NEW YORK CITY
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WHERE TO SLEEP
Hotel on Rivington
Rumored to be the first boutique hotel on the lower east side, this hip albeit mildly outdated hotel has spacious rooms and good views. The location is one of my favorites in the city with easy access to SOHO as well as Brooklyn. For the size of the rooms and the location, the rates are usually pretty great. Note that on the weekend this neighborhood gets pretty lively so if you are a light sleeper you may want to consider a room on a higher floor.
This swank LES hotel is a beautiful, well-designed space and a has a cozy but chic lobby where one can relax and sip a cocktail after a long day of walking around. The rooms are not as large as some of the other hotels listed but I think they are the most tastefully decorated and have some incredible views. Request a high floor to see all of downtown Manhattan but if one isn't available, fret not, go to the 20th floor for a 360 view.
Newly renovated, this hotel has amazing views and great rooms with modern furnishing and plenty of room. Located in SOHO you have access to great shopping and within walking distance of the LES and the west village.
Definitely not in my favorite part of town but this hotel's rooms make up for being a stones throw from the theater district and Times Square. The rooms are huge and have unobstructed views of the city and the Hudson. There is also a great rooftop bar and terrace.
One of the Morgans Hotel Group hotels located in midtown. The plus to being in midtown is your central location to everything in Manhattan, otherwise it is a little crowded and touristy for my taste. The views in some of the rooms leave much to be desired but all are spacious, comfortable and sunlit.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
With seating for just over a dozen, this Japanese restaurant in Williamsburg is worth any line you have to wait in. The small dining room makes you feel as if you were transported to Japan and the food confirms that maybe you have. The brunch is a knockout but you can also go for ramen at lunch and dinner or on weekends for a prix fixe ramen omakase menu.
★Russ and Daughters
This Jewish deli has been an institution on the LES for over 100 years. The original store was moved from Orchard St. to E. Houston in 1920 which is where is still is today. Definitely swing by the shop for a bagel and lox to go or check out the cafe that opened in 2014 on Orchard St. for noshes and egg creams or get fancy with some caviar and champagne.
Another great bagel place in lower Manhattan. The diner has a retro feel with the best wallpaper and black and white tile floors. Get the Pretty in Pink, a beet and horseradish cream cheese and lox on a pumpernickel bagel.
This is my favorite wine bar on the lower east side. Their wine list is an extensive menu of biodynamic, organic bottles. There are also some great tapas to nibble on before heading to dinner. Unpretentious, yet romantic.
Ice & Vice
A funky, experimental ice cream shop with incredible flavors like bath salts which is lavender and pine stracciatella or the combo american beauty with rose petal jam and créme fraîche. Make sure to get a cone too, they rotate batches of unique flavors like blue corn or birthday cake.
My fancy pants go-to when I'm in New York is this stunner of a restaurant. Sourcing all of their ingredients from local producers, farmers and even their upstate farm. You can choose between the 4-course or 6-course tasting menu, I would recommend going big!
Housed in an old glass factory in Greenpoint (hence the name) is a yummy mediterranean and middle eastern restaurant with an awesome brunch. After eating take the East River ferry over to Manhattan to walk it off.
I know what you are thinking, why travel out to Bushwick just for pizza, I said the same thing for years. Just trust me though, it IS worth it. While you are waiting, and you will wait, head to the back for a drink in their tiki oasis.
This place is a critic and industry fave and once you dine here you will understand why. A killer wine list and crazy good small plates. Show up early or be prepared to wait but the good news is if you do have to wait they will text you, so go have an apertif at Ten Bells to whet your appetite.
Al Di La
This Park Slope northern Italian restaurant has been open for almost 20 years and after eating here I know why. All of the food is expertly prepared and the ingredients fresh and bright. For a taste of the Veneto while in Brooklyn, check this place out.
Around since 1936, this classic bagel and bialy shop has their methods down pat. Stop in for one of their signature sandwiches (I'm partial to the Cool Katz) or grab some fish and schmears from the cooler and a half dozen assorted bagels to go.
This not-so-secret Japanese bar tucked into a sushi restaurant in the East Village made me feel more like I was back in Japan than in a hotspot bar in Manhattan. This is definitely a classic though that has been around since the 90s and seems to have maintained all its charm over the past couple decades. This is definitely a place where you don't mind dropping $15 for a cocktail.
The Four Horsemen
The wine list here is so well thought out and specializes in unique, funky, small-production wine from around the world. The list is extensive but don't be intimidated if you don't know much about wine, all the servers are great at guiding you to an awesome bottle. Oh, and the food is incredible as well. I definitely recommend coming for dinner and drinks.
Come all the way to this Greenpoint restaurant if just for the house-made charcuterie and cured fish boards. Everything on the menu looks incredible, using fresh and seasonal ingredients. With alums of Spotted Pig and Vinegar Hill House running the show, how can it be bad?
Ludlow Coffee Supply
I know it sounds strange but I have always found a good cappuccino hard to come by in New York City. This coffee shop right next door to The Ludlow hotel has been my saving grace though. Brewing with beans that they roasted in Red Hook and serving great pastries and avocado toast, this is a great stop before heading off for your day. It also has a very stylish yet inviting space to relax in if you want to hang for a while.
Marco Canora has reinvented his fine-dining Italian restaurant to be more health driven without sacrificing quality and flavor using nutrient-rich, clean foods with healthy fats. Don't be turned off by the new concept though the menu is extensive with options from the ocean to offal. Everything I ate was spectacular and they have a great wine list. Don't miss the roasted cauliflower!
A stylish new female-run restaurant on the edge of NoLIta serving up all day breakfast items like fish and grain bowls with honey-cured eggs, tahini yogurt with sumac or chili-tumeric bone broth. This inventive food menu and the killer wine list will definitely have you wanting to return.
Come to this LES bakery to find some of the wackiest but most delicious baked goods in town. Anything ranging from an earl grey and orange filled croissant to a white sesame and saffron donut can be had here. If you are smart (aka a glutton) like me you'll come here a few times while in town and then bring a box of goodies home on the plane with ya!
This fun Japanese inspired soft serve shop run by a group of second gen Asian-Americans is the perfect spot to head to after lunch. Flavors like matcha tea and black sesame are served in fish shaped ice cream cones that have a secret pocket of either red bean or custard filling. Super cute and super yummy!
For only $42 you can choose 3 items of this extensive Korean family-style menu; with dishes like octopus and chorizo, sunchoke with truffles and oyster mushrooms and my favorite- sea urchin custard with heart of palm and fresh sea urchin atop. Pair all these delightful dishes with a bottle from their natural wine list or shochu and sake selection.
This is one of those restaurants where I feel words may fail me in trying to describe what an awesome culinary and service experience I had. Occupying the old Knitting Factory venue located on busy Houston St. you would have no idea how tucked-in, cozy and charming a place could be. The menu seems simple until you taste the complexity of the dishes, my favorites being the mussels on toast in escabeche (drink the escabeche!) and the lamb ribs with charmoula and honey, that is not to discount the other delicious things I ate here though. And the wine list, oh the wine list... I was so excited to see one of my favorite producers out of the small wine region Emporda (Catalunya) on this menu! And the somm went above and beyond to introduce us to another amazing producer from France that we were blown away by. This is definitely a special, date-night kind of place but don't miss it, I am considering flying back just to eat here again!
Another one of those places in New York that transports me back to Japan. Hidden on Eldridge just off Houston St. this warm and inviting bar specializes in Japanese comfort food like okonomiyaki and Japanese inspired cocktails. The kombu celery is surprisingly addictive and the cocktails, like most things Japanese, show just the right amount of restraint. This is a great place to start your evening, keep in mind that it is a first come, first served bar the later you come the more likely you are to wait in line.
WHAT TO DO
★Walk (or run) the Brooklyn Bridge
Whether you want the exercise or just the view, this is a great activity for everyone. Pick a beautiful, sunny day to get the best views the bridge has to offer.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
A beautiful park on the Brooklyn side of the bridge with trails, snack shacks and a carousel!
Picnic in Central Park
Take a snack and find a shady spot by the water to relax or rent a bike and head a little further in to explore and hike around this gorgeous urban oasis.
The Museum of Natural History
There is enough in this museum to keep you occupied for days so plan ahead and map out a route. My favorite parts of this museum are definitely the planetarium and the hall of gems.
One of the best modern art museums in the world with an unparalleled collection of work totaling over 200,000 pieces. If you just want a taste, check out the museum on Free Friday nights from 4-8.
★The Whitney Museum
An all American art museum with works spanning the 20th century to present. There are amazing paintings, sculptures, photography and film to help understand the history and artistic process of artists in the United States from 1900 to now.
A 1.45 mile long park that has been built on a old elevated railway line on the west side of Manhattan with shops, cafes, gardens and art installations.
The Tenement Museum
This museum is by far one of my favorite in the world. It is a must visit while in New York. The museum on Orchard Street is a time capsule dedicated to preserving the history of the immigrant population that built the lower east side from the late 1800's to the 1930's. Pick a floor to tour and you will be blown away by the stories they have uncovered in researching this building and neighborhood.
The Magician at the NoMad
You don't have to love magic to enjoy this incredible, classic 2 hour long show. Dan White's show has been written up in Vanity Fair and viewed by celebrities from Questlove to Aaron Paul. The room is intimate, seating about 60, so you have a great view no matter what but make sure to set your calendar for when tickets go on sale because they sell out quickly.
WHERE TO SHOP
An emerging artist collective with everything from clothing to handmade housewares. A great place to find a unique gift.
The Rising States
A small boutique on the lower east side with a well curated selection of women's clothing, shoes and accessories.
A worldly array of unique objects. You can find anything from housewares to perfume, silk scarves to men's socks, or pencils and stationary.
Nostalgic candy shop that will make you recall your childhood. They have everything from XL candy bars to baseball cards and bubble gum.
In the mood for some thrift shopping? Visit one of the many Housing Works in Manhattan and Brooklyn and know that your money is going to help provide housing, medical, support and prevention services to New York City residents.
You won't find too many independent boutiques in this neighborhood in fact it is an area of town best know for all of the international retailers available. You can go anywhere from H&M to Versace and buy chic glasses, a handbag and get a blowout all on one block.
Do you like chocolate, bitters, fresh cut flowers and artisanal salts? Oh good, me too! This store is such a delight to be in, they have salts from all over the world, small batch chocolate bars and hand crafted bitters. All of which are available to sample before purchase.
A small retail offshoot of Monocle Magazine located in the West Village. This tiny store packs in some amazing housewares, mens' clothing, accessories and of course, Monocle books.
Specializing in well sought out vintage and used modern clothing it is no wonder that this Brooklyn-based chain of stores is consistently rated a top shopping spot. With multiple locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan feel free to stop by all of them for a chance to find something awesome.
Forgot your book at home? This iconic book store has an ENORMOUS selection of new and used books as well as rare, hard to find titles.
I'm pretty sure they are single-handedly responsible for the stacking rings trend. This great jewelry shop in Williamsburg has more than just delicate rings though, check out their beauty products and home goods too.
Looking for a new pair of shades? Look no further than this iconic eyewear shop on the lower east side. Moscot's has been around since 1915 and they have an amazing selection of glasses to suit everyone's taste. Fans include, Michelle Williams, Lebron James, Johnny Depp, Ryan Gosling, and me!
Another great shop to put on your list is this small book store that specializes in used and rare books on art, cooking, photography, design, poetry and a variety of other topics.
Malt & Mold
Even if beer isn't your thing make a stop at one of the two locations of this great cheese and brew shop. Their speciality is beer but there is also a great selection of locally made food items like NY whiskey truffles, Brooklyn made pickles, jams of every type and locally baked breads. If you happen to be around on a Thursday or Saturday you can even check out their weekly tastings.