Want to learn more about The Big Apple? Here is a list of the best restaurants and cafés for brunching, lunching and dining, the coolest areas to explore in Manhattan and lastly, the best shopping locations in the city. Click to read more!

New York City: the city of dreams… And really good food. While I had the pleasure of spending some weeks in Midtown, Manhattan, I got to experience a lot of what the Big Apple had to offer. And what better way to share those experiences than by creating my personal travel guide to New York City?

Our hotel was placed close to Times Square, which exposed us to the chaotic, busy part of the city. So while we enjoyed to escape a bit from the chaos in Lower Manhattan and find cool hipster areas, we also found lots of gems in the fast-paced Midtown, away from the tourist traps and overpriced delis.

Here is a list of the best restaurants and cafés for brunching, lunching and dining, the coolest areas to explore in Manhattan and lastly, the best shopping locations in the city. Of course, we didn’t go through the city to sort out the best, but we did try out a decent amount of spots (good and very bad) and these are our top choices.

Tip: Click on the name of the restaurants or store to go to its Yelp page/homepage for more details, and scroll over the dotted line to check out the address.

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BRUNCHIN’

Blue Dog Kitchen Bar

With a location close to Times Square308 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019, this small restaurant is a perfect central spot to brunch before going shopping on 5th Ave.

The restaurant is super cute with its rustic interior. The smoothies are amazing, not to mention the Avocado Egg Benedict and Chocolate Chip Pancakes which also are incredibly delicious. You will not leave without a full stomach.

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Hourglass Tavern

Located in Hell’s Kitchen373 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036, this is the ultimate place to go if you are looking for delicious hangover brunch. The weekend brunch starts at 11:30, meaning that you will have plenty of time for a snooze session in the morning.

I recommend the Pan Seared Potato Pancake with salmon and dill cream as a side for sharing. Simply delicious!

Fresh&Co.

Fresh&Co. quickly became our go-to for healthy breakfast. The organic recycling healthy fast food chain has several locations around Manhattan, but we quickly became regulars at the one located close to Central Park200 W 57th St, New York City, NY 10019.

The three-egg omelet is only around $6.25, where you can mix your own ingredients and you get potatoes and toast on the side. Super low priced compared to how much food you get and how filling it is. I also liked to order the quinoa oatmeal, green wraps or lentil quinoa soup.

Roast Kitchen

This is another great breakfast spot for when you are on the go. You can get omelettes and bagels at a good value price. The location is great740 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019 – only a few steps away from Times Square and Broadway.

For a super healthy alternative try the Chia Pudding with fresh berries. It tastes like dessert, but it is filled with healthy omegas.


LUNCHIN’

Bark Hot Dogs

If you are craving an In N Out style burger, give Bark Hot Dog a try. This place has the best burger buns ever and the veggie beef I ordered tasted great!

I normally do not go for unhealthy fast food options, but I must admit that this was the perfect cheat meal lunch ever. It is located155 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012 right next to the popular byChloe vegan fast food place that we had planned to give a try, but the line was too long for us to even bother trying. I think this was an awesome alternative if you are ever in the Greenwich area of NYC.

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Wholefoods

This was my first encounter with Wholefoods and it was absolutely incredible. There is so much good food to choose from in the food court. It took us half an hour to decide what to eat. We really liked the one placed in the basement of the Columbia Circle Mall10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019. The amount of healthy to-go food was tremendous.

You can find amazingly tasteful and healthy lunch options at Wholefoods, which is, for every health sucker like myself, a must try if you are not from the states.

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

I have tried Korean BBQ, but never Japanese BBQ. Placed on the corner of 3rd ave and 50th st, Gyu-Kaku has a fairly central location805 3rd Ave, 2nd Flr, New York, NY 10022, but it far from the tourist chaos around Time Square. We went there for lunch since the restaurant had great lunch deals and long-lasting happy hours. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a table around noon, indicating the popularity.

We both choose the 2-item lunch combo, which included two types of meat of your choice, a bowl of rice, a simple salad, and a miso soup, which is a lot considering the price of only $10,95. Each table is fitted with a replaceable grill, which is occasionally oiled, where you BBQ your food. The food was great as well as the experience and the service.

Chipotle

Never having been to the states, I had never been introduced to the wonders of Chipotle. The food was fresh, delicious and quick. it quickly became our second go-to restaurant for lunch and dinner.

We went to several of the location around Manhattan and they were all good. it was also perfect for one of those nights where we just wanted to go home and snuggle, eat and watch Netflix. I recommend the bowl option with chicken as a way of cutting some carbs from the tortilla, but stills getting all the good stuff, such as guac. Obviously.


DINING

Briciola, Hell’s Kitchen

This Italian restaurant and wine bar are located in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen370 W 51 St, New York, NY 10019. The small restaurant can easily be overlooked and it is truly a gem hidden among all the tempting eating places that are packed in Hell’s Kitchen.

Italian seafood is my all-time favorite food and Briciola served some of the best I have ever had. We loved the oysters, Linguine Vongole, Lobster Ravioli and the Pasta Speciale aka seafood spectacular.

Beyond Sushi

It has been on my bucket list to visit Beyond Sushi for a long time now, as I have followed them on Instagram for ages. I love the idea of vegan sushi, and I just had to try it.

During our trip, we went to two different places (because we loved it so much): one in Chelsea Food Market75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011 and one in Midtown62 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019.

The sushi is great and very different from regular sushi with white rice, fish, and meat. My boyfriend, who works at a sushi restaurant and is a huge meat-lover enjoyed it quite a lot, so do not feel discouraged because it is vegan.

The six-grain and black rice they use are packed with nutrients, as is the vegetables, fruits, and nuts inside the sushi. Our favorite sushi rolls are the Spicy Mang and the Haricat. We also loved the Nutty Buddy wrap and Black Sesame Avocado Coconut Cookie.

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The Counter

This popular burger place is located right next to Times Square1451 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, yet the prices are surprisingly reasonable.

The restaurant was placed 48th on the national burger ranking, so the burgers were doomed to be good. You can build your own burger exactly how to wish it to be and there are plenty of healthy topping options like avocado and artichokes.


AREAS TO EXPLORE

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Koreatown

I have always loved everything Korean – music, food, TV drama, fashion and cosmetics-wise – and when I finally got a real life peak of that, I was instantly obsessed.

Though Koreatown is a street longWest 32nd St, New York, NY 10001, it certainly contains a whole culture shift from the surrounding parts of New York. In Koreatown, you can find a huge Asian grocery store, lots of restaurants and karaoke bars, as well as beauty shops and bookstores.

We went to Koreatown several times on our trip to eat and explore the small shops. It is definitely a must-go for everyone that loves cosmetics, beauty, and Asian food.

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Hell’s Kitchen

Two avenues to the east side of our hotel we ran into the area Hells Kitchen. This area is mainly known for its many bars and restaurants, in which we, as mentioned, did try out. Besides the two places, The Hourglass Tavern and Briciola, we also went to a jazz club for a night out.

With plenty of options for drinking, dining, and live music, Hells Kitchen is definitely worth a visit or two, after all, we did get our favorite meal the entire trip at Briciola located in this very district.

Chelsea

The Chelsea neighborhood is one of the older parts of the city. It is located on the West side, between 6th Ave. and the Hudson and 34th St W and 14th St West. It is a cool hip place, with lots of history. The main attraction is definitely the Chelsea Market, which is an old restored warehouse packed with the most delicious foods, from lobster and Beyond Sushi to mini donuts and ice cream. In other words a must-go place for a foodie like myself.

Another great feature is the High Line Park which is an old restored railroad, lifted above street level. The 1.45 mile-long railroad park weaves through the Chelsea area and is plastered with bushes and other plants, which paired with the raw industry feel, giving it a nice a refined look.

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Chinatown & Little Italy

Located in lower Manhattan the world’s largest Chinatown is located, with an impressive population of approximately 100.00 people. In these crowded streets, we quickly gained the experience of being in a pulsing Chinese city.

The small streets are full of fish markets, dim sum restaurants, steamed bun joints, and small Chinese supermarkets. We ate at a non-pronounceable restaurant serving amazing dim sum and shopped for Pockys in the small supermarkets. A must visit if you love a busy, different neighborhood, and of course, Chinese food.

Across the street from Chinatown, the iconic Little Italy is placed. Indulged with pizza and pasta places, it is great for a date night and a good bottle of Italian wine. Obviously, you would have to take your date for gelato afterward in one of the many traditional gelato creameries. Little Italy definitely lives up to its expectations.

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SHOPPING

TonyMoly, Koreatown

It is no secret that South Korea is the leading market within the beauty and cosmetics field. I once wrote a report about just that, and finally getting to try out the products myself was like a dream come true.

TonyMoly is located in Koreatown35 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001, USA and offers a wide range of sheet masks, skin care products and cosmetics. Once you enter the store, you can expect adorably packaged beauty products, K-pop music playing in the background and the newest, most innovative beauty masks on the market, e.g. bubble masks and snail gel masks. It is definitely worth a visit!

Bergdorf Goodman

Bergdorf Goodman745 5th Ave, New York, NY 10151 is a highly luxurious department store with a long history, being founded in 1899. It has the same structure of a regular department store: beauty on the lowest floor etc., but the prices are way higher.

With exclusive $5,500 bottles of Clive Christian perfumes and $2000 heels, it is definitely worth a visit, even if you cannot afford anything. FYI, it is also where I spotted my first celebrity in New York City, the gorgeous Jamie Chung, stylishly strolling her way through the store.

Tiffany & Co.

Ever since I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s as a child with my all time idol Audrey Hepburn, I have dreamed of visiting this iconic jewelry shop on 5th Ave727 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022. At this time of the year the flagship store is dressed in beautiful Christmas lights, and when you enter the store, the first thing you will see is the legendary yellow 128 karat diamond, placed in a magnificent diamond necklace to celebrate Tiffany’s 175 year anniversary.

It is one of the most exclusive stores you can visit, with elevator men in suits, and couples sipping champagne while deciding on wedding rings.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Along with Bergdorf Goodman, Saks is another high-end department store found in New York City611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022. My favorite floor was the Gala Floor, where you can find similar gowns to those you see on the red carpet for premieres.

Saks had the most impressive Christmas decorations, with an extraordinary amount of Christmas light on the building along with dramatic Christmas music creating a magnificent light show that goes on regularly through the night.

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  • Thank you for such interesting guide! great job! I don’t like fast food, but your photo looks very appetizing 🙂 http://www.eugenianazarova.com

    • Thank you! Me neither – I normally stay away from fast food, but since it was my first time in the states I allowed myself to enjoy a couple of YOLO/cheat meals haha ?

  • This is great! My wife and I spend some of our honeymoon in New York. We visited a lot of places, but not many of the ones you listed. Guess we’ll have to go back again!

    • Yup, haha! I feel the same way ? There are so many things I have yet to explore in New York! Honeymoon in New York sounds fun, though – I hope you had an amazing time.

  • Oh my gosh… that sushi looked AMAZING. New York is such a dream!

    • The sushi was amazing! ? Beyond Sushi is a must visit.

  • Yamini

    This is a great guide for a foodie like me. I am a sucker for junk food and these pictures are making me drool.

    • Hahaha!! ? Your comment made me LOL. But yes, NYC surely knows its way to a foodie’s heart ?

  • Sarah

    I loved your info! I live in Connecticut and have been to NY a lot, but you’ve been to areas I ve never thought of visiting. I loved the High Line as well..some friends who live in NYC took us and what a great find. I m saving your post for next time we are visiting. Sarah Buckleupkids.blogspot.com

    • Thanks, Sarah!! I’m so glad you like it ? Hope you have an awesome time next time you’re there!

  • This is the exact your I would want to take if I got to go how wonderful!

  • Great article. I really enjoyed all the pics .
    http://polkadotsandcurry.com/2015/12/05/gingerbread-cookies/

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you liked it ☺️

  • Your blog is so beautiful and well written 🙂 the guide makes me want to jump on the next plane to NY and try everything out 🙂

    • Aww, thank you Tuni! ☺️☺️

  • Monika

    That’s great you got to visit some parts of lower manhattan too. A lot of tourists stick around midtown and forget about the rest of NYC. You went to some of my favorite spots to eat so that was really cool to see.

    -M
    http://www.violetroots.com