n out to experience the greatness!)

-double down saloon (bacon martini?)
-RUB bbq in the rio (AMAZING!!)
-Border Grill at Mandalay Bay

for fancy eating Joel Robuchon is unbeatable!

So many great places!
WD50, Le Bernadin, Bouchon pecan buns in Time Warner Centre, Billys Bakery cupcakes..way way better than magnolia, RUB bbq (again),Wholefoods,Anthony Bourdains Les Halles french onion soup,Kossars Bialys bagels,Katz...it goes on!

absolute fave place in NY though is a little place called Mama's Food Shop down near Houston in the East Village..for $10 the most amazingly comforting homefood ever:) A couple of winters ago we stayed in an apartment right next to mama's and when it was too cold to even think of doing anything we pulled on ugg boots and trudged to mama's in sleeping bag coats it was that worth it hah

hope this all helps you decide!

Madam Wu said...

Here are my tips for NYC http://musicmunchiesreview.blogspot.com/2009/07/nyc-i-came-i-ate-i-left.htm

Are you going to Chicago? It's understated but there is a culinary underbelly simmering quietly. I will post my review up shortly if you need tips for that too.

Scott Chong said...

Sime, in NYC defintely Cupcakes from Magnolias in Bleecker St, Soho (try the KeyLime Cheescake) and dinner at Balthazar. Also you have to get the classic Pastrami on Rye at Carnegie Diner, and a Hot Dog in Central Park.

Ian said...

Hey Simon - just had dinner at Le Colonial in San Francisco. Highly recommmended. www.lecolonialsf.com

Simon Leong said...

hi everyone, thanks so much for the amazing response of foodie choices. it sounds like i need to take a year off and eat my way through the US — and possibly gain a few more kilos. i can't wait to try some of the places you've recommended. i'll definitely be keeping as reference for when i visit each of the cities. THANK YOU SO MUCH :-) and let me know if any more spring to mind.

Unknown said...

Portland, Oregon is a real foodie town and a fun place to visit. Pok Pok (Thai street food) and Bunk (amazing sandwiches people stand in line every day for) are both reasonable and excellent.

Belinda said...

I love San Fran - you must do the spooky tour of Alcatraz Island. If you do that you'll be near Pier 39 which is touristy but the clam chowder in a sourdough bowl at Boudin Sourdough and Bakery is good. The sea lions are are hoot as well.

Visit Haight-Ashbury streets - had a decent burrito at the psychedelic Tacqueria el Balazo (1654 Haight st).

Have fun :)

Simon Leong said...

hi anne and belinda, thanks for the extra suggestions. great stuff!

Everyone, keep them coming. it's great hearing about your favourite dishes at the places you really enjoy eating at. :-) I want to here and know about the best cupcakes, best hot dogs, best sandwich shops, best seafood, best hamburgers, best hash browns, best pancakes, best coffee, best french fries etc. simply the best of what the United States can offer a hungry foodie :-)

Unknown said...

Simon - this link will take you to a pleasant good Mexican Restaurant
http://www.lapalapa.com/. Shirley and I enjoyed a very good meal at the East Village option

Simon Leong said...

Five streets have to see in san fran

Richard Elliot said...

Some New York suggestions, the places on my list are pretty cheap:
- Pop into a book store and buy yourself a Zagat guide for a good foodie listing.
- Shake Shack for the best burger in NYC.
- Katz's Deli, a bit of a cliche, but a good pastrami sandwich.
- Lombardi's for a pie (pizza).
- Penelope for brunch

A burrito worth trying is from Chipotle. Takeaways are all over the US.

Simon Leong said...

hi richard, i always have a soft spot for the cheap and good. Shake Shack sounds like my kinda store — even better than McDonalds!? No?! :-) it's great to know specific places for specific things to try. thanks heaps!

Anonymous said...

2nd ave deli in the lower east side, manhattan. amazing jewish deli.

Simon Leong said...

Amateur Gourmet: Where to Eat in New York http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2010/03/where_to_eat_in_new_york.html

Simon Leong said...

How to save money in NYC http://travel.ninemsn.com.au/world/newyork/654968/the-big-apple-on-a-budget-151-how-to-save-money-in-nyc

Simon Leong said...

Las Vegas http://blog.hotelclub.com/around-the-world-in-one-city-las-vegas

Simon Leong said...

San Francisco - Ferry Building Markets http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/farmers_market.php

Simon Leong said...

New York coffee http://www.alifewortheating.com/nyc/stumptown

Simon Leong said...

Hotel Club - 5 best restaurants in San Francisco http://blog.hotelclub.com/san-francisco-restaurants

Simon Leong said...

Falafel in New York http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2010/04/the_best_falafel_in_new_york.html

steph j said...

hey simon, we were in the us last year and visited 3 of the said places that you are heading too

so here are some of my suggestions
Show dogs on market st - hotdog
nopa - for rustic woodfire fare
thirsty bear - tapas

Las vegas
olives at bellagio
bradley ogden at MGM

Simon Leong said...

Trissalicious New York City best meals http://trissalicious.com/2010/04/27/new-york-city-my-best-meal

Simon Leong said...

7 most iconic sights in San Francisco

Phuoc'n Delicious said...

I'll be there in 2 weeks! BOOYAH! I've planned a well deserved, last minute trip to California. The cities I'm visiting are SF, SD, LA (my cousins live near there), Grand Canyon and maybe Vegas (depends if my cousins want to come with).

I'm so visiting Bi Rite in SF and there are so many other restaurants in SF to visit and most of them seem unbelievably cheap and good! I'm so excited! Keep an eye out for some of my American posts when I come back for some more ideas :)

Simon Leong said...

My Food Trail review http://myfoodtrail.blogspot.com/2010/05/my-usa-trip-planning.html

Phuoc'n Delicious said...

Thanks for the link, I'll have a look at it when time permits me. I haven't had that much time to plan. I basically have 1 month to plan for a 2.5 week holiday on top of writing up my thesis. So it was kinda insane but thank god for the internet!

Simon Leong said...

I just came across your blog this morning and now have a list of must-try's in Sydney (I just moved here a few months ago) so thanks.

I lived in NYC for 8 years so here's my list of favorites to return the favor - depending on how much time you have there:

Cupcakes - skip the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery - they're too dry (better cupcakes at Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery in the LES). If you do go to Magnolia, go for the Banana Pudding

Burgers - definitely go to Shake Shack and Ruby's in Soho (owned by an Aussie - go for the Bronte Burger)

Lobster Rolls - Head to either Pearl Oyster Bar or Ed's Lobster Bar (prefer the latter)

Ribs - Daisy May's BBQ

Sandwiches - 'wichcraft (few locations around Manhattan)

Pizza - for a cheap slice go to Bleeker Street Pizza (corner Bleeker/7th Avenue South), then grab an ice cream from Cones on Bleeker around the corner, you'll also find a great cheese shop called Murray's down that street) and Grimaldi's Pizza (in Brooklyn but think they're opening a branch at the old Limelight club)

NY Aged Steak - this is a must-do on your list - various places for this but I like the consistency of Mark Joseph's at the South Street Seaport and Ben & Jack's in Midtown

Brunch - Blue Ribbon Bakery in the West Village, Pastis in the Meatpacking District, Jane's and Cafe Habana in Soho

Also recommend that you stay in the downtown area - it'll be easier for you.

Let me know if you're interested in a longer list :)
Have fun!

Simon Leong said...

Gary Danko http://www.garydanko.com - lobster - recommendation from Sharon/Irvin

Sharon and Irvin said...

Great website, Simon! Sorry I haven't read all of the above comments - apologies if I'm repeating what others have said.

Yes, Restaurant Gary Danko for his legendary lobster!! Choc souffle was pretty good too.
Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from Boudin bakery (touristy, but fun).
Slanted Door is meant to be great for mod Viet food.
Tropisueno (Buena vista lane) - Beef burrito

We went to 'O', the Cirque du Soleil show.
Helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon & Hoover Dam was great!!
If you strike a jackpot, then Joel Robuchon. Fabulous food & service, but your tip will buy you a few dinners elsewhere!!
Bouchon at the Venetian (Thomas Keller) - great French bistro style food.

Prix fixe lunch menus at top restaurants are great value for money. Jean Georges and Cafe Boulud.
Daniel's for a very special night out if you have leftover money from your Vegas jackpot win.
Per Se - oysters and pearls - to die (and rob the bank) for!
Taboon in Hell's Kitchen - funky place for Middle eastern food. Great meat and bread from a wood fired oven.
Rosa mexicano - great mexican and guacamole prepared at your table.

If you make it to Hawaii, then:
Chef Mavro
Alan Wong's
Hiroshi's Eurasian tapas - foie gras sushi(everything on the menu 1/2 price if you sit at the bar and order before 6.30pm including $2.50 cocktails)
Wolfgang's steaks

Maui island - Spago

Have fun! Looking forward to hearing all about it.

Danielle said...

I can only comment on New York, having been there myself earlier in the year:

- The best thing we did was the Real New York walking tour on the first full day we were there (look it up on Trip Advisor - its the #1 thing to do in New York). Really interesting, learnt the subway, and not a daggy tourist bus tour!

- Sunday Supper at Public was phenomenal, 5 sensational courses for $50, go all out and get them to match the wines for you as well, totally worth it

- DB Bistro Moderne had lovely food and outstanding service, particularly from the sommelier (who gave me a complimentry glass of very expensive and absolutely delicious dessert wine after the sticky we chose clashed with the lemon tart I ordered)

- We ate at the bar at Luca and had the best rose Ive ever had the pleasure of drinking (and I work in the wine industry so thats saying something)

- Magnolia Bakery cupcakes are great, dont listen to the haters!

- I am a diehard SATC fan, but I skipped the Sex & the City tour and instead staked out key places myself (Carries house on Perry St, on the way to the restaurant aptly named Perry St, also very good!), Bergdorf Goodmans, Boathouse etc.

- Use Yelp for everything, it knows all (get the app on your iphone if oyu have one). It recommended the best street cart in New York, which was the tastiest $9 (for dinner for 2!) we've ever spent

- Empire State Building is OK, but the Top of the Rock is phenomenal, particularly at sunset. Put it this way: with Empire State you are looking at Rockfeller, which is a pretty unattractive building. Rockerfeller Centre you are looking at the Empire State Building - which is beautiful!

Have a fabulous time! :)

Simon Leong said...

hi danielle, awesome tips. thanks HEAPS!!! i really appreciate it. :-)

Anonymous said...

You have to try the Lobster BLT at Blue Water Grill at Union Square in NYC.

Ann C. said...

In Vegas go to Voodoo Steakhouse up the top of Rio.

Beautiful food and awesome views :D

Simon Leong said...

hi anonymous, i love lobster so will definitely keep the Blue Water Grill in mind. thanks for the recommendation.

hi ann c, sounds awesome. great food and awesome views is a winner for me :-)

Simon Leong said...

is this the best buffet in Las Vegas?

Anonymous said...

For pure entertainment value http://www.thestinkingrose.com/about.htm

Simon Leong said...

http://testwithskewer.blogspot.com/2010/07/guest-post-mr-kitchen-hand-goes-to-new.html pastrami on rye from Katz’s Deli

Simon Leong said...


Simon Leong said...

David Lebovitz New York City Dining and Travel Notes http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/08/new-york-city-dining-travel-restaurants

Madam Wu said...

Eat your heart out in NYC: http://musicmunchiesreview.blogspot.com/search/label/New%20York%20City

In summary, the Belzin and Balthazar were my favourites of the last trip. The Standard Grill was rather good too. Have an awesome time!

Simon Leong said...

NYC cheesecake - http://www.venierospastry.com

Sara @ Belly Rumbles said...

Please Don't Tell was one of the things on my "hope to do list" when in NYC earlier this year. Sadly I just ran out of time.

Have a look at the links, a fun speakeasy with a twist http://nyjournal.squarespace.com/journal/2010/8/17/crif-dogs-please-dont-tell.html and http://www.pdtnyc.com/

Simon Leong said...

hi sara, i visited Crif Dogs and had a quick look at Please Don't Tell but didn't stay because was a 45 minutes wait and ran out of time. they didn't let me take photos but looked like a dark cosy bar which you enter via a phone booth in the wall of Crif Dogs. i little pretentious but interesting concept i guess :-)

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