McSorley's Ale House - Order one beer, get two. Brilliant...
Apparently the water in New York is ideally suited to making great pizza dough. Not sure how true that is but certainly the pizza at this no-nonsense brick oven pizza joint is as good as you’ll find anywhere on Earth. They famously refuse to sell their mega-thin crust pizza by the slice so the choice is simply 14” or 16” and a few basic toppings. Share with a friend or two and a pitcher of draught beer and you’ve got a genuine taste of Greenwich Village. A favourite of regulars Jack Black, Regis Philbin and Simon Pegg.
Proud of being the only bar on the south of Manhattan to carry on serving right through the events of 9/11, the Corner Bistro is the nearest thing to a real life Cheers you’re likely to find. More of a bar with food, this Greenwich Village local’s favourite has friendly staff, a great and eclectic jukebox and is right next to NYU, meaning you can sit at the bar with a burger or a bowl of great chilli and watch students, tutors, regulars and village characters come and go.
Now this is a real must-go. Just one block south of Central Park, in the corner of the reception of the very grand Le Parker Meridian hotel you’ll see a red velvet curtain. Snaking round the curtain you’ll usually find a queue of native New Yorkers waiting with uncharacteristic patience to get inside the Burger Joint. Belying its grand surroundings the Burger Joint is a tiny, basic 18-ish seat diner serving only a small selection of drinks, fries and the best burgers you will ever, ever, ever eat. Trust me, the reason the place is permanently packed with residents is that they know something they don’t want the tourists to. Well now you do.
An obvious choice but you really can’t argue with its inclusion on a budget eats list. Katz has sat on a street corner on the Lower East Side since 1888 and has become an institution not because of the films shot in there or because it’s in every travel guide but because it serves superb, honest, cheap-ish, Jewish-based grub from a bafflingly huge menu without fuss or flash. You could survive on one of their Reuben sandwiches for about 3 days.
Worth noting is that if you order one beer you always get two (no idea why but it suits me) and all of the food is designed to be eaten with the insanely hot mustard that’s left in mugs on the tables
Doesn’t have a great choice of drinks (light or dark and that’s it) or a wide assortment of dishes but walking into this East Village watering hole is like walking onto the set of Deadwood. It’s barely changed since it opened in 1854 and, despite being popular with the likes of Woody Guthrie and other left leaning politicos, was the last bar in America to allow women through its doors. Worth noting is that if you order one beer you always get two (no idea why but it suits me) and all of the food is designed to be eaten with the insanely hot mustard that’s left in mugs on the tables. While it’s a bit too popular with the tourists these days a couple of hours whiled away inside is quite a unique experience.
Even if this Lower East Side bar/ eatery didn’t serve very marvellous European meets NY-style food and spot on cocktails it would be worth a visit for it’s brilliant design. Its butcher’s shop/ chemist/ drinking den interior is superbly styled and everything from the menus to the crockery to the toilet seats has been perfectly thought through and delivered. The menu is eclectic and disarmingly honest – when’s the last time you saw the wines divided into ‘cheap/ decent/ good’ on the menu? While staring at the fixtures and fittings try the Schiller’s steak sandwich washed down with the best Mojito outside of Cuba.
Bang in the middle of what’s left of Little Italy is the Ferrara Bakery, a delight for Godfather/ Goodfellas/ Sopranos fans everywhere. Not because it’s ever featured in any of those productions (although Don Corleone was shot about 100 yards away, film fans) but because from the second you walk in you just know that Ferrara’s has been at the heart of the Italian community for as long as there’s been one. It only really serves cakes and coffee but a quick stop for a cappuccino and a cannoli will see you leaving with a bada-bing in your stride.
Also known as the Green Door, the Ear can date its history as far back as 1817, although it didn’t actually start serving drinks till the 1890’s. Located in SoHo, a block away from the Holland Tunnel it’s simple, cosy, friendly and features regular jazz nights that attract some of the finest players in the city. The menu changes all the time but is as unpretentious and inexpensive as the excellent beers and wines. A wonderful place to spend a few hours in when your feet start to ache.