I’ve finally accepted that each time I go to NYC, I’ll leave wanting more. I’ve experienced it playing complete tourist (how can you not?) and I’ve experienced it from a local perspective when visiting friends who have moved there. Regardless, I love it. I love the people watching. I love the food. I love the energy, the magic of the calm in Central Park, the IDGAF attitude, and the fact that it humbles you. Just writing up this NYC travel recap makes me eager to plan another trip! Hopefully, you find something to add to your to-do list next time you visit.
My boyfriend and I had not traveled to New York together yet, so I was eager to explore the city with my favorite travel partner. We arrived to NYC at Penn Station on the Amtrak from Philly (Read more about that here). A friend of a friend was kind enough to loan us her apartment, as she was out of town for the holidays. We snagged a cab and headed to charming Greenwich Village. After we (but really, the boyfriend) carried our bags up several flights of stairs, we changed and headed on our way. We started our day with lunch at The Meatball Shop, just a few blocks away.
It was still pouring when we left, so we fought our way into a cab and headed to grab a drink at ROLFs. ROLFS is quite possibly the most festive restaurant EVER. We had to wait in a line to get in. In the rain. But, it was fun to see the inside and I think the bartender sympathized with everyone who waited to get in, because that was quite possibly the strongest egg nog I’ve ever had. We quickly became claustrophobic and overwhelmed by how crowded it was and decided to head back to where we were staying. On the way, we stopped by Pete’s Tavern. We didn’t know at the time, but Pete’s in Gramercy Park is one of the the oldest bars in NYC and has so much great history. The walls are filled with famous fans and it was such a great spot to grab a drink. After waiting out the rain at Pete’s (which had THE best egg nogg) we headed home to change before dinner.
We had dinner at Beauty and Essex on the Lower East Side. This is one of my favorite dining experiences in NYC. When you first glance from the outside, it looks like a pawn shop. Enter, and you’ll be welcomed by a gorgeous dual story bar and restaurant.The food is fabulous, as is the atmosphere, crowd, and service. We shared tuna poke tacos, chile reilleno empandas, grilled cheese & tomato soup dumplings, braised short ribs, and Devil’s food layer cake. Everything was delicious. Had we been able to fit more inside of ourselves and still function, we would have kept eating. I can’t wait to go back here next time in NYC. It’s a must!
Per the request of my friend who lived in NYC for a few years, we walked to Schiller’s afterwards for a drink, then headed to the Jimmy at the James for drinks with a view and Bath Tub Gin for more cocktails. Bath Tub Gin looks like a coffee shop from the outside, so I must admit that we walked past it once or twice before realizing it was our destination. It’s such a charming, speak-easy style spot with delicious handcrafted cocktails. The atmosphere was great and kept us going until close, when we headed home.
The next morning, we woke up and walked a few blocks to Joe’s Pizza. Aka Heaven. I meannn if you haven’t gotten a slice (or several) from this institution of a pizza joint, you’re missing out. Big. It’s my favorite NY style slice and I’m not alone. The walls are filled with pictures of celebrities who feel the same about Joe’s, which is why it’s been a favorite since 1975. After Joe’s we went down to see the 9/11 memorial and museum. If you haven’t been since they have finished this, it leaves you speechless. Some of it is hard to see or relive, such as hearing phone calls victims made from the air once they realized their plane had been hijacked or memorabilia of children who lost their lives.
We left the museum and went to Central Park to walk around. (It was 72 degrees. Yes, in NYC. On Christmas Eve). We explored for awhile, took in the ice skaters, and then decided it was time for a snack. Not just any snack. We needed THE best chocolate chip cookie in the city. We walked to Levain Bakery, waited in the inevitable line, and got a half dozen of the best chocolate chip cookie, ever. Holy richness. We snacked on some over the rest of our trip, took one home to my Mom– the chocolate lover, and left some for the girls who loaned us their apartment for the weekend. For future reference, I’ll accept payment or gifts in the form of Joe’s pizza and Levain Bakery cookies for anything.
After eating our dessert first, we grabbed some wine to relax a little before dinner. It was a gorgeous night, so despite being a 20+ minute walk, we walked to Park Avenue Winter. PA is located in the Flatiron District and is a gorgeous restaurant that changes it’s decor and menu with the seasons. (Hence, the ‘Winter’). The atmosphere was so festive for a Christmas Eve dinner in the city. My favorite was undoubtedly the Broccoli and Cheetos. Yaaaa. Cheesey broccoli topped with regular and flamin’ hot Cheetos. I was so intrigued, then hestitant, and with the recommendation of our waiter (and the table next to us) we decided why not? It was so unique and good!
After dinner we grabbed drinks at The Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. It’s a great place to take in the nighttime view of the city, enjoy a few cocktails, and of course, people watch.
The next day, we woke up and grabbed a bagel sandwich and some coffee at Murray’s just around the corner from where we were staying. Just like NYC style pizza, I believe no trip to the city is complete without a bagel. After fueling up, we headed to DUMBO in Brooklyn via the Subway. If you’re unfamiliar, DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Underpass. It’s a popular shot in TV shows or movies to indicate Brooklyn as the setting. It was a little bit of a foggy morning, so we couldn’t see all the buildings, but it still made for great exploring and some gorgeous pictures. I really love the view of the city from afar.
We spent our afternoon exploring around Union Station, grabbed a snack, then went to Rockefeller Center to see THE tree. It was packed, so we only lasted a few minutes. We sought refuge from the crowds inside and considered going up to the observation deck at the Top of the Rock, but by the time we could have gotten up there the sun would have set and it was looking like it was going to rain. We’ll add that to next time’s to do list! From Rockefeller Center, we walked along 5th Avenue for awhile. The Christmas display windows in so many of the stores were breathtaking and so fun to see. Especially on Christmas Day. We grabbed a drink and then went around to an early-ish dinner at the highly recommended Joe’s Shanghai. Guess we weren’t too early, because the wait was insane. (Chinese on Christmas is the next best thing to a home cooked meal if you ask me.. and everyone else in line) We stuck it out for “the best dumplings ever.” I am glad we did, as they were so good. So good, that my man-friend considered ordering more as soon as we finished them. We stuffed our face with dumplings, General Tso’s Chicken, rice, and spicy broccoli. We finished our night with wine, leftover Levain cookies, and Netflix. We seriously considered going to get another pizza just for a snack from Joe’s Pizza.. but withheld. I think when you’re so full it’s hard to move that you should not go get more food. I guessss.
We left early the next morning with full stomachs, happy hearts, and a wonderful Christmas spent together in the city. Such a fun experience! I’m already plotting my next trip back to NYC. Have some ‘must dos?’ when visiting? Please share!
Happy travels, friends!