on Facebook

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Intro to the Big Apple - Local Style

Alright readers- sorry I've been MIA. I have SO much to tell you. So I returned from Europe (yes still working on updating and immediately started wandering the U.S. visiting friends during my unemployment. I also made a trip to New York to network and find a job. Yup, that's right.

Fast forward three months and I have been living it up in the Big Apple for the past month. To repay you for my lack of attention I wanted to give you a preview of what I've found in NYC so far - what I'm liking and what could be skipped.
To help categorize I've put them into the neighborhood where they are located (I'm an epic fail at the neighborhoods but these should be close enough). The neighborhoods are in ABC order as are the places.

So this hopping brunch spot is a block away from my apartment so I tend to frequent it quite a bit even though I'm not in love with the food. The atmosphere is homey and refreshing after a long night of drinking but the food could be better (than again maybe it's the hangover...). The one dish that I do love is the Roast Beef Press with Swiss, Sauteed Onions, Horseradish Sauce & Au Jus. Don't be turned away by the line when you first walk in. You wait in the line to order and than walk to your table which is designated by a handkerchief that one of the staff familiarizes you with. It's pretty laid-back but they do serve beer and my friends and I have been known to bring Lavo to Grey Dog.

Photo Credit: Chad W. on

Merchants NY
This little bar is right around the corner from my apartment and I kept passing it wanting to walk in. They have a great little patio with chairs in front when the weather is warm. I finally stopped in and had the bruschetta and the pigs in a blanket. Both were delicious! The random glass of wine I ordered was also amazing and not that expensive. The waitress has white blonde hair, covered in tattoos and a pleasant smile. It's a great place to just hang out and chat. I'm hoping it becomes my "Cheers."

I was a little worried about sushi after having lived in L.A. for eight years but I was pleasantly surprised by Momoya. Another place right in my "hood," turns out this little sushi restaurant is no joke. I had the Momoya Spicy Tuna wrapped in seared yellowtail with almond on top, the spicy tuna crispy rice, the Greenwich roll and the gyoza pork with chili soy sauce. They were all extremely tasty. One thing to note though is that they do not have a full bar, just wine, sake and beer so keep that in mind. It's a great place to start the night though and it isn't terribly hard to get a table.

One of my new favorites in town, the Tippler is another speakeasy-esk bar that just opened in the bowels of Chelsea Market (where I conveniently work). Thus, this has become not only a great happy hour option but also a fun late night hangout complete with live bands from time to time. The bartenders are relatively friendly although be prepared to wait because the crazy cocktail concoctions take some time to make. Call ahead to reserve a table or just wander the relatively large space and make some friends!

Photo Credit: Tippler Website


This place is tricky to find since you feel like you are walking into a random shop only to come around the corner and end up in a secluded little sake bar. I'm not a huge sake fan so I probably wouldn't come here again but if you are this place is super authentic and really really cool.

Photo Credit: Decibel Website

Grape and Grain
Grape and Grain is one of my more recent restaurants - in fact it's technically two! Built right next to each other, you can either enter "Grape" which is a little more comfortable and cozy with cushioned lounges or "Grain" which is a little more wooden high top bar. You can order the same menu at either so it just comes down to the ambiance you prefer. I had the chorizo in a poncho, the beer sausages and the chocolate torte with fresh mint and honey ice cream and hazelnut chocolate sauce. The chorizo was okay, the sausages (really pigs in a blanket) were tasty and the dessert hit the spot. Not the best food I've had in NYC and a little expensive but a fine place for a date.

Photo Credit: G&G Website (Grain Side)

Photo Credit: G&G Website (Grape Side)

Please Don't Tell
At 113 Saint Marks Place there is a hot dog shop called Crif's Hot Dogs. I'd first like to point out that the corndog they make is pretty outstanding and they also have tater tots which are the best way to get me to love a place. But the "special" part of Crif's Hot Dogs is the phonebooth in the corner. Step inside, pick up the phone, and tell the man on the other line how many people are in your party. Ideally make a reservation in advance. If you're lucky the side of the phonebooth will open up and you will enter Please Don't Tell, a tiny speakeasy on the other side of the wall. It's really fun to do once for the novelty; after that you probably don't need to go again. But I did see Macaulay Culkin last time I was there!

Photo Credit: Please Don't Tell Website

Second on Second
If there is one thing I can't say "no" to it's karaoke. I stumbled (literally) into this place one night and was immediately taken with it. It was a random Friday night during Thanksgiving and yet there was still a good crowd. There's a large floor area for the karaoke that holds 125 people or you can opt for one of the private rooms if you want to pay. The song selection is pretty good even if the talent isn't. Happy hour is from 6-9pm and I feel like they close pretty late. I was a big fan and will totally return!

Photo Credit: Second and Second Website


Bounce vies with Blue Haven as my favorite bar to watch football. I'd say Bounce is a better option for college football especially if you are a Penn State fan as the whole bar is over run by alums on Saturdays. It can get VERY crowded but you almost don't care but it just adds to the atmosphere and even when at capacity you can still easily get a drink. There are TVs everywhere so you don't have to worry about being able to see and the food is amazing!!! I highly recommend all the following dishes:

grafton cheddar, fontina, gruyere, thyme, shaved black truffles

mini beef pretzel hot dogs, spicy mustard

asiago cheese, marjoram, white truffle oil

And that doesn't even cover all the things on the menu that sound amazing that I haven't had a chance to get yet! This place is definitely fratty with hip-hop music and a lot of testosterone but that's probably why I love it.

Photo Credit: Bounce Website

Flatiron Lounge
I've literally only spent about five minutes here but I really liked the speakeasy underground feel of the place. It is very posh-looking with low lighting. However, it is pretty small and the music was REALLY loud so we didn't stay long because it wasn't the scene we were looking for at that particular moment. I'm definitely interested in coming back though!

Photo Credit: Flatiron Lounge Website

So I've also only been here once but loved the atmosphere - it's a total happy hour place with great beers and chicken tender strips with honey dill Dijon mustard. A good place to find a finance guy if that's what you're looking for or a good place to start a weeknight adventure! I would definitely return to spend more time in this elegant looking establishment.

Photo Credit: Jazz F. on


So I'm not particularly impressed with the food at this place. In fact it isn't that good. I recommend sticking with eggs your way. But what gets this place on the list is the all-you-can-drink mimosas and bellinis on the weekends. That makes this a much better place to hang out. Not to mention the ambiance is homey and some of the waiters are hot.

Photo Credit: Barbounia Website


Alta began one of my foggiest nights in memory thanks to the extremely potent sangria they serve. The food is excellent Spanish tapas and the restaurant itself feels lost in time (in a good way). A great place for a date or a girls night out. My top favorite dishes were the fried goat cheese with lavender-infused honey, the lamb meatballs with spiced butternut squash foam, toasted sesame seeds and lebne, the crispy brussels sprouts with Fuji apples, crème fraiche, and pistachio nut, and the braised short rib of beef with beet-barbaresco taglierini and fresh grated horseradish. And that barely makes a dent in this amazing menu. Definitely one of my top restaurants in NYC!

Photo Credit: Alta Website

Blue Haven
Already turning out to be one of my favorite spots in NYC especially for Sunday NFL games. The food is amazing - I highly recommend the chicken and biscuits (buttermilk chicken tenders with two eggs your way served with sausage gravy on a homemade biscuit) or the pulled pork sliders. If you are feeling extra crazy you can take the "Blue Haven Challenge" which is a foot-long chicken and biscuits that you have to eat in under 30 minutes (four chicken tenders, 6 eggs your way and smothered in a sage sausage gravy). Survive and you get it for free. The best spot in the house is in the far back room which if your party is big enough you can take it over for the afternoon. Sports bar feel but a little more homey and always energetic but never crowded.

Photo credit: Rory M. on

Photo Credit: Bryan B. on


This little pizza place is AMAZING. It's an intimate space with little tables and a small bar chalk full of delicious wines and beers. You buy your pizza by the inch (long, narrow pies) and my favorite by far is the "Dante" featuring tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy capocollo, peppers, basil & extra virgin olive oil. It has just the right amount of kick! A great place to catch-up with friends or for a romantic date for two. Definitely coming back to this one!

Photo Credit: L'Asso Website

Mulberry Project
I hit up this place randomly with a couple of friends and really liked the underground, DJ-playing appeal of the place (there wasn't a DJ it just felt like there should be). It's a tiny, narrow bar with a couple of booths. Can't really explain what it was I liked about this place but it just had a great vibe. I plan on going back.

Photo Credit: Dave H. on

Yet another amazing hungover brunch place in Nolita! Order for an array of tacos that are cooked inside an old VW bus. I chose the Picadillo taco with ground sirloin, chipotle, poblano, tomato, carrot, potato and the Short Rib Barbacoa taco with beef short rib braised chile pasilla and was NOT disappointed. It's a little spendy for tacos but two or three tacos is plenty of an average sized girl.

Photo Credit: Jeannie C. on


This dive bar might be short on space but not personality. It feels like a speakeasy with the red-cushioned booths and the slick-looking bartender. They even have a special ginger vodka drink that's pretty tasty. It can be a little hard to find seats for a big group but if it's just you and a friend this is an awesome place to spend some time. I like it as a starting point for the night. They also have some great beer selections. The vibe is lowkey but friendly and the lighting is low.

Photo Credit: Barramundi Website

The Back Room
This place is probably a little too hipster for me and falls into the novelty category in the sense that it was fun to visit once but I don't really need to go back. It is located near Nurse Bettie's and you basically walk past a little gate that says "NYC Toy Company." Go through the gate, down the steps, then up more steps and you will find the door to this speakeasy. Drinks here are served in the traditional Prohibition manner in coffee cups and paper bags. For those who are in-the-know there is a false bookshelf that sometimes opens into a hidden speakeasy within the speakeasy. I haven't been in there but don't think I really need to. Again go once; see what you think.

Photo Credit: Sam P. on

The Box
If you've been to an Amsterdam sex show you will know exactly what The Box is like. This cabaret-esk nightclub has multiple viewing floors that face a stage filled with acrobats, gymnasts, musicians, dancers and naked fornicators. I recommend being pretty drunk when you get there but it's definitely an interesting side of NYC that you won't find anywhere else. It can be VERY difficult to get in even for ladies and the bouncers are not particularly friendly. Not for the faint of heart but definitely a very cool venue if you can take the nakedness.

Photo Credit:

The Meatball Shop
There are multiple locations but the best is the one at 84 Stanton in the Lower East Side. Embarrassingly enough I've only been here for their ice cream sandwiches (I'm a conneisseur of sorts) which are delicious, but they are of course known for their meatballs. I have yet to meet someone who doesn't think this place rocks. They do not take reservations and are always packed so I recommend getting there before you're starving, putting your name down and then grabbing drinks at one of the many bars nearby until they text you with your table. At the top of my list to return to so I can get in on the action.

Photo Credit: Meatball Shop Website

Nurse Bettie
I've been here twice and would probably go back just because it is "on the way" to so many other places. I wouldn't say it is a favorite but I could definitely see it being a favorite for some. It's small, intimate and clearly has a great name. Worth stopping by once for sure.

Photo Credit: Nurse Bettie Website


Meatpacking really does have some aesthetically beautiful places to check out. Revel is one of the prettiest bars I've been to with a gorgeous back patio with plenty of seating. Wander past the brick walled bar into a lush garden of fun! I was there on a very random night so the clientele was a little strange but have been meaning to go back!

Photo Credit: Revel Website

Spice Market
This is one of the cooler looking places I've been to NYC so far. It takes you right into the heart of Southeast Asia with the decor and the drinks are large and delicious. They even serve Hitachino beer which is an all-time favorite of mine and somewhat hard to find. Wander the main bar area or seclude yourself in one of the many booths for a little extra privacy. I have not eaten here yet but it would be a great place to throw a birthday bash!

Photo Credit: Spice Market Website


Welcome to Las Vegas New York. I LOVE this place. We went for Lavo Brunch which involves dancing on tables, drinking straight from champagne bottles, wearing ridiculous sunglasses, and watching people dressed in crazy outfits. The music is hip-hop/dance and it is completely reminiscent of a Las Vegas club. To get a table I'm sure you need to spend an ungodly amount so come here if you are a girl and know someone. It looked like there was a line outside but nothing too bad. The interior of the building is really cool - kind of old tin ceiling, elaborate gold foil accents, etc. Prepare to get drunk. They also have a restaurant but I haven't eaten there yet.


David Burke Kitchen
One of the best meals that I have had since moving to NYC hands down. Don't be cowed by the name, this is restaurant may be upscale but it feels familiar and homey. Customers were wearing everything from jeans and flannel to three piece suits. And I can see why it is impossible to get a reservation- the menu is fantastic.

We had
mini tuna tacos with whipped avocado and salmon pastrami with pretzel and mustard to start. Then I had the bison tartare with egg salad, smoked tomato and thyme crackers for my appetizer and Vermont rabbit steak with mushroom pot pie, carrot puree and escarole as my entree. I would rank them if I could but they were all incredible as was the side of mac and cheese. I don't know that the ambiance is the most romantic; it's a little more business/family/friend dinner in my opinion but I highly recommend it regardless of who you go with!

Photo Credit: DBK Website


I grew up an Oregon Duck for the first 18 years of my life so I've spent a significant amount of time here cheering on the Ducks. There are a couple of different "sidebars" and the one they hold the Duck parties in kind of sucks. It's tiny. The other area, the main bar, is AWESOME and tons of fun for Sunday NFL games. I haven't tried the food but they have pitchers of beer which more than makes me happy. The place has a fratty, sports bar feel to it. I've been to better but I've definitely been to worse. Something tells me it gets clubby at night but I haven't managed to stay sober that long.

Photo Credit: Sidebar Website


Wilfie and Nell
I've been to this place a couple of times and it continues to go on me. The last time I was there I definitely swiped some guy's corned beef & Gruyere sandwich with cabbage slaw and mustard - it was delicious! It's small, it's hip and it feels really friendly - a great place for friends to gather.

Photo Credit: NYMag Article

Employees Only
Another speakeasy-esk bar and probably one of my favorites (other then Tippler). The best part about this place isn't its drinks but the strangely amazing late night food. I ordered the reuben croquettes with pastrami, sauerkraut and swiss and the butterscotch & mascarpone cheesecake with sea salt and nut brittle. Both knocked my socks off, especially the cheesecake. I have a significant sweet tooth so it is hard to shake me but this was top notch for sure. The place itself was a little slow the night I was there but I'm pretty sure it was a Wednesday and VERY late so it might be a little more happening at other times in the week. Will definitely be back.

Photo Credit: Employees Only Website

Village Tavern
Probably my favorite way to end the night...this place has awesome people, an easy access bar, cheap Bud Light and Big Buck Hunter. What more could you want? Yet another fratty favorite!

Photo Credit: Village Tavern Website

Lastly, this isn't so much a place as awesome cookie delivery. Check it out!
Insomnia Cookies

For my reviews on other NYC restaurants and bars you can also check out some of my posts from past trips to NYC...

Thanksgiving 2009

October 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment