Absolute Bagels

Bagels are a reason I can't leave New York. Growing up in pretty basic New England town, we had one guy who made bagels the New York Way. They were good, not great, but chewy in a much better way than most non-metro area bagels tend to be. Then I moved to New York and started eating Bagel Bob's all the time. Hello, pimento olive cream cheese. A bagel love affair began in my life and has yet to cease.

Currently my favorite bagels are found at the edge of the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights at Absolute Bagels. This is a non-frills, kinda grimy, bagel cafe.It is not meant for Instagram selfies with matcha and pink walls. But they are one of the best in New York according to Eater!

The bagels are just right: they're chewy, not too big, not too small, salty and perfectly New York-ish. You can literally watch as the bagels are boiled and baked here, emerging from the giant oven like little golden nuggets of joy. The everything bagel is perfectly garlicky and salty, which is my real taste test for a bagel. If there is no salt I am done, that's it. Your bagel is dead to me.

I can't describe it actually but you just know what a good bagel is when you take that first bite.

Spring for the Thai iced tea if you're an iconoclast. It makes a good bagel friend.

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Absolute Bagel 2788 Broadway, 108th St.

Momofuku Milk Bar Cereal Milk Always and Forever

I feel like the scene of instagramable softserve has exploded in the past five years.  I'm a fan of one of the originals in that very important life category (I kid) namely Momofuku Milk Bar's cereal milk. I'm also partial because I live very close to their Upper West Side location so I'm constantly sneaking in trips, even in the winter.

The cereal milk flavor typifies a flavor profile I love: it starts out weird and then sinks right into umami addiction. I love when things are oddly salty and oddly sweet all at once. The layers are perfect here, too You get the crunchies on the top AND the bottom.

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Momofuku Milk Bar Many locations across NYC

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Nom Wah Tea Parlor opened in in 1920, the start of a long (and still going) life in the heart of New York City's Chinatown. It's a longstanding institution that also tells the social-history of the Chinese in all of America, from exclusion to inclusion. I've always found it's storefront to be beautiful, a worn but bright mix of colors on the outside, with an 1950's seeming interior peeking through the windows in a faint neon glow. The dim sum is fast and casual, with the usual stars that are always just right.

And now Nom Wah has expanded with hipper locations in the past few years, a fun sign of what is old is also new again. It's nice for an New York City institution to be growing, not closing.

I always hope to sit in the window, by the maneki neko and the potted plants, at the original. It's a perfect spot.

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Nom Wah Tea Parlor 13 Doyers St. New York, NY 10013 (212) 962-6047

Pizza I've Known: Pizzeria Sirenetta's Clam Pie

A few months ago I had dinner with my oldest friend at Pizza Sirenetta. It's adjacent to and operated by the same folks at the lovely Mermaid Inn where you can get great oysters at he happy hour.  Th

The draw for me was the promise of a clam pie, though. I love clam pies, like a girl who grew up going down the cape and eating fried clams like candy every salty summer.

In my pizza hunting adventures around New York City, Pizza Sirenetta quenches that fancier-than-usual rustic Neapolitan pizza experience, similar to that of the late Franny's which also had a great clam pie.)

It's got one of the best clam pies in the city, too. It has that rich combo of thin crust, creamy sauce in place of cheese, and peppery parsley to compliment speckles of clams. I'm thinking about another subtle but rich clam pizza for a celebration in the future.

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Pizzeria Sirenetta 568 Amsterdam Ave New York, NY 10024