New York City. What can we write that hasn’t already been covered by more talented people who know the city a hell of a lot better? To me, like most outsiders, New York and more specifically, the island of Manhattan, is a massive, intimidating grid with skyscrapers, tons of people and a maze of subways. Compared to more familiar cities like Boston, New York simply dominates. The definition of a melting pot, NYC combines all ingredients of life and serves up one hearty stew. Because of its scope, the impossible task of writing a catch-all piece on the city will not be attempted here. Instead, I’ll share some of my favorite places to eat, visit and take in the city. This is a work in progress and will hopefully grow with each subsequent trip. Like I tell people, I could never live in Manhattan but I love visiting.
Les Halles – I’ve eaten at Les Halles a couple times and it never disappoints. Made famous by its former chef turned writer and TV host Anthony Bourdain, the restaurant is French to the bone. It’s all about steak frites, cassoulet and duck confit.
Merchants – On my most recent trip to visit friends, we ate brunch at Merchants after a long night out on the town. We rolled into the place with hoodies and disheveled hair, slightly hung over and no regard for their Upper East Side standards. Anyways, it was probably the best brunch food I’ve ever had. Whether that’s due to their culinary excellence or the alcohol in my system at the time, I cannot remember. But while everyone else opted for the huevos rancheros, I went for the dulce de leche French toast with berries, caramel sauce and whipped cream. Splash some syrup on there, now that was a miesel.
325 E 14th St
New York, NY 10003
All you need to know is that with every drink, you get a free personal cheese pizza. (You can add toppings for some extra dough). That means if you ordered five beers, you could get five cheese pizzas. GENIUS. Unfortunately there was some kind of team drinking challenge going on when we stopped in, making the bar insanely crowded but like I said multiple times in between sips of Blue Moon and bites of pizza-if I lived in New York, I would eat here every night for dinner. Oh, and they have skee ball in the back elevating the bar to completely awesome status.
Rickshaw Dumpling Bar – A whole restaurant based around dumplings? I’m there. Certainly try to sample every variety but the peking duck style were my favorites. Perfect for the fast paced city life. And a fun fact for ya’ll-the founder/owner was featured on MTV’s True Life as he was developing the concept for the restaurant while in college.
Chelsea Piers – It’s sort of a touristy destination but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. With endless options for fun, it’s hard not finding something to entertain you. Earlier in February my friends and I went to bowl a few games in the afternoon but encountered a two and a half hour wait (?!?) so when went own one pier and hit some golf balls at the driving range. Yes, golf in February. And they had the technology that automatically resets your tee for you. It’s so easy, you don’t even have to bend over!
Ace Bar – I was only here for one round of drinks but I liked the vibe of the place despite it being pretty crowded. Pool tables, tables, good beer on tap and yes, skee ball (again).
Papaya King – I was on the Upper East Side standing on the street corner, absolutely devouring a classic hot dog from Papaya King when some lady came up to me and asked if I ever thought about modeling. I said, “Why not I haven’t!” But she insisted that I had that all-American Midwestern look about me. I laughed and finished my hot dog.
ESPN Zone – Yes, it’s in Times Square, but it’s sort of a must for every sports fan, even just to stop in and take a lap. The baseball card mosaic on the wall up the stairs is worth the trip. Avoid the gift shop at all costs. Nothing says “I’m a stupid tourist who mildly is interested in viewing sports on television” than a ESPN Zone New York T-shirt.