New York City

New York City

You’re going for the food, drinks and energy of the city. It’s one of the best places for food lovers.

 

getting around

Airports JFK/LGA Uber/Lyft or taxi are options and similar in price. LGA is closer to the city with a bus option available. There is a train for JFK, but it is slow. EWR The Holland Tunnel exits near Canal Street, so this is ideal for downtown dwellers unless you’re leaving at rush hour. It works well for reverse commute and there’s an Amtrak train. 

Subway Because of traffic, the subway is probably quicker than taxi, but it’s not as clean or clever as other parts of the world.

Walking It’s a great way to see any city, especially NYC as the neighborhoods bleed into one another. 

good to know

Jaywalking New Yorkers aggressively cross the street, acting like they own it, so feel free to jump in and do the same (cars feel the same way).

Best time to visit September and October are the best months as the weather is still nice but not brutally hot like the summer months.

Tribeca

A neighborhood that has rapidly gentrified, you'll find a lot of strollers and super fit women in workout gear. It's quiet and filled with a handful of great restaurants.

eats & drinks

Arcade Bakery Walking by, you’d be hard-pressed to find this bakery unless you knew what you were looking for as it’s located in the hallway of an office building. The minute you step through those glass doors, you’ll be hit with the warming scent of freshly baked bread, a trail that will lead you down a bland hallway, passing cute wooden tables on the sides of an otherwise sterile entrance. They have the best bread in the city, with loaves selling out in the morning,  creating a European-like experience. The pizzas served at lunchtime are so, so good. (Closed on the weekends.)

Two Hands This Australian restaurant has a lovely vibe with soft lighting and good-looking wait staff (usually Australian). The avocado toast, though basic and served almost everywhere, is actually worth ordering as it comes with pickled chili peppers served on thick-cut bread (you will need a steak knife to make it to the other side). Other breakfast dishes are alright. Dinner is surprisingly great and not as packed as weekend brunch. This location has outdoor seating when the weather permits.

Bubby’s Synonymous with brunch and eating too much, this place works for breakfast, lunch or — big surprise — brunch. It used to be open 24 hours, which is when it developed a strong following, but they’ve cut back on the hours and changed the menu (I still love the homemade jam, butter and insanely fluffy pancakes). You’ll still find massive, quintessential American portions but with good quality and flavor guaranteed. It has a cozy, warm vibe that’s perfect for groups, especially when the weather is crap, which is quite often.

Locanda Verde Located in the luxe Greenwich hotel, this high end Italian is Andrew Carmellini’s first restaurant and still his best. The ricotta appetizer, lamb meatballs and almost any of the pastas are a must. It’s fairly pricey and difficult to get a rez, but it’s worth it for a splurge meal.

The Odeon A classic, New York restaurant that’s been around for what feels like forever, in the best way possible. It balances the French bistro decor with a decidedly New York feel and strongly New York clientele. It’s one of those places where you almost want to people watch as much as you want to eat. The food is actually still good with some newer, California-esque items making the way to the menu (think quinoa) along with great steak frites. Good for anyone, any time of day.

Takahachi A neighborhood sushi restaurant that offers low prices with high quality and also delivers. Sit at the sushi bar or small tables, it’s a great place to go when you want sushi but don’t want to break the bank. 

Sun in Bloom A grab-and-go spot with counter space for health-conscious people. Think non-dairy soups (that are delicious), cold-pressed juices, nori-wrapped rice/quinoa rolls and vegan kale caesar salads. They also have a delicious vegan banana-chocolate muffin and vegan cookies. Feel like you need a green juice to perk you up? Stop in here for a fix. Otherwise, the TriBeCa Whole Foods makes fresh juices.

Maman Tribeca A really cute, well-decorated French cafe with a avocado deconstructed toast, soft-boiled eggs with spreads and other foods that blend the French-American line. It offers a to-go area in the front with a small seating area, plus regular tables in the back. They also do larger parties for baby showers.

Drinks

Terroir Tribeca With a phenomenal wine list, this wine bar is great for a first date, catch-up with friends or when you want a glass of wine and perhaps a delicious plate of cheese/cured meats and maybe some meatballs (do it). It’s one of the last remaining wine bars (they used to have several around the city) other than the seasonal one at the High Line — not a reflection on its quality, more like it suffered through an unfortunate partner separation.

City Vineyard Set along the Hudson river, this restaurant offers a rooftop seating area and plenty of outdoor space. The food is actually pretty good if you want to go for dinner or just snacks.

Tiny’s With the upstairs at Tiny’s offering drinks in an intimate space, akin to being in someone’s NYC apartment with wooden walls and a fireplace, the downstairs is good for brunch, lunch or dinner. It has an outdoor dining area during warm weather.

Kaffe 1668 One of the better coffee shops in NYC, TriBeCa has two locations on Greenwich St., one between Warren and Murray closer to the Whole Foods (this one has Wi-Fi) and one between Beach and Hubert closer to Canal street. The coffee is fantastic but the salads, energy bars and cold-pressed juices are also delicious (but pricey).

La Colombe With multiple locations throughout the city, they deliver solid Italian-style espresso. Some have seating areas while others embrace the Italian counter approach. They have minimal pastries and some yogurts, but it’s really the coffee that you’re going for.

Beekman Hotel Technically in the financial district, this renovated hotel has a gorgeous bar with craft cocktails and plush couches. Enjoy looking up for views of the original rails that line the hallways of the rooms above.

The Bennett A modern setting with high quality cocktails, it’s an excellent date spot. Plus, it’s always full but never packed, which is a welcomed rarity in NYC.

Puffy’s Tavern New York might not have pubs like England, but we do have great dive bars. Sadly, like English pubs, good ones are harder and harder to come by. Enter Puffy’s. The neighborhood dive bar that you dream of in that it’s not gross or smelly and actually has some sunlight. Located on a corner, it has two window-ed walls but just the right amount of wood to let you lick your wounds during the day.

WeatherUp A cocktail bar with small plates, it’s often buzzy and packed, for good reason. They offer a sort-of happy hour Monday-Thursday from 10pm to close with $12 cocktails and $5 draft beers.

Shigure A sake bar that also features Japanese tapas, it’s quiet, intimate and not intimidating, which is what I think of when I think of sake bars.

Blacktail The Dead Rabbit team opened this cocktail bar that features an extensive drink list and has won numerous awards.

Anotheroom Part of the group of wine bars that exists in Soho as well as Miami and LA, this dark and narrow outpost is perfect for dates. Plus, the outdoor area is great in the summer. No food but good for a few glasses of wine.

B Flat Tucked away so that it feels like you’ve discovered a secret joint when you step inside, B Flat features live music and has a calmer, more intimate setting than the big jazz spots in town. It also serves pretty good Japanese bar food.

breakfast at kaffe 1668
beet-cured salmon at two hands
sushi at takahachi

see & do

Aire An upscale version of the Russian/Turkish baths in the East Village and on Fulton street, it costs more, but is a way better experience. The wet areas are in the brick-lined basement, softly lit with large candles that sparkle off the blue water of the heated baths so that it offers a more spa-like experience. The massages are mediocre, so opt for a day pass instead. It’s one of those places in Manhattan that makes you forget you’re in Manhattan. You’ll get special shoes and a bathrobe, so no need to bring your own. (If you’re a fan of Billions, the scene where they met at a bath place was filmed here.) The weekends book up about a month in advance with weekdays offering more flexibility. 

Kula Yoga Project With SoHo and Williamsburg outpost, the TriBeCa location is the original home of this wonderful studio. Full disclosure, it is my personal one, but yoga is very much a personal thing, so find what works for you. It is a vinyasa studio technically, but it is also so much more than that. Most classes are at an intermediate level with some bordering on advanced, and the beginner classes are fantastic and the perfect place to start.

Sky Ting The Broadway location of this yoga studio offers an infrared sauna that can be booked online.

Brooklyn Bridge Walking over the bridge is enjoyable in itself with plenty of photo ops and leads you to Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights, two pretty neighborhoods along the water.

World Trade Center The 9/11 memorial, Oculus building (and indoor mall with an Eataly) and Wall Street are all an easy walk from here.

Rockefeller Park/North Meadow Park/Hudson River Park Whether you’re running, walking, biking or wanting to picnic, alond the highway (believe it or not) is beautiful to visit. There are small grassy areas and a larger open field near Battery Park City (North Meadow) as well as mini golf, volleyball courts and playgrounds on the piers.

Brooklyn bridge
sunset from north meadow park
oculus building and world trade center

Nolita, NoHo + Bowery

Concentrated, cute and tiny with a mix of old and new, these areas are a hot spot of restaurants and bars. The Whole Foods on Bowery also has a food court upstairs if you're in a pinch and want something quick. Plus, there brewery section is pretty great.

eats & drinks

Cocoron A Japanese curry and soba noodle restaurant that doesn’t take reservations. It’s delicious and healthy! (healthy-ish) Great for a quick, counter-service style meal.

Mile End Sandwiches! This is why you should go here. 

Il Buco Beautiful inside with delicious Italian food, it’s pricey but somewhere worth it when you want that rustic Italian feel.

Il Buco Alimentaria A slightly more casual version of its sister restaurant Il Buco, it still serves the same delicious cuisine at a better price point and with a more casual atmosphere.

Bar Primi Another Italian restaurant in the neighborhood that is ideal for groups as it’s on the more casual side and good for sharing. The pastas are delicious as are the cocktails.

Fish Cheeks High quality Thai seafood served in a colorful setting with boozy cocktails. Think more whole fish and spicy dishes than pad thai (in fact, there’s none on the menu). 

The Bowery Market Open food stands, including the 15-minute, 50-dollar omakase (it felt really stressful to be honest), that are outdoor and open all year. They have minimal seats, usually two to four per stand, but you can grab and go.

Estela Ignacio Mattos’s restaurant that used to be hard to spot in its second floor Houston location. Now a sign is outside, so you can easily find this intimate restaurant that serves flavorful yet simple food.

Alchemist’s Kitchen Healthy, vegan and vegetarian food plus Moon Juice snacks are served at this cute cafe with a like-minded health store that sells sage, facial oils, candles and more meant for the yoga/spiritual crowd. Higher Dose infrared saunas are located in the basement — book an appointment ahead for those.

Saxon + Parole Fantastic cocktails with a bar scene that’s good for pre-dinner or post-dinner drinks. Enjoy quality meals there inside or outside.

Drinks

Ghost Donkey Attached to Saxon + Parole, Madame Geneva has now morphed into a mezcal bar with ‘fancy’ nachos.

Saxon and parole
alchemist kitchen's cafe
bowery market

SoHo

It’s no longer the creative, artistic hub it once was as designer stores and upscale galleries now fill the streets, but you’ll still find a lot of character in the crowded, tourist-filled streets. It still has a great energy to it, and it's nice to walk the streets, enjoy the architecture and street performers on the weekends. Avoid Broadway itself as it's insanely packed and kind of dodgy, while West Broadway is the opposite. Once you cross Broadway and go east, you’ll find the smaller boutiques there with the streets having more character. West of Broadway tends to be the larger stores like Apple, Tumi, etc.

(Drinks spots at the end of the list)

eats & drinks

Cafe Altro Paradiso Chef Ignacio Mattos (of Estela) serves fine dining level cuisine in a casual and approachable setting style, which is a true skill. Dishes have bright and bold flavors with an elegant presentation.

Raoul’s Old-school New York bistro with slightly curt waitstaff are worth it for the burger that’s only available in limited quantities at the bar or available for all during brunch.

Pinch Chinese A sense of humor paired with delicious food is probably my ideal match in life and in a restaurant. Pinch delivered. The dumplings were great, even the chicken soup dumplings — described as inside out matzo ball soup. From the scallion chicken noodles to the ma pa tofu, the food is fantastic.

Rubirosa A more upscale casual restaurant that combines the old-school feel of Little Italy with new world New York. Fun, active vibe and good pizzas.

Arturo’s This coal-fired pizza restaurant offers more than delicious rounds of gooey cheese with a full-service menu including salads, pastas and meat dishes. This is the pizza joint you picture from the movies with the older, mustached Italian bartender, grumpy life customers, red-and-white checkered tablecloths, black-and-white photos framed on the walls and sometimes live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Prince Street Pizza Known (and instagrammed most) for its square pizza with crispy, slightly burnt edges, Prince Street Pizza is a great slice joint in the heart of Soho. The Prince Perfection with pepperoni is a favorite as is the Spicy Spring made with a fra diavolo sauce. It might be newer to the pizza scene, but it’s quickly become a local favorite.

The Dutch Andrew Carmellini’s American restaurant that serves hearty, heavy food and great fried chicken. I don’t love eating there because it’s a bit heavy but the bar is great for cocktails on a cold, rainy day.

Parm Part of the empire that has taken over New York, this is still a great place for classic Italian sandwiches like a chicken, eggplant or meatball parm.

Cafe Gitane Half French, half Moroccan, I love this little gem for brunch, lunch or breakfast. Small and cash only, it’s usually packed with minimal tables outside when it’s nice.

Tacombi A lively Mexican restaurant owned by Americans that has good drinks and food with a buzzy scene. (There are now several locations throughout Manhattan and in Montauk.)

Cafe Habana This has been here forever and is always packed. Their grilled Mexican corn is delicious as are the drinks. It serves a mix of Cuban and Mexican food in a low-key, bare-boned environment that’s fun for people watching. They also have a grab-and-go shop next door to the restaurant, if you’re looking for something quick.

La Esquina Composed of three parts, the street-level component is a casual Mexican taco shop with Corona’s and solid food when you’re looking for something casual (also has outdoor seating when it’s nice out). The real draw for most people is the speakeasy style restaurant and bar that’s downstairs, through the kitchen and windy, skinny stairs. Downstairs is beautiful, dark and sexy and a complete contrast to the upstairs. More on the pricey side, it’s great for a date, groups and for doing a tequila flight.

Hundred Acres A great brunch spot for groups with a beautiful interior, well-rounded menu that has something for everyone. More all-American food but you can expect Chilaquiles or Shakshuka.

Little Prince The food can be hit or miss, but I still love the intimate atmosphere and friendly staff. During the holidays, they have a snow machine over the door so you can look out onto the Soho street and feel like you’re in a movie.

Dominique Ansel He was made famous by the cronut, but he is an exceptionally talented pastry chef. His cafe here has an adorable garden in the back and seats by the window. The line outside is for cronuts, so you can bypass it and go right inside for regular coffee, snacks and pastries.

LuckyStrike If you’re looking for a divey bar that has good bar food for a casual date, drink or comforting night, then this is your match made in heaven. I would call it an upscale dive bar, if there is such a thing.

Souen Macrobiotic food with big windows overlooking sixth ave. Great for when you want to eat healthy.

La Colombe We already know I like this place, but there is a Soho location on Lafayette.

Drinks

The Daily The Daily is owned by the same team that owns Saxon and Parole (also great). Delicious drinks, great for a date or catching up with a friend.

Soho Grand Bar It might draw a cheesy, well-heeled crowd, but the bar has a great vibe. Just outside the immediate bar area, there are plush, velour couches and seating areas that are good for groups and day drinking.

La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels The wine lover’s wine bar, as the name mentions, it’s a great place to go for natural wines.

Pegu Club Cocktail history buffs will immediately recognize the legacy behind Pegu Club and Audrey Saunders, the bold and inventive female mixologist and owner. Swanky, chic and with incredible cocktails, Pegu Club is a must for any food and drink lover.

Mother’s Ruin Bespoke cocktails and a lively, buzzy scene full of young professionals, Mother’s Ruin is the perfect hybrid of a local, casual bar serving upscale, craft cocktails.

The Handy Liquor Bar Located underground beneath Chalk Point Kitchen, the bar has comfortably booths with a variety of old-school games available, if you need to liven up the party and are tired of talking to on another.

 

spicy spring at prince street pizza
pegu club manhattan
little prince exterior

East Village

The East Village is probably the best neighborhood to live in if you love casual, intimate restaurants without a lot of fuss or fine dining in the mix. It's probably not where most out-of-towners will spend time on their first NYC trip, but it is a great place for locals or seasoned visitors to explore.

eats & drinks

GG’s A casual restaurant with a fantastic grandma pie slice and other non-pizza dishes, it’s a good weeknight dinner spot or for groups.

Bruno’s Pizza Sort of similar pizzas to Speedy Romeo in that they are kind of Neapolitan but not quite.

Motorino An easy-to-enjoy pizza place that will leave you happy and full, but it’s not going to blow your mind. Ideal for a casual meal with friends or a weeknight dinner.

Soba-Ya Known for their soba, Soba-Ya is the ideal casual lunch spot with a great lunch special (pictured above). It’s nothing fancy or over-the-top, but perfect when you are craving some noodles.

Momofuku Noodle Bar Always a solid choice with bar and table seats available.

Souen The East Village location of this healthy, macrobiotic restaurant serves higher quality food in a more attractive atmosphere than the SoHo one. The food tastes a little better in the EV location than the SoHo one for some reason.

Pylos Solid Greek cuisine in a bright, white setting decorated with clay pots overhead. It will be a slightly higher price than Greek restaurants like Moustache, but it’s more of a date night, nice dinner than somewhere you pop into on a Tuesday night.

The Standard East Village A smaller, less busy version of the Meatpacking location, it has a small restaurant with a covered outdoor space for dining. Great cocktails and snacks like salty chips with guacamole. The garden also offers outdoor seating.

Hanoi House Open only for dinner, Hanoi House serves more traditional Vietnamese dishes with some fun specials thrown in. Bar seats also serve the whole menu.

Miss Lily’s 7A The East Village location is all about a good time. With music blasting, strong cocktails and good jerk chicken, it is an ideal spot for dinner than turns into a dance party.

Narcissa It’s a beautiful space with delicious cocktails but it’s so pricey that I’ve only been once. Would I go back? Definitely, but I’d be more inclined if someone else was paying.

Porsena A casual Italian restaurant that’s good for a weeknight meal.

Drinks

Decibel This place has spunk and character, which you’ll notice the minute you walk inside. Located downstairs, it has a sushi restaurant but you can also go for sake drinks. Great date spot if you’re both a little adventurous. And like sake.

Pouring Ribbons Located on the second story of Avenue B, you will first spot the bouncer outside who will radio up for you. The drinks are fantastic with helpful guides so that you can find what’s best for you in that moment. Dim, flattering lighting makes it a great date spot.

Angel’s Share A cool, speakeasy bar that serves phenomenal drinks and is best for a date or small group.

Amor y Amargo This teeny tiny cocktail bar serves fantastic drinks, but it really is so small, so get there early or hope you get lucky for a seat. Or, standing room.

Immigrant A cozy wine bar in a former tenement with good cocktails and small plates.

Mace A craft cocktail bar in the EV with exposed brick, making it a perfect spot for a drink. It has interesting cocktails like a one with curry leaf bitters and coconut oil fat-washed Barbados rum.

 

whole fish at hanoi house
standard east garden
bento box at soba-ya

west vill + greenwich vill

The West Village is one of those neighborhoods that will make you fall in love with New York and wish you had $20 million to spend on a townhouse on one of it's charming, tree-lined streets. The streets themselves have no order and are completely off the grid, so don't feel badly if you end up walking in circles. Greenwich Village is a little overrun with students but Washington Square Park (picture above) is worth a walk through.

eats & drinks

Little Owl A teeny, tiny restaurant that serves consistent Italian-American cuisine with friendly and attentive service. The gravy meatball sliders are their signature dish, meaning that you absolutely must get them as an appetizer for the table. Make sure to call as soon as you can (reservations open one month ahead).

Barbuto Italian-American at its best, the kale salad and chicken with potatoes are musts (pour the juice collecting at the bottom of the chicken plate onto the crispy potatoes). Jonathan Waxman is known for this chicken, you’ve probably seen it Instagrammed or photographed numerous times, and for good reason. It offers outdoor seating in the warmer months.

Chumley’s  Where the term 86 originated, the former speakeasy reopened as an upscale restaurant, serving a delicious burger and elevated bistro-style food in a classic New York setting. It’s a far cry from what it once was and is a bit more of a scene.

Buvette Tiny and cramped, it almost makes you feel like you’re in Europe (there’s one in Paris now), but the French bistro food is well prepared and presented. The minuscule balcony is adorable, but I find it better for breakfast, brunch or an early afternoon aperitivo rather than dinner.

Via Carota With everything being delicious, from crisp lettuce leaves piled high in a mustard dressing to the branzino, this intimate and lively Italian restaurant is the upscale neighborhood joint you wished you lived next to. There’s also outdoor seating in a prime people watching location.

The Spotted Pig April Bloomfield’s original British gastropub is still always packed with its funky, quirky decor, solid cocktails and delicious snacks.

Pearl Oyster Bar The lobster roll may be pricey, but it is meaty, massive and worth every penny. It has large glass windows overlooking Cornelia Street, which can make you feel like you’re in the scene of a movie staring out onto the crowd (I think it probably has been in a few).

Malaparte A neighborhood Italian restaurant that’s cash only with house-made pastas served on brown-paper lined wooden tables. Well-priced, it’s a great weekday meal or Sunday early dinner. Summer offers outdoor seating as well.

Faiccio’s An old-school Italian deli with grocery products. It has fantastic (and insanely large) Italian subs plus great arancini. I once ate half of one of their Italian subs and then took a three-hour nap. It was glorious.

John’s Coal-fired, brick-oven pizza that’s been served since 1929, John’s is a classic New York-style pizza joint that’s still family owned in the West Village. The vibe is old school with wooden booths tattooed with carved initials and names of past diners. Expect a minimal beer and wine list and be prepared to wait in the line as there are no reservations (it moves pretty quickly). It’s whole-pie and cash-only so come hungry and prepared. (Blind Tiger Ale House across the street is a good place to pop in for a pint if you need to warm yourself up pre-dinner.)

Joe’s Joe’s is a classic, New York-style counter-service slice shop where you can get cheese, cheese plus toppings or a Sicilian slice to go almost any time of day (it’s open until 4 am). It offers standing tables only, but that’s part of the charm. You’ll find both Joe’s and John’s to have large crowds gathering outside as they are mainstays on most West Village and Greenwich Village eating tours.

Keste For a non-New York slice, this Neapolitan-style restaurant serves thin pies that can be knifed-and-forked (blasphemy, we know) and eaten as personal ones in the Italian tradition or shared with friends (we prefer the latter). It’s tiny and also doesn’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait unless you get there on the early side. As it’s across from John’s on Bleecker, you can also go to the Blind Tiger Ale House or walk down the street to Murray’s Cheese Bar for some wine and appetizers.

The Clam  From Joey Campanaro (of Little Owl) comes a seafood-focused restaurant with delicious clam-fried rice and oysters that come with an addictive green goddess dip at the bottom of the container holding the crudite (don’t miss it!).

EN This Japanese restaurant seems to fly under the radar but has been here forever (and I used to live right next door.) The ceilings are high, the decor stunning and the food more traditional. For example, they’ll tell you that rice should be eaten at the end of the meal as is the custom in Japan, but there’s no judgement if you decide to go American in eating style.

Madame Hao Noodle If you love spicy food, crispy chicken and noodles, then you’ll be happy here. There’s a communal table and it never seems to be too busy even though it’s quite good. The dan dan noodles and chicken were very good as was the crispy chicken.

The Meadow A magnificent salt shop on Hudson that offers a wall display full of different salts and, across from it, a wall of chocolate. Fresh flowers fill the space in between. They also have a selection of bitters in the back.

Drinks

Blind Tiger Simple and busy bar with a vast selection of beers.

Employee’s Only. A standby craft cocktail bar in the West Village with a small restaurant in the back. Drinks are better at a seat at the bar.

Virgola An itsy, bitsy, teeny tiny wine bar on Greenwich Ave.

Anfora From the team that does Dell ‘Anima, L’Artusi and L’Apicio, this wine bar is beautiful, sleek and great for a date or a catch-up drink.

Little Branch A below ground speakeasy, this corner bar might have been around for awhile, but it’s for a reason. Order a bespoke cocktail or from the menu at the bar or snag a table in the back (reservations recommended). It’s small, so there might be a line outside the nondescript brass door, which will be a helpful way to find it. Otherwise, look for the bouncer loitering outside.

Rusty Knot Located on the Westside Highway, this ship-themed tiki bar serves cocktails in entertaining mugs with some pool-hall games. They have some food snacks as well.

The Happiest Hour Delicious tiki drinks with standing room at the bar and high-top tables for food in the back. It’s a great bar for single guys as it always seems to be flooded with attractive girls.

The Garrett Walk to the back of Five Guys, up the shoddy, slightly sketchy steps to a speakeasy-style bar serving both classic and modern cocktails that you can enjoy while looking over Seventh Ave. They play a good mix of hip-hop, and they know how to have fun. The doorman begins to get strict around 10pm, so get there early and grab a seat at the bar. Maybe, just maybe, grab a burger on your way out.  

Fat Cat It has a slightly fratty feel and the underground location makes you feel like you’re playing games in your friend’s basement during high school, but I kind of love it. It’s full of games like ping pong, shuffle board, pool and sometimes there’s live music.

slice at joe's
barbuto's chicken
little owl's gravy meatball slider

LES + Chinatown

The lower east side and Chinatown might feel a little grubbier and less pristine than the west village, which is one reason why it's populate more by people in their 20s and 30s than families. You'll find a selection of great restaurants, bars and an active night life here, plus tastes of old New York (hurry quick before it completely gentrifies).

eats & drinks

Oriental Garden A Cantonese restaurant specializing in dim sum, it offers fresh seafood, light thin-skinned dumplings and a handmade quality that feels harder and harder to find in Chinatown (one reason we had to remove Nom Wah from this list as their dumplings were no longer handmade).

Joe’s Shanghai There will most likely always be a line because it is on the hit list for most tourists. With that said, the soup dumplings are still fantastic and the rest of the food pretty good. Is it worth waiting for? It depends on how hungry you are and how much time you have. You won’t be upset but you also won’t be wowed.

Wu’s Wonton King A Chinese restaurant specializing in Cantonese cuisine and serves delicious noodles, dumplings and duck. It’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood and one that quickly gained popularity due to high quality and great flavors. Go with friends so you can order a lot (trust us, you’ll want to).

Russ & Daughters Visit the original takeaway storefront on Houston for mini bagels and lox or the real deal, full-sized versions (served up with lots of history and character) or their newer cafe on Orchard Street for a more modern, upscale version.

Barrio Chino A mainstay in the LES, the atmosphere is always lively, the tequila list long and fantastic and the food basic but not mind-blowing. You’re going more to enjoy drinks with dinner before a night out or to catch up with a friend over a few cocktails. It’s open-air in the warmer months, which makes the buzzy scene even more fun.

Speedy Romeo’s With it’s recent expansion, Speedy Romeo’s LES location is great for a casual and lively dinner. Their pizzas are served with pickled chili’s—so good and spicy. You can expect a more Neapolitan-style pizza than traditional NYC pizza with lots of meaty toppings. Plus, menu items other than pizza are actually good. 

An Choi This is not going to be the best Vietnamese food you’ve had in your life, but if you’re in the mood for a banh mi or summer rolls, this small restaurant is perfect for that. The summer rolls are an ideal snack in the summer (go figure). You can sit on the bench or tables outside the restaurant to people watch (they also have indoor seating).

The Fat Radish Vegetable-focused, clean food in a gorgeous, California-like setting—think white with lots of green plants—this restaurant is great for a date night or group dinner. I’ve had hit or miss meals but always enjoyed the setting and drinks.

Irving Farm Roasters A cute coffee shop on the corner of Orchard and Broome, it’s a good place to sit by the window and people watch, read a book or do some work (no Wi-Fi though).

Essex Street Market One of the original food halls before they became trendy and popped up all over the city, this market offers grocery options, fishmongers, Saxelby cheesemongers, a Pain Davignon bakery, plus others. It’s not going to be as beautiful and fancy as Chelsea Market, but it has that old-school New York charm and roughness to it. Plus, it always makes for great people watching.

Dimes California cuisine with grain bowls, healthy vegetables done in a tasty way, plus a wheatgrass margarita that’s actually pretty good. It’s tiny and good if you want to go out to dinner, feel relatively okay about your eating choices and have a relaxed, upscale diner feel. Breakfast sandwiches are also a must.

Economy Candy An old-school, bulk candy shop that will have all of the candies of your childhood that you haven’t seen in years. Think Big League Chew, rows of Pez dispensers, SkyBars, Charleston Chews and much much more. It’s basically fat-kid heaven. 

Attaboy A craft cocktail bar from former Milk & Honey mixologists—try to get a reservation, if you can.

Ten Bells The wine lover’s wine bar—it has so many wines! Busy but never too packed, it’s great for a first date or to catch up with friends.

Apotheke An upscale and intimate craft cocktail bar near Nom Wah run by talented mixologists.

Suffolk Arms Though it might look like a classic English pub with wooden booths and dark lighting, it actually has an impressive cocktail list that would knock the English on their arses.

Top Hops A quiet bar for beer enthusiasts that also sells most of what’s on tap. The board can be overwhelming as the choices are seemingly endless, but the staff is really nice and will let you taste them. They also have one TV in case you’re trying to catch a game.

an choi
an choi shrimp and avocado summer roll
economy candy goods

Union Square + Flatiron

In the center of downtown, Union Square is a central hub to get around the city, while Flatiron offers Madison Square Park, Eataly and lots of little restaurants.

eats & drinks

Maialino Danny Meyer’s Italian restaurant in the Gramercy Park hotel is definitelyworth a visit for housemade pastas, but it’s actually equally as delicious for breakfast or lunch.

Kazunori From the Sugarfish team comes this hand-roll restaurant that uses the leftover scraps that aren’t pretty enough for sashimi or sushi (genius). It’s a seat yourself and quick affair at an unbeatable price.

Shake Shack The original Shake Shack is in Madison Square Park and is still my favorite. The lines will inevitably be long when it’s warm out, but it feels like part of the tradition.

Nomad Restaurant A stunning restaurant with an indoor atrium that lights up the room during the day and sets a mellow quality at night. Go for dinner, stay for drinks and try to get into the magic show.

Shuko Tasting menu with a Japanese focus, you can book two weeks ahead of time. 

John Dory April Bloomfield’s seafood restaurant with a delicious oyster pan roast and raw bar that has outdoor seating when appropriate. If you’re looking  for somewhere to go near Madison Square Garden before a show or game, it can be a good spot.

The Breslin April Bloomfield’s gastropub in the Ace Hotel serves a whole pig dinner with delicious sides — it’s great for a group. Also makes for a good date spot with a bar in the front. Also ideal before visiting Madison Square Garden.

Breads Bakery Arguably offering some of the best bread and baguettes in the city, we love the chocolate babka. It’s just so, so good.

Union Square Farmers Market Open year-round, this is the best greenmarket in NYC. It’s open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Marta Danny Meyer’s pizza place located in a hotel lobby has delicious, thin-curst Roman-style pizzas, plus great salads, vegetables and everything else. The only caveat is that the room itself is rather noisy. If you’re looking  for somewhere to go near Madison Square Garden before a show or game, it can be a good spot. Remember that gratuity is included in the bill, so no need to add on more unless you feel moved to do so.

abcV A vegan restaurant by Jean-Georges, the interior reminds me a lot of Ottolenghi’s Nopi in London: Sleek white tables, bright lights and funky decor highlights the beautiful colors of the vegetables on display. You can always walk-in for a table at the bar or standing-room counter space for an espresso, if you want true European-style.

Eataly The original New York location, it’s good for upscale groceries and well-priced produce or to sip on wine while standing in the center of the busy food hall, surrounded by massive wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano and cured jamon. The coffee shop serves fantastic cappuccinos. Check out the rooftop as well.

La Birreria The rooftop restaurant and microbrewery at Eataly’s Flatiron location is one of an excellent spot for a boozy lunch or for early drinks and cured meat and cheese plates. It’s open all year with a covered roof in the winter.

Beecher’s Technically from Seattle, the mac ‘n cheese here is fantastic. It’s the kind that you’ll eat and need to take a nap right after because it’s thick, creamy and perfectly encapsulates the ziti-shaped noodles. You can get a small size (probably a good idea), and then a small salad for lunch. They have an upstairs seating area where you can peak at the cheese production below. It offers an array of cheeses and crackers that make great gifts. They have a fantastic happy hour.

Jivamukti Tucked upstairs in the chaotic area that is Union Square, the yoga studio offers a bare-boned cafe with Wi-Fi and healthy dishes. Soups, grain bowls, juices, smoothies and more are available. The vegan brownies are pretty good as well.

Saravanaa Bhavan This simple vegetarian Indian restaurant is fairly inexpensive and a good spot to go with friends. They have great lunch specials (pictured), if you’re in the area. It’s very casual and bore-boned.

Kalustyan’s This Indian specialty grocery store has walls of spices — probably anything you could think of — plus great take-away foods and plates. You’ve probably seen outtakes of it in food shows and videos.

Drinks

The Cellar at Beecher’s Located in the lower level, the bar is aptly named the cellar because you feel like you’ve entered a wine cave of sorts with cozy seating and flattering lighting. Make a booking and see if you can make it for happy hour.

Corkbuzz Located up a few steps on 13th street moments away from the chaos of Union Square, Corkbuzz is both a wine bar/restaurant and a wonderful place to take classes, if you want to learn more about wine. There’s a small, cozy seating area plus bar and table seating for drinks/dinner. The wine list, obviously, is fantastic. They have a special of half-priced sparkling wine after 9 pm. There’s also a small outpost in Chelsea Market.

NoMad Bar Sitting here makes you feel more sophisticated, whether in you’re in the Library Bar or the other bar area. Dark wooden paneling, illuminated neatly lined bottles on the shelves, the bars have a classy feel to them that is infectious.

Nomad bar
pizza at marta
Saravanaa Bhavan

Chelsea

Occupying the west side of Manhattan in the higher teens to high 20s, Chelsea is filled with shops, restaurants and some high end art galleries.

eats & drinks

Cookshop A brunch staple with outdoor seating, the wait is guaranteed to be long if you don’t make a reservation. Think farmers-market inspired foods (done before it was a crazy trend) and New American dining. The outdoor dining during warmer months is coveted by all, but the floor-to-ceiling glass windows are a good alternative.

Terroir on the Porch In the summer season, Terroir, the TriBeCa wine bar, has a location on the High Line overlooking the river. Go for rose, beer and small plates.

Tia Pol A tapas restaurant in Chelsea that’s tiny and good, but might be better for a drink at the bar and some small plates.

The Red Cat A place to take the parents as it offers white table cloths, quality farm-sourced food in a quiet atmosphere.

Scarpetta His pomodoro pasta is still one of the best as is the rather large bread basket that comes with the meal. It will be pricey overall, so either sit at the bar or prepare yourself for a nice night out, which it definitely will be. The Chelsea/Meatpacking location was the first, so there is that.

The Half King A dive bar for sure, it has a small outdoor area to enjoy when the weather is nice. There’s nothing special about it other than it’s a solid dive bar and sometimes that’s just what you need on a Saturday afternoon.

Bathtub Gin A speakeasy bar located inside a coffee shop, the interior has an antique and elegant setting. It gets super crowded so try to book ahead.

The Tippler Beneath Chelsea market, this bar is a large open space with nooks for more intimate seats and larger tables for groups. It feels like a cocktail bar housed in a beer hall with soft, low lighting. It’s popular for after-work drinks and will quiet down after around eight pm for a more relaxed setting. Small plates are also served.

Chelsea Market Located near the Highline and the New Whitney Museum, Chelsea market is housed in the former Nabisco factory. You can still see remnants of the original building now filled with tons of restaurants, food stalls and shops. Check out the Italian store for Italian products (including Italian Nutella and burrata imported weekly from the motherland), Chelsea Thai, Cull & Pistol for an incredible happy hour, plus all of the others restaurants and stands inside.

Cull & Pistol A narrow seafood bar in Chelsea Market with quality seafood supplied by the Lobster Place next door and the best oyster happy hour.

Corkbuzz The outpost of the Union Square location, this wine bar is inside Chelsea Market with funky wooden seating inside and a communal table outside so you can watch the market traffic.

oysters at cull & pistol
falafel and harissa cauliflower at cookshop
chelsea market in the winter

Dumbo

One of the more beautiful parts of New York City, Dumbo is full of stone streets, picturesque industrial buildings and outstanding views of Manhattan and its iconic bridges and buildings. The waterfront has been magnificently restored and the influx of successful start-ups, young companies and luxury buildings has created a lively and always buzzing neighborhood.

What does it stand for? Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass (sadly, not the elephant).

eats & drinks

Cecconi’s Originating from London and the Soho House family, Cecconi’s gives off the air of its family lineage, namely not-so-great service and a little bit of snobbery thrown in there. With that said, the food is delicious (think Negroni menu, wood-fired pizzas, pastas and salads) and the view unbeatable. When the weather is nice, sitting on the terrace, overlooking the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges is an ideal place to be. The interior is well-designed as befits the brand and is worth going to for good food if you’re okay with a bit of a scene and some attitude.

Juliana’s While tourists might be lining up at Grimaldi’s, you should head next door to Juliana’s, the former owner of Grimaldi’s who set up her own shop next door after selling it (long story on why it had happened). You’ll find a shorter line and better quality pies.

Vinegar Hill House A short walk away from the center of Dumbo and technically in Vinegar Hill, this restaurant is quaint, charming and rustic. Service and food can be hit or miss but when it’s on, it’s a wonderful and comforting place to be. The menu offers what is best characterized as comfort cooking meets bright, new Italian flavors. (Translation: it’s good.)

Gran Electra In the summer months, the backyard of this simple but delicious Mexican restaurant is the place to enjoy one of their addictive cocktails. The menu consists of mostly street-style dishes like tacos, which makes the overall vibe feel casual and comfortable.

Brooklyn Roasting Company With a well-preserved and executed industrial interior, Brooklyn Roasters is a fantastic coffee shop that’s set a little away from the hub of the action. You’ll find locals doing work on the various tables inside, conducting meetings on the comfortable couches or lingering to chat with staff. Du’s doughnuts (from Chef Wylie Dufresne), plus salads, soups and sandwiches are available. (There’s also Wi-Fi.)

Feed Shop & Cafe Inside of the complex that houses Cecconi’s, the Feed Shop & Cafe is bright with lots of, you guessed it, Feed bags for sale. It’s a nice, quiet place to do some work or escape the crowds.

Luke’s Lobster Roll This shack outpost of the popular restaurant is set up under the bridge and near the ferry. Luke’s lobster rolls are some of the better ones in the city and make the summer-in-the-city experience complete. It’s almost as if you’re walking the streets of Maine. Almost.

Almondine The scent alone will make you want to buy everything in there, from Madeleines and eclairs, to giant meringues and cookies. But first you’ll have to squeeze past all of the people on their way out.

Jacques Torres On what might as well be called a pastry and chocolate corridor, Jacques Torres is across from Almondine and is a quiet and more spacious cafe to go to for frozen hot chocolate, giant cookies that are gooey and taste like they are fresh out of the oven hours later and fantastic chocolate.

One Girl Cookies A beautiful space to spend a morning or afternoon with floor-to-ceiling windows (and amazing people watching), the store offers bite-sized tea cookies in a variety of flavors with four available for three dollars. Some can be on the dry side, so make sure to enjoy them with a cup of tea or coffee.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory At the beginning of Water street, near the ferry landing, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is a sight for hungry eyes, especially when the weather is hot. They keep flavors simple and solid. Get a cone and continue your walk around the park.

Forager’s A high-end speciality food store, you will find produce from local farms as well as local products like Four & Twenty Blackbird pies (buy them). Craft beer, charcuterie, sandwiches plus tables of breads and chocolates are available. Good for lunch to buy a few items for a picnic.

1 Hotel Rooftop Go here for drinks when the weather permits because the views are stunning. You can walk around the patio to see views of downtown Manhattan as well as Dumbo’s waterfront. It’s only a six-minute walk from Dumbo’s center, so even though it’s technically in Brooklyn Heights, it’s worth the walk.

Inside of the complex that houses Cecconi’s, the Feed Shop & Cafe is bright with lots of, you guessed it, Feed bags for sale. It’s a nice, quiet place to do some work or escape the crowds.

Brooklyn Roasting Company With a well-preserved and executed industrial interior, Brooklyn Roasters is a fantastic coffee shop that’s set a little away from the hub of the action. You’ll find locals doing work on the various tables inside, conducting meetings on the comfortable couches or lingering to chat with staff. Du’s doughnuts (from Chef Wylie Dufresne), plus salads, soups and sandwiches are available. (There’s also Wi-Fi.)

Luke’s Lobster Roll This shack outpost of the popular restaurant is set up under the bridge and near the ferry. Luke’s lobster rolls are some of the better ones in the city and make the summer-in-the-city experience complete. It’s almost as if you’re walking the streets of Maine. Almost.

Almondine The scent alone will make you want to buy everything in there, from Madeleines and eclairs, to giant meringues and cookies. But first you’ll have to squeeze past all of the people on their way out.

Jacques Torres On what might as well be called a pastry and chocolate corridor, Jacques Torres is across from Almondine and is a quiet and more spacious cafe to go to for frozen hot chocolate, giant cookies that are gooey and taste like they are fresh out of the oven hours later and fantastic chocolate.

One Girl Cookies A beautiful space to spend a morning or afternoon with floor-to-ceiling windows (and amazing people watching), the store offers bite-sized tea cookies in a variety of flavors with four available for three dollars. Some can be on the dry side, so make sure to enjoy them with a cup of tea or coffee.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory At the beginning of Water street, near the ferry landing, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is a sight for hungry eyes, especially when the weather is hot. They keep flavors simple and solid. Get a cone and continue your walk around the park.

Forager’s A high-end speciality food store, you will find produce from local farms as well as local products like Four & Twenty Blackbird pies (buy them). Craft beer, charcuterie, sandwiches plus tables of breads and chocolates are available. Good for lunch to buy a few items for a picnic.

1 Hotel Rooftop Go here for drinks when the weather permits because the views are stunning. You can walk around the patio to see views of downtown Manhattan as well as Dumbo’s waterfront. It’s only a six-minute walk from Dumbo’s center, so even though it’s technically in Brooklyn Heights, it’s worth the walk.

one girl cookies
cecconi's pizza
pastry selection at almondine

see & do

Walk the Bridge To get to Dumbo, take the ferry or walk along the Brooklyn Bridge when the weather is nice. So many great photo ops along the way. Otherwise, the subway is pretty easy.

The Waterfront By Brooklyn Roasters on Jay Street, there is a small path that you can take to walk along the water. The views of Manhattan as well as the rocky beach areas and park are ideal on a nice day and full of photo ops.

Brooklyn Flea On Sundays from 10 to 6 pm, the Manhattan Bridge Archway is filled with vendors from all over, selling things from all over. It’s a little chaotic, but it’s fun to walk through and browse, or snack on some of the items from pop-up vendors.

The Archway The arch under the Manhattan Bridge is a venue that’s constantly being used for all sorts of things. Some weekdays you’ll find picnic benches, plus food and drink vendors, other nights you might find live concerts, with the Brooklyn Flea there on Sundays. Check their schedule for upcoming events.

Picnic The best move on a nice summer day is to scavenge around the hood, collecting pastries from Almondine, snacks and fruits from Forager’s (and some beer, too, just don’t tell the park patrol we said this) and a pie from Juliana’s. Then head to the park, gaze out on the water and enjoy the beauty that is your life at this moment.

Carousel There’s a beautiful carousel on the Dumbo waterfront that is going to make a little kid’s dream come true (Or an adult who has kept their little kid alive).

waterfront walk
manhattan bridge archway
park

hotels

If you are flexible, then I would recommend using the app Hotel Tonight as that typically gives you good options at better prices as most hotels are expensive in NYC no matter what. Prices are always in flux, so make sure to look around.

Greenwich Hotel A luxury boutique hotel known for hosting celebrities who dine in the private garden and enjoy Locanda Verde’s cuisine both there and in the room. The spa has a swimming pool downstairs that’s worth visiting. The bar is only for hotel guests, which is a nice perk. $$$$ TriBeCa

Crosby Street Hotel Contemporary rooms with the stylish flare that characterizes hotels in the Firmdale Collection, we love the warehouse-style windows and light they let flood in. Located in the heart of SoHo, the hotel is an ideal choice for those who want somewhere that’s classy and a little fancy but not stuffy. $$$$ SoHo

Bowery Hotel Sleek, design-focused rooms with attentive service. The Bowery is understated quality but expect to see paparazzi waiting outside as the clientele is high end. $$$ Nolita

SoHo Grand Reasonable sized rooms with comfortable beds, a great lobby bar and ideal location, the hotel offers reasonable prices on Hotels Tonight or if you book ahead. There is a small gym and adjacent patio that’s nice. Plus, you can order a goldfish to your room for the duration of your stay. $$-$$$ SoHo

The Roxy Sister property to the Soho Grand, this boutique hotel underwent a recent renovation to update rooms and bathrooms. With a movie theater, an underground jazz bar, an oyster bar and Jack’s Stir Brew in the lobby, it’s a popular spot for locals and tourists. Service is friendly and attentive without being pretentious. $$-$$$ TriBeCa

SIXTY Thompson Modern rooms, convenient location, fabulous rooftop bar and good service. $$$ SoHo

1 Hotels Beautiful designs, approachable service and great public areas, the Central Park and Dumbo (BK) locations are perfect choices for people who care about lifestyle and appearances (in a good way). Make sure to check out the Dumbo locations rooftop bar. $$$ Central Park or Dumbo

11 Howard The pricing can depend at this new-ish addition to lower SoHo. The hotel is technology forward with tablets in the room that can be used to arrange and communicate with pretty much anyone. Bright, clean rooms with wooden floors and luxury, London-based products. The second floor is a cafe with working space, and the hotel has partnered with Higher Dose so guests get a discount at the infrared saunas located on property. It’s also part of the Marriott/Starwood family so ideal for using points. $$-$ SoHo

The Marlton It feels more like a cozy and cool bed and breakfast than a hotel in fantastic location. Steps from Washington Square Park, the hotel offers low-key service, small rooms and a cozy bar with a fireplace. $$ Greenwich Village

Arlo If you’re on a budget and want a clean, bare-boned room, and a lively hotel that puts a focus on communal space and experience, then you’ve met your match.  $$ SoHo, NoMad

extra tips

The grid Most of Manhattan, except for when you get downtown in the West Village and so on, is on a number grid. Avenues run north to south with streets running east to west. It gets confusing because some avenues don’t have numbers like Madison, Park, Broadway and Lexington. Plus, downtown there is West Broadway and Broadway that run parallel to each other.

Street signs  Pay attention to the street signs around the city, and you’ll notice that they are brown or green. When they are brown, it means that those blocks are historically protected to preserve the facade of the building, like most of the West Village, and you won’t find newer buildings there.

High Line Park It stretches from Meatpacking to upper Chelsea and is adorned with benches, beautiful flowers and traces of the original train tracks. In the summer, Terroir has an outdoor wine area plus other vendors are located near the Chelsea entrance.

The Whitney Located at the base of the High Line entrance, the building it stunning in itself and has gorgeous lookout points for water and city views.

Ferries and Beaches There is a great ferry service from downtown Manhattan to different beaches like Rockaway, Ft. Tilden and Sandy Hook. It’s a great way to escape the city heat for the day, if you’re visiting in the summer. There are also commuter ferries that connect Manhattan to Brooklyn and New Jersey.

have a good trip!

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