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A Progressive Lunch

New York can be a lot of different things for a lot of different people. It is at once a place to “be seen”, a shopping mecca, and a historian’s dream. It offers unforgettable nightlife, world-class museums, and some other delights that may just surprise you.

For us? We were most excited about indulging in the food, as New York has anything and everything. Our last couple of months were largely spent in places with moderate variety in local cuisine. Even though I savored every mouthful during three weeks in Italy, I didn’t eat pasta for a month afterwards. And, I love you Morocco, but I got a little tired of eating tagine just a few days in.

So when our friend Kirsten Alana, a stellar photographer and NYC veteran, invited us for a progressive lunch to some of her most frequented haunts, we gladly took her up on it to begin our education on the New York food scene. We were also pleasantly surprised to be joined by another travel blogger, Aaron Shapiro, who we were worried we would miss out on seeing during our time here.


Delicious dumplings!


First up, Kirsten took us to Vanessa’s Dumplings because, as she states it: “Every New Yorker has a favorite dumpling joint.And why wouldn’t they? $1 for 4 delicious dumplings, they are a great start to a meal (or, lunch itself if you want to double up your order!) The restaurant itself is very small with limited seating, but for us it just meant getting cozy with other New Yorkers who were positively gushing over their sesame bread and other goodies.

After dumplings we ventured into the East Village to find a noodle place that needs little introduction, thanks to it being profiled on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. Xi’an’s Famous Foods serves up noodle dishes to fit any budget at $6 to $10.

Pete had beef, I had pork, and we all sampled each others. The large noodles were unquestionably fresh and each dish was spiced to our individual tastes. Every bite was simply to die for.

Xi'an's Famous Foods



Kirsten, Aaron and Pete

Our good looking lunch crew – Kirsten, Aaron and Pete


Finally, to balance our meal, we needed some sweetness. And given that there are umpteen cupcake stores all over the city, it seemed only natural to try one out.

Butter Lane Cupcakes has an eclectic array of flavors. It’s not the best cupcake I’ve ever had (it left me dreaming of the more delectable Crave Cupcakes in Calgary, Alberta), but really, it is pretty hard to go wrong.

Butter Lane Cupcakes


Cake. Icing. It’s all good.

Popcorn as a topping though? Not so sure about that one.

Stuffed and satisfied, we rolled down the street to find our way home, and knew then that we would be returning.

(Since drafting this post, we have stuffed those same dumplings and noodles in our face again. We are creatures of habit when we find good food!)



This was our first day out when all I used to take pictures was my new iPod. Coincidentally, Kirsten just happens to be the industry expert when it comes to iPhoneography! I took advantage of our time together to get a few pointers, and for any of you looking to improve your own skillz, get some good tips here!


37 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. I don’t know what’s with my face in that photograph! But what a fun day that was!! Thanks for joining Aaron and I and for letting me show you a few of my favorite places in my city. Can’t wait to fit in a few more while you’re still here.
    Kirsten recently posted..My ABC’s of Travel

  2. Thanks so much for letting me join you guys! It was a great learning experience too as I had never been to any of these places before!
    Aaron @ Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures recently posted..Another Year…Another Blogiversary!

  3. Sounds like a delicious day to me:)
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Key West – More Than Margaritaville and Hemingway

  4. OOh all of that sounds delish! I have made notes so I can try to stop by on my next visit this summer.
    Debbie – European Travelista recently posted..Unique Lodging Is It For You?

  5. Dumplings! Now I know where to get them!

  6. haha….after reading this I am glad it is just about dinner time…
    Federico recently posted..How to Save Money on Accommodation

  7. I want to grab those dumplings out of the screen and gobble them all up!! Yummy!!
    Shanky recently posted..Lessons From Doing Nothing

  8. How wonderful to have locals show you the best food in the city. And I love the idea of a progressive meal.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Journey to the End of the World (aka That Time I Thought I Might Die in the Wilderness)

  9. YUM! The dumplings look so good (as do the cupcakes!) Thanks for passing on the Iphone photo tips as well!
    Claire recently posted..Visions Of Shopping On The Way Home

  10. Oh man, I really need to get to New York (and the US in general). I haven’t been yet and everytime I read a blog post like this it makes me want to fly on over and start backpacking!

    $1.00 for 4 dumplings? Aweeesommeeee.
    Tom recently posted..Travel Video of the Week #005 – Fantastic Scenery Time Lapse Clip

  11. I love dumplings. I can’t wait to check out the place! Local cuisines somehow have more flavor and deliciousness in their food. Thank you for sharing!
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..Estiatorio Milos & Knave: A 5 Star Evening in New York

  12. We just discovered dumplings! I know, where have we lived our whole lives? Sooo jealous you have all of New York to explore culinarily (is culinarily a word?).
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Photo of the Week: Novice Monk Painting a Dragon

  13. What a motley crew! Would have loved to have been there…
    Abi recently posted..How To Be A Pro Surfer

  14. If you want the best cupcakes in NYC, you need to go to Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Buttercup, Melissa’s in SoHo or Magnolia (cliche but true). Also, Crumbs, while a chain these days, is really great for a whole array of flavors.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Photo Friday: Vail, Colorado

  15. I would kill for some dumplings right now. 10 months is too long between dumpling sessions.

  16. Looks soooo hoops! Especially love cupcake shops!

  17. I’m a big fan of NYC cupcakes. They’re pricey, but worth every penny!

  18. Always jealous when I hear people talking about yummy cupcakes! New York definitely has lots of shops to get ‘em. I have to talk to folks who are more in the know about finding good non-dairy baked goods like cupcakes – I am allergic (severely, sniff) and so usually have to go to LifeThyme on 6th avenue for baked goods, or bake my own (which I am fairly good at…).

    Glad to hear you have been enjoying NYC’s food! Looking forward to reading more about your time in my City!
    Karl P recently posted..With this New York Diner, the more it changes, the more it stays the same?

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