#10 - New York City: Checklist

On my first visit to New York, I wanted to see the famous New York City landmarks (the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, Central Park, and Rockefeller Plaza), but my friends told me that we did not have time to play tourist. We came to New York to check out the hottest nightclub. So we went ‘clubbing’, and hung out at SoHo and Greenwich Village. I guess for a twenty-something, New York City was a 'happening' destination.

Many New York City sites have been used as backdrop or featured in numerous films that we become so familiar with these sites. For me, the familiarity takes away the excitement from seeing a site for the first time. But New York City has so much more to offer than the tourist sites. Now or as a grown-up, I view New York City as a 'life-style' destination.  I visited New York on various occasions: to attend business conferences, to check out colleges or universities, and to attend graduation ceremonies. And it was during these types of visits that I got to check out the fabulous art scene and culture through its museums, the symphony, the Metropolitan Opera House and of course Broadway. 

Before my 6-day trip to NYC this summer, I tried to compile a list from "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" of what I had yet to see and do in NYC.  Since my list revealed that I have yet to experience the food-scene, I enlisted a 'foodie' who was studying and living in New York as my tour guide.

Little cakes from Black Hound Bakery
1. Statue of Liberty
2. Central Park
3. St. Regis Hotel
4. Eating & Dining
    Carnegie Delicatessen
    Daniel
    Le Bernardin
    Peter Luger Steakhouse
    Jean-Georges @1 Central Park West
    The Four Seasons
    Nobu
    Union Square Café
    The Italians (Little Italy) - including Mario  Batali's Babbo

I finally got to see the Statue of Liberty up-close, saw the NYC skyline and watched the joggers and other characters at Central Park. I could have stayed at St. Regis Hotel for at least 1 night, using my hotel points, but I opted to stay at a lower category hotel for more nights. As for eating and dining, we had a family celebration dinner at a nice restaurant in Little Italy.  I may die before being able to afford a meal at Daniel, the Four Seasons and Jean-Georges.  I crossed-out Nobu and Babbo for reason that they're no longer unique to NYC. But it's quite all right. This is New York City after all; a superstar chef or rising chef goes to New York to open a restaurant, making NYC one of the most vital food cities in the world. Lucky for me, my tour guide was on a student budget, but had a palate for Michelin-starred restaurant. Her attitude towards food was irresistibly contagious that I thought I just had to share her own words:

1. PIZZA – Can’t visit NYC without eating pizza. Try Lombardi’s in Manhattan (Nolita area), Grimaldi’s and Di Fara in Brooklyn. Both Lombardi’s and Grimaldi’s don’t sell by the slice but Di Fara does. If you go to Grimaldi’s you have to walk down towards the pier to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory which makes their own ice-cream. You’ll also be able to enjoy a pretty view of Manhattan and its right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Lombardi’s: 32 Spring St. between Mott and Mulberry St.
  • Grimaldi’s: 19 Old Fulton St. between Front and Water St
  • Di Fara: 1424 Ave J. at 15th St, Brooklyn
 2. Donut Plant- All donuts are made with the freshest ingredients. The glazes and fillings are made with fresh seasonal ingredients. Try the coconut glaze and coconut cream doughnut and crème brule donut. http://www.doughnutplant.com/ 

3. Levaine Bakery- The best fresh monster sized cookies. They’re best when fresh. www.levainbakery.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61Zba8jh5Wg&feature=player_embedded 

4. Black hound Bakery- Delicious little fun size cakes that make it easy to taste several flavors. http://www.blackhoundny.com/cakes.cfm 

5. Bouchon Bakery- Get the fuggedaboutit. 10 Columbus Circle (On third floor of shopping center) 

6. Chinatown ice cream factory. Generous scoops of ice-cream that includes flavors like taro, red bean, and almond sesame for a great price. 65 Bayard St (between Elizabeth St & Mott St) 

7. Chicken and rice cart 53rd and 6th. Probably the best chicken and rice cart in NYC. Be careful with the red sauce because it’s flaming hot, just put a few tiny drops for taste and then see if you can go with more spice. If not, you’ll have snot running down your nose and you won’t enjoy your meal. The white sauce is delicious- feel free to be generous with it. Two different types of meat: chicken and lamb. You can get one or all both together if you like. 

8. Boka: Get the Bon chon - delicious Korean style fried chicken. I recommend getting the half spicy and half garlic combo. Their Korean pancakes are pretty tasty as well. They also have delicious drinks and are known for their watermelon soju which is served in a baby watermelon. 9 St Marks Pl (between 3rd Ave & Astor Pl) bokanyc.com 

9. Katz and Carnegie deli- NYC has the best deli meat, but prepare for heartburn. Yummy pastrami but expensive and the portions are huge so be prepared to share.  

10. Shake Shack- One of my favorite places to eat. It has the best burger budget (they also have a good mushroom burger for vegetarians), hot dogs, fries, beer, and frozen custard. I love ending my meal with The Natural Crunch Stellation, vanilla frozen custard with chocolate toffee, and mini malt balls mixed in!!!!!!! Just a warning-the fries are ok. 

11. Pop burger- Yummy little sliders and the fries are awesome 

12. Mark- Great place to get delicious sliders, fries and a beer or wine. http://www.stmarksburger.com/ 

13. Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn- Nothing more to say then great steak! Surprisingly so, they have an amazing key lime pie with homemade whipped cream. 

14. Le Bernardine for fine, fresh seafood dining. Co-owned by Eric Ripert and featured in Bourdain’s new book Medium Raw. 

15. Mary’s fish camp for the best lobster roll and fries!!!!!! I can still taste it. http://www.marysfishcamp.com/ 

16. Nussbaum and Wu for their black and white cookie, an east coast treat. I personally prefer the all black or black and tan. Upper West Side 

17. Prune- Get the roasted marrow bones with parsley and sea salt appetizer, that’s all you’ll need! It comes with crusty bread for you to smear the marrow on. This restaurant was featured on No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert (co-owner of Le Bernadine and Bourdain’s bff) both enjoyed the marrow. 

18. Flor De Mayo- Peruvian and Chinese food. Yummy. They are known for their rotisserie chicken and huge portions. Two locations on the Upper West Side 

19. Rice to Riches- Rice pudding made over. I always get the sex drugs and rocky road flavor. www.ricetoriches.com  

20. Café Habana- Cuban/Mexican restaurant known for their grilled corn covered in mayo, chili powder, lime and cojita cheese. If you want a quick bite on-the-go they have a take-out restaurant next door. 17 Prince St. at Elizabeth St. (Nolita district) 

21. Baked Bakery in Brooklyn’s Red Hook district. Delicious cupcakes and cakes. My faves are sweet and salty, pistachio, and malted. I didn’t go for their red velvet because they don’t use cream cheese frosting. www.bakednyc.com  

22. Pommes Frites- I think what makes this place delicious is not just the fries but the sauce. This place offers a variety of different sauces for this popular side dish. 123 Second Ave. between 7th and 8th St.

Most restaurants participate and offer their menu at a discounted price during 'RESTAURANT WEEK'.  Check on-line for dates. 



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