New York native Andrew Hickey of TheBrooklynNomad.com talks to us about where to find the best food and bars in New York City as well as how to visit The Big Apple on a budget.
Jazz Hostels: You write a lot about food on your blog. What are your top three favorite inexpensive restaurants in NYC?
Andrew: Being that it is New York City, my top three often times changes. But right now I would have to go with Mandoo Bar in Koreatown on West 32nd street between 5th and Broadway (amazing freshly made dumplings and noodles), Tina’s Cuban Cuisine on Madison Avenue between 33th and 34th street ($1 beef empanadas), and Halal Gyro & Chicken Cart across the street from Radio City Music Hall (Note: Halal Cart is only open 7:30pm-4am, during the day another licensed food cart works the same location.)
Jazz Hostels: The Food Truck culture is big in NYC. Tell us a little bit about what Food Trucks are and a few of your favorites.
Andrew: Food trucks are a little piece of culinary heaven on four wheels. Many people seem to think when I mention a food truck; I am referring to some “dirty water dog” hot dog stand. While those locales are also fun to grab a bite to eat after a night of drinking, an actual food truck is a well organized, very clean and most of the time cheap place to get some grub on the go. I think pretty much every cuisine is available via a food truck around the NYC area right now. Some of my personal favorites besides the aforementioned Halal Cart include Wafles & Dinges (order the WMD!), Van Leeuwin Artisan Ice Cream and Asia Dog.
Jazz Hostels: You’ve written several articles about different kinds of bars on your blog. What are a few of your favorite bars in NYC and what makes them your favorites?
Andrew: I have been known to enjoy a few adult beverages from time to time around the Big Apple. My favorites include Molly’s at 287 Third avenue (killer Guinness and outstanding cheeseburgers in a truly authentic Irish setting), Pete’s Tavern on East 18th street (opened since 1864,) and McSorley’s Old Ale House on East 7th street (opened in 1854, it claims to be the oldest continuously running bar in New York).
Jazz Hostels: What are the ‘must sees’ for first time visitors to NYC?
Andrew: I might be bias since I do run a website called “The Brooklyn Nomad”, but I really think first time visitors (with plenty of time to spare) should leave the island of Manhattan after checking out the typical tourist spots and visit the borough of Brooklyn. There are so many great places to eat, shop and just hang out lazily that it is worth the $2.25 train ride to check it out. Park Slope, Williamsburg, Coney Island and Bay Ridge are all great day trips.
Jazz Hostels: If a friend came to visit you and you only had one day to show them NYC, what would that day look like?
Andrew: Now if they only had one day when Brooklyn would have to wait until the next trip. In NYC I would start the morning with a cup of coffee at Café Grumpy in Chelsea, head to High Line park to people watch, eat at one of the food trucks I list on my website and fit in some time to be a tourist (i.e. visit Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center etc.).
Jazz Hostels: What are some of your favorite winter activities in NYC?
Andrew: I’m not much of a winter guy, but I do enjoy seeing snow from my apartment window. Does that count as an activity? If I were to venture outside in the chilly temps it would most likely be for a night out with friends. Nothing like a cold Guinness in an Irish pub on a chilly NYC night. But if you are visiting in the winter and want to do more than get a hangover, ice skating at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and NYC’s Bryant Park is always a good option.
Jazz Hostels: NYC has a reputation of being an expensive place to visit. What advice do you have for people who want to experience NYC on a budget?
Andrew: Be a smart traveler before coming to NYC. Do your research (in other words Google “cheap NYC”) and spend some time outside of the tourist trap areas of NYC like Times Square and SoHo and go to the outer boroughs like Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx for cheaper and in some cases better shops and restaurants.[guestinterviewfooter interviewee=”Andrew Hickey”]Andrew Hickey is a New York based travel writer and social media manager. His work has been featured on Huffington Post, MSNBC, MSN, Yahoo! Travel, CheapOair and more! Check out his personal blog The Brooklyn Nomad for travel tips, news and deals![/guestinterviewfooter]