The Food of the New York City Marathon
Our comprehensive guide to eating your way through the race
The event website for the New York City Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, November 1, touts the course as a “26.2-mile block party.” The Spectator Guide elaborates: “TCS New York City Marathon Sunday is a citywide thrill for more than a million fans who line the course to cheer on the 50,000 runners throughout the five boroughs. Like the runners, spectators need to prepare, plan, pace themselves, and be ready for anything.”
Who would have thought that watching people run could be so much work? If you’re planning on being one of those million spectators, don’t panic. With your best interests in mind, we’ve created this handy NYC Marathon food guide for race supporters. All of the establishments listed below are unique to the New York area and within a block or two of the marathon course. So pick your spot. Bring a lawn chair. And don’t forget to check the weather forecast. Elite women start at 9:20, elite men and the first wave start at 9:50.
7612 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11209
Subway: 77 Street on the R Train
There’s something to be said for setting up your spectator camp nearer to the start of the race. Runners are (hopefully) still fresh, enthusiastic, and convinced that voluntarily running 26.2 miles was a wise thing to do. Serving customers in the Bay Ridge section of south Brooklyn since 1961, Leske’s Bakery is about one block east of the mile three marker, not far from the point in the race where marathoners come off a fast descent of the Verrazano Bridge. Leske’s opens at 5am every day, so it’s the perfect place to grab a breakfast coffee and one of their famed Scandinavian pastries like a flaky kringle or classic Danish. Leske’s doughnuts are also highly recommended.
448 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, New York, 11205
Subway: Classon Avenue on the G Train
Apropos doughnuts, for the sadistically inclined, Dough provides an opportunity to sample the best in the city while watching thousands of hungry runners trudge on by. Right on the course route in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, near mile nine, Dough offers good coffee and freshly baked cake doughnuts in flavors like hibiscus, dulce de leche, or lemon poppy. It’s where you’ll find me on race day. So come on by and together we can yell encouraging things like, “In a another four miles you’ll almost be halfway!”
21-52 44th Drive
Queens, NY, 11101
Subway: Court Square on the G, 7 and E trains
It may be the largest New York borough in terms of area, but Queens does not feature very prominently on the marathon route. Runners are only around for about two miles right after the halfway point of the race. As they traverse this brief, melancholy section of Long Island City, they’ll be bracing themselves for the tough ascent of the Queensboro Bridge, which will take them into Manhattan. Which is why they’ll need your support. To motivate yourself to motivate others, grab a sandwich to go at the excellent “new American” LIC Market. (Recommended choice: fresh mozzarella and grilled radicchio.) Alternatively, since LIC Market is situated right on the course, you can come by early for brunch. Nothing makes for enthusiastic cheering like a few mimosas.
H&H Midtown Bagels
1551 2nd Avenue
New York, NY, 10028
Subway: 86 Street/Lexington Avenue on the 4,5,6 Trains
When in NYC, you need to eat a bagel. Obviously. One of the best places to do so is H&H Bagels, conveniently located one block away from the 1st Avenue section of the marathon, between mile 17 and mile 18. If you think running a marathon is exhausting, you should try listening to New York bagel snobs harp on about their favorite subject. They would probably tell you that this H&H is not the H&H that closed a few years ago on the Upper West Side. Though the East Side outpost came under new ownership decades ago, this is still a pretty damn good bagel and arguably the best place in the city to order the classic combo: salmon, cream cheese, tomato, red onion, capers. Open 24 hours.
113 West 116 Street
New York, NY, 10026
Subway: 116 Street on the 2,3 Trains
If I could recommend only one spot to stand and cheer for marathoners it would have to be on 5th Avenue after runners enter Manhattan for the second time. This tends to be the hardest part of the race. At this point, runners already have 21 miles in their legs, but haven’t yet entered Central Park, so they don’t have the psychological edge of knowing that the finish line is (relatively) near. Also, 5th Ave is a gradual uphill. Nearby, about one block west of the mile 22 marker, you’ll find Amy Ruth’s–a Harlem classic that specializes in southern soul food. That means fried catfish, baked mac and cheese, cheesy grits, and other items that shouldn’t be on anyone’s pre-race menu. But what you really want to order here is the fried chicken and waffles or, as it’s listed on the menu, the Rev. Al Sharpton. Take-out available.