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New York Trip on 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Was Memorable; Also Filled With Great Food, Fun

by Kara Kimbrough

Traveling to New York City a few days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks proved to be an unbelievable experience. My initial reasons for wanting to return were to explore the city in warmer weather after a 2019 Christmas trip and dine at more of the city's legendary restaurants. However, visiting and on Saturday, being near the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on the actual anniversary overshadowed any meal or attraction. If you haven't toured the memorial, I highly encourage you to do so. The well-done museum and grounds featuring the Reflection Pools at the footprint of the former Twin Towers is something every American should see.

That’s not to say that the restaurants at which I was fortunate enough to get in (complete with mask, vaccination card and photo I.D.) were not noteworthy. New York is known for its diverse and amazing cuisine spread through Manhattan and surrounding boroughs. Here are a few highlights of standout meals.

First, I was disappointed my reservation for Grand Central Station’s Oyster Bar were cancelled at the last minute due to the 98-year-old restaurant pushing back it’s reopening after being closed during the pandemic. It’s still on my bucket list due to its storied history as one of NYC’s legendary restaurants and outstanding cuisine.

Not to be deterred, a quick detour to Gallagher’s Steakhouse (pictured right), another legend in the city's culinary history, was an excellent choice. Opened in 1927 during Prohibition by Helen Gallagher, a former Ziegfeld Follies dancer and well-known gamblers, Gallagher’s was one of the city’s first speakeasy gathering spots for Broadway and sports stars and celebrities.

A glass-fronted meat locker showcasing what could end up being one’s steak for an upcoming meal is found in Gallagher’s front window. Elements of the restaurant’s storied past are showcased throughout the well-appointed restaurant offering fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere.

A solicitous waiter brought a plate of shrimp and lobster dumplings with soy ginger dipping sauce to quell hunger pains until dinner arrived. I’d wanted to taste dumplings after the grandmother in the movie Crazy Rich Asians made them for her family. A visit to Chinatown was not on the itinerary, so sampling these delicate, delicious small bites without leaving Midtown Manhattan was a trip highlight.

Many times, the cuisine at legendary restaurants doesn’t live up to its hype. This is not the case at Gallagher’s. My filet mignon was perfectly seasoned, tender and melted like butter with each bite. I’d planned to order a baked potato or some other ordinary side with the steak until I spotted “Gallagher’s potato chips” on the menu. After the waiter described the homemade seasoned chips with a secret recipe dipping sauce, I couldn’t resist ordering them. The crispy, fried chips dusted lightly with seasoned paired perfectly with the tangy, irresistibly delicious sauce.

Side note, the chef did share his “secret sauce” recipe with me (or at least the main ingredients) so drop me an email if you’d like it. I plan to use it as a sauce for many things other than chips.

Other standout meals included Eately's margherita pizza, a family-style dinner of spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmigiana at Tony’s di Napoli and a Bubby’s burger at the long-time Tribeca restaurant of the same name.

Memorable breakfasts consisted of loaded New York bagels filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese and super-sized waffles topped with fresh fruit and maple syrup at Hudson Market, the on-site restaurant at the Sheraton at Times Square.