the wonderful world of veena.

08 May 2014

veena's version of things to see and do in nyc.

I realize this is horribly late, since I returned from my NY trip over a month ago, but I figure there's still some useful information in here, so I now present to you my impressions of all the places I ate and drank during my week-long visit to New York at the end of March. You're welcome.

[also, be warned: this is going to be a very long post. but it's got pictures!]

to eat [and occasionally also drink]:

On my first night in town, Maggie and I had dinner at Bonchon. Known for their chicken dishes, we nonetheless managed to find some vegetarian dishes for Maggie, and we had ourselves a nice little romantic dinner together, hidden away at the back of the restaurant and pretty much only seen by our server. The food was good, although the portions was far too big, and I ended up taking most of my main course home with me. It was a little pricey - by my standards, not New York's - but two people could easily split the main dishes and therefore the bill, which would make it less so. It was a nice place, but I would recommend a few of the other places on this list ahead of it. insider info: Bonchon has multiple locations. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea which one we went to. It was my first night in town, and we went from an event in Union Square, so your guess is as good as mine.

On the first morning that I met Jason for work, he took me to Four Eighty Two Court Cafe for breakfast. It's a cute little coffee shop around the corner from his house in Carroll Gardens, and although it's only been open for about 3 months, it looks as though it's been there for years if not decades, seamlessly blending into the neighbourhood around it. Although I don't drink coffee, their hot chocolate was pretty good, and the ham and cheese breakfast croissant I had was delicious. Drinks and sandwiches for both of us was $20, which seemed a little steep for me, but it was definitely a nice place. insider info: Location: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. We went around 10.30am, and there were only 2 other people in there.

I actually got to eat at Calexico twice - once near Carroll Gardens for lunch with Jason, and once in Greenpoint for lunch with Maggie. On one occasion I had a carne asada burrito, which was awesome. So tasty, and the salsas they give you add just a perfect hint of extra flavour. When I had lunch with Maggie, she and I split a lunch special, which was perfect -- 2 mini-tacos, Mexican rice, and chips and salsa. It was just the ideal amount for each of us, and at only $5 each, it made both of us happy. If you're ever in New York, make sure to check out one of their locations or food carts. insider info: Two locations in Brooklyn, both are cool in their own way. Didn't see the lunch specials at the Carroll Gardens location, though.

Maggie and I stumbled upon Brother Jimmy's BBQ in Union Square because we were in search of fried stuff one night, and the bartender at Headless Horseman pointed us in their direction. We walked in the doors and immediately felt like we had been transported into some warped version of the South. They have bbq as well as some pretty legit mac 'n cheese, they have fried okra, and they have my personal favourite, the pickleback shot. Abi and Sastri were so intrigued by my descriptions that they insisted we return on Sunday night for dinner as well. insider info: Location: E 16th St near Union Square. The ribs are just ok [keep in mind that's coming from a Memphian], but the drink options are pretty great. And the sides are legit, except for the mashed potatoes and gravy.

[our sunday night dinner spread - ribs, fried okra, and mashed potatoes and gravy]
On Sunday afternoon I met Sastri, Bianca, and some of Bianca's friends at Fred's for brunch on the. B and I had discussed doing Sunday brunch, and Fred's was one of the more interesting options that popped up on my Yelp search [bonus points for being walking distance to Sastri's and my next stop, the American Museum of Natural History]. We didn't have too long of a wait, thanks mostly in part to Bianca's friends who got there early and got their names on the list. Fred's has a great brunch deal - $16.95 gets you an entree plus a cocktail / juice and coffee / tea. I went with a Salmon Benedict, which was delicious, and a Bloody Mary, which was excellently made. But the highlight - for everyone, I think - were the homemade muffins with strawberry butter. Those alone are worth any wait you might have to incur. Definitely hit this one up if you're in the city. insider info: Located on Amsterdam Ave on the Upper West Side. Next time I go, I'll get the normal Eggs Benedict.

[salmon benedict. that's right, i said salmon benedict]
On my last night in the city, Abi, Maggie, Tyler, and I had dinner at Emporio. It's a lovely little place that feels super cozy, and we definitely settled in for a few hours. We had a few bottles of wine, we shared some yummy appetizers [the wood roasted beets and the risotto croquettes], and we enjoyed some delicious meals [Maggie and I split a pizza, because they're ginormous]. It's a little on the pricey side, but it's definitely worth it if you want a nice dinner with some great ambience. It also gets bonus points for being right around the corner from Abi's house. insider info: Location: Mott St in Nolita. If you have more than 3 people, just split a bottle of wine. The pastas are great for one person, but the pizzas should definitely be split between two people. And definitely get dessert - we had some sort of chocolate-filled crepes, and they were delicious.

On Wednesday morning, before heading to the airport, I met Nate for breakfast at the Silver Spurs Diner. I'm a sucker for a diner, so I loved the atmosphere, and the flapjacks I had were both delicious and exactly what I needed to soak up the last little bit of alcohol left in my stomach from the previous night. Diners are always a good decision. insider info: Location: corner of Houston and LaGuardia Pl. Get the flapjacks. And then call me and thank me.

to drink:

Maggie and I discovered the Headless Horseman by sheer luck. We weren't able to get into the improv show we wanted to see on Saturday night, and not knowing anywhere to go near Baruch College, we decided to head back to Union Square, an area we both knew better, and see what we found. When we searched on Yelp, we were both intrigued by any place called the Headless Horseman, so we decided to check it out. Even though it was Saturday night, we managed to snag the last two seats at the bar, so we decided to hang around for a bit. The drinks were pretty reasonably priced, and the fries with aioli were delicious. And when we were craving fried stuff, it was Marco the bartender who pointed us in the direction of Brother Jimmy's. I was back on Sunday with Abi and Sastri, and even though the kitchen was technically "closed", Marco managed to score us some freshly-made fries, so the HH has a customer for life in me. Bonus points for just being cool. insider info: Location: E 15th St near Union Square. Happy Hours every day from 4-8pm. Tell Marco I said hey.

For our last stop on our Saturday night adventures, Moo and I ended up at Toby's Public House. It was pretty late when we got there, so the kitchen was closed, but we just wanted to chill and have a drink, so it was fine by us. It was also pretty empty by the time we got there, so we snagged a big high table for ourselves and settled in. We both opted for a Bloody Mary which was delicious but extremely large; neither of us were able to finish it, even after nearly an hour! If I'm not mistaken, it had jalapenos in it, which was awesome. insider info: Locations in Nolita and Brooklyn. The wood-fire pizzas looked legit, but we were too late for food.

When searching for places to go on Sunday evening, Sastri and I discovered Pete's Tavern near Union Square [it's a good area]. It's fancier inside than either of us expected, more of a dinner-with-drinks place than a place to just drop in for one round. Regardless, we both and Abi stayed and had a drink, and it was nice. The prices were pretty reasonable, and the place was pretty cool -- we had fun looking at the pictures of famous people who had been there that are up on the walls. insider info: Location: E 18th St near Union Square. I would suggest going for dinner as opposed to just a drink; the food menu looked pretty good.

And last, but certainly not least, was Mother's Ruin. After our dinner at Emporio we all decided we wanted to have another drink, and Abi suggested Mother's Ruin as one of her favourite places, so off we set. It was hopping when we got there around 10.30pm and continued to hop until Abi and I left around 2.30am...? We had a great time, and even managed to make a few new friends. It's a great neighbourhood bar to check out if you're ever in the city. insider info: Location: Spring St in Nolita. Those pickleback shots are dangerous.

other things to do:

Sastri and I both like dinosaurs, so the American Museum of Natural History was a natural choice for our Sunday afternoon outing. We spent a couple of hours overall inside the museum, with most of it spent exploring the dinosaur exhibit, which was seriously cool. We saw a bit of the exhibits on Native Americans, but as the museum was getting ready to close, we unfortunately had to cut those short. I loved the museum, though, and would love to return the next time I'm in the city. insider info: Location: Upper West Side. The lines for the lift are far too long; unless you have strollers or wheelchairs, take the stairs.

[this is what greets you as soon as you walk into the museum]
[and this is what you see upon entering the dinosaur exhibit the back way. sastri and i like to do things differently]
[freaky long arms. i would hate to see this thing flying toward me]
I feel like I don't really need to tell you to go to Central Park, but here it is just in case. It's such a fabulous space smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, and you can't help but feel you're in a special place when you're there. It's been immortalized in so many books and television shows and movies, and yet it somehow distinctly becomes your own space, too. I have sat for hours and just watched -- the people walking and running, the families playing, the students sunbathing or reading. It's a pretty wonderful place. insider info: I don't have any. Just go.

[even on a cloudy sunday evening, it still feels kind of magical]
There are tons of other museums to see, historical sites to visit, and things to do. I didn't get to do all of those since I was in town for work, but they're all worth a visit if you have the time. There is never a shortage of things to do in a place like New York City.

getting around:

If you're traversing New York City, you've got to use the MTA. I personally know the subway best, which isn't really saying too much. It's confusing as hell, but there are plenty of apps to help you navigate, and once you get the hang of where you need to go, it gets easier. I still have trouble with all the different exits once I get to a station, but I just get myself above-ground and then figure out where I need to go. insider info: there are options for unlimited ride 7-day and 30-day MetroCards, so if you're in town longer than a few days and will be using the subway a lot, those are great options. and hold on to your MetroCard if you think you'll be back anytime soon, mine that I got in March doesn't expire until June 2015!

There is no shortage of cabs all throughout the city, but I'll be honest, the only time I took cabs were between the airport and my cousin's apartment. They're more expensive than the subway or buses, and you run the risk of getting stuck in traffic. I was extremely lucky in that Abi's apartment was less than a 10-minute walk to about 8 different subway lines, so I also was never in great need of taking a cab. And the only reason I did it for the airport is because unlike with JFK, the subway doesn't run directly into LaGuardia, and I didn't feel like lugging my suitcase around. If I had my rucksack, it probably would have been a different story.

There are also tons of new apps such as Uber and Lyft where you can book a car online and get picked up from wherever you are and dropped to your exact destination. If it's super cold out - or if you're in a precarious state - these can be better options than searching for a cab. And your credit card information is saved on the app, so the payment is automatic. We got an Uber ride home from dinner the first night, and it was pretty cool. Both Uber and Lyft are constantly expanding their locations - I know Uber is in Bombay, and both just arrived in Memphis! - so if you live in a city that has either or both, be sure to sign up. I know Uber also offers discounts if friends sign up using your referral code, so use your online networks to get free rides around your city [I don't know if Lyft offers this, but it's something to look into]. As a reference: I just signed up in Memphis, and the fare from downtown to my home, about a 40-minute drive, is roughly $30. That is significantly cheaper than a cab, it's safer, and it creates the option of going out with friends and not having to drive back home.

I told you it was going to be long, but I think I'm finally finished. Hope you find some sort of useful information in all this rambling.

Here's to New York.

No comments:

Post a Comment