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Wandering Chef: 48 Hours in NYC with Alain Ducasse

This month, celebrated French chef Alain Ducasse has published his shortlist of the best eats in New York—100 places based on his decades-long relationship with the city. We love the wide range of experiences represented in his colorful roster, from the haute temples of gastronomy (Le Bernardin in Manhattan) to the laidback joints (Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitana on Coney Island). For visitors to NYC with limited time who need the highlight reel, we pitched the following challenge to chef Ducasse: what would the perfect 48-hour foodie tour of Manhattan and Brooklyn look like? Read on for the itinerary he created for AFAR—and then bring your appetite to the Big Apple.

DAY 1: MANHATTAN

Breakfast 
“One of my favorite breakfast spots, which is the essence of New York City in my opinion, is Russ & Daughters. Back when J’aime New York first came out, the café didn’t exist, so I would just stop by the Houston Street shop and buy a bagel with cream cheese and lox. They have some of the best smoked fish I’ve ever tried.”

Coffee
“I like Cafe Integral in SoHo. It’s an original boutique that marries coffee with art and fashion, and a perfect representation of the neighborhood it’s in. The coffee is delicious—it’s made from beans that owner Cesar Vega sources directly from farmers in Nicaragua. I usually go for the espresso, but the drip coffee is also tasty."

Lunch
“When I am in New York, my schedule can get quite hectic, so Le Bernardin is a perfect spot for lunch as it’s near my restaurant, Benoit. The atmosphere in the lounge is more relaxed than in the main dining room, and the fish is consistently fresh and always beautifully prepared by my friend Eric Ripert."

Kitchen Arts & Letters, Ducasse's favorite cookbook store in Manhattan.

Shop
"Kitchen Arts & Letters is a store I could spend hours in, browsing the stacks of new and out-of-print cookbooks. They were also one of the first shops in New York City to carry my cookbooks."

Snack
“When I’m in any given city, I enjoy discovering bakeries and trying different types of breads. Jim Lahey is one of New York City’s prized bakers, and when I stop by Sullivan Street Bakery, I always try to walk away with one of his signature, Italian-style loaves. The sourdough pullman is a favorite but you can’t go wrong with any of them.” 

Dinner
I really like what Ignacio Mattos and Thomas Carter are doing at Estela. The menu is vegetable-driven and unfussy, yet consistently delicious. The tartare is unlike any other, and they also have a very diverse and affordable wine list. I’m eager to try their new place, Cafe Altro Paradiso. Otherwise, if I’m in the mood for really good house-made sausages or a burger, I'll go pay my friend Daniel Boulud a visit over at DBGB Kitchen & Bar on Bowery. He has an amazing selection of beers on draft, and the energy in that space is always great."

Dessert
The ice cream and sorbets at Il Laboratorio del Gelato are outstanding. The nearly 50 flavors on display are incredibly pure, and the level of sweetness in each flavor is exactly right. The plum sorbet and fig gelato are standouts. I’ll come here in the summer for an afternoon snack or to end the night on a sweet note.” 

Nightcap
“Even though I spend a lot of time catching up with my team at Benoit when I’m in New York, it’s also the perfect spot for a nightcap, as the hotel I stay in is a couple blocks from the restaurant. Before calling it a night, I'll sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine recommended by my wine director, Guillem Kerambrun; usually it’s something new that he’s excited about.” 

 

DAY 2: BROOKLYN

Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn.

Breakfast
If I’m spending the day in Brooklyn, I’ll start in the south with a slice of pie and coffee at Four & Twenty Blackbirds for a more indulgent breakfast. The two Elsen sisters make a delicious salted caramel apple pie, served with a bit of whipped cream to offset the sweetness of the filling.” 

Lunch
“For lunch, I might head to the original Mile End Delicatessen in Boerum Hill and have their classic Reuben with corned beef, Swiss cheese and house-made sauerkraut on toasted pumpernickel, or their smoked meat sandwich, with beef brisket that’s cured and smoked the Canadian way." 

Shop
Sahadi’s is a destination and an address all New Yorkers should know about. The Middle Eastern shop has been around since the 1890’s and boasts nuts, seeds, dried fruit and flours in bulk, more than 30 varieties of olives, as well as hard-to-find spices. When I’m in Brooklyn, I’ll go in to peruse the aisles and see what kinds of new spices and products they carry.” 

Afternoon snack
“I love the atmosphere at Brooklyn Farmacy. The original pharmaceutical cases and penny tiles take you back to the early 20th century and make anyone who walks by want to come in and stay for awhile. If I’m in the area, I’ll most likely stop in for an egg cream or one of their house-made ice cream floats.” 

A sundae with house-made ice cream at Brooklyn Farmacy.

Dinner
Andrew Tarlow’s Diner is one-of-a-kind. While the space is reminiscent of a classic, old-school diner, the menu is forward-thinking and changes daily. They have a great burger. I also love how they scribble the menu on the paper that lines the tables."

Nightcap
After dinner, I might swing by Hotel Delmano and ask the bartender to surprise me with a cocktail made with bourbon—something both bitter and sour. With one large ice cube.”

>>NEXT: Best Museum Restaurants Around the Globe