If you thought it was enough for New Yorkers that we have many of the nation’s finest restaurants located right here in Manhattan, you’d be mistaken. Our love of food is so great that we’re always looking for another reason to try something new.
So as the rest of the country fusses over their beach-ready body in the Spring, New Yorkers are making ample room in their agendas for a number of food festivals that celebrate everything from the humble hot dog to pairing world-class wines with gourmet foods prepared by your favorite celebrity chefs. And if a visit to NYC is in the cards for you this Spring or Summer, be sure to clear some space in your itinerary for one of these tasty events.
Don’t let the name “Hell’s Kitchen” fool you: the variety and quality of cuisine you will find in this neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan is positively heavenly. And over the last decade, Ninth Avenue has become the go-to block for great food of any ethnicity you can imagine.
And each year near the end of May (on the weekend after Mother’s Day), the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival lets you sample the avenue’s best, from Esposito Pork Shop’s chorizo sandwiches, to spicy gumbo from Chantale’s Cajun Kitchen. Among the many national cuisines represented at this two-day street festival that takes place on Ninth Avenue between 42nd and 57th Streets: Argentinian, Brazilian, Cuban, Dominican, Ethiopian, Haitian, Indian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Moroccan, Pakistani, Polish, Puerto Rican, Peruvian, Senegalese, Sicilian, Southern, Spanish, Thai, Trinidadian, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese food. And of course you need something to do while downing all that delicious food, so the fair features plenty of live entertainment, including Egyptian belly dancing, German folk dancing, and Arabian scarf dancing. And take advantage of the the near Bike and Roll location in Battery Park on Pier A, doing a little exercising before deciding what to eat is a great way to wet your appetite.
A few weeks later, we turn our attention to that all-American summer pastime: barbecuing (we know, it seems like an unlikely fit in the big city, but there are enough Southern transplants in NYC to cultivate a taste for pulled pork and brisket!). And at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park, you can sample Southern-inspired fare by some of the country’s top “pitmasters” from Texas, North Carolina, and Alabama, among others. This free event takes place the second weekend of June, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Plates of everything from ribs, sausage, and brisket are just $8. Southern sides and desserts are even less. There’s also a beer garden, and live performances by emerging and established rock, blues, and soul artists throughout the afternoon.
If your belt still fits, the Taste of Times Square takes place that same week, and is your chance to try some of the finest foods featured on New York’s famous “Restaurant Row.” This annual outdoor food and music festival takes over the crossroads of the world on Monday, June 11, 2012 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on 46th Street between Broadway and Ninth Avenue.
There you can sample delicious cuisine from some of NYC’s favorite restaurants, including Junior’s, Barbetta, B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, Ruth’s Chris, Havana Central, Firebird, Carmine’s, Toloache, Virgil’s Real BBQ, and Le Rivage, among others. So if you’re thinking of visiting any of Times Square’s main attractions — including Madame Tussauds Wax Museum or Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Times Square — why not schedule them around a tasty sampling of New York’s finest foods?
New York is practically synonymous with the hot dog and every year on July 4th, Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest promises to be the most extreme food-centric event in NYC.
Broadcast live on ESPN, this international event has taken place every Independence Day since 1916. An estimated 40,000 people make the trek to Coney Island to see the stomach-stretching feats of such competitors as American Joey Chestnut, who holds the record for eating 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
Twice a year, New Yorkers and visitors alike clamor at the chance to enjoy the city’s most covetable cuisine at affordable prix fixe prices. Restaurant Week (which usually runs much longer than seven days) takes place in January/February and June/July, giving us all a chance to try a restaurant that may normally be out of our budget.
Throughout the city, as many as 300 participating restaurants offer a three-course lunch for just $24.07 and dinner for $35. And while the dining options will vary from year to year, you can bet many of the city’s culinary gems will open their doors for a few weeks of affordable fare. Past years have seen such highly rated restaurants as Cafe Boulud, Delmonico’s, Le Cirque, Maze by Gordon Ramsay, Morimoto, and Nobu, among many, many others.
And one of the most anticipated new food festivals in NYC is the Food Network’s Wine & Food Festival in the fall. Featuring internationally acclaimed celebrity chefs and Food Network stars like Alton Brown, Paula Deen and Guy Fieri, this four-day festival draws more than 50,000 hungry New Yorkers and visitors to events around the city throughout the second weekend in October.
Past Wine & Food Festival events have included Meatball Madness, a head-to-head competition between renowned chefs hosted by Giada de Laurentiis and the annual Burger Bash, as well as culinary demonstrations and educational wine and food pairing seminars led by the industry’s biggest names.
So whatever your tastes, they’re bound to be satisfied by one of New York’s many food festivals. Too bad there are only three meals in a day!