John’s of Bleecker Street (©David Frank)
One of the city’s iconic foods is the pretzel, which you can nab from a NYC sidewalk cart on practically any corner in Midtown. You can usually get it with salt or without, cold or hot, and a dollop of mustard makes it even better. But if you are looking for a singular pretzel experience, Sigmund’s Pretzels (29 Ave. B, 646.410.0333) in Alphabet City has made this favorite that much better. Buy a beer during happy hour and you’ll get one of the hand-rolled German pretzels free. Following a recipe dating back a century but modernized with six flavor choices, the soft pretzels give you a good reason to throw back those cold ones. Be sure to dip the pretzels in Sigmund’s homemade whole grain mustard to enhance their doughy center, or try them with beet and horseradish sauce.
If you’re still hungering for carbs, stop by Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery (137 East Houston St., 212.477.2858) for another New York classic, the knish. Baked fresh on premises with a variety of fillings, the knish is a potato- or sweet cheese-based pastrylike finger snack. Yonah Schimmel’s has been doling them out for 105 years. Grab a Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda to wash them down.
Simply put, the best bagels in the world are found in New York, made with a crisp outside and chewy inside. H&H (1551 Second Ave., 212.734.7441) has been supplying the city with these gems for more than 40 years. Choose from 19 varieties that have just been boiled and baked on burlap-covered boards.
Finally, discussion is ongoing among city foodies as to where to get the truest, purest pizza. Quality pizza can be found in many spots around town, but, in my opinion, first prize goes to John’s Pizzeria (278 Bleecker St., 212.243.1680). Baked in a coal-fired brick oven as has been done for over 75 years, John’s thin-crust tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza can be further enhanced with a variety of toppings, including garlic and sausage. No slices, no reservations, cash only.