Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct 13, 2009 - Cooking - 384 pages

New York is the greatest restaurant city the world has ever seen.

In Appetite City, the former New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes leads us on a grand historical tour of New York's dining culture. Beginning with the era when simple chophouses and oyster bars dominated the culinary scene, he charts the city's transformation into the world restaurant capital it is today. Appetite City takes us on a unique and delectable journey, from the days when oysters and turtle were the most popular ingredients in New York cuisine, through the era of the fifty-cent French and Italian table d'hôtes beloved of American "Bohemians," to the birth of Times Square—where food and entertainment formed a partnership that has survived to this day.

Enhancing his tale with more than one hundred photographs, rare menus, menu cards, and other curios and illustrations (many never before seen), Grimes vividly describes the dining styles, dishes, and restaurants succeeding one another in an unfolding historical panorama: the deluxe ice cream parlors of the 1850s, the boisterous beef-and-beans joints along Newspaper Row in the 1890s, the assembly-line experiment of the Automat, the daring international restaurants of the 1939 World's Fair, and the surging multicultural city of today. By encompassing renowned establishments such as Delmonico's and Le Pavillon as well as the Bowery restaurants where a meal cost a penny, he reveals the ways in which the restaurant scene mirrored the larger forces shaping New York, giving us a deliciously original account of the history of America's greatest city.

Rich with incident, anecdote, and unforgettable personalities, Appetite City offers the dedicated food lover or the casual diner an irresistible menu of the city's most savory moments.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Harlan879 - LibraryThing

I was expecting a lot more out of this book. In particular, more "why" and "to what end" and "with what consequences." Instead, Grimes' treatment of the history of NYC restaurants is, for the most ... Read full review

Appetite city: a culinary history of New York

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Former New York Times restaurant critic (1999-2003) Grimes chronicles New York City's colorful culinary history from the early 1800s to the present. He notes the first takeout restaurant, the Eastern ... Read full review


1 The City Without a Restaurant
The New York Feast
3 New York on the Half Shell
The Delmonicos Story
5 New York Becomes a Restaurant City
6 The Melting Pot
7 The Dawn of the Golden Age
8 The Birth of Times Square
12 The Restaurant Gets Small
13 Red Banquettes and Kisses on the Ceiling
14 The Baum Years
15 California Comes Calling
16 With Knife and Fork in New York
Selected Bibliography

9 The Party That Never Stopped
10 The Future Is Now
11 Decline and Fall

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About the author (2009)

William Grimes was the restaurant critic for The New York Times from 1999 to 2003. He is the author of Straight Up or On the Rocks (NPP, 2001) and My Fine Feathered Friend (NPP, 2002), and the coauthor of The New York Times Guide to New York City Restaurants 2004.

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