My choices for Healthy, Paleo & Gluten-Free meals in the Big Apple
I recently read that there are 24,000 restaurants in New York, so in one 6 day holiday trip I was hardly going to cover them all. Like London the choice of eateries is overwhelming. Narrowing down neighbourhoods or cuisine’s is hardly a help either.
Before I went to New York I asked everyone who’d been before, in person and on twitter for some foodie recommendations. I was sent tonnes – some healthy/paleo, some less so! I then studied my Time Out guide on the plane out there, starring those that looked of interest. My brother who I was visiting had a few things to add to the mix too. 6 days was not going to be enough!
Since I had some particularly fantastic meals I thought I’d write a list of recommendations for anyone looking for some New York pointers! I’m very very sorry (no really I am) that I forgot to take my super-dooper camera with me. The meals in daylight were snapped on my I-phone. The rest you will have to imagine!
When I’m on holiday I bend my version of the rules a lot. This doesn’t mean tucking into a 3 litre bottle of orange fizzy crap or scoffing a pizza the width and depth of the river Hudson, but it does mean straying from my usual choices and enjoying cheese, houmous, sugar, ice-cream, chocolate, gluten-free cake and red-wine. Plus I consider it absolutely essential to enjoy a break from my 4xweekly exercise schedule, substituting it with a lot of sleep, relaxation (pedicure to hide from a thunderstorm anyone?) and walking (New York is perfect for this). I do find it hard to get back on the healthy eating wagon after nearly every holiday and the balance is between indulgence and downright piggy is something I think will always struggle to get right. But that’s perfectly OK. I’m sure of it.
Brunch: A favourite ritual of mine. Brunch is available everywhere so take your pick from any great restaurant and you will find a good brunch. These are just 2 that I visited. The restaurants we visited for dinner (further below) all had mouthwatering brunch menus also.
- Radegast Hall & Biergarten, 113 N 3rd Street, Williamsburg, Brookyln. I had Eggs en cocotte (LEFT). Up and coming Williamsburg in Brookyln has a great lazy Sunday vibe, and perfectly located for the Sunday Flee Market (had it not been closed down that particular day by the NYPD due to some unsafe scaffolding). Brunch choice around $12, extra for coffee.
- Toast– A few of these in New York – I had Eggs Norway (RIGHT) – what we call Eggs Royale – which is Eggs with salmon, hollandaise (minus the traditional muffin for me) plus a salad on the side. Not fine dining, but was good value and tasty. Got to mention the cwaffee refills – difficult to say no! Brunch around $12, extra for coffee
- For a cheap, quick lunch which can be eaten in the park Whole Foods salad bar is a good choice. Shame that everything is covered in canola oil, but at least there are a range of salad leaves, meats and toppings. Branches in central New York are on Union Square and Columbus Circle (for SW corner of Central Park). Salad box anywhere between $6-12 depending on how much you fill up.
- Pure Food and Wine, 54 Irving Place btwn 17th & 18th Streets (east of Union Square) is a fabulous choice for those with an interest in Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw, Organic, Dairy & Sugar-Free cuisine. They even serve bio-dynamic wine. I had a simply delicious zucchini and greenhouse tomato lasagna (sun-dried tomato sauce, pistachio basil pesto, pumpkin seed macadamia ricotta) followed by Mallomar (chocolate coated pecan cookie with vanilla cream) all washed down with blueberry Kombucha. Similar in ideals to the Wild Food Cafe or InSpiral Lounge in London – but offered under the guise of a fine dining experience. It wasn’t cheap at $19 for my main course, but an experience I will savour and remember. The 3 course prix fixee would have been well worth it if I was hungry enough. Perfect for an evening menu choice too (I went at lunch on my own whilst little bro was at work as he had clearly stated raw food was not his thing…)
Three places worth mentioning. We trekked to two of them as I liked the Time out description (buzz words such as grass-fed and organic do it for me). The other, was close to where we were staying and a great find.
- Community Food & Juice 2893 Broadway, between 112 & 113th streets, nr Columbia University (Morningside Heights) . Our first meal and I was instantly impressed with the range of tasty organic salads & gluten-free options listed on menu, including sides of sweet potato fries! Their brunch menu looks awesome too. I went for a light kale salad and we shared some sweet potato fries. Salads around $10, fries $7, mains $22.
- Cookshop 156 10th Avenue @ 20th Street, Chelsea. I was attracted to this place due to its farm to table ethics and the menu didn’t disappoint. I chose the Whole Roasted Long Island Porgy (a white fish – I did have to ask), crisp carrot & radish salad, fresno chiles, honey-lemon dressing, charred scallions. My main course was $25. Deeeelicious.
- Back Forty 190 Avenue B @ 12th Street, East Village. Again I went for the buzz-word grass-fed. The East Village is an achingly cool area, and the restaurant had a fab vibe – opting to serve the wine in little beakers! Words can’t describe how delicious my smokey pulled lamb, with red quinoa and spiced yoghurt was. I need that lamb recipe now – Back Forty if you’re reading – please divulge!!! My main course around $25.
- Xai Xai, 369 West 51st Street, Hells Kitchen. If you’re on your way to the theatre on 42nd street and want a great place for a light bite before a show (or a bigger bite at any other time) I’d highly recommend this cute little South African Wine bar. In an area of town renowned for burger joints, and grotesque fast-food this was a real find. Not to mention the best glass of wine I had all week. A fab range of tapas choices for the bread-dodgers and amongst a bit of cured ham and raw blue cheese we tried some exceptional ostrich burgers, octopus & sweet peppers filled with gorgonzola and wrapped in bacon… 5 tapas dishes (served 2) was $42.
Many fantastic tasty and exclusively niche gluten-free bakeries exist at farmers markets in London (such as The Free From Bakehouse) but I would love to see an entirely gluten-free sit-in bakery/cafe in London like the two (of many that exist) I visited in New York.
- BabycakesNYC, 248 Broome Street (Btwn Orchard & Ludlow), Lower East Side (branches also LA and Orlando). I have the Babycakes cookbook, so I just had to simply go and visit. A teeny little cupcake bakery snuck in alongside the trendy boutiques of the lower-east side. All food produced on site is vegan, gluten, dairy, soy & refined sugar free. There was just about room to sit in, and I choose a pumpkin spice muffin with vanilla cream to sample (LEFT) . I have no idea what was in it, but know they use mainly gram, tapioca & rice flours in their recipes – along with coconut & canola oils. They are mostly sweetened with agave *shudders*. I’m not sure I’d ever tasted a vegan cupcake before, and to be honest was a teeny bit disappointed I could really taste the agave (apart from its non-health benefits I just don’t like it), and since I have no problem with eating eggs I reckon a gluten-free cake with eggs is more my style. However props to them for creating and sustaining such a successful free-from niche business (they also have 2 recipe books) and the bakery was packed at 3pm on a Friday afternoon. There was just about enough room to sit down and enjoy my cake, before heading out again in the rain. Cakes $4-5
- Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery, 338 E 11th Street, East Village (also branches in Dallas). I’d also read about this place on-line and since I’d had enough of walking about shopping in the rain a slight de-tour and pit stop was in order. Again a teeny-tiny little shop located off the main track. There was seating available but I’d have been the only one in there so I got my goodies to take away. A range of mini & large cup-cakes, cookies. doughnuts & panini’s were on offer. I went for a cookie, since it was the only one sweetened with natural sugars. I couldn’t resist trying a little cupcake too. Cute. (RIGHT) Much like Babycakes I really admire that this shop exists, but was disappointed to find their products were high in white sugar. If you absolutely can’t eat gluten and are looking for a naughty treat then go for it. Cakes $2-5
I think above all it made me realise that gluten-free and healthy foods are not one and the same thing and for a sweet treat that really hits the spot you can’t beat a bit of quality dark chocolate!
In 6 days I think we did pretty well. What restaurants or cafe’s would you add to the list for a Natural Kitchen Adventures approved New York guide?