Taste Test: NYC Summer Food

I have been a New York resident for over a year, yet there are a zillion things I still need to see, try, and most important eat. Lately, I’ve been on a mission to try the buzzy foods around town. From a ramen burger to pretzel ice cream, here’s how six weird snacks actually stack up…

The order: Original Ramen Burger, $10 (pictured above)

The verdict: The beef patty is slathered in a soy-based sauce, topped with scallions, arugula and salty cheese, then sandwiched between two fried ramen noodle “buns.” The noodles absorb the flavors of everything inside, so the buns get tastier as you eat. The Japanese-American snack was pretty good, but as my friend said, “I’d rather be eating a bowl of ramen or a hamburger.” Although the Ramen Burger debuted in 2013, there are still always crazy lines to get one. It’s worth a small wait, maybe one with less than twenty people.

Where to find one: Ramen Burger at the Smorgasburg in Williamsburg on Saturdays or in Prospect Park on Sundays.

Taste Test: NYC Summer Food

The order: The Munchies Ice Cream, $3 to $8

The verdict: I’m a big fan of sweet and salty combos, and The Munchies takes this to a new level. The pretzel-infused ice cream is mixed with crushed-up potato chips, Ritz crackers, pretzels and mini M&Ms. My roommates and I discovered an Ample Hills location a mile from our apartment, and now — about once a week — we’ll ask each other “Do you want to go on a walk?” Knowing that “the walk” will be us traveling to get two big scoops of The Munchies.

Where to find it: Ample Hills ice cream shops in Brooklyn and Manhattan. You can also order pints online.

Taste Test: NYC Summer Food

The order: Spaghetti in a cone, $9 to $13

The verdict: The tiny Italian restaurant Spaghetti Incident serves nine of their house spaghettis to go, in transportable paper cones. (Their website touts that the cone helps your fork better twirl the pasta.) I tried the “Chitarra,” made with homemade mozzarella, fragrant basil, chunky tomato sauce and perfectly al dente spaghetti. It tasted incredibly fresh, and the sturdy cone made the pasta easy to carry. But a couple minutes in, I ended up sitting on the curb anyway (slurping noodles and walking is trickier than it appears). Next time, I’ll take my cone straight to a park to enjoy the pasta in its full al fresco glory.

Where to find it: Spaghetti Incident on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Taste Test: NYC Summer Food

The order: Ginger Slush with Caramelized Pineapple, $5

The verdict: Unlike the neon Slurpees at 7-Eleven, Kelvin’s Slushes are made with all-natural ingredients. There are two base flavors to choose from: Arnold Palmer (an iced tea and lemonade mix) and ginger, as well as a handful of fruit purées to mix in, like white peach, pink guava or mango. I tried the ginger base, which had a subtle spice, and the caramelized pineapple purée added a smoky flavor. The drink was light, tart and not too sweet. Exactly what I wanted on a muggy summer afternoon.

Where to find it: Kelvin Slush at the Smorgasburg in Williamsburg on Saturdays or in Prospect Park on Sundays, or at a bar that carries their products, like The Lobby Bar at the Ace Hotel or Freehold Brooklyn.

Taste Test: NYC Summer Food

The order: Matcha Raindrop Cake, $8

The verdict: Have you seen this raindrop cake around? It’s made from spring water and a vegan gelatin made from seaweed, and served with a matcha sauce and soybean powder. The texture is jiggly, and each bite melts in your mouth. Darren Wong, the creator, describes it as eating a “refreshing raindrop.” And if that tastes like plain water, he’s right. So, unless you’re looking for a cool Instagram photo, I’d skip this spot.

Where to find it: Round K Cafe on Manhattan’s the Lower East Side or Raindrop Cake at the Smorgasburg in Williamsburg on Saturdays or in Prospect Park on Sundays.

Taste Test: NYC Summer Food

The order: Pork Belly Taco, $9

The verdict: When I took my first bite, I actually sighed, “Oh, man…” out loud. The taco is held together by a buttery paratha (an Indian flatbread that their website calls a “lovechild of the tortilla and croissant”) and stuffed with tender pork belly, pickled red cabbage slaw and chipotle mayo. It’s rich, satisfying and a little bit greasy. If this isn’t the perfect hangover cure, I don’t know what is. Their Manhattan location also offers five other parathas, including lamb shoulder, chicken chorizo and tofu.

Where to find it: Goa Taco on Manhattan’s Lower East Side or at the Smorgasburg in Williamsburg on Saturdays or in Prospect Park on Sundays.

What delicious foods have you been eating this summer? Anything on your list to try?

P.S. 9 crazy things about NYC, our favorite Brooklyn spots and how to not look like a tourist.

(Photos by Stella Blackmon, who apparently loves black shoes.)