By No Vacation Required, on December 9, 2013

Eating the Big Apple

The task of uncovering a city’s best pizza, burger, or taco is not unfamiliar territory for us. We regularly develop these fun challenges in order to frame a visit. This usually means we have to do a lot of research, and therefore, cover a lot of ground. So our recent visit to the New York City Wine and Food Festival (NYCW&FF) was a treat in many regards. We were able to try some of the Big Apple’s best offerings in these categories and we were able to do so under one tent (figuratively and, in two cases, literally) near our hotel. Even better, the festival benefited two important charities, the Food Bank for New York and Share Our Strength.

While we highly recommend attending NYCW&FF, you don’t have to wait until next year to start sampling some of what New York’s top chefs have to offer. Here are a few of our favorite dishes from the event, some of which you can get year-round.


Viewfinder Tip: If you’re considering attending the NYCW&FF, be sure to check out the event packages in order to save some money.

The Blue Moon Burger Bash brings together nearly 30 of New York’s best chefs and burger barons in a beefed up cook-off. Attendees are tasked with voting for the best burger of the night, a duty that we took very seriously because – when it comes to voting and burgers – we don’t play around. 

We were very familiar with Shake Shack but had never gotten out of our ‘shroom burger habit to try the Smoke Shack. The Smoke Shack burger we had at the event was so tasty that we stopped by the Madison Square Park Shake Shack the following day to have one for lunch. We also fell in love with Porter House New York’s Turf & Surf Prime Beef Lobster Burger.

One of our favorites from Burger Bash

Our big winner of the night, though, was a burger that neither of us would have expected to fall head over heels for: Spice Market’s Spicy Thai Short Rib Burger. We’re fanatics for Thai food but were cautiously optimistic about how those flavors would translate into a burger. Trust us, Thai chili glazed short ribs, chili mayo, and shiso make for one heck of a good burger.


There was plenty of delicious, authentic Mexican food at Tacos & Tequila night. However, in our humble opinions, the evening was all about fusion.

Have you had Korean Tacos? Good news, the seared spicy pork taco served up by Kimchi Grill is (at time of writing) available at the restaurant’s Brooklyn location. How about Moroccan Tacos? Tequila Park At Hudson stole the show with a Moroccan veal cheek barbacoa taco paired with a cool jicama chayote slaw. Based solely on the quality of that taco, we urge you stop by the taqueria to try some of their other offerings. As a bonus you can check out the crazy Philippe Starck-designed Hudson Hotel lobby. Tacos and Philippe Starck – now that’s fusion.


La Sagra Sunday Slices was an opportunity to try some of New York’s best pizza. Unlike the burgers and tacos, we found that our favorite pizzas tended to be those with the most straightforward flavor profiles. Pizza La Verace’s Rossopomodoro pizza stood out for the quality of its four main ingredients: tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil, and basil. 

Outdoor pizza oven at Sunday Slices

Our favorite pizza of the night was a unique spin on a classic; New York Pizza Suprema’s upside down pizza had mozzarella covering a pillowy deep dish crust and smothered in sauce. That pizza is on their menu, so you can decide for yourself if you like the unique preparation. We’re pretty confident you will. 


Since one of us tolerates bloody marys and the other loves them, one of us was in absolute heaven at the Absolut Best Bloody Mary Brunch. What could be better than unlimited access to bloody marys from eight finalists from around the US? How about accompanying dishes from some of New York’s most talented chefs!

A creation from Best Bloody Mary Brunch

When it comes to drinks, this event was a spectacle of one-upsmanship. In order to stand out, finalists loaded their beverages with full-on meals. Think glasses brimming with beef sticks, shrimp, sliders (yes, sliders), and perilously stacked “salads” of pickled veggies. Each concoction was a balancing act worthy of Cirque de Soleil. 

Since we are in the camp of people who do not believe a bloody mary counts as a vegetable, we were excited to chow down on Feel Good Foods’ Crispy Fingerling Potato and Brussels Sprout Hash. We also loved Vinson Petrillo’s standout, Hen Egg Custard. The dish is not currently on the menu at his Brooklyn restaurant, Prospect, but we’re pretty sure the brunch is worth checking out based off that dish alone!

What did we miss? What’s your favorite food find in NYC?