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Day 3 in New York City:

  1. Papaya King
  2. Burger Joint
  3. Fong Inn Too
  4. Jacques Torres Chocolatier
  5. Peter Luger

1st course

Papaya King
179 E 86th


Now that’s a good dog.

We have a wiener…

What kind of crazy cat
doesn’t like a hot dog? Not me. When I had a chance to visit the monarch of exotic fruit, I made a royal procession.

Crowded dive with lots of fresh fruit piled up to decorate this teeny corner business.

Two dogs and a papaya drink: ($4.95)
The perfect hot dog. A snap to the skin as your teeth puncture the cell wall of your mystery meat cylinder. These are not your foot long hotdogs. You need two to complete your lunchtime treat. Wash that down with your papaya beverage.

From: 179 E 86th St.
To: 118 W 57th St. means


a 2 mile (3.2 km) walk down the
East Side (or the park) to a great burger.

Map with directions

2nd course

Burger Joint
118 W. 57th Street


Best New York Burger and shake (so far.) According to Burger Holy Grail
What kind of flipping manic doesn’t like a good burger? Not me. When I heard about this hidden gem, I had to see what all the fuss was about.

You go into the Parker Meridien and think. How could a low brow hole in the wall burger place be in this chic hotel? You look for signs. None. BUT right behind the big pillar in the left hand corner of the lobby, there is a hidden hallway. It leads to a little neon picture of a burger. Follow that to a noisy little room. It feels like a speakeasy during prohibition.

Service: Queue up, give your order, find a table and wait to be called.

Atmosphere: Rowdy, funky and filled with people having fun. Paper napkins with ketchup writing are taped to the walls.

They pour Sam Adams on tap if you aren’t in the mood for a shake or soda.

The “must haves” here are the burger and shake. They have an extremely limited menu and don’t cater to fussy folk who want something other than a burger (with or without cheese.)
Cheeseburger ($5.50) and Fries: ($1.50)
The burger was cooked to order – delish. Take the pickle out of this and it’s just dandy. A brown bag of fries. Fine (not the fries of your dreams, but fine.)



3 carrots out of 4. This place is one of the great hidden gems of New York.

Chocolate Shake: ($2.50)
They make these thick and creamy concoctions in a garden variety blender with real ice cream. Mmmmmmm.
Brownie: ($1.50)
Big and tasty. One of my favorite cookbook writers says that good brownie (like this one) is “frosting that you can pick up.”


From: 118 W 57th St.
To: 46 Mott St.is


a 4 and a half mile (7 km) hike to Chinatown.

Map with directions

3rd course
Irresistible Radish Cakes!

NONE you order at a little takeout window or go inside to order over the counter. No frills.

Not everyone here speaks English. They may think you want a rice cake or some porridge. Point at the glutinous rectangles on the grill behind the counter person. It’s worth it.
Fong Inn Too
46 Mott Street
radish cake
eatin out
It’s Chinatown, Jake. There is plenty of good chow around here, but you’ve got to try these radish cakes.
Fried Radish Cake: (3 for $1.25)
Rectangles of rice flour flavored with dried shrimp and Chinese sausage are offered with hot sauce and oyster sauce – I asked for a bit of both. They are crispy on the outside and richly yielding on the inside. Total comfort food Chinese style.

From: 46 Mott St.
To: 350 Hudson Street is


a 1.2 mile (1.9 km)
to get a choco-fix.
Map with directions

4th course

What kind of heathen doesn’t like a good haven? Not me. When I heard you could get a cuppa liquid chocolate with a hot pepper kick. I was off to Oompah land.

Atmosphere: The seating area is partitioned off from the factory with glass walls. It’s wonderful to see the factory as you sip your chocolate beverage. Jacques himself was giving a demonstration to a group of children. When they ran out to the seating area in their chocolate induced mania, he came over and apologized to me for all the ruckus. That was a nice personal touch.

Service: Top notch. I assembled a box of chocolates to take with us, selecting the chocolates one by one with a patient counter person.

They make some unique and intense wine based chocolates. Their red wine and port chocolates are both enrobed in dark chocolate. Fantastic. Their liquid Carmel, lemon, peanut butter, peanut brittle, earl grey tea, ménage a trios (containing 3 kinds of ganache)…every chocolate I tried, I loved.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven
350 Hudson Street
Chocolate Chip Cookie:
Buttery, choclately and addictive.
Mudslide cookie:
Chocolate immersion therapy.
“Wicked” Hot Chocolate:
Flavored with ancho and chipotle. I liked this one best.

From: 350 Hudson St..
To: 178 Broadway, in Brooklyn is


3.2 miles (5.1 km) to red meat.

Map with directions

5th course
What kind of choice idiot doesn’t like a good steak? Not me. When I had a chance to visit the center of the bovine universe, I didn’t ruminate about it.

Atmosphere: No tablecloths on the well worn wood tables. Beer steins decorate the walls. Think nice German style commissary. There were folks wearing suits and there were folks wearing jeans.

Peter Luger
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 387-7400


Okay, it's not actually in Manhattan, but it's close.

Reasons to shell out some money for a Luger steak:

They start with good meat. The meat at Lugers is Prime (the top classification) short loin (in the approximate area of where you would sit on the saddle…if you are the kind of person who rides around on cows.)

They dry age it.
Letting cold air circulate around the meat causes a lot of evaporation, which means that you need to use more beef for each steak. The flavors develop and the enzymes break down and tenderize the meat. Luger's has their own cellar and do this in house.

You’ll find that there are places that try to do it like Luger’s but they fail by cutting corners. They may butcher their own steaks but not age them properly or they may reduce the amount of weight loss through evaporation by getting “wet pack” meat (in plastic) followed by an abbreviated period of dry aging.

There aren’t any other restaurants that butcher and dry age their steaks fully the way they do at Luger’s. This is why this place has earned its reputation as the best steak house ever.

Service: Swell. I heard from a number of sources that the servers were rude, but my waiter was tops. The other bit of misinformation I came upon with was that menus had to be requested by folks who don’t know enough to just order. I walked in the door prepared for this, but the nice host handed us menus as I settled in.

You don’t order different types of steaks here. You order “steak for _____” (the number of people in your party.)

Beware: Leave home without your American Express. They accept cash or Peter Luger charge cards ONLY.

Steak for two: (about $75)
Ordered rare, arrived rare. They broil this porterhouse, cut it up in a radial pattern and prop the platter up on one end so all the juices pool for your potato or bread dipping pleasure. Wow. I alternated between bites of the subtle tenderloin and the more flavorful top loin sides of the bone. I savored this with a nice cabernet.

Creamed Spinach: (about $8)
You must order this side dish. It’s not the kind that leaves little congealed pools in the wake of your spoon tracks. It’s the kind that is spinachy good, simple and comforting.

Fries: (around $5)
They were okay. Not the kind that force you to make yummy sounds when you bite into them, but that job is already taken here by the steak.


That's it for New York City! If you're here for more than three days, you're on your own. I hope that you enjoy your trip.

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