We rang in 2019 off the coast of Thailand onboard the Westerdam, and it involved crashing a jet ski that gave me an egg sized bump on my forehead and a black eye that lasted for three weeks. My forehead still has evidence of the debacle, but don’t worry, Jeremy’s elbow is fine. Some makeup magic and a side swept hair style put it out of sight and out of mind for an epic New Years Eve party with our closest friends.
The year has been nothing short of amazing. It started out with four months of exploring Asia with adventures like skydiving in Thailand, eating street food in Vietnam, and exploring temples in Japan, continued with living in the Big Apple, and has ended with Jeremy back on the Westerdam as I was out on tour.
Over the summer came the birth of this blog as we starting eating our way through NYC favorites and discovering hidden gems. After heavy debate and hours reviewing drool-worthy photos and recounting outrageous experiences, we have put together the top 5 things we ate in NYC for the first time in 2019. Enjoy!
5. Katz Delicatessen: Pastrami Sandwich
Katz Delicatessen makes just about every “Top Places to Eat in New York” list, and we finally decided to pay a visit to see if it lived up to the hype. After making our way to the counter, a taste of pastrami was presented to us, and from nibble one, there was no question that’s what we were ordering. Within 3 minutes we were at the door shelling over our ticket and $23 before sitting on a park bench and digging in.
The pastrami was juicy perfection, with perfectly charred skin and a rich smoky flavor. There was just enough mustard to enhance the meat without over powering it, and the two pieces of rye bread were the perfect holding mechanism to keep it all together. Katz Delicatessen is 100% worth the hype, and it’ll be the first of many trips there for the frugal foodies!
4. Bo’s Bagels
“Bagels” and “New York” started to go hand in hand in the 1960s when demand increased from an influx in Jewish immigration. The bagel union that dominated the lower east side was over run, and the bagel market started booming. Now, you can hardly go a block without finding a bagel of some sorts as it has become an iconic, quintessential staple of New York.
There is a lot of contention over what shop can claim the title of “Best Bagel in New York”, but we think we’ve found it: Bo’s Bagels.
This Harlem shop serves up the perfect bagel that is crispy, golden, and crunchy on the outside but doughy and warm on the inside. They aren’t trying to wow you with bright colors and outrageous flavors; the bagels themselves are so good that bells and whistles aren’t needed to get attention. Ask for which ones are the freshest, and if you are lucky to one straight from kettle, you’ll be ruined from all other bagels (Sorry not sorry!)
3. El Aguila: Carnitas Taco
On quest to find New York’s best taco, we were ecstatic to stumble upon El Aguila on a random taco crawl. This no frills corner to-go spot has an A+ taco game that is consistently good and blows other places out of the water. To start, the corn tortillas are the perfect texture with a subtle flavor to enhance the tacos without distracting from the meat. Speaking of meat, the carnitas is unreal. The pork melts in your mouth without being too fatty, and the edges are perfectly charred, giving a smoky taste. The runner up is the Al Pastor, which is marinated to perfection, deliciously juicy, and certainly not overcooked.
PLUS, a basic taco rings in at $3 (HOLY FRUGAL!), and adding pico, cilantro, and lime is just an extra $.75!
2 . Billy’s Bakery: Carrot Cake
Billy’s Bakery is a quaint mom and pop style bakeshop with 4 locations in New York. It was hard for the Frugal Foodies to pass up the discounted day old treats for $3.50, but the fresh slice of carrot cake is absolutely worth the $7. Cutting in reveals a molasses color interior with dense, gooey goodness that practically drip off the fork. Large shreds of carrots and coconut fill every bite along with an ideal distribution of raisins and walnuts. The fluffy, rich , creamy icing is amply smeared between each layer, making for each fork fill being well proportioned. It’s a slice you won’t forget anytime soon.
1.Mama’s TOO!: Sicilian Slice
The Sicilian pepperoni slice at Mama’s TOO! is hands down our favorite New York City 2019 eat. The perfectly thick, not too bready, crust is the ideal base for flavorful sauce, melted cheese, and roni cups that pack a wicked punch of flavor making for a slice that blows New York competitors out of the water. Yes, “best pizza in NY” is a bold statement, but try it for yourself, then we’ll talk.
2019 was certainly a year for the books. What will 2020 hold? Stay tuned for more adventures and great food to come!