Oh New York City. My love affair with the city that never sleeps continues. It seems as though I somehow find myself in New York at least once a year. And no matter how many times I go, I always feel like there is something new to explore, an interesting experience to be had and of course, delicious food to be eaten. I often think that Toronto is changing so quickly and I can’t keep up, but New York is on another level. Frankly, I feel like this little travel guide could be irrelevant in a few a months. Nonetheless, I thought I’d give a little recap of my most recent trip so that if you find yourself in the Big Apple you have a few recos at your finger tips.
Where To Stay
This decision was an easy one. I was staying with a friend of mine in the Financial District, otherwise known as FiDi. It’s the section of lower Manhattan that has changed quite a bit over the last few years and not necessarily the ‘go-to’ to area for weekend visitors. As you would expect, its super busy during the work day but then come the weekend, it quiets down. At the same time, its an area that is full of tourist attractions so you get an interesting blend of suits and tourists. My friend actually lives in the perfect area, right by the water. All she has to do is take a hop and skip a few blocks down and she is walking along Hudson River. The biggest reason I like staying in the Financial District is probably the exact reason others don’t. The quiet. After a night of dining, drinking and even a little dancing, there’s nothing better to come home to than peaceful streets.
What To Do
This will cover mostly what I did in FiDi because to be honest, the rest of the weekend we just strolled the streets and wandered around, which is probably one of the better ways to experience New York. I did however have one of the BEST mornings on my first day. My friend had to go to the office for a few hours so it allowed me time to just explore the area like a local. First order of business, coffee. I found myself at Ground Central Coffee which was of course a blogger’s dream.
After a delicious latte and some well staged photos, I walked down to the water and through Battery Park. My first time seeing it as a matter of fact. Tourist bucket list, check! It’s such a lovely park to walk through. You can admire the beautifully manicured gardens and take in the interesting juxtaposition of being in a beautiful spot surrounded by nature and then just down the street there are sky scrapers as tall and as far as the eye can see. I guess that’s New York for you.
There are a number of different memorials to see and of course the stroll down the pier is just breathtaking. You can even spot Miss Lady of Liberty herself from a distance.
After my intake of oxygen and nature, I continued my way up along the Hudson River Greenway. Lined with beautiful community gardens and walkways that were canopied with trees, I could have kept walking forever. I eventually reached the World Trade Memorial site which I had also not seen. Definitely heavy to be in that space and take in the impact of the tragedy, how it affected the city and how they have risen from it.
I started heading back towards home base and stopped by to see the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl, iconic monuments of the Financial District which were of course covered with tourists. No good picture opp at all.
As I continued walking I discovered the cutest little area called Bowling Green and a market! Definitely spent some time perusing the stalls and even bought the cutest dress.
So all in all Financial District for sure has some advantages if you choose to stay there and some pretty significant tourist destinations to also check off your list.
Where to Eat
I’m gonna keep this section short because like I said, the reality is that by the time you read this and book your flight, there will be 100s of new and trendy spots to try.
Black Barn Restaurant, NoMad or Chelsea
This resto felt like a little throwback to Nashville since you’re basically dining in a barn. It’s a rustic dream come true and on the weekend you can enjoy Boozy Blues Brunch – bottomless Bloody Marys and live blues music. The Corn Flake Crusted French Toast and Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Biscuit were to die for. Highly recommend sharing.
The Standard, East Village
GO HERE. It’s all I can say, and it’s not for the food. Every Sunday, The Standard in East Village hosts Grabbin’ Balls – Bingo and Brunch. DJs, drag shows, bingo and brunch. It will be the best 3 hours you spend in New York, I promise you.
La Esquina, SoHo
Probably NYC’s worst kept secret, this seemingly no-frills Mexican cafe which serves delicious tacos and share plates also has a speakeasy style dining area in its basement which is of course, super exclusive. We took the layman approach and dined liked simpletons, which was still wonderful. If you’re curious enough, apparently the No Admittance/Employees Only sign is a big fat lie.
Believe it or not, this restaurant has been around forever, I’m talking almost 30 years. Serving up French-Vietnamese cuisine, I’d have to say this place is definitely more about the scene than the food. It was also a little bit too dark and the tables felt WAY too close to each other for the vibe they were going after.
Sons of Essex, Lower East Side
All I wanted to do was dance throughout dinner. The music here is ON POINT. All the 90s hip-hop and R&B with a touch of the more current stuff. The food was decent, a higher end take on pub food classics – think wings, flat breads, burgers,, fried chicken and share plates. Great spot to have dinner before a night out to get you in the mood. And carb load.
Uncle Boon’s, Nolita
This was my favourite meal of the weekend, and not because I got to eat in jogging pants and a jean jacket. The food was DELICIOUS. The space feels like you might be dining in a Thai mob boss’s basement but that just makes for the experience. With flavourful curries and inventive takes on traditional thai dishes, I wanted to lick my plate and order everything on the menu. They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait about an hour, even on a Sunday.
The Doughnut Project, Greenwich Village
Doughnuts seem to have made a resurgence over the past few years as a food trend. Since National Doughnut Day happened while I was in NYC, I had to try out the Doughnut Project. Known for their “small batch, hand crafted, yeast doughnuts”, they have come up with some pretty creative variations. I had the Prosecco Doughnut which was light, fluffy and didn’t really taste like prosecco but was lovely nonetheless. Some other crowd favourites, the Bacon Maple Bar, Those Beetz are Dope and the Lemon Love Letter. Get their early in the day, they sell out fast.
Overall, another wonderful, food filled, fun weekend in the Big Apple. I can’t believe how fast the weekend went by. I have to say this was the first time the city didn’t feel super overwhelming and I didn’t feel like an outsider. Maybe one day I could even see myself being a local. A girl can dream…