It was Victoria Day long weekend in Canada, so I decided to drive 8 hours to visit Sally in New York City! With only 48 hours, we did as much as we could and tried to avoid the typical tourist-destinations. I told Sally I wanted a local-tour AKA a hipster-tour, bring me to all the restaurants and areas where I can appreciate the food, architecture, and atmosphere. We hit up Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Dumbo, East Village, Chelsea, and the World Trade Center.
Long Island City
After being stuck in the usual traffic jam getting into the city, we finally arrived at Sally’s apartment and went straight to the LIC Flea Market. We enjoyed some quesadillas, Greek meatballs, stuffed peppers, and chicken skewers in the market, then walked along the Gantry Plaza State Park for a nice stroll by the water.
After taking some landscape photos of Manhattan from Gantry Plaza, we walked to Greenpoint in the pouring rain for some Polish food. We should have known that tables would be hard to find without a reservation. There was no way we were going to wait an hour to fill our grumbling stomachs! So we skipped around the corner to Anella for Mediterranean food. Cozy and dimly lit with a narrow dining space, Anella’s comforting atmosphere was just what I needed after a long day on the road. The vibe was very casual but the diners seemed sophisticated and posh. I probably should have worn heels instead of my Converse sneakers and switched out my hippie backpack for an actual purse. Hey girl heyyyyy, the tourist stuck out like a noob at a fashion show.
Bread in a clay pot was brought to the table after we ordered our food, how cute. We started with Roasted Cauliflower ($7 USD) and ordered Papardelle ($20 USD) and Bucatini a la Carbonara ($18 USD) as our mains. The wide noodles were coated with a bold tomato-short-rib-ragout with shitake mushrooms, creme fraiche and Pecorino. The carbonara was smooth with bits of pancetta sprinkled throughout. Since it was still raining by the time we finished dinner, we Uber’d home! This was also my first Uber ride, ever. It’s so deadly convenient, I’d Uber everywhere if I didn’t love driving.
The next morning, we headed out later than we planned but that meant no line-ups for lunch! We were walking around Williamsburg and ended up at Roebling Tea Room. Wood and steel fixtures occupied a space with high ceilings, large windows, and a vintage bar in the middle.
My Pancake ($13 USD) wasn’t your typical fluffy stack. It came in one humongous layer with flaky sides and a doughy and dense centre. Vanilla and bourbon roasted apples were planted throughout the mass.
We also ordered Beets & Eggs ($13 USD). A refreshing citrus vinaigrette coated the beets, kale, and cubed potatoes, while the sprinkle of goat cheese rounded out the tangy flavours. It was a light and satisfying start to our day!
We easily found ourselves at vintage, antique, and junk stores. I also picked up some expensive souvenirs from Mast Brothers Chocolate. The price is justified because the packaging is gorgeous. That’s reasonable, right? These little guys were $4 USD a pop.
Walking around in the heat wore us out which called for refreshments and a bathroom-break! Sally brought me to the most beautiful cafe I’ve ever been to, Devoción. Coffee machinery at the front and a spacious working-area in the back. When you walk into the cafe, you see the glorious living-wall bringing the space a refreshing and colourful vibe. The massive skylight pours brightness to the already-comforting room. Also, before we left, I showed some love to a Bernese Mountain Dog who was chillin outside! He was so friendly and fluffy!!
Since we were chasing daylight, we took an Uber to our next destination. The two iconic bridges of NYC: Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge. We snapped what we needed to snap, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to get to Manhattan, and hopped on the subway towards Cheslea for snacks and sights.
Our first stop was every NY Instagrammers’ lover, the staircase at Barney’s. The high end department store had 3-4 floors of shoes, clothes, jewellery, cosmetics, purses, and probably more.
I was Sally’s test subject for her perfect #theworldneedsmorespiralstaircases, #stairwalkers shot. She made me walk up and down the stairs! I never exercise, so you could imagine how much I struggled LOL.
We hopped over to Chelsea Market to check out all the goodies, ate a some currywurst, and made it to the High Line just in-time for the sunset. It was a relaxing and refreshing stroll. While we sat on our asses enjoying the sunset, a hobby photographer knocked his second camera (that was dangling by his hip) on the bench *ouch* and we ended up talking for a while about cameras. It was great to connect with a total stranger just because we had the same hobby, I really enjoyed our short interaction! After the sun went down, we had to make a decision about dinner and my mind only went towards one thing: cheap, dirty, $1 New York pizza.
Sally wanted to bring me to an area with a lot of restaurants in East Village and it just so happened that 2 Bros Pizza had a location there too! My main mission was to experience $1 dollar pizza and 2 Bros made it happen. The big ass, salty, thin crust slice of pie had ooey gooey cheese and a layer of tomato sauce. Best value in town and it was highly satisfying!
I nom’d the shit out of my pizza while we waited for a table at Kenka across the street.
The izakaya had a dark, sexual yet humorous atmosphere. The menus were plastered with bondage and gore illustrations – the restaurant basically came straight out of a comic book. Piping hot takoyaki ($5 USD), fried tofu ($3.50 USD), a bowl of udon ($5 USD), and chicken yaki (skewers $4 USD) landed on our table fairly quickly. After struggling to finish our little snacks and burning my mouth from a bursting takoyaki, we dragged ourselves out of the restaurant and was ready to ride the subway back to Sally’s apartment.
But then, we walked by Spot Dessert and they didn’t have a line. Fuck it, we have separate stomachs for dessert, right? We’ll just share a dish. We wanted to order everything on their menu, like we should’ve skipped dinner and came here for a tasting!
The Matcha Garden ($9.95 USD) was presented on a circular dish with a 3-layer cake (Japanese cheesecake, red bean, and green tea mousse) and black sesame ice cream! Divine, or what?! It was the perfect dessert to finish the night. Green tea and red bean pairings are one of my favourites, add black sesame and I’ll love you forever. By now, we were both past the point of a food coma so we food-zombied our way home.
The next (and last) day, started out in East Village again. Our plan was to brunch at Clinton Street Baking, head over to the World Trade Center, then meet up with my parents so we could head home. Even on a fucking Monday, we had to wait half an hour for a table. M O N D A Y, do people not work in New York? Why is everyone out brunching? Instead of waiting in the crowded restaurant, we took a stroll down the street and magically came across Koneko, A CAT CAFE! It was meant-to-be, I love cats (and food), like comon, my cat’s name is Meatball. We had no idea if we had to buy a drink/snack to chill with the kitties or whatever. So we bought 2 teas, then stared at the cats through the glass wall.
We found out that the cat room opened later than the cafe, what a bummer. We couldn’t stay because we had to stick to our schedule, plus our reservation was almost ready.
The cats are free to roam in a patio and 2 floors of space. Kitty lovers can chill, play, and enjoy their drinks and snacks in the rooms. They are also up for adoption!
Anyways, back to brunch. We finally got seated in the bright and bustling restaurant. The corner location has windows lining 2 sides of the restaurant allowing all the sunlight to pour-in, perfect for photos. Without knowing the must-try items, we winged it and ordered the Farmer’s Plate ($16 USD) and Pancakes with Warm Maple Butter ($15 USD) – apparently both dishes were loved by diners.
The Farmer’s Plate came with perfectly scrambled eggs, Bobolink cheese, house rosemary sausage, herb roasted tomatoes and sourdough toast. It was hardy, simple, filling, and satisfying.
Oh man, the pancakes. First of all, the banana and walnut throughout the batter gave it a nice texture and subtle sweetness. And secondly, I need to order the warm maple butter in bulk. It tasted like gooey caramel but not as sweet. Holy shit, I need more of it. Right, so brunch was expensive but it’s New York, so it’s expected.
The World Trade Center
We had less than 2 hours to make it to the World Trade Center and back to Sally’s apartment. Of course, we Uber’d it.
The Tower was impressive and the memorials were.. indescribable. I can’t put it into words, I just felt empty. It was uplifting to see the city rebuild and move forward.
The structure resembled wings or a skeleton of an alien. Since it was still under construction, we couldn’t access the Oculus on ground level, but that didn’t stop us from finding another way in! Sally ended up asking a security guard at the National 9/11 Memorial Museum.
The interior was just as stunning as the outer shell. Stark white walls and floors, repeating vertical structures, open vast space, and an American flag hanging on the West staircase. We hustled and got our shots quickly, I would’ve stayed longer to take more pictures of the pretty building but we had an 8 hour drive ahead of us!
I had an incredible 48 hours in New York City all because I had a local take me around. I’ve been to the city more times than I’ve gone swimming in the ocean (I’m not sure if that’s exact, probably, but the point is, I’ve been here a lot) and I’ve never really appreciated or loved staying here. This last trip has changed my perspective on the city. Although I’d never live here, and I still dislike the crowds and the bustle, I don’t hate it as much anymore. So, thanks Sally, for being such an awesome tour guide! If you had a Yelp page or if I ever used Yelp, I’d give you 5 stars!
Good luck to everyone who’s visitng without a local, your stay won’t be as dope as mine! Jokinggg. Honestly, there’s so much to do, you probably don’t need a guide. There’s shit to do every direction you turn. Hopefully reading my adventure will help some of you out there! You can always ask @sllychn for restaurant recommendations or famous instagram-worthy places.