New York

It’s hard to get bored in New York, and it’s easy to feel guilty if you’re here and not doing anything. The options for eating here span the gamut, and there are tons of museums (the Guggenheim is on my list, but I haven’t visited yet to have comments), historic places, and major tourist attractions.

1.) High Line–I’ve probably written about the High Line in every post I’ve done about New York, but I truly believe that it deserves the shout-out. It’s a great, public park with gardens and walkways, and it gives you the feeling that you’re a little bit removed from all of the chaos and commotion of the city below. On a warm and sunny spring day, this is the perfect spot to walk around with an iced coffee from The Grey Dog, which has a convenient location close to the High Line in Chelsea.

2.) S’mac–This is another one of those places which I recommend to anyone going to New York and who has a soul, because who doesn’t like mac & cheese? This East Village restaurant serves up bold and filling portions of mac & cheese with creative ingredients and themes, like Buffalo Chicken, the Parisienne, and even Masala. It’s a tight space, so expect to be elbow to elbow with whoever is at the next table. As for sizes, mac n’ cheese is already filling and creamy, so err on the side of caution and go for the nosh, or maybe major munch if you are extremely hungry. Every time I’ve gone there have been leftovers (which isn’t a bad problem to have). If you somehow have room after and aren’t dairied out, why not hop over to 16 Handles for a huge selection of froyo and toppings?

3.) Landmarc–For some more upscale dining, venture to this Tribeca restaurant (they also have a location in the Time Warner Center) for American classics that will astound you. Under the direction of chef Marc Murphy, who’s been a judge on the Food Network’s Chopped, Landmarc boasts some incredible choices, like lamb meatballs to start, and a killer burger. And for dessert? How about some of their cotton candy or homemade caramels? The atmosphere is upscale, urban, and modern, and makes for a great night out. If you’re looking for a more casual option, try Ditch Plains and get the Ditch Dog, fried pickles, or French toast.

4.) Butter Lane Cupcakes–Cupcakes are everywhere in New York, but Butter Lane is a simple, non-overpowering cupcake shop that packs a punch. Their cupcakes are reasonably portioned, and you can mix and match the flavor cake and frosting that you want, so that you can enjoy these incredibly fresh and delectable treats however you choose. Also, if you like them on Facebook in the store on their iPads, you can get a free frosting shot, which is a great way to try another flavor that didn’t make it onto your cupcake.

5.) Murray’s Bagels–Where Chicago has Chicago Dogs and Rhode Island coffee milk, New York has bagels, and the bagels from Murray’s put all the other bagels to shame. With powerful tastes like the garlic bagel and chive cream cheese, make sure you bring some breath mints or a toothbrush for afterwards. Their bagels are fresh, not to mention big, and they also sell their own coffee to wash it all down.

Here are some of my other New York picks:

Food:

Manhattan:

  1. Chop’t–creative salad place by Union Park, good for people who don’t like salad either
  2. Ditch Plains–try a ditch dog if you’re looking for indulgence (mac’ and cheese atop hot dogs)
  3. Magnolia–good cupcakes, amazing banana pudding
  4. Milk and Cookies–close to Washington Square Park and NYU, this place serves up a homemade classic–get the cookies and wash them down with a glass of milk (dunking optional)
  5. Clinton Street Baking Company–great brunch spot but expect to wait upwards of an hour, pancakes are unreal
  6. Penelope–another great brunch spot, small, wait might not be as bad as Clinton St.
  7. 16 Handles–yeah it’s a chain, but you really can’t go wrong here
  8. Bowery Diner–great milkshakes (try something with PB)
  9. The Grey Dog– a good place for iced coffee
  10. Upright Brewhouse–a good, quiet coffee shop, turns into a bar at night (although it’s more like a bar-turned-coffee-shop)
  11. Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen–a quality alternative to the popular Shake Shack (which has incredible burgers, fries, and milkshakes but huge crowds).
  12. Momofuku Milk Bar–get the cereal milk with the crunch or birthday cake milkshake
  13. Happy Bones–great flat whites!
  14. Blue Bottle–popular place for craft coffee
  15. Amy’s Bread–good sandwiches

Brooklyn:

  1. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain–an old-timey place in Brooklyn with great sundaes
  2. Frankies 457–really good Italian, lots of Brooklynites with their crying babies, though

Queens:

  1. Via Trenta–good Italian
  2. New York City Bagel & Coffee House–good bagels, including Nutella and Bananas (which is basically dessert), bagels come in mini sizes for more portion control

Activities: 

  1. Governors Island–a great place to rent a bike and spend the day outside in the summer
  2. LES Tenement Museum–a national park and really interesting glimpse into the history of immigrants in New York (complements Ellis Island well), their museum store is great
  3. New York Public Library–incredible genealogical connections and a beautiful library
  4. Cafe Zaiya–a Japanese bookstore and café located across from Bryant Park
  5. Statue of Liberty–yes, it’s touristy, but it’s something you never think to do if you’re in New York a lot but really should
  6. Ellis Island–this was really interesting for me because of my interest in genealogy
  7. McNally Jackson–great bookstore
  8. Strand–really popular independent bookstore that’s a bit crazy inside
  9. Book Culture–bookstore near Columbia

Nightlife:

  1. 212 Hisae’s–Asian tapas place in St. Mark’s with quality $4 drinks

Getting around:

  1. For some reason, I’ve always found New York’s subway system to be really confusing. Cabs are pretty cheap though when compared to other cities, and the city is really walkable and easy to navigate because it’s on a grid.
  2. If you’re taking the train into the city, the Metro North is leaps and bounds nicer than Boston’s commuter rail. If you’re coming from further away, the Amtrak is good, though Penn Station can be a lot to take in at once.

Avoid:

  1. Times Square–Just don’t go. That’s all there is to it. I think it’s a nightmare all around: there are so many tourists and if you don’t like crowds, it’s the absolute worst place to be. There’s nothing really special about it at all.
  2. People who hand you their free mix CDs–People claiming to be DJs hand out free copies of their “latest mixes.” Do not take them. It’s a scam and they’ll give you the free CD and autograph it for you and then ask for a tip. Who knows. Maybe they are actually DJs and the CD really has music on it, but don’t try to find out.