If you are traveling to New York City in 2018, you don’t want to miss these gastronomic gems that Mel and I uncovered in a recent trip. Now fine dining this is not, but these tiny treasures were a great experience all the same. Alice’s Tea Cup, Cafe Habana and Nom Wah Tea Parlour were off the beaten path for tourists which was fine for us, because we got a real taste of a few places locals seem to love.
Alice’s Tea Cup, located at 102 West 73rd Street, is a precious little cafe whose theme is derived from the classic literary confection, Alice in Wonderland. Much like the setting in the novel, the surroundings are filled with whimsy and surprises. You will want to fall down this rabbit hole to discover a variety of tasty teas, sugary scones, samplings of tiny little sandwiches and more. Tea is served in small brown tea kettles accompanied by delicate and petite porcelain tea cups. Breakfast, lunch and tea time are available and reservations are highly recommended. Children and adults love Alice’s Tea Cup and I hear birthday parties hosted here are a treat.
Whenever I visit New York I like to sample flavors from the neighborhoods. New York is a melting pot of ethnicities which makes it such a unique and colorful place, a window into America.
We stumbled upon Cafe Habana, located at 17 Prince Street, one evening when looking for a quick bite to eat before turning in. When we climbed out of the uber we still were unsure we had reached our destination. Nothing stood out as a restaurant; however, all we had to do was squint our eyes to discover the tiny hole in the wall that was Cafe Habana. It was barely big enough to even be considered a cafe, but was warm and cozy like your grandmother’s kitchen. We wedged our party of six into two booths and began to peruse the menu filled with Mexican, Caribbean, Latin, Cuban, and Central American fare. Although the cuban sandwich and the Cuban corn on a stick came highly recommended, I settled on the chicken enchiladas which came quickly with a whopping side of the best rice and beans I’ve ever tasted.
Latin music played in the background, and I had the feeling that a little later into the evening that this place could double as a pretty cool little night club.
Nom Wah Tea Parlour
You will not believe how long people will wait in freezing weather to have a taste of Nom Wah Tea Parlour, which is located at 13 Doyers Street, and is known for its vintage dim sum and it’s extensive tea menu.
Our wait in the alley in the front of the restaurant was long but the jovial hostess with jokes kept us entertained, and she kept the line moving. Everything on the menu looked good, and even though we were warned about the large portions, we still ordered way too much. We realized upon being served that plates of fried rice were big enough to share with two or three people and the egg rolls were super fat, and super light and crunchy. Don’t miss out on the seafood dumplings. They were the highlight of the visit.
Reservations are recommended, but do not try to make them over the phone. You will be directed to online reservations which we found a pain to navigate, so we just showed up. So glad we took the gamble. This was not your ordinary Chinese take out from home. The food was as authentic and the servers and the atmosphere. It is a neighborhood restaurant experience that you will never forget.
Other places not to be missed include, but definitely are not limited to, the over-sized pizza pie at Lombardi’s in Little Italy, the cannoli at Ferrara’s in Little Italy, the lobster fried rice at Hotel 50 Bowery in Chinatown, Margherita and Sicilian pizza at Grimaldi’s and L&B respectively in Brooklyn on The Brooklyn Pizza Tour.