“It’s really not healthy to go to New York City and moderate yourself in any way,” James Clark, co-founder of Room 214, advised me. I had just told him that I was going to write a travel guide based on our upcoming trip to the Big Apple. Meanwhile, Maya tried to convince him to book a class at ConBody, a gym run by an ex-convict (that never happened).
For where we stayed, what we ate, and the drinks we enjoyed, read on.
CitizenM is ideal for anyone who wants to explore the Bowery by foot. Beyond the artful café and lobby, the rooms are small economical, but who needs more than a bed and shower when there is so much to see (and eat and drink) in the city? In the Bowery, you’ll find something delicious around every corner. Be sure to ride the elevator to the roof-top bar, which gives you 360° views of the skyline.
We headed out on foot, and after a six-minute walk, we arrived at the Russ & Daughters Cafe. It was everything I had heard about New York on a plate and more. The cafe is based on the original Russ & Daughters shop, a Jewish-style deli that has been in operation since 1914 and has received high accolades from some of the most respected chefs and critics in the industry.
We each ordered something different (that feels mandatory), and all envy each other when the food arrives. We recommend the Bagel Chips with Salmon Spread for the table, which will reshape the way you imagine bagel chips and salmon spread (really), and the Lower Sunny Side, which comes with latkes, smoked salmon, and sunny side up eggs.
After this meal, you’ll be wondering how you can bring some of this home. Remember: the Russ & Daughters shop is only a 5-minute walk away! Head there, and get a dozen bagels for the road.
Tied with bagels as “the most quintessential New York food ever” is pizza. We stopped at two locales (because we were definitely not moderating ourselves in any way).
Our first stop was Una Pizza, a Neapolitan-style restaurant that serves pies with ultra-bubbly crusts and fresh mozzarella that taste the way only pizza baked on an open fire can taste. Everything was washed down with a Sangiovese (which may have been the best part of the meal). Anyone looking to slow down, sit down, and savor their pizza will enjoy.
Our second stop was Scarr’s Pizza, which is a curveball after dining at Una. A line forms at the door of this hole in the wall. While there are tables in the back, we take our pie across the street and eat it standing there, on the sidewalk. We agreed: if you’re looking for a late-night crave-worthy pizza slice, this stop might be more your style.
Snacks & Appetizers:
For something you won’t find anywhere else, stop by Rice to Riches, a rice pudding bar. The storefront is a total pick-me-up, from the walls covered in ‘grammably hilarious signs to their quippy pudding flavors. We ordered “Fluent in French Toast” and spent 20 minutes snapping selfies.
Could you ever forgive yourself if you came all this way and didn’t eat at one of Momofuko’s restaurants? Didn’t think so. Stop by Momofuko Noodle Bar.
We ordered family style, and ended up with:
- A bottle of the house Sake. The Spring Melt Sake is the perfect compliment to the rest of the Noodle Bar menu. It’s light, slightly sweet, and just acidic enough to balance out the other bold flavors on your table.
- Three types of bao. Thin, cloud-like buns are simply a vehicle for punchy flavors here, like pork belly with cucumber or seared shrimp with spicy mayo and lastly, roasted shiitake mushrooms, sliced impossibly thin, doused in hoisin.
- Pork belly and spicy beef ramen, which both come with a runny egg yolk that makes for a luxurious bowl of comfort.
In some cities, the night would end there: an oversized dinner and a bottle of sake. But not in New York, and definitely not with James Clark. Now for the main event—bars and speakeasies. Our highlights:
- Bar Goto sets the bar high for the rest of the night. Order a Yuzu-Sansho sour, and if you’re still hungry, fill up with OMG-worthy Miso Wings and Cauliflower Tots.
- Attaboy, which doesn’t have a website—or a sign on their door, for that matter—will make you feel sublimely cool and “in.” There is no menu, just tell them what you drink preferences.
- Death & Co serves each beverage in a specially selected glass. Make sure everyone orders something different from the expansive menu, so you can sip-sip-pass and try a variety. And please, please get the popcorn.
- To get to Angel’s Share, you’ll need to go upstairs, enter a sushi restaurant, pass through a secret door, and put in your name. But the search is worth it, as the flavors in the drinks at this speakeasy-style bar will blow you away.
- Looking for something far more casual? Hair of the Dog is your classic chill zone, and even offers a “Bring Your Own Coffee” option for the ultimate casual brunch (they’ll spike it for you).
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