Foodtripping In The USA

20 January 2016 | 4:39 pm | Stephanie Liew

Our Eat/Drink Editor Stephanie Liew visited the USA for the first time and ate some food and took some pics in LA, SF and NYC. You can find more at and on the 'Gram.


In-N-Out (LA): This was the first meal I had when I landed and man, was it satisfying. It feels fresh but junky at the same time? The fries are nothing special though, and ordering the 'animal fries' (topped with grilled onion, melted cheese and secret sauce) doesn't really improve them. Love the yellow peppers.

Umami Burger (LA): Pretty dang good gourmet burgers, but fairly pricey. Try it if you're in the mood for a burger with a twist. The sweet potato fries with four kinds of dipping sauce are a must. Oh, and the cheese-filled giant tater tots. Finish with an ice cream sandwich.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

K-BBQ burger from Umami Burger

Shake Shack (NYC): Was so disappointing. Soggy and dry at the same time — how? Flavourless. Doesn't hold a candle to In-N-Out!

Wendy's (NYC): I'd hold this in the same regard as Maccas — when you really feel like it, it hits the spot. Good for a snack. Great nuggets. Decent milkshake ("Frosty"). 


Jang Ga Ne (LA): One of my top five on this trip. A cute "mom and pop" restaurant in Koreatown. I'm used to Korean restaurants in Australia serving up about three plates of banchan (small complimentary side dishes) but here they gave us nine - all of them delicious! Order the pork bulgogi and the beef short rib soup (galbitang).

Galbitang from Jang Ga Ne; kimchi fried rice from Kinjo

Kinjo Brooklyn (NYC): Fusion bar and restaurant. Great vibe for hangs or dates. I went here a couple of times because it was around the corner from my accommodation, and my faves were kimchi fried rice with pork belly, miso eggplant, and the gluten free Korean fried chicken wings with ginger soy glaze and chipotle molasses. Their excellent cocktail menu items are mostly based on sake, shochu, and Japanese whiskies; if you like a bit of spice we recommend the Habanero Sidecar (lemon, cognac, bauchant, habanero sugar).

Momofuku Noodle Bar (NYC): I don't know if this lives up to the hype but if you don't mind the price tag it's worth going here for the brisket bun. The Momofuku Ramen isn't traditional but a meaty (yet not heavy/greasy) broth and excellent noodles makes it overall an enjoyable experience.

Brisket buns from Momofuku Noodle Bar


Lobster rolls (NYC): I had two — one from Littleneck Outpost, which seemed a little more bang for your buck, with substantial lobster bits. The other was from chain Luke's Lobster — whatever they flavour the lobster with was addictive as hell.

Splash Cafe (Pismo Beach): Apparently one of the best clam chowders (served in a bread bowl) in Cali. Admittedly, I hadn't tried clam chowder before, but it was incredible. The creaminess, the texture, the chew of the clams! The crusty, chowder-soaked bread!

Clam chowder from Splash Cafe; lobster roll from Littleneck Outpost

Sotto Mare (SF): Great mussels and pasta, and a homey, bustling vibe. Tried the chowder here and it was good but came nowhere near Splash Cafe's.

Mussels from Sotte Mare


Nick's Cafe (LA): Popular spot for eggs and ham/bacon (plus sides) and biscuits and gravy. Cool retro diner look. Huge portions. 

Patra Burgers on Sunset (LA): Not to be confused with Patra's Charbroiled Burgers. Who knew a breakfast burrito of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash brown, gooey cheese and hot sauce could taste like this? You can get Vietnamese coffee and tea here, too.

Miriam Restaurant (LA): Happening brunch spot. We ordered the shakshuka (served with hummus), the Israeli Breakfast and the Mediterranean Crispy Dough with spicy harissa and shredded tomatoes. Definitely in my top five meals of the trip.

Mediterranean Crispy Dough from Miriam Restaurant; Cali Scramble Special from Nick's Cafe


Doughnuts (NYC): Only tried from two places; a shit effort on my behalf. Dough, which I saw all over the place, offered big, cheap, bready doughnuts that didn't have too much glaze - the dulce de leche and the lemon poppyseed were highlights. Then there was Doughnut Plant, which reminded me of Melbourne's Shortstop: cream-filled cashew and orange blossom doughseed, I will never forget you.

Rice To Riches (NYC): Like an ice cream shop, but with rice pudding. So much rice pudding. And really daggy/borderline offensive 'joke' signs all over the place (??). The pudding itself was nice... for about five spoonfuls until you get sick of it.

Tartine Bakery (SF): Famous little bakery. Lines out the door. Fell in love with their Morning Bun and frangipani croissant.

Frangipane croissant from Tartine Bakery


Bergen Bagels (NYC): Americans do bagels better. They're bigger and softer and the choice of toppings is outrageous.

The Bagel Story at Gansevoort Market (NYC): Awesome bougie indoor food market in the Meat Market area. The cheapest thing in it was the bagels. Got a blueberry one with fig, goats cheese and honey and it powered me across the nearby High Line.

Misc American 

Fette Sau (NYC): Barbecued meats by the pound. The St Louis style pork ribs just fell apart and the smoky brisket induced delighted groans, but the hero was perhaps the burnt end baked beans. Great spot for American whisky, too.

Fette Sau; pumpkin pie from Sweet Chick

Sweet Chick (NYC): Flawless fried chicken (too juicy to handle! The crunch on that skin!) on a waffle of your choice (I chose mushroom and rosemary), served with three flavours of whipped butter (honey lemon, berry and herb) and hot (both spice and temperature) honey. Finish with the pumpkin pie.

S'Mac (NYC): Mac'n'cheese galore. It was a bit too much, really. Wish I'd tried one really solid one instead of sampling all the weird flavours.


Guelaguetza (LA): Known for their mole sauce. Extensive menu of Oaxacan fare. A band played the night I was there! Family friendly environment was pretty cute. Warning: you think you're ordering a regular cocktail and then they bring out a glass the size of your head.

Carnitas from Guelaguetza

Chipotle: Confession: I went to Chipotle and I liked it. It's quite cheap and fresh, and the tortilla chips rule.

Tacombi (NYC): Unless you're really into the idea of being served out of a VW bus, inside a garage-looking space, give this one a miss. Not the worst but totally forgettable.  


Roberta's (NYC): A long wait for this place was pretty worth it once we had a taste of their three-cheese pizza, the Cheesus Christ - with a side of honey that cut through it all perfectly.

Cheesus Christ from Roberta's Pizza

Coffee (counts as food, right?)

The good places: Intellegentsia Cafe (LA), Bluestone Lane (NYC — Aussie cafe), Coffee Shop (SF, very trendy and tiny), WTF (NYC — turned out to be our local so I have a soft spot, plus they do tasty sangas), Gimme Coffee (NYC — although I had a special drink here, 'A Touch Of Grey': espresso steamed milk, earl grey simple syrup, coconut oil. It was the sugar hit I was hoping for). Aussie cafes were generally reliable — or just less risky.