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David Burtka
Photograph: Courtesy of David Burtka

David Burtka on his favorite NYC restaurants and things to do with kids

Plus: where Burtka and husband Neil Patrick Harris go on date nights.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

David Burtka clearly knows his way around New York—as proven by his quick answers regarding top destinations all around town, from restaurants to cultural pursuits and supermarkets.

But Burtka, a professional actor and chef, has a lot more to say, especially when offering tips about cooking in the sorts of small kitchens that define life in the city.

“Delegate stuff!” he says while discussing holiday prep. “And maybe don’t invite that many people? If you have a table that only fits four or six, it might be hard to have everyone over.”

While gearing up for a collaboration with Arm & Hammer Laundry and the premiere of his new Hulu show Drag Me To Dinner, which he created and stars in with husband of eight years Neil Patrick Harris as a way to combine their devotion to drag and cooking, Burtka discloses his favorite pre-Broadway show meals, go-to spots to grab last-minute Thanksgiving fare and where he and Harris like to go on date nights.

The one thing to keep in mind when hosting Thanksgiving dinner in an NYC apartment:

"The best thing to do is to not try and tackle a whole turkey. Maybe just get a turkey breast? Because there's usually no room for the entire bird in the oven. Also: have people bring stuff that can be left out at room temperature."

The three must-have kitchen items that New Yorkers should invest in:

"I think everyone should have a small Japanese mandolin that fits in your drawer very easily, a really great chef's knife and a regular pot that you can use for anything."

On whether it’s preferable to have dinner before or after a Broadway show:

"It depends. If it's a three-hour-long show, you don't want to wait until late and eat a huge meal before you go to bed. If it's a short show, though, we'll go to Totto Ramen in the Theater District, which is great after a show. Bar Centrale is also always fun after a show, where there is a theater-based crowd. If eating before a production, Joe Allen and Orso are my go-to’s.”

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka
Photograph: Shutterstock

His favorite date spots in New York City and the Hamptons, where the couple also owns a home 

"We don't like to repeat and, when we go on dates, we like to try new restaurants. In New York, you can eat out every single night and not repeat a single restaurant. We just hosted the Michelin Star Awards so we're on a star crawl. We just went to Cosme, which is fantastic, and Attaboy. I'm dying to go back to Via Carota and Carbone is always a fun night out. A staple in our house is getting Sugarfish delivered. Thai Diner is also a great takeout place.

When we're in the Hamptons, I like to cook. Throughout the year, I'm canning and preserving things in our garden, so I cook when we're there. If we go out, we like The Palm, East Hampton Grill and, in the summer, Le Bilboquet."

His favorite supermarket in New York:

"I'm biased because I live right next to Eataly so I'm so spoiled but Whole Foods does a great job and being so close to the Union Square Greenmarket is also great. Supporting your local supermarket is very important."

Where to grab Thanksgiving fare to-go if not preparing it at home:

"Little Pie Company has great pies but you have to pre-order them. Places like Eataly and Butterfield Market also have a lot of pre-packaged meals. You can also grab different sides so you don't feel like you have to cook everything yourself."

His favorite things to do around town with 12-year-old kids Gideon and Harper:

“We had some traditions when they were younger, like going to the Christmas Spectacular or seeing a Broadway play. There are a lot of things to do with kids, especially around the holidays, like walking the Highline and seeing the tree. We’re so lucky to live here.”

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