For our two year wedding anniversary, my hubby surprised me with a trip to New York. I had not been to NYC since I was a sophomore in college, exactly 10 years ago! Naturally, I ran and bought a guide book immediately. (My research showed that this guide book was the best one, and it did not disappoint.)
With most cities, guide books and online / pinterest searches can give you all of the best restaurants, sites, activities, etc. However, with New York, I was totally overwhelmed with all of the food options — there are SO MANY amazing restaurants to choose from. Being my maximizer self, combined with an insatiable desire to find the best places to eat (ahem, self-proclaimed foodie right here), I hit up my New York contacts for their recommendations. I also checked out one of my favorite (and most reliable) foodie websites, Eater.
So, I’ll start off this NYC recommendations list with my favorite places to eat, and then go to hotel, sites and activities.
- Jack’s Wife Freda – we went to the one off Carmine, the original location, and loved it. Totally Instagram-worthy with the cutest front entrance and menus/sugar packets/ coffee mugs/ the list could go on…
- Russ and Daughters – delicious bagel & lox. Another wonderful breakfast spot.
- Zucker’s – we stumbled into this place by chance and my hubby actually found it on yelp! This place had the freshest, most delicious bagels. I am officially ruined for bagels and probably won’t be able to have them outside of New York for quite some time. (Interesting side note: did you know that the right way to make a bagel is to boil them before baking them? If this intrigues you like it did me, you can read more about it here.)
- Kiss My Slice – small, little pizza shop that has incredible slices. This is what you imagine when you think of a New York pizza place.
- 53rd Gourmet Deli– another hubby Yelp find that was unbelievable. This is a little deli/market where you can pick up food from their hot buffet line or get a sandwhich, coffee or dessert. Wonderful black & white cookies can be found here. Dallas folks – think Eatzi’s X10 in terms of deliciousness.
- Zabar’s – large market several blocks away from Central Park; great place to pop over to pick up some snacks if you want to have a picnic in the park. We had their knishes and they were amazing!
- Shake Shack – we had not yet tried Shake Shack so we decided to try it in its place of origin before going to the one in Dallas which everyone raves about. It was a good burger, but I have to say it wasn’t anything that spectacular.
- PizzArte – this place is in Midtown west and we had it the first night we flew in. It’s a nice Italian restaurant that has pizza (very much unlike the street vendor, Kiss My Slice). This place has Napolitan style pizza and it’s quite delicious. Our waitress was really friendly and spoke Italian to us. (She thought we were Italianos – which I thought was pretty cool. J )
- Marea – this restaurant was consistently rated one of the best places to eat on Eater, OpenTable, etc. The place is fine dining, white tablecloths with delicious seafood. Every dish they bring has its own unique flavor and you can tell the chef spends his time with each plate they brought us. Great for celebrating an anniversary dinner, which is what we did there!
- Il Buco – this place is hip & fun! We had a reservation and they sat us at the bar, which at first annoyed me, but I ended up loving it. I recommend sitting at the bar of a restaurant if you don’t typically do that because you get a totally different dining experience this way. We sat next to tourists (not shocking in NYC) and got personal service by the bartender as well as a different perspective on this trendy place. Apparently there are grottos in the floor below the main floor – something we didn’t know about before we went – but I want to check out for the future! [After Il Buco, we stopped by Oddfellows Ice Cream Co. More on that below.]
- Fine & Rare – this is a great place for a group of guys, or if you’re trying to do something special for your guy, ladies. It’s all about the scotch/whiskey, there’s dark wooden booths and live jazz playing. Jacob loved it.
Coffee / Dessert
- Fave Ice Cream – Oddfellows Ice Cream Co. (the flavors here are out of this world – I had a blueberry/ honey / yogurt ice cream)
- Fave Coffee – Bibble & Sip (Alpaca-themed instagram-worthy coffeeshop – I had my first lavender latte which was unique & tasty!)
- Fave Black & White Cookie – 53rd Gourmet Deli (Apparently Zabar’s is also knows for black & white cookie but we didn’t try one there.)
THINGS TO DO
We flew in on a Wednesday night and had dinner at Pizzarte and walked around and saw the Rockefeller Center. Our full 3 day itinerary is below:
- Bryant Park – we stopped here to take some pics and enjoy the scenery on our way to the NY Public Library. It’s a beautiful sprawling lawn where people hang out. There’s also a cute little cafe called Le Pain Quotidien (instagram-worthy spot) that was closed when we were there, but a fun place to take a relax.
- NY Public Library (42nd and 5th ave) – this place totally satisfied my Carrie/Sex and the City fix while I was in NY. I was totally replaying the wedding scene where Carrie realizes Big isn’t showing up in mind the whole time we were there.
- Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – we got to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s Water Lilies, which were probably my favorite.
- Chelsea Art Galleries (I don’t recommend) – we did this because the Guide Book said to check them out. If you’re super #artsyfartsy and think you’d enjoy it, go for it. However, if not, there’s not much around there so you’re really going there to walk from gallery to gallery (where I must say, the art was pretty strange), and then will most likely need to take a taxi to your next destination.
- Chelsea Market – I absolutely loved this place! We only window-shopped because we had just eaten, but you could definitely snack (or gorge ;)) your way through it. There’s a super cute flower shop called Bastille (Instagram-worthy) where you can snap a pic!
- The Highline – beautiful 1.45 mile long elevated park that gives you a nice excuse to get your steps in (especially after a NYC meal).
- Central Park
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) – we got to see Caravaggio’s last two paintings, which was neat.
- 5th Avenue / Madison Ave – if you want to do some high-class shoppin’ while you’re in the city, these are the two main streets.
- The Brooklyn Bridge (We walked by it but didn’t have time to walk on it – next time!!)
- 9/11 Museum – as you’d expect, this museum is really tough and emotional. We got great advice to save it for the end of our trip. It’s definitely a must.
- Wall Street Bull & Fearless Girl – the feminist in me was giddy to take a pick with the fearless girl statue! Fun stop on our way to Battery Park.
- Battery Park – beautiful park at the confluence of the Hudston and East Rivers. Scenic place to stroll and take some pics by the water. If you look closely, you can see the status of liberty (which we didn’t make the trek to since we had both already been there before.)
New York Public Library
We stayed at the Michelangelo which is in a great location (close to Times Square and Broadway) in Midtown West.
We got to see Hello Dolly (with Bette Midler!!) which was incredible. Such a fun and lively show with an amazingly ornate set and props. Bette will be on stage through January 2018 so if you’re in NYC during that time, I highly recommend!
Hamilton: What can I say about this show that hasn’t yet been said? It’s smart and funny and entertaining and moving and educational and so beautifully orchestrated. I don’t want to give anything away so all I’ll say is Lin-Manual Miranda is brilliant!
I hope this helps you if you’re planning a trip to NYC in the near future, or if you want to tuck it away in your travel wish-list. If you have some favorite NYC places, or just general travel tips for choosing the best places to eat and sites to see, let me know in the comments below!