Julie Travels: Taking a bite out of the Big Apple! 

In between planning parties and work, I love to travel, so I thought it’d be fun to capture my travel adventures here to share them with you. I’ve been in New York since last Tuesday, part for vacation and part for work. NYC is one of my most favorite places to visit, and this week I’ll share with you what I like to eat, do, and see when I’m in the city. Today, I’m sharing with you all my favorite eating spots!

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Last week, Chelsea and I had so many wonderful meals and I also have some favorite spots from previous trips that I’m sharing. When I’m building out our travel itineraries, I always try to be strategic about where we eat based on what we’re doing that day. In NYC, I feel like this is especially important because it helps me narrow down options to a specific neighborhood so my options are in the hundreds instead of the thousands 🙂 Side note: a quick google search determined there are 24,000 eating establishments inside the city. WOW! 

I’m sharing my favorite eateries by neighborhood here, so you can reference my favorites based on your travel plans when you visit New York!

Local Chain:
My favorite local chain is ‘wichcraft, founded by Tom Colicchio (a judge on Top Chef). There are nine locations throughout the city, so no matter where you are, there’s likely one nearby. The sandwiches each have thoughtful ingredients making them unique and delicious. This would be the perfect stop to pick up lunch and take it for a picnic in your favorite NYC park.

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Upper West Side:
One of my favorites is Sarabeth’s. This restaurant has several locations, but this is the only location I’ve been to, and I’ve been there for brunch. I love their omelettes and the pumpkin waffle is delicious. The vibe here is chic and I love the sidewalk tables that make you feel like you’re part of that classic Upper West Side experience. It’s definitely a popular tourist spot, so reservations are recommended.

My other favorite is a total tourist trap, but since You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorite movies, I’ve been to this spot more than once; it’s called Cafe Lalo and the food is pretty good. So, if you love Tom and Meg as much as I do, check this place out. The mood here is very chill and quaint. My favorite spot is the seats at the window that look down onto the street so you can watch the passersby.

Upper East Side:
If you’ve read my blog for a while, or know me in person, you know that I have a major sweet tooth. So, it should come as no surprise that I love Serendipity 3. The frozen hot chocolate is amazing! I’ve had meals here before, too, but now I just go for dessert. I’d recommend that to you, too. Eat somewhere else for dinner, then head up to Serendipity for a late night snack. They’re open until midnight, so it’s the perfect spot to go after your nighttime activity! I’ve never been here when it’s not busy, so if you’re just going for dessert be warned – they don’t take reservations for patrons who are only getting dessert, so you might have a bit of a wait. They have a great little gift section right at the entrance and/or you can sit on the steps outside the restaurant while you wait, so at least you won’t be bored.

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Last night, I got to sneak away to the city for one last night out (I’m at a conference in Upstate NY and we got a free night in the city!). I met a couple sorority sisters at The Writing Room. It’s a favorite spot for one of those sisters who lives on the Upper East Side, and after last night’s meal, I can see why. I had one of the specials, the lemon shrimp risotto, and I loved every bite. We all split the citrus crème brûlée, and it was equally as amazing. I loved the urban industrial vibe and the way the booths and tables are laid out so that you don’t feel like you’re part of everyone else’s conversations. This place will definitely be one I’ll return to on my next trip!

Central Park South:
I love the Todd English Food Hall! It is such a little gem of a place with a wide variety of treats to enjoy any time of day. I’ve had breakfast, lunch, and drinks there from a variety of vendors and I’ve never been disappointed. It is located in the basement of the Plaza Hotel, and is a great place to pop into on the day you explore Central Park. Pick up a picnic before heading into the park, or stop in here to cool off with a cocktail and a cookie after leaving the park. On my trip last week, I stopped in for a frozé. Twice. And I don’t regret it one bit! 😉 I feel like maybe the Food Hall is an undiscovered spot, because it’s never overly crowded. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I always find a seat and rarely have to wait in line longer than five minutes to order food.

Midtown:
One of my favorite spots in NYC for drinks is the 21 Club. It is a speakeasy from the Prohibition Era and the drinks and appetizers are amazing. Its location makes it the perfect place to stop before going to a show! And since I’m apparently a sucker for restaurants featured in Rom Coms, I obviously also love it because the 21 Club is seen in One Fine Day. Love that movie. When you walk in, if you’re just going for drinks, you’re ushered to the bar area downstairs to the right, and immediately transformed into a speakeasy vibe surrounded by the dark wood bar spanning the length of the space, rich red fabrics and booths, and a ceiling covered in various odds and ends. Trust me, it’s worth a stop!

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Gramercy:
Friend of a Farmer is one of my favorite dinner spots in NYC. With it’s warm inviting atmosphere and delicious farm-to-table dishes, it feels like you’re at the home of a good friend eating a delicious meal made with all local ingredients. My favorite dish is their chicken pot pie. I’m hungry just thinking about it!

Chelsea:
Moving almost due west from Gramercy is the neighborhood Chelsea. Chelsea Market is always on my must-do list when I’m in the city. Like the Todd English Food Hall, it is full of food vendors and market shops. And they. are. all. delicious! It’s also home to Food Network, Google, and a few other businesses, so it’s always bustling with locals and tourists alike, especially around midday. There’s a lot to see here, so I like to plan on a couple hours, usually around a meal time, so I can sample several things from a variety of food vendors.

Meatpacking District:
It was my first time to explore the Meatpacking District – adjacent to Chelsea – this trip, and I found two new favorites!

A sorority sister recommended The Standard Grill to me for brunch, and it did not disappoint. I had scrambled eggs on toast and ordered the cinnamon sugar brioche donuts on the side. All delicious. And my brunch cocktail was called the Highline Fling (champagne, orange liqueur, grapefruit juice, and lavender). I loved it, and I’ll definitely be trying to recreate it at home! I loved the mood in this place – it’s very unique with a literal penny tile floor, white tiled ceiling in a herringbone pattern, and casual booths and tables. The space feels intimate and spacious all at the same time.

Another Meatpacking District (it’s actually right on the edge of the Meatpacking District and the West Village) find was High Street on Hudson. We went there for lunch, and it was great. I had The Best Grilled Cheese Ever. That’s what it was called, and you won’t get an argument from me on that name. I added ramps, and I feel like it really took the best grilled cheese to the MOST best. I enjoyed it with a glass of sparkling rosé. Drinks with lunch? Yes ma’am!

East Village:
Chelsea and I are huge fans of Top Chef. HUGE! So, of course, looking up restaurants owned by former contestants is always a place we start when researching where we’ll eat when we visit a city. This trip was no exception.

Chelsea found Root and Bone, owned by two former contestants, and it went to the top of our list. It’s a southern comfort food restaurant featuring fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, cheddar waffles (delish!), and a variety of other amazing looking dishes. We split a half “bucket of bird,” spring greens salad, and the buckwheat cheddar waffles. We also tried their Ramos Gin Fizz. It had gin, orange blossom, lime, and egg whites. Loved it! The whole meal was really delicious. I also loved the ambiance and the rustic chic decor. We ate an early dinner, so it wasn’t crowded at all. I’d venture a guess it gets crowded fast, because the space is small, so reservations are a must.

Narcissa is one of my favorite spots for brunch in the East Village. I went here a few years ago with my dad, and we had an amazing meal in this cozy spot. I loved how the entrance to the restaurant is tucked off the street and surrounded by lots of greenery, making you feel like you’re entering a secret garden. Once inside, it feels equally as quaint and very warm and inviting. The food was delicious, and my favorite part was the box of donuts we ordered to share (though, sadly, that doesn’t appear to be on their current brunch menu. BUT they do have iced cinnamon buns to share, so that’s a win!).

SoHo:
Have you heard of the cronut? If not, trust me when I say it’s a MUST TRY! It’s a half a croissant, half doughnut, and it’s made at Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo. I’ve had them twice in my life, and I think it’s safe to say, I’d like to go back there every time I’m in New York. It’s that good. Each month, the bakery features one flavor. That’s it. And they do it to perfection. For April, it was blood orange and almond and it was delicious. Both times I’ve gone, I’ve gotten in line at around 7:00/7:15 for their 8:00 opening, because they sell out fast. You’re limited to 2 cronuts per person in line, they move you through the tiny bakery quickly, and you take your cronuts to go. There are tons of other amazing pastry options at the bakery, too. Chelsea tried the almond croissant and said it was one of the best she’s ever had. I’ve had my eye on the cookie shot and the frozen s’more. Can’t wait to try those on my next visit. Mmmm!

Obviously my favorites list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the amazing places you can eat when you visit New York. Have you been? What are your favorites? Please share in the comments – I always love to try new places every time I go!

Have a delicious day, and party on!
JW

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