Two weeks dedicated to New York meant plenty of time to discover the many corners of Manhattan and Brooklyn. And that’s just what we did.
I enlisted the assistance of Detail’s resident Creative/Foodie/List Making Master LJ, who had recently returned from a quick stint in the States, to gather her intel pre-trip. The bookings were made (Resy is your best friend in America – always put yourself on a waitlist), the maps were Googled, and sensible walking shoes were packed – think less fashion, more 30,000 + steps a day kind of comfort.
I started keeping a tab of all the best bites and the best bits of the trip, and this list started to get a little out of hand – however, I’ve pulled together a nice round-up of our favourites.
Some quick cliff notes before we dive in…
1. Catch the Subway – traffic is horrific, and a Subway is always only a moment away.
2. I’ve said it once, but sensible shoes are a must – Carrie Bradshaw has us fooled for years, but trotting around in heels is strictly reserved for celebrities with chauffeurs.
3. They’re not on the list but don’t forget places like the Guggenheim, The Met or MOMA – all sensational places to spend the day soaking up a little art and culture.
4. Move around – we did half our trip in Mid Town and the other half in the East Village – if you’ve got time to spend, mix it up with your locale.
5. If there’s a rooftop bar nearby, make sure you visit it – NYC from above is something to behold.
EAT & DRINK
Altro Paradiso | $$ – Soho
Relaxed, refined vibes – serving incredible pasta and vino – order the Candele Cacio e Pepe – I can’t quite describe how good this noodle is except to say that it is a must-try.
Katz’s Delicatessen | $ – Lower East Side
Walk in, grab a ticket and watch them carve your Rueben to perfection. It’s rough and ready, but pull up a seat, grab your plastic tray and prepare to eat. These guys are renowned for a reason.
Estela | $$$ – NoLita
Went here for dinner & drinks after my engagement so there’ll always be a place in my heart for Estela. It’s dark, it’s cosy and the staff are rock stars. Order the ricotta dumplings – the plate will look deceivingly underwhelming, but it might be one of my favourite dishes I’ve ever eaten. Promise.
Minetta Tavern | $$$ – NoHo
An iconic restoration of a NYC Tavern by the renowned Keith McNally (Balthazar and Pastis). Make a booking, settle into a booth and double down on some sensational French fare. The burger, terrine and Champagne are all non-negotiables.
Los Tacos | $ – various locations
Cheap, cheerful and an absolute foodie institution. Order one of everything (trust the menu), crack open a Mexican soda and watch the team in the kitchen commit your order to memory and load up your tacos. Standing room only.
Russ & Daughters | $ – Bowery
An institution for a reason – a smoked bagel and a side of latkes with caviar here is worth the wait. It’s casual, but this sit-down venue has a sense of gravitas about it – perhaps because it’s run by the same family who opened the legendary 100+ year-old original location just around the corner.
King | $$ – Lower Manhattan
A rotating menu of some of NYC’s freshest produce. Sit outside or in the train carriage and let the King team serve up the very best. I am still dreaming of the natty wine with grilled stone fruit and burrata.
Marlow & Sons | $$ – Brooklyn
Head over the bridge (or under if you’re on the subway) and settle in for an evening in Brooklyn. Café by day, dinner by night, and a weekly rotation of vinyl DJs – Marlow & Sons is cool, but not contrived. Come for the oysters and bubbles, stay for the tunes and the eggs on toast.
Double Chicken Please | $ – Lower East Side
Drinks and snacks are in the front, moody dining room is in the back. Whether you are coming pre or post dinner this LES number won’t disappoint. The cocktails are a mix of exploration and proper experimentation on the classics, and the fried chicken is…well it’s in the name, so rest assured it’s good.
Death & Co | $$ – East Village
I’d read the book and stalked the gram so had a rough idea of what I was in for, but it was better – way better. The cocktail menu is lengthy, but it’s worth a peruse and the staff (immaculately dressed, very beautiful) will steer you in the right direction.
Lucien | $$ – East Village
We sat next to Em Rata’s ex-husband here and ate a gigantic bowl of white wine mussels (moules marinières), and crispy fries, and sipped on French bubbles – it was bliss. We stumbled across this tiny place by accident late one night, but we were so glad we did, it’s very if-you-know-you-know, and now you do.
Bottino To Go | $ – Chelsea, Gallery District
This is a sandwich institution that has had a revamp in recent years, but the soul of this lunch bar is still very much intact. The menu is on the wall, select your carb of choice (country sourdough is my hot tip) and pick one of the flavour combinations- they’ve been tried and tested for decades so there’s no need to deviate from the board. Order a homemade lemonade to wash it down.
SEE & DO
Pianos – Lower East Side
Literally, an old piano store converted into a trendy club, this two-storey venue comes alive after dark. It’s sensational people-watching, and it’s got the kind of DJs on rotation that make you want to stay for ‘just one more drink and a dance’. Expect a line, especially on a Friday night but the wait is worth it.
Broadway – Times Square/The Theatre District Midtown Manhattan
As a musical theatre tragic I’ve never met a Broadway show I didn’t love, and as such have almost seen them all. The Theatre District is in Midtown Manhattan and tickets are available for all shows on the day via broadway.com – pick your favourite, head to Times Square for a pre-show-show and then settle in for some of the most sensational theatre you’ve ever seen. Book of Mormon, Hamilton or Wicked are always good gateways if you’re not sure what to pick. Remember, no theatre on Mondays!
Marie’s Crisis – Greenwich Village
If you’re like me, the Broadway experience will have ignited your inner star, and so if blasting the Spotify playlist in your hotel room isn’t cutting it then head to Marie’s Crisis. A theatre-lovers institution, warm up the vocal cords, head downstairs, gather around the piano and spend the night singing show tunes whilst Broadway and off-Broadway stars and budding performers take to the piano until the early hours of the morning. Cash only and tipping is essential – but don’t worry – you’ll want to part with all your hard-earned dollars after a few minutes in the Crisis.
A park that has been built along a former elevated freight rail spur – once destined for demolition, the community rallied together to repurpose it instead. Filled with incredible artwork, plenty of plants and a sensational line-up of apartments for those who like an architecture sticky beak (admire Zaha Hadid’s first residential building along the way). Half an hour each way, take your time and take it all in, it’s a nice break from the city streets below.
The Bowery Ballroom – Bowery
The Bowery Ballroom holds something of a cult status among musicians as well as audiences – it’s a live music venue like no other. Jump online, pick anything/anyone that is playing and buy a ticket immediately – you’re guaranteed to be in for a good time.
This feels almost silly to have to add to the list, but I cannot stress enough how important a decent trot through Central Park is. The 843-acre park connects the Upper East & West sides of Manhattan – so suffice to say, it’s huge. The sheer scale of the park and the fact it sits in the middle of the City is something to behold, and tricky to wrap your head around, but get your steps in and see for yourself.
Amateur Night at The Apollo – Harlem
The Apollo Theatre is heralded as the soul of American culture, and I believe it. If you’ve never been, get yourself a ticket to Amateur Night – one of New York’s most popular live entertainment experiences, the evening attracts performers and audiences from around the world in an audience-judged talent competition that has launched the careers of countless legendary artists including Ella Fitzgerald and Lauryn Hill. You’ll laugh, cry and leave truly amazed – the Apollo is where the ‘City of Dreams’ tagline really rings true.
Word: Hayley Sarre
Imagery: Hayley Sarre
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