Some quick NYC reviews

This trip ended up being a crazy whirlwind of soccer camp, dropoff at summer program and family reunions so the food took second priority… Quick thoughts!

  1. Dinosaur BBQ - we went on a Saturday evening to the Harlem location and it was HOPPING! 45 minute wait to get seated. But it was worth it. BBQ wings were delicious. Ribs weren’t particularly smoky but were the perfect texture - fall off the bone but still maintaining their form and not mushy/falling apart.
  2. Motorino - honestly, this was the first family dinner so the focus wasn’t the food. But I greatly enjoyed the pizza. Perhaps not as good as Sei in LA but still very well executed.
  3. Zaytinya - eh. I remember loving the OG DC iteration but that one seemed to be more focused on small plates. I thought the food was fine. Nothing to write home about and I won’t be back.
  4. Eleni’s - this place doesn’t get mentioned much but we love the food. Just simply grilled Greek classics - branzino, octopus, calamari that is reasonably priced, perfectly charred, not too tender but not too chewy. Delicious pita that is grilled with olive oil.
  5. 38 Food Hall - we went here several mornings to get rice rolls (really nice texture, super thin, and freshly made) and jianbing that you customize however you want.
  6. Heytea - one of the few Chinese drink chains that is in the US but not in LA. They specialize in grape juice drinks. Absolutely delicious and so refreshing.
  7. Chili - fun Chinese place with servers dressed up in what I assume is early 1900s Shanghai garb. Really refined presentations, great flavors - my family loved the crab roe tofu dish and tea smoked duck over crispy sticky rice - and very reasonable prices for the quality.
  8. Little Alley - one of the few repeats from our last visit. Their softshell crab rice cake dish is worth it on its own! $35 for 2 nicely sauteed softshell crabs over a huge portion of rice cakes.
  9. Expresso Culture - this was the real surprise of the trip… their cookies are amazing. Fat like Levain, but not quite as fat… the interior is just as molten but the exterior has more crisp. So good. Even the gluten free peanut butter chocolate was delicious.
  10. Cafe Chelsea - we went with friends. It was fine. The standout imo was the steak frites… they use a hanger steak which I love!
  11. Reichenbach Hall - my sons love soccer and so we spent a couple nights here watching games. Absolutely electric environment especially when Germany was playing. And the food was solid. I expecially enjoyed the wurstplatte and the others loved the curry wurst. I also thought the Pur apple cider is perfect - not too sweet, not to tart and goes down easy!

As I look back on this trip, it was definitely more disappointing than our previous trip but sometimes other things trump food… in this case, it was seeing my mom, sister and brother and their families for the first time together since COVID… Lots of tears and laughs.

Random side note - we happened to watch The Outsiders. Absolutely loved it. The fight/dance scene to end the 1st half is incredible!


This NYC trip was busy with family reunions but the food still shined!

A few months ago I participated in a blind chocolate chip cookie tasting (eleven varieties) and Culture was the runaway favorite.


I got a cookie from here the other day and it was excellent. Great balance between chewy and crispy. Not too sweet. Nice chocolate chunks not chips.

I think this is the cookie contest my wife heard about that got us to try it. But I was so skeptical because you hear all the time about contest “winners” that end up sucking. This was not that. These cookies are delicious. It like if I took the crunch of a Tate’s on the outside with the gooeyness of a Levain on the inside, used top notch ingredients… that would be this cookie. Not sure I’ve had a better cookie anywhere else.


The best part… on the last day, I brought my two sons. But I made them choose one cookie and they couldn’t decide. So I asked the person at the counter to choose for us. And he comes back with one each of the cookies that my boys wanted. Class act, so appreciated and earned a lifelong customer.


I may or may not have purchased a cookie at 8:30 in the morning.

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Ooh im intrigued! Just curious, was the dom ansel chocolate chip cookie included in the tasting? What were your thoughts in comparison to the espresso culture cookie if so? That one is my current favorite nyc cookie

Um… we were in New York for 7 days. I’m not ashamed to admit that we may have been there for breakfast on 5 of those days. And if cookies weren’t breakfast-worthy, then why would they be selling them at 8:30AM? Huh?


Here’s the rankings:

  1. Culture Espresso (31pts)
  2. Librae Bakery (13)
  3. La Mercerier (9)
  4. Nani’s (8) + Levain (8)
  5. Jacques Torres (7)
  6. Janie’s Life Changing Cookies (6)
  7. Wegman’s (5)
  8. Petit Choux (4) + 7 Gramms (4)
  9. Crumbl (1)

My tasting notes:

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Thanks!! Interestingg

One other stop we made. Super Taste Noodles but the UES location. Was fun chatting with the owner who is the OG couple’s son. The soup is still the same - deep and flavorful. The beef slices still my favorite - perfect thickness, tender but with some chew still. The jury is still out on the noodles - he was training new staff that day and it was a struggle. Our noodles were fine but didn’t have that springiness I love at the OG store. I want to chalk it up to cooking challenges that day and will hopefully try again next time I’m in NYC.