Let me start off by saying that I grew up in New York, born and raised on the Upper East Side. I didn't leave New York until college and afterwards I came back to live in Hell's Kitchen on my own for the next 4 years. I left New York to move down to Texas for my then boyfriend, now husband. Before we moved down to Texas we spent a summer living together in New York. I have not been back to NY since to live, only to visit friends a few times a year. My husband and I decided to live in New York for the Summer, something that we have been wanting to do since we left New York in 2014. We finally were able to do it this Summer of 2018.
I was so excited that I think I was just plain blindsided by this city again. It hits you right across the face when you land and leaves a lasting bruise until you leave again. We got a very nice sublet right in my old neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen on the 34th floor of a doorman building. The apartment had great natural light and beautiful views of the city- the complete opposite of my former apartment here. For the first few days I was very happy to be back. I missed the energy of the city, and forgot just how many people were around. I noticed things that I never really saw before, like how everything operates in the city as controlled chaos. I just don't get how so many things go on at one time but they all work in a noisy but perfect harmony. My dog's reaction to the city is pretty much how I felt after a few days- a scatterbrain.
New York is the kind of place where you never want to leave your apartment, but once you do, you want to do anything and everything. Truly the best things about this city are the restaurants and bars. No city in the world has the diversity of cuisine and cocktails as New York. Below are the list of restaurants and bars we were able to check off our list rated from best to worst. Some are restaurants/bars and some I did not include because they were take out/more casual. I wish I had more photos of the food to share, but most of the time we were dining at dimly lit restaurants.
1. Asiate- Located inside of the Mandarin Oriental. One of the best meals I have ever had!
2. Method- We became obsessed with Isakayas this trip. Izakayas are Japanese tapas. I highly recommend the eggplant and Ramen here.
3. Cocotte- One of the best traditional french restaurants in the city! Almost everyone speaks French here. We ate at their only outside table and I felt like we were in Paris.
4. Bar Goto- Another Izakaya, Get the Okinomiyaki, best you will ever try!
5. Batard- Incredible french restaurant in TriBeca. Everything from the food to the service was top notch, plus they have corkage.
6. Temple Court- A beautiful restaurant inside of the Beekman Hotel. It is worth it to go just to check out the historic Beekman. On Sundays they do free corkage, and it makes sense considering we were the only ones in the restaurant. FiDI is dead on the weekends, but because of that we got excellent service and an amazing meal!
7. Marea- This place is on the top of every "Best in NY List" We went here and got their two course lunch. Honestly didn't love it or hate it. It was very solid and tasty but I would not say it is up there with the best Italian I have ever had.
8. Davio's- A fantastic steak house with a million menu options and half price wine on Sundays. Love the popovers to start.
9. Harrow- A gem of a restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. Great food that tastes like home cooking with a relaxing ambiance.
10. Jean Georges at the Mark- Food was great and I love The Mark Hotel. A little stuck up though and terrible Sommelier.
11. Gallo Nero- We had our first dinner date here- classic Italian place but always delicious!
12. Pylos- One of the best greek restaurants in the city, literally everything is delicious and fresh.
13. The Drunken Horse- A wine bar/Italian Tapas. Best Flatbread I ever had!
14. A slew of wine bars in Hell's Kitchen with Italian Tapas: Ardesia, Wine Escape, Medi Wine Bar, Bricola, Bocca di Bacco- All fantastic and some we have been before but wanted to go back to.
15. Stanton Social- Always delicious, loved the arepas. The french onion soup dumpling were good but too heavy for the Summer time and smelled heavily.
16. Azasu- We looked up Best Izakayas in NYC and this was number 1. I enjoyed Bar Goto and Method a lot better but this place was very authentic. The food was very good and I enjoyed the decor and Sumo Wrestling theme.
17. Casa Mono- Great Spanish Tapas, always very unique.
18. Yefsi Estiatorio- Another really great greek placeon the UES.
19. Racines- At the bottom of our list. It got great reviews on yelp, but was not all it was hyped up to be. Limited menu- I mean there were only like 3 or 4 choices. Tasty but not too memorable.
20. Buddakhan- We stopped there for late night drinks and a snack. I actually have never been here and always wanted to try it. I got the Edamame Dumpling, basically tasted like mashed potatoes in a dumpling but so good! Probably would not go back to eat though, too touristy now.
21. Bistro Burger- Great burger when you are drunk/ the only burger I have eaten in a few years.
1. Fig 19- The coolest speakeasy I have been to, it is actually hidden unlike some of the popular ones. I will not tell where though!
2. Garfunkel's- A bar within a bar inside of a vaulted door. This quiet LES speakeasy is a great date place plus live music on Tuesdays!
3. Aviary at the Mandarin Oriental/ The Office- Some of the most creative cocktails I have ever had, with of course an amazing view and our server looked exactly like Ryan Gosling. After we had drinks at Aviary we went to their own bar within a bar speakeasy called The Office. Amazing drinks, although we spent a fortune all together.
4. Amor y Amargo- Great places if you love Bitters!
5. Raines Law Room- A nice speakeasy in Flatiron with beautiful decor and strong drinks.
6. Death and Co.- Been here many times but always solid and a place I like to go back to.
7. Sugar Momma- Honestly best hummus I have ever had and awesome drinks! Weird fact, we went here right after we landed in NY. I was watching Red Sparrow on the plane, and they were actually playing the movie when we walked in!!
8. Blue Ribbon Bar- Great little spot in the village. Loved the white asparagus.
9. Mark Bar- A beautiful bar on the Upper East side where you may or may not see a celebrity. We did not this time, but who knows maybe we did?
10. Blue Bar- Algonquin- A classic bar in NY. Everything is blue of course and they have pictures done by Al Hirschfeld on the walls. I suggest getting the Dorothy Parker.
11. Bowery Bar- A classic bar that is a must do in NY. We went here on the late night. It was very busy and were already way too far gone to enjoy it, oops!
12. The Royalton Rooftop- Nice rooftop with a great view of the Empire State Building. Drinks were okay, it is more for the view.
13. Lela Bar- Great wine, a little overpriced.
14. Randolph Bar- Had some refreshing drinks after a hot walk. Yummy empanadas.
15. M1-5 Lounge- not great drinks but good music and they have an awesome bottle chandelier.
16. Attaboy- Ugh so disappointing. We went to Lela bar to wait to get into Attaboy for about 45 minutes, which was fine. The worst part was I told the bartender I do not like sweet drinks at all. My first drink was fine but then he made the worst Negroni I ever had. How do you screw up a Negroni? Then he made me another one, it was again terrible and too sweet I could not drink it. I told him it is okay you do not need to make another one, and he says snarkly " Well I wasn't going to". We got up and left with a full drink on the bar.
In terms of other activities:
- A stroll through my favorite areas of Central Park twice. Starting at 79th street and walking down to Bethesda terrace to the Bow Bridge, then back again through the Mall and then ending at 59th street near the Gapstow Bridge.
- A visit to the Met and the Met Breuer. I got to see the Heavenly Bodies exhibit before it closed, plus an amazing human sculpture exhibit at the Met Breuer (The old Whitney space).
- A visit to the MOMA, two fantastic exhibitions by Bodys Isek Kingelez and Adrian Piper.
- Strolling around Brooklyn Bridge Park. It is SO different than the last time I was here. Everything is incredibly manicured and bougie now. New condos, storefronts, and restaurants are up.
- Walking the Manhattan Bridge for the first time. This was so great and not touristy at all. You get amazing views that most people do not every see!
- Went to La Duree on the Upper East side after the museums. I sat down for table service and ordered the biggest pastry on the menu and had some tea. For $15 it was well worth the time off my feet indulging.
- Strolling through the High Line, West Village, and East Village. I suggest touring the High Line on a weekday after it just rained. There are hardly any tourists and it is peaceful and beautiful.