New York City

29 Mar

The Empire State Building

When I go to New York, I stay up later, stand on my feet more and eat more decadent food. I find the pulse of the city infectious and it gives me energy I didn’t know I had. While I often pay for it with a cold by the time I get home, I never regret taking full advantage of my trip to the NYC.

Super Secret Spots:

PDT

My fiancé loves this hidden bar inside gourmet hot dog shop, Crif Dogs. Access to PDT, which stands for Please Don’t Tell, is through a vintage

PDT is inside this gourmet hot dog shop

phone booth. You pick up the phone to speak to the hostess. If there’s space for you, they’ll let you through the back of the booth. It’s a trip! The sexy speakeasy serves classic cocktails and an abbreviated menu from next door. This bar has gotten pretty popular, so reservations are recommended.

113 St. Marks Pl.
New York, NY 10009
212-614-0386
www.pdtnyc.com

Kuma Inn

This restaurant on a nondescript Lower East Side street serves absolutely delicious Filipino Thai fusion. Located on the second floor of an apartment building, it’s a bit of a hidden gem. Dishes are served tapas style and are very affordable. It’s BYOB with a small corkage fee. We grabbed beers at a mini market around the corner, but feel free to bring sake or a bottle of wine. I recommend reservations. It’s a pretty small place.

113 Ludlow St. 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10002
Between Delancey and Rivington’212-353-8866
www.kumainn.com

Milk and Honey

This supper secret speakeasy is typically members only, but through some persistence, (and graveling) we were able to get in for a pre-dinner drink. Milk and Honey takes the prohibition theme seriously. There’s no menu, you just tell the waitress what type of spirit and flavors you like and the bartender will whip up one of the most expertly mixed cocktails you’ll ever have. Don’t do what I did and ask for vodka (apparently it wasn’t served during prohibition and adds no flavor to your drink so M&H doesn’t have it). I fear revealing the location just wouldn’t be right, but through online searching my fiancé and I were able to find contact info, so we encourage you to do the same.

Mexican style corn at La Esquina

La Esquina

This upscale Mexican restaurant is located deep inside New York’s iconic Corner Deli. Reservations must be made three weeks to the day of your desired time. When you get there, you’ll talk to a bouncer standing by an unmarked door in the deli. They’ll lead you downstairs, past the kitchen to La Esquina, the dark, sexy Mexican style brasserie. Margaritas are delicious as is the fresh, authentic cuisine. I love the grilled corn with cotija cheese and lime.

114 Kenmare (Between Kenmare and Lafayette)
New York, NY 10012
646-613-7100
www.esquinanyc.com

Angel’s Share

Tucked away inside a Japanese restaurant, this elegant bar is not easy to find but well worth a visit. There’s a strict no standing policy, so you’ll only be allowed in if seats are open. I recommend going early in the evening or mid week when it’s not so busy. If you get sat, hopefully it will be in one of the booths by the big window where you can stare at the hustle and bustle of the city. An absolutely ideal spot on a cold winter night!

6 Stuyvesant St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10003
212-777-5415

Coffee/ Bakeries:

Baked

Baked in Red Hook

Getting to this bakery deep in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood is a bit of a trek, but worth it. Specializing in updates of old classics, their cupcakes, cookies and cakes (like the Sweet and Salty, layers of chocolate cake with salted caramel and chocolate buttercream) are all delicious. The Baked Brownie has been called the best by many, including Oprah. The Baked franchise also has two excellent cookbooks.

359 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
718-222-0345
www.bakednyc.com

Jack’s Coffee

Jack’s serves delicious fair trade, organic coffee on an adorable West Village Street. The space is small, but if you’re able to snag a table, it’s a great place to read the paper and grab your morning cup a Joe. The shop also serves delicious homemade pastries. The chocolate chip cookies are amazing!

138 West 10th St.
New York, NY 10014
212-929-08-21
www.jacksstirbrew.com

Momofuku Milk Bar

David Chang’s New York City restaurants like the Ssam Bar and Ko have a cult like following, but my favorite Chang establishment is the Momofuku Milk Bar. This dessert haven is a kind of gourmet Dairy Queen with unusual soft-serve flavors like cereal milk, and candy bar pie. The cookies and cakes are also delicious. I highly recommend the banana cake, a heavenly concoction of banana cream, hazelnut crunch and fudge.

207 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10003
212-254-3500
www.momofuku.com

Billy’s Bakery

Magnolia seems to get all the buzz, but I prefer Billy’s in Chelsea.  It has a similar old-fashioned feel and serves delicious classic American baked goods.  The cupcakes are extremely moist and I love the simple but well executed flavors like red velvet and banana with cream cheese frosting.

184 9th Ave. (Between 21rst and 22nd)
New York, NY 10011
212-647-9956
www.billysbakerynyc.com

Lunch/Dinner:

Taim

Taim's storefront in the West Village

This tiny shop in the West Village is all vegetarian and serves the best falafel sandwich. The hummus is pitch perfect and you can’t go wrong with any of their three different flavors of falafel. Have it in a pita or forgo the carbs and get a platter with a selection of Taim’s delicious salads. It’s cash only and there’s just a handful of seats at the counter. Taim also recently started a food truck that can often be found in Midtown Manhattan. Follow them on twitter to get the info on their latest location.

222 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014
212-691-6101
www.taimfalafel.com

Pearl Oyster Bar

Being from the West Coast, I thought a lobster roll was some sort of sushi until a recent trip to New York. I now know it is one of the most delicious things on earth and I can’t imagine anyone does it better than the Pearl Oyster Bar. They’re lobster roll is served open faced on a buttery brioche roll and piled high with fresh lobster salad. At $26 the price is steep, but rest assured they won’t skimp on the lobster and it’s big enough to share. Everything else at this Greenwich Village staple from oysters to clam chowder is delicious and while we did not have dessert, we’ve heard great things about the hot fudge sundae.

18 Cornelia St.
New York, NY 10014
212-691-8211
www.pearloysterbar.com

Outside the Breslin

The Breslin

This upscale gastro-pub at the hip Ace Hotel recently earned its first Michelin star. Once you try dishes like pork belly and mash, it’s easy to see why. The food is interesting yet comforting and always a bit decadent. I love the thrice cooked chips, basically a twice baked potato in French fry form.

16 W. 29th St.
New York, NY 10001
646-214-5788
www.thebreslin.com

Pulino’s Pizza

It’s taken me a while to find a wood-fired oven pizza place in New York that I think is on par with my faves on the West Coast, but this foots the bill. Like other Keith McNally restaurants (Pastis, Balthazar) Pulino’s really packs them in. Don’t be turned off by the huge neon sign out-front, the ambience inside is warm and inviting. I love the various antipasti platters served on wood cutting boards and the margherita pizza with prosciutto.

282 Bowery
New York, NY 10012
212-226-1966
www.pulinosny.com

Freeman’s

I love the location of this restaurant, tucked back at the end of an alley in the Lower East Side. Freeman’s specializes in seasonal rustic American cuisine and serves delicious entrees like roast chicken with crispy fried smashed fingerling potatoes and salsa verde. The restaurant is also popular for weekend brunch and only takes reservations for parties of six or more.

End of Freeman Alley between the Bowery and Chrystie
New York, NY 10002
212-420-0012
www.freemansrestaurant.com

Minetta Tavern

This Keith McNally owned bistro is sceney and spendy, but I love the history and the old school ambience. The Minetta Tavern originally opened in 1937 and was reportedly frequented for everyone from Ernest Hemingway to E.E. Cummings. The restaurant was renovated in 2008, and while it’s now much more shiny and upscale, the red booths and black and white floor still seem to harken back to the right era. Parisian steakhouse meets New York tavern, steak is really the specialty here but the Black Label Burger is also amazing. With prime dry-aged beef and caramelized onions, it’s probably the most decadent burger you’ll ever have.

113 MacDougal St. (Between Bleeker and W. 3rd St.)
New York, NY 10012
212-475-3850
www.minettatavernny.com

Café Gitane

This cute café in the Jane Hotel is a rarity in New York, amazing food, great ambience and very reasonable prices. The food is French-Moroccan fusion. People come for the couscous, which is layered with hummus and stacked high. It’s decadent and delicious. I love the waiter’s black and white striped shirts and the beautifully restored spaces low key, yet hip atmosphere.

242 Mott St. (Between Houston St. and Prince St.)
Ne York, NY 10012
212-334-9552
website under construction

The Standard Hotel

The Standard

The uber swank Standard in New York’s Meatpacking district has two restaurants great for grabbing dinner or just drinks. The Standard Grill has a raw bar and yummy drinks like the Penny Drop, a concoction of vodka, ginger and lime. Next door, the Biergarten is perfect for getting rowdy. The large outdoor space under the High Line has German sausages, beer and pretzels and would be the perfect place to station yourself on a warm New York night.

848 Washington St.
New York, NY 10014
212-645-4100 (call for reservations at the Standard Grill)
www.standardhotels.com

Markets:

Chelsea Market

I would recommend just about any eatery in this indoor market in New York’s Meatpacking District. From crepes, to books to groceries, Chelsea Market has it all. You could easily do your shopping at the various gourmet markets or go for breakfast or lunch. Some of my favorite places include Sarabeth’s Kitchen, Friedman’s Lunch, and Bar Suzette.

75 9th Ave. (Between 15th and 16th Streets)
New York, NY 10011
www.chelseamarket.com

Eataly

The latest brainchild of super chef Mario Batali, Eataly is a gourmet Italian market with a unique concept. Each section also includes it’s own restaurant. Eataly is a feast for the senses and can be a bit overwhelming, but is a must do for anyone who loves Italian food. In addition to having amazing eat in restaurants which serve anything from pizza to seafood, there are great take away items like hard to find pastas, baked goods and Italian wine and beer.

200 5th Ave.
New York, NY 10010
212-229-2560
www.eatalyny.com

Stay:

Ace Hotel

Check-in at the Ace Hotel

Located neat the Theater District and Macy’s, the Ace is in a great central location.  The rates are cheap for New York and while the rooms are small, they’re well thought out and some even have views of the Empire State building. When you stay at an Ace, you really won’t want to spend too much time in your room anyways. You’ll have too much fun hanging in the plush lobby. Filled with comfy couches it’s sort of Hogwarts meets hipster. The Breslin restaurant, Stumptown Coffee Roasters and No. 7 Sub Shop are all in crawling distance. The Ace is also home to an Open Ceremony, a hip New York boutique famous for collaborating with different designers.

20 W. 29th St.
New York, NY 10001
212-679-2222
www.acehotel.com

Jane Hotel

With rooms starting at $99 a night for singles with shared baths, the Jane is very affordable for New York. The hotel is in a great location in the quaint West Village right next to the Hudson River. Rooms are inspired by ships cabins, an homage to the hotel’s original purpose as a hotel for sailors. Built in the early 1900’s, the Jane is rich in history. In 1912, the survivors of the Titanic reportedly stayed there until the end of the American inquiry into the ship’s sinking. Like the Ace, the hotel’s bar and lobby, known as the Ballroom, is a cool hangout complete with comfy couches, Persian rugs and a fireplace.

113 Jane St.
New York, NY 10014
212-924-6700
www.thejanenyc.com

Do:

The exterior of the Guggenheim Museum

Visit a Modernist Masterpiece: The Guggenheim

Considered one of the 20th centuries most important architectural landmarks, the Guggenheim is just as much a work of art as the pieces of art it houses. The museum was completed in 1959 and designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. While Wright did not live to see its completion, the modernist design is considered by many to be his masterpiece. Unlike your typical museum, visitors start at the top of the inverted ziggurat and work their way down. The museum features special exhibits in the grand rotunda as well as a permanent collection, which ranges from Impressionism to contemporary art.

1071 5th Ave.
New York, NY 10128
212-423-3500
www.guggenheim.org

Walk the High Line

One of the most brilliant examples of repurposing I’ve ever seen, the High Line was originally built in the 1930’s to lift freight trains off the streets of Manhattan. Now it’s been transformed into an absolutely pleasant above ground city park. Complete with walking paths and naturalistic plantings, the High Line offers amazing views of the Hudson River and the city. When all sections are complete, the High Line will be a mile and a half long and will run through the Meatpacking District, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. The High Line currently runs from Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District to West 34th between 10th and 11th Avenues. Access is possible at Gansevoort St., 14th St., 16th St. 18th, St. and 20th St.

212-500-6035
www.thehighline.org

The High Line

Head across the Bridge to Brooklyn

No longer Manhattan’s shy little sister, Brooklyn has really come into its own. Many of the coolest new bars and restaurants are opening in hipster haven Williamsburg. I still have a lot of exploring to do in this area and plan to do so on my next trip to the NYC, but I encourage you to take the L train to Bedford Ave. Get out and explore! For added adventure and exercise, try walking back to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge.

Barefoot in the Park

A view from Central Park

I can’t go to New York without a visit to Central Park. I’ve walked through when the leaves are changing colors, on a frigid winter day and ridden a bike through during the peak of spring. It’s wonderful every time. There’s something truly magical about being surrounded by tranquility and natural beauty while still being able to see New York City Skyscrapers peeking out from behind the trees. I typically enter by the Plaza at 59th and 5th Ave., make my way past the pond, under Diprock arch and onto Belvedere Castle. I can’t leave without passing through Strawberry Fields, a memorial to singer John Lennon who was shot and killed outside the Dakota. The ornate German renaissance style apartment building is on the corner of 72nd and Central Park West, and is also worth a look.

www.centralparknyc.com

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