It’s 8:30 AM in East Village, Manhattan. The weather is uncharacteristically warm and sunny on this October weekend morning and I’m lounged on a comfy grey couch situated in my friends second floor walk-up. I’m listening to blaring sirens of fire engines —what seems like every couple of minutes — outside the living room window, and footsteps trudging up and down the stairs in the hallway. The city is already alive; it’s loud and constant and bustling.
And I love it.
I flew to New York for work purposes; I spent some time with my US colleagues and our clients, and besides being super productive, we had a lot of fun. Knowing I wouldn’t want to leave, I decided to extend my trip to spend time with friends in one of my favorite cities. My bestie April has been planning our next-level NYC adventure together for some time now, and I was looking forward to experiencing New York with her again, in a different way. My dear friend Ashley moved to Long Island two years ago, and I also couldn’t wait to spend a night in her somewhat-still-new shoes.
My only problem? Every time I leave New York, my updated list of must-sees and must-dos grows. That being said, I love sharing new places to go and things to see in the cities I visit, so check out my post below for some of my favorite new NYC finds.
Please Don’t Tell
I spent my Friday night with my best friend April and her boyfriend Anup. After years of yearning to check out Please Don’t Tell, an exclusive Speak Easy that can take forever to get into, I finally got to go. We crept down the stairs into the specialty hot dog shop, Crif’s, and stood in line to put our names on the waitlist for PDT. Once I approached the legendary red phone booth, I stepped inside and picked up the rotary phone, dialing “1” and waited. A door opened to my left, startling me, and my name was added to the waitlist. We left to bar hop in East Village until we were called three hours later for our spot.
We were summoned inside, bypassing the long line of people waiting to put their own names on the waitlist, and were given a small table against the brick wall. The Speak Easy is long and thin, with a bar at the back. Fifties style cigar couches lined the wall opposite to us, and there were only about 12 tables inside. We drank a variety of cocktails (some on the menu and others custom-made by the bartender for us), and selected delicious Crif hotdogs from the PDT secret menu, available only inside the Speak Easy. The dog April and I shared was the ‘2Pok Dog’ which is described as a deep-fried Crif Dog with Pok Pok Wing Glaze, Crispy Garlic, Roasted Chile Mayo, Pickled Daikon and Carrot, Lettuce, Cucumber and Cilantro.
Usually, when something has been built up in my mind for so long, it is common to feel let down; the expectations are simply too high. This was not the case for my experience at PDT. I’m so happy I was able to experience it with two great people, and would suggest it to anyone who loves a vibrant lounge-style environment with great drinks and ambiance. Plus, it is just super cool.
The rest of the trip flew by even though we had jammed-packed our itinerary, as always. There was so much April wanted me to see in the neck of the woods that she and Anup spend so much time in. And I must say, it was nice not to have a huge list of touristy things to see… local food and activities were the focus of this trip!
One of my favorite activities from the weekend was visiting the SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Party; we rode the brightly colored giant fish as if we were kids again.
Stranded at Strand
We visited the iconic Strand Bookstore, which was something I have always wanted to do, and I wasn’t disappointed. The four floors of literature and music had me bursting at the seams, and the rare book section on the top floor was mesmerizing; in fact, I didn’t want to touch many of the books in fear of damaging them with my finger prints. I simply stared around in awe the entire time.
Food, Food and More Food
With my fun-loving coworkers, I ate at The Refinery Rooftop, which was a pleasant experience, especially with the exceptionally warm October weather. The food was delicious and the views and company we kept were fantastic. Jean, my coworker and friend, and I enjoyed a business dinner with our US Partners at the scene-y and always popular Catch (Catch was such an experience I recommend everything from the bao buns and crispy shrimp to the oysters and warm cookies), where we ate until we had to be rolled back over to our hotel, The Soho House in the Meatpacking district. (We had a free upgrade to our room which made it all the more enjoyable!) Jean and I consumed delectable avocado toast and cold-pressed juice in the Soho House Club Room for breakfasts, and enjoyed cocktails with colleagues around the rooftop pool.
At Sweet Chick I munched on dried cherry waffles and fried chicken as David Schwimmer ate at a table across from us. I recommend the maple glazed bacon, the cocktails and the lavender-infused butter.
Along the breakfast theme, April and I visited The Dirty French, and I loaded up on colorful lattes at Galarie de Cafe in the financial district and The End in Brooklyn. (Instagram helped me find these gems).
Another great spot I was happy to fit in was Toro. Our server gave us a free plate of sliders and a glass of wine on the house. The jamon plate was abundant and we had to take leftovers back to our hotel. Everything we consumed on the menu was delicious and plentiful; this tapas restaurant didn’t skimp! To top it all off, the location and atmosphere was perfect.
And yet, there was so much more to do!
April, Anup and I attended my good friend Ashley’s boyfriends hockey game at the Barclays Centre (Go Isles!) and enjoyed drinks in the Billboard Lounge. Beforehand, we checked out Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn for rooftop drinks, snacks and, my goodness, the VIEW.
For dinner on Saturday evening, Ashley, her boyfriend Thomas, April, Anup and I had some of the best Italian I have ever had in New York, at a Brooklyn restaurant called Lilia, featuring Chef Missy Robbins. I had the Sheeps Milk Cheese Filled Agnolotti with Saffron, Dried Tomato and Honey, after consuming an abundance of delicious appetizers. We ended our dinner with a light and flavorful olive oil cake.
Once again, I love New York
I’m beyond grateful to have friends to visit in such a magical city. New York never ceases to amaze me, and I love discovering new restaurants, cafes and events every time I go. The city is alive, and truly ever sleeps. And after this wonderful trip, I feel like I need a few extra hours of rest myself.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Big thanks to April and Anup for being incredible hosts in many ways (and April the travel organizer and tour guide!), Jean for being a great travel buddy, Ash and Thomas for our Saturday night fun, my US counterparts for hard work by day and fun times by night, and Apes, Shum, Ornob, Ash, Dan and everyone else for your recommendations! You know I’m always open to exploring everything new NYC has to offer! Apes, this was another trip for the books! Cannot wait until the next!