- When: May 11- May 13, 2018
- Where: Rented room near the Times Square
- Transportation: 5hr bus ride from Boston to NYC on GoTo Bus
- Must see/do: Marie’s Crisis, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, “Hello Dolly” in Shubert Theater (or any other Broadway show), Bowlmore Times Square
- Food/drinks: 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar, Best Bagel and Coffee, The Bedford, Westlight, Hotel Delmano, Ess-a Bagel, Tipsy Scoop
Welcome to the eats, drinks and fun things to do in NYC edition! If you’ve read my previous NYC post “New York City Holiday Magic”, you already know that we go to the Big Apple a few times a year to visit Sean’s sister and his nephews. We both have been to this city on many occasions and already did all of the main touristy things that you would normally do if it’s your first time in NYC. Neither this post, nor any future ones will contain the generic sight recommendations as you could easily find those on google or Tripadvisor. Between spending our time with the family, we always make a point to see/do something new and exciting- after all you could spend a lifetime in NYC and still not be able to try all of the amazing places this city has to offer.
If you know me, you know that I like to eat. It’s not that I just like it- I NEED food in order to be a pleasant human being. Starve me and we might not be friends anymore. The hangry monster will come out and quite possibly try to bite your head off. Feed me!
While in New York City, we start our mornings with BAGELS. It’s something about NYC bagels that makes them special. You would not catch me with a bagel in Boston on any given day. Maybe the fact that I have this treat only a couple of times a year makes them so special? Either way- New York and bagels go hand in hand, so if you are already there, might as well have the good ones.
We’ve tried all of the three best ranked bagel places on Yelp and I have to say- there is not a major life changing difference. They all are VERY good. Currently #3 rated is Absolute Bagels. It’s one my first bagels experience in NYC, so in a way it feels more special. They have incredible cream cheese and if you are staying nearby- highly recommend it. We did not go there this weekend mainly because we’ve already tried them and it was not convenient from where we were staying and what plans we had for the day.
The one we went to Saturday morning, was called Best Bagel & Coffee. Ranked #1 and talk about the great name choice! It comes up first as soon as you search for the best bagel and coffee shop in NYC- brilliant idea!
I had Salmon bagel- well, plain bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and added capers. Sean chose bacon, egg and cheese on a toasted plain bagel. Both were AMAZING. One thing if I had to suggest- cut down on the salmon! It was SO much that it could have easily made another sandwich full. I felt bad talking some of it off, but it was simply impossible to eat all of it.
On Sunday morning, we decided to try #2 ranked Ess-a-Bagel. The first thing we saw when we arrived was the loooong line outside the door. We came at 9.50am.
Don’t let that scare you- it moves fast. We got our food in about 40 minutes. This time I went with a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel and walnut raisin cream cheese, Sean got same bagel, but with PB&J. It was heaven. The bagel was just out of the oven, perfect chewiness vs softness ratio and the cream cheese was super creamy and flavorful. I would stand in that line again and again with no complaints.
SHOWS AND DAYTIME FUN
We did not just eat in New York City as it may seem from the post so far. We actually had a very busy Saturday making sure that Sean’s nephew has a good time. Michael turned ten and that is a big deal! We all like musicals and good shows, so for lunch we took him to Ellen’s Stardust Diner. You don’t need a reason such as a birthday to go there. It’s not a kids only place. Actually, I think there were more adults than kids at the time we went. The food has good diner options- sandwiches, salads, milkshakes (they do have alcohol as well), but the real reason you would go there for is the experience! All of the wait staff sings and dances in between serving food! Some even do that while carrying a big tray of meals!
We loved it and so did our birthday boy!
Next was Broadway show. We went to Shubert Theater to see “Hello Dolly” with the famous Bernadette Peters. 2pm show was fully sold out and the music, the costumes and the performance were magnificent.
While visiting NYC, Broadway is a MUST at least once in a lifetime.
After the show, we continued birthday fun by going bowling! Bowlmore NYC is right across the street from the theater and has everything a kid and adults (kids at heart) could want for- big bowling lanes, arcade with tons of interactive games and a bar where you can order snacks and drinks.
We all had a blast- it was a great rainy day activity for all- the kids and the adults.
DINNER, DRINKS AND FUN THINGS
Just as for breakfast, choosing a place for dinner/going out is at the same time easy and very hard in New York City- how do you decide on where to start!? Well, I usually search online, base it on the weather, location and go from there. This weekend I really wanted to try the 230 Fifth Rooftop Garden Bar and Restaurant. As the weather forecast was iffy for Saturday, we decided to go straight there as soon as we arrived to the city on Friday evening. We made it there around 10.30pm and got in without any major delays. When I called a few days prior, I was told that it’s better to come before 10pm, since that’s when the DJ starts and the line gets longer. I am sure on a warm summer night the place gets packed quick.
It is a cool spot for the evening. You have a big rooftop terrace with two sides to it. One was very crowded, so make sure to walk around and find a spot. The place has great view of Empire State building from any corner.
As it was getting late and we had no other dinner reservations, we got a chicken sandwich and the rib sliders- yes, it’s bar food but it was surprisingly good. Also was the raspberry mojito! We could have stayed inside and danced- the floor was packed and the DJ was just getting started, but we were in a mood for dessert, so a few hours later we left and would certainly come back another time.
We have heard about Milk bar from the friends who saw it on the Chef’s table. It just happens that they are open until 1am- perfect for our current situation. We jump in a Juno (MUCH cheaper than Uber in NYC by the way) and a few minutes later we are ordering their signature items-bday truffle balls, cereal milk soft serve and birthday cake shake. You can’t go wrong, right? WRONG! Ok, the cake balls were great. It was only 3 of them in a pack (by the way, all of the above amounted to around $30- not so cheap for only 3 items). We get our shake and soft serve. I try the shake and the main flavor that I can taste is one of the milk that has gone bad! You ever tried milk that sat in the fridge for a week too long and before you throw it out, you give that one last unfortunate sniff and a taste? The one you spit in a sink immediately after? Well, yea, that was about how my shake tasted.
I go back inside and politely ask if maybe their milk has spoiled? The girl at the counter goes- try the soft serve. I obey- SAME horrible flavor! She says- yea, sometimes people confuse the taste of the cornflake milk with the bad milk taste, you are not the first one. This is their signature taste! There I thought I had a well versed palate… Tried all kinds of meals in my travels…But sadly, bad milk did not cut it for me. To the trash it went both the shake and the ice cream (and might as well the $30 with it). I’m not saying don’t go there. Maybe you have a different taste. But before you spend the money, ask for a sample and make sure you can stomach it. We would have avoided a big disappointment had we done so.
Before going home, we made one more stop- Piano bar in West Village called Marie’s Crisis. We’ve actually been here a few years back and loved the atmosphere and the fact that the WHOLE place was singing along with the piano man.
It’s a pretty small place, so there can be a line, but if you get lucky and the crowd is right- you will have amazing time listening to all of the most popular Broadway tunes. I’m sure it’s a luck of draw on who is playing the piano, how good of the singers come etc. Last time we were at awe how well everyone sang. This time- just like at the Milk bar, we were disappointed. It was more of a chatter than singing along, but it could have well been just the time of the night as it was getting pretty late. Regardless, I feel like it’s worth mentioning if you are in the area and want something fun to do.
Exploring Williamsburg (Brooklyn)
We pushed our Saturday dinner plans to later so we could spend the whole day with the family. By the time we got to The Bedford it was around 9pm and I was famished. We walked in, I saw that all the tables are taken and my heart (and stomach) dropped. I could not possibly wait any longer to get food. Lucky night for us! The host came, walked us across the room, across the hallway into ANOTHER room that had almost like a speakeasy vibe and we had our table with zero wait! It just got better from there on. Besides the atmosphere, the service, the FOOD was incredible! Highly recommend their brussel sprouts with mac’n cheese.
It’s THE cheesiest, most delicious creation that comes in a very hot little pot. We also got their chicken sandwich ( great recommendation from our server) and the cocktails that were both pretty and delicious.
Now MUST have a good dessert. The search ends here, with the Drunken Cookie! No alcohol involved despite the name. It’s a hot, soft chocolate chip cookie that you inject with MORE white chocolate from the provided syringe. O M G was it incredible!!
This was our first Williamsburg experience, so we asked the server if he had any other recommendations for the places in the area to visit. As he was not from around, he called the bartender who we really owe a thank you! He recommended to go to the William Vale hotel rooftop lounge called Westlight. The exact words were – if you want the best views of the city, go there and you will not regret it. You will thank me later. Well, yes, Mr. Bartender- THANK YOU! We would never had known about it and now I know for sure we will try to go back and catch a sunset there one day.
Westlight is a rooftop on the 22nd floor with bottom to ceiling glass windows for the enclosed area, as well as a huge outside patio with the sweeping views of Manhattan. The cocktails are not cheap ($17), but the views are well worth the visit!
Maybe because the weather was a bit chilly and it had just rained- there was no line to get in. The staff said it gets busier on the nice summer days, but I can only imagine how amazing this view is during sunset. Hopefully next time 🙂 !
To end our little tour of Williamsburg, for ‘the night cap’, the same bartender recommended Hotel Delmano. It’s certainly NOT a hotel. Maybe it used to be, that I don’t know. What I can tell is that it was yet another great recommendation! The ambiance, the staff and the cocktails were amazing.
Perfect end to a busy and fun day in NYC.
Last place I must mention is a Tipsy Scoop. Little ice cream shop located in Kips Bay area- short taxi (Juno, Uber) ride away from the Times Square. It is not a regular ice cream, so don’t get your children excited (actually you must be over 21 to enter). It’s alcohol infused ice cream and I have to say I was very impressed! Flavors are not overpowering and you get a tiny little happy buzz.
There is always something fun to do in the “City that never sleeps”. Thank you for reading about our weekend adventures. I hope it gives you some ideas for the future trips. It may not be the most traditional NYC guide, but it’s exhilarating to check out a new neighborhood, try a new cafe, bagel or ice cream shop. Happy exploring!