NYC Food and Coffee Tour

This summer I took a trip to my former home, New York City, to visit friends and family. I couldn't wait to try out some new restaurants plus the old ones that I've missed since I moved to California several years ago. Here is a round up of my favorite food and coffee shops that I visited during my stay. If you're super motivated - or super hungry - you could fit all of them into one day.

For my first stop, I had breakfast at the Instagram sensation, Jack's Wife Freda. I went to their Carmine Street location on a weekday morning. It had a very relaxed and sleepy feel, and I was glad to avoid the mega crowds they're known for on the weekend. I love their striped awning with hand-lettering in gold and potted plants surrounding their entrance. 

It's pretty small but the brightly colored walls and collection of globe hanging lights makes it feel larger. A long marble table is set up in the center of the restaurant with vases filled with mixed flower arrangements.

I ordered a cappuccino, which was super tasty and strong. Their sugar packets have adorable sayings like "I love you a latte" or "Hi there hot-tea". The packets match their hand-lettered and illustrated menus too. It's all in the details!

We ordered the Mediterranean Breakfast and the Anchovy Baguette. The food is to die for. And don't forget to order a side of Duck Bacon. I'm not even much of a bacon person but it was so delicious I could've ordered another plate!

Within walking distance is my favorite coffee shop in NYC, La Colombe, on Vandam Street. When I used to work at an architecture firm, I went to their Soho location daily and their coffee helped me survive many long days! This location is newer and much bigger. It even has a coffee vending machine!

I highly recommend trying their Draft Latte. It's so cool and refreshing on a hot and humid summer's day. I think it's such a clever idea to put coffee drinks on tap. I wish more coffee shops would offer it! 

The High Line in Chelsea is the perfect place to take in spectacular views of the city. It's also great for working up an appetite for an afternoon snack. And there are no shortage of fun food options on 10th Avenue and 15th Street.

My absolute favorite is the L'Arte Del Gelato stand. Their logo and signage are designed by the amazing Louise Fili. She is well-known for her exquisite food packaging designs, which are inspired by vintage Italian food labels.

And it helps that their gelato is just as wonderful as their packaging. I recommend their "Caffe" or "Nocciola delle Langhe" (hazelnut) flavors, but you really can't go wrong. They are all delicious.

You've probably heard of the fantastic doughnuts from Doughnut Plant. But you really have to go to Shake Shack to try their Coffee & Doughnuts Concrete. It's a mix of Shake Shack's soft serve frozen custard with a Doughnut Plant glazed cake doughnut. I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of it. But take my word for it - it's SO GOOD.

And a little trivia for graphic design aficionados - the logo for Shake Shack was designed by none other than Paula Schere of Pentagram design studio.

If you're looking for southern inspired food and barbecue, Blue Smoke is a must. Try to snag a table in the back if possible. It's a spacious, light filled room with giant vintage stars hanging from the ceiling.

A lot of people go to Blue Smoke for their barbecue, but I go there for their fried chicken. It comes in a large basket with two hot and buttery biscuits. You'll have to skip your diet for the day, but trust me - it's worth it!

My final stop for dessert is Veniero's - a New York City institution since 1894. I'm part Italian-American and getting dessert from Veniero's is a family tradition. There's a reason why they've survived the mean streets of NYC for over a century - their Italian desserts and pastries are delicious!

My personal favorite is the Millefoglie (thousand layer cake) that has delicate pastry layers filled with sweet custard and topped with powdered sugar. It's pictured here with or without strawberries. Their cheesecakes, tiramisu, and cannolis are amazing as well.

And before you leave, grab a bunch of cookies at their to-go counter. Or try their specialty - mini pastries. They're tiny pastry shells filled with custard with a variety of fruit toppings like kiwi, strawberries, and blueberries. Just walking past their display cases will make you feel as if you are in a Wayne Thiebaud painting. The take-out counter can get really crowded, so be sure to take a number!

All images by Christina Livesey.