Undiscovered New York: Top 5 breakfasts

To truly experience New York during your next visit, you need to start your day with a good breakfast. No meal better epitomizes the different attitudes and moods of the city’s residents then this first (and sometimes last) meal of the day. Whether we’re talking about the quintessential lazy weekend brunch, a bacon egg & cheese from a deli or a strong cup of joe from the street cart, New Yorkers’ breakfast choices are about as diverse as the city itself.

You’re probably already familiar with the old standbys – New York bagels are legendary the world over. And New York’s iconic paper coffee cup never seems to go out of style. But for everything you think you already know about what New York likes to eat for breakfast, there’s plenty of surprises. Breakfast here includes everything from your standard omelette to Chinese Dim Sum to Dominican Mangu and Italian breakfast panini.

With all these choices, where exactly does a breakfast-lover get started? Breakfast is, after all, the most important meal of the day, and who can stomach such an essential daily ritual becoming something bland or boring? This week Undiscovered New York is here to get your New York morning off on the right foot. We’ve compiled a list of our top five breakfasts from across the city. Step away from that yogurt and see what we picked…
Breakfast Five – Barney Greengrass
It would be downright sacrilegious to leave the classic lox and bagel off a New York breakfast list, and Barney Greengrass is arguably one of the best places to get it. Located well off the beaten path on New York’s Upper West Side, this delightfully old-school institution has been slinging some of the city’s best cream cheese, bagels, smoked salmon and whitefish since way back in 1908. Enjoy your bagel with some schmear and the Sunday New York Times in the restaurant’s old-school wood-panelled interior.

Breakfast Four – Joe Art of Coffee
New York could not function without caffeine. The self-proclaimed “city that never sleeps” seems to be mainlining a constant IV drip of the brown stuff. The problem is most of it sucks. The scalded, bitter excuse for caffeine you’ll find at most delis simply won’t do. Instead head to Joe the Art of Coffee, one of the city’s growing range of quality coffeeshops. In addition to a zealous dedication to a quality cup, Joe also offers in-store classes to help take your appreciation and coffee brewing skills to the next level.

Breakfast Three – Chinese Dim Sum
Consider this while you’re crunching that morning bowl of Special K – breakfast around the world is as different as the people that eat it. And in many countries, the typical yogurt, fruit and cereal is not on the menu. New York’s large population of Chinese residents happen to enjoy Dim Sum for their weekend breakfast, a leisurely meal that consists of many small plates chosen from constantly moving food carts. Though there’s no one typical dish served at Dim Sum, the meal usually includes staples like dumplings, spare ribs and sweets filled with bean paste. Try Chinatown spots like Jin Fong, the Golden Unicorn or Flushing’s Ocean Jewel.

Breakfast Two – Alpha Donuts
Way out in the Sunnyside section of Queens, they take their breakfast seriously. That is to say, they don’t mess around with fancy-pants breakfast food like brioche french toast or omelettes filled with goat cheese. What they are serious about is donuts – the ultimate sugary breakfast favorite. That’s why Alpha Donuts leads the pack. In a city filled with fancy breakfasts, Alpha Donuts stands out for its simplicity and commitment to this classic American staple, which they’ve been making since World War II.

Breakfast One – Shopsins
There’s no easy way to explain what to order at Shopsins, a hilariously quirky breakfast establishment located in Manhattan’s Essex Street Market. The correct answer is probably “What do you want to eat?” Not only does Shopsins serve all the classic breakfast favorites like skillets, sausage and cereal – they’ve also got plenty of one-of-a-kind morning meals prepared by the surly owner Kenny Shopsin. How about some “Slutty Cakes” made with pumpkin, pistachio and peanut butter? You also can’t go wrong with the “Jihadboy Sandwich” topped with beef, pomegranate, olives, sheep feta and tahini.

Undiscovered New York: 5 reasons to visit the Upper West Side

Welcome to Gadling’s ongoing series, Undiscovered New York. Ask any New Yorker about their favorite parts of the city to visit, and you’re likely to get some fairly common answers. Anybody under the age of 30 will tell you that the neighborhoods south of 14th Street are the happening place to be. Brooklyn is an increasingly popular answer as well, with “cool” neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint and “Brownstone Brooklyn” getting some love as well.

But I’m fairly certain nobody is going to tell you to go to the Upper West Side. You know what? They’re missing out on one of New York City’s best neighborhoods. Call me biased (I lived on the Upper West Side for almost 3 years) but this neighborhood located west of Central Park has a lot to offer, from fantastic parks, quirky attractions, unmatched cultural institutions, a burgeoning food scene and even some great nightlife.

It might be hard to believe, but dear reader, let me share with you 5 reasons why the Upper West Side deserves a few hours of your time during your next visit to New York.

Click below for Undiscovered New York’s top 5 reasons to visit the Upper West Side. I bet you’ll be surprised.
Reason 1: The Food!

If there’s anything you might have learned after reading Undiscovered New York, it’s that we’re pretty big on New York’s food scene. Perhaps then it’s not surprising that the Upper West Side is home to an increasing number of great food spots. First stop is Fairway – what might be one of the best grocery stores in the entire United States. Pretty much any delicacy known to man is available within the narrow aisles of this chaotic, wonderful supermarket. Imported olives from Italy and Spain, Beluga Caviar, bags of Ethiopian Arabica and freshly made New York bagels are just a few of the many delicacies on offer.

A little further north is the secret weapon of 96th Street – Super Tacos “Sobre Ruedas,” a tiny taco truck serving up cheap, authentic Mexican food to locals. For five bucks you can grab a goat tongue taco and a spicy chorizo along with a bottle of Mexican soda. The Upper West Side is also home to an increasingly great selection of new restaurants – try Kefi for some of the city’s best Greek food, Dovetail for some delicious New American cuisine and Barney Greengrass for top-notch smoke fish. Your last stop should be Grom for New York’s most authentic (and delicious) Italian gelato.

Reason 2: The Architecture
New York’s West Village might get all the tourists, but to really get a feel for some beautiful architecture one need only take a stroll on the Upper West Side, which is loaded with historic architectural gems. One of the neighborhood’s most famous structures is The Ansonia, a beautiful Beaux-Arts style former hotel at 73rd and Broadway. The building’s glitzy history includes stays by residents including Babe Ruth, the 1919 Black Sox and a former swinger’s club. Another famous Upper West Side building is The Dakota at 72nd Street and Central Park West, infamous as the residence of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Beyond these two structures is an entire neighborhood of beautiful late-19th Century and early 20th-Century brownstones and apartments. Just pick a street and start walking.

Reason 3: The Culture
The Upper East Side might get all the visitors because of The Met, The Guggenheim and The Whitney, but the Upper West Side’s cultural amenities would put most large cities to shame. First there’s the American Museum of Natural History, home to all manner of dinosaur bones, insect specimens and a full size blue whale. But in addition to the Natural History museum, there’s a huge range of cultural options on New York’s Upper West Side. There’s also Lincoln Center, the beating cultural heart of New York and home to the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet and New York Philharmonic, among others. Retro music fans can stop by the Beacon Theatre to see acts like Hall & Oates and B.B. King.

Reason 4: The Parks
Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb? Why don’t you find out for yourself by visiting the real thing? The final resting place of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant can be found nestled on the Upper West Side’s Riverside Park. That’s not the only notable sight in this beautiful waterfront park which runs the length of the neighborhood. You’ll find joggers, sailboats and some awesome views of the George Washington Bridge. In the warmer months there’s the Boat Basin Cafe, a wonderful spot to enjoy a drink or a burger and take in the fabulous view. Just south of the Cafe is a collection of derelict piers and dock machinery which makes for a cool backdrop for photos.

Reason 5:
The Nightlife
If you want to go out in New York City, you should probably head downtown, right? Wrong. The Upper West Side has a surprisingly diverse nightlife scene. Jazz fans will want to stop by Cleopatra’s Needle, a swinging Jazz joint packed with fans and some of the city’s best musicians pret
ty much every night of the week. There’s not even a cover charge – just buy a drink or two and settle in for some awesome live music. There’s also a number of great spots to grab a drink, including wine bars like Vintage, which features a huge selection of locally produced wines from Upstate New York and and Long Island. There’s also plenty of watering holes up near Columbia University. It’s no all-night party scene but it will certainly hold your attention for a fun night out.