In June, Chris and I visited NYC to celebrate the ol’ Dirtay Thirtay. (Sorry.) And for some time, I’ve been promising you a post about all the noteworthy food we ate while we were there. The great news? I’m not sure I can put it off much longer. Like, I’m feeling truly anxious about getting behind. Like, really, really anxious. Like, I’m not even allowing recipes to enter the queue until I push this post out like the big, whiney, forearms-with-fatrolls word-baby that it is.
The bad news? I just said like, like, ninety more times than necessary. And I kind of liked it. Zing.
If you’re thinking life must be stupidly good when the highest-anxiety item on my radar is belatedly posting pictures of hipster burgers and too many pork belly dishes, you’re right. I have no excuse other than whine-whine-whine-I-feel-like-it-whine-whine. But at least I’m completely aware of my illogical behavior.
Ok, so here goes. Let’s recap Part 1 of our trip, which will cover the first two days, plus some basics. And please forgive the shiggity pics.
Lodging: Our stay in NYC spanned five days, during which time we covered most of Manhattan’s must-see neighborhoods. We stayed a couple blocks outside of Times Square, right on the Hells Kitchen border, at the Holiday Inn Express on 39th and 8th, which was a perfect location — about 40 blocks south of our furthest north destination (the American Museum of Natural History) and about 40 blocks north of our furthest south destination (the Financial District).
As a bonus, we grabbed our five nights for a STEAL thanks to the Intercontinental Hotel Group’s Best Rate Guarantee. I love a deal, but I’m always skeptical of these types of guarantees. Surely something is written in the fine print that DQs all those great deals you find through discount hotel booking engines, right? Wrongo, Bongo. Turns out it’s pretty legit. And you guys! A real, live human being answered the phone when I called the Guarantee Hotline! It’s absolute shit that we find that small feature to be impressive these days, but really. I was impressed.
Transportation: On a friend’s recommendation, we flew into Newark (which was significantly cheaper from SFO than JFK) and took the (very affordable) train into Manhattan. Total transportation time was maybe an hour from the door of the plane to Penn Station and completely painless. It allowed us to get into the heart of the city without the stress of city traffic or transfers, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Following our arrival in Manhattan, we explored almost everything on foot. Maybe not for everyone since this averaged about 10 miles a day, but it allowed us to see Ev. Er. EEE. Thang.
Day 1 – Eats!
NYC slices outside of the train station (2 Bros pizza). When we got into the city around 5pm, a NY slice was sounding preeeettty amaze. This was basic NYC-style pizza, nothing that exceptional to write home about, but it sure did hit the spot after 7 or 8 hours of traveling. Did I mention it was either raining or aggressively misting for these first two days? Hence the constant halo of frizzy baby hairs. Mixed with matted-hood-hair = super cute. Dudes with their stupid dude hair have it so easy. Birthday truffles in the hotel room. Yeah, it’s a Holiday Inn Express, but they impressed us with a couple of cute balloons and complimentary treats (water, chocolates, granola bars, cookies and pretzels) to celebrate. Bon Chon Korean Fried Chicken and very good, crisp, well-seasoned fries — not pictured. The chicken packed satisfying crunch despite the glossy coating of sticky hot sauce. And that characteristic pocket of air captured between the skin and meat on a perfect KFC drummy? Nailed it.
Day 1 – Attractions
Empire State Building at night. Absuhfuchinlootly incredible. The top of the building was draped in a haunting layer of heavy mist that cast everything from the observation deck up in a silver glow. The city glittered below, a snow globe come to life. There is NO filter on the pic below. Day 2 – Eats!
Shake Shack Shackburgers (West Central Park location). No wait? Winning. We researched all the Shake Shack locations beforehand and heard that the Times Square location, while good, doesn’t put forth a true Shake Shack patty with its signature sear. Conveniently, the West Central Park location, which offers up what is supposedly a classic iteration of the original, is just around the corner from the AMNH. Not sure if I’ve just been desperately burger-deprived as of late or if my appetite was enhanced by the torrents of rain, but this is one of the most enjoyable burgers I’ve ever eaten. Yes, tastier (at least in the moment) than our beloved In n’ Out. The hot, crisply-edged patty and perfectly sized, hinged potato bun are DEFINITELY factors in this admittedly blasphemous conclusion. Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen. Only Day 2 and we already needed a salad like whoa. Schnipper’s is definitely set up for tourists with plenty of poles n’ ropes at the ready to handle long queues of folks, but we went late-night and had the place to ourselves. Serious Eats and yelp! pointed us to their salad offerings, which were some of the most abundant in the area. I ordered the Fresh Market, featuring beets, corn, avocado, radish sprouts, toasted almonds, croutons, tomatoes, chick peas and parmesan all tossed with a restrained amount of good, light vinaigrette. Probably one of the best salads I could have asked for under $10 in the middle of crappy-salad central. Seriously satisfying. Street dogs in Times Square. Chris had to do it. YOLO, bro. Jamba Juice — not pictured. I know, but I couldn’t help it. I was still seriously craving fruits and veggies, and sucking a bunch of carrots through a straw seemed about as close to a nutritional IV drip as I was going to get. Little did I know then that there was a true blue juice bar featuring straight-up-hippie-granola-sweetened-with-dates-kinda-isht just a couple of blocks away. (It’ll make an appearance in Part 2. Stay tuned.)
Day 2 – Attractions
American Museum of Natural History. We’re kind of suckers for natural history museums even though they can become a little redundant after the third or fourth hour. There were a few special exhibits that we opted not to pay extra to see (a butterfly exhibit, the planetarium show and a special attraction covering global cuisines, which was tempting but more kid-centric) — but even without the extras, we spent the better part of a day exploring the sprawling four-story collection. The crowd-pleasing dinos were probably our favorite, although the Asian Peoples exhibit was pretty fascinating. In part due to it being called the Asian Peoples exhibit. So sim-poh. Tucked off in a side corridor of the museum was a special exhibit featuring the artwork of elementary and middle school children. The kids were asked to reinterpret the ever-changing Google logo to depict their Best Day Ever. First off: WTF? Where was this when I was, like, 9? I would have rocked the jukebox. Second: Please admire this contribution from one of the littlest artists. You and me both, Maisie-girl. Potted Potter (a play). Guuuuuyyyyyys, this was so freaking entertaining, if a little predictable in its humor. It’s a 70-minute recap of all seven Harry Potter books performed by two very likable British actors. One plays Harry Potter. The other? Everyone else. It was clever, charming, and uniquely NYC. So that covers Days 1 and 2, or, as I’ll fondly remember them, The Days We Walked 100 Blocks in the Freaking Rain. We loved every minute of our soggy introduction to the city, but apparently a canvas anorak and one crooked umbrella does not a dry couple make. But what can you do? (Buy a functioning umbrella from Duane Read for $6, I know. Yes, we were aware this was an option. We were also aware it would “clear up at any moment.” Shut up. ShutupshutupShutup.)
UP NEXT: Days 3, 4, and 5!