Top 5 for Summertime New York
- Grab a book and enjoy one of the cities beautiful parks
- Avoid the crowds and check out the Frick Museum
- Shop the sales!
- See a Broadway show
- Get a proper cocktail at a rooftop bar.
- Doubletree by Hilton Times Square South – still far enough away from Times Square to not be insanely busy, rooms are decently large and the staff are really helpful.
- Belvedere Hotel – closer to Times Square, with massive rooms (especially for New York) and a bit of old charm.
The last time I visited NYC, it was March, and it was frigid. Windy, chilly, grey, and a bit quiet. Last week, the city was transformed and I loved it even more than my first visit. The sun was blazing, the sky was the vividly blue, and people were on the streets in masses.
Since both my sister and I had visited before, we weren`t too fussed about seeing the main sites, and decided to be a bit more leisurely and enjoy the great weather. We set out on a sunny afternoon to our first stop, Momofuku, a much talked-about restaurant near Central Park. I´ve wanted to go here for years, mainly because of their wildly popular “Crack Pies” and Birthday Cakes. However, we discovered there are several branches of the restaurant, the Milk Bar making the cakes while we stumbled into “Fuku” – which turned out to be, apparently, the fried chicken theme. We tried the spicy fried chicken sandwich, and the chicken finger sandwich, along with wine and a side of fries. Though it sounds like KFC, it was miles better – crispy spicy batter surrounding juicy meat, topped with cool coleslaw and sandwiched in a soft bun. Along with salty thick-cut fries, it was bad food at its finest.
We headed for a stroll in sunny Central park afterwards, joining many other walkers, joggers, and bikers.
Back in the cement jungle, we wandered down through Times Square, an absolute madhouse, and further to the garment district, where we did some window shopping and made a pitstop at Rex coffee for some iced caffeine. After a rest in our hotel and some Trip Advisor-browsing, we headed out in search of a good cocktail at a rooftop bar, and quickly discovered many people had the same idea. Refinery Rooftop, our first choice, had a lineup out the door, so we diverted to Spyglass, where luckily we could squeeze in and enjoy views of the skyline.
Afterwards, we headed to Parker & Quinn for dinner – probably best described as “Modern American” cuisine. Which, by the way, is one of the most annoying ways to describe a restaurant. But, regardless of the description, the atmosphere was great, and the menu was a cohesive mixture of small sharing plates, entrees, and desserts.. We tried the blistered shishito peppers, drizzled with spicy Thai chili sauce and salted peanuts. Delicious. For our mains, a roasted beet, kale, and grilled sirloin salad, and a rigatoni with lamb ragu. Both were fantastic. We finished off with locally made truffles.
The next morning, another gloriously sunny day, we headed to Frisson espresso for fabulous coffee and pastries, fuel for our shopping trip to Century 21.
This department store offers a variety of low and high-end designer accessories, shoes, and clothes, and it´s the kind of place you need “searching time” to really get the full benefit 🙂 After hunting down some great deals, we enjoyed the sunny afternoon walking through some more sites – Rockefeller Plaza, Grand Central Station, Radio City Music Hall, and ending with a stop in Bryant Park, another beautiful green space. I have to say , NYC is incredibly well-designed, with parks, trees, and little bits of nature scattered all around, providing a perfect reprieve from the hot asphalt and towering buildings everywhere.
That evening, we headed to Beer Authority, a huge pub capitalizing on the craft beer craze. Prices are steep – around $8-10 per beer, however the selection includes a wide range of specialty beers from America, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and so on. We made up for the pricey beers and ordered a cheap appetizer platter – once again, American junk food done well.
After a lovely sleep-in on Saturday, we headed out for another New York must-have – bagels! The NYC bagel is famous the world-over, and our hotel was just 5 minutes from the Best Bagel in town. Aptly named “Best Bagel & Coffee” – the line snakes out the door and looks daunting. However, they´ve got the system down pat and the line chugs along at a good pace. We waited about 20 minutes (with coffees from Mad Man Espresso across the street) and soon enough we were ordering at the counter, shuffling along with the rest of the crowd to pay and receive our goods.
Now, the bagels – they are massive, toasted if desired and smeared with your cream cheese of choice. We tried Everything Bagels with Scallion and Sundried Tomato cream cheese. They were FANTASTIC – a bit of salty crunch on the outside, perfectly chewy inside, with creamy cheese oozing out the middle.
Then, more walking. This is a city for walking, so bring comfy shoes. I cannot imagine how many kilometers we tromped each day. We did more shopping around the neighborhood before heading up to the theater district for a Matinee showing of Chicago. As Chicago is a favorite movie of both my sister and I, we were very excited to see the original Broadway version. And it did not disappoint. Roxy and Velma were played by two phenomenal singers, along with a fabulous troop playing the other prison-mates, Billy Flinn, Mama Morton, and Mary Sunshine. The singing was out-of-this world, the dancing phenomenal, the costumes appropriately dark and glittering, and the set a melange of orchestra, glitter, feathers, and lights. It is really a totally immersive and amazing experience; a unique combination of comedy, drama, dance, theatrics, and visual delights. Ticket prices are high, but there is good reason – the caliber of the performers is un-matched. I had the same experience with Jersey Boys last year.
Exiting the theater, we headed to a recommended cocktail bar for Happy Hour – the Rum House, where they make a damn fine Manhattan and Dark n Stormy.
After a shower and change at the hotel, we went out for our last night farewell dinner – at Txikito, a Basque tapas bar in the garment district. The menu is all tapas, ranging from small to large, and clearly typically Basque cuisine – the area in the North of Spain. We had salt cod croquettes and olives to start, followed up with Octopus carpaccio, lamb meatballs, grilled kohlrabi, and mussels with white beans. Everything was unique, flavorful, and we didn´t leave so much as a crumb remaining.
Our last morning, we made the trek up to the Upper East Side to the Frick Art Museum, halfway stopping at Bouchon Bakery, the bakery outlet by Thomas Keller of the famed French Laundry restaurant. The pastries and coffees were as predicted, perfect.
The Frick collection is a small lesser-known museum in the city, with Admission-by-Donation on Sundays from 11-1 pm. It´s a small collection of European paintings, portraits, landscapes, seascapes, and sculptures, along with 18th century French furniture and Porcelain. Free audioguides allow you to choose which pieces you want to learn more about. It´s a great collection and the perfect place to focus in on a few select pieces and really relish them. The building itself is gorgeous, with an inner courtyard filled with orchids.
My sister departed that afternoon, and I finished off my holiday with more New York shopping and wandering. It´s so nice to go to a city and be able to just enjoy the atmosphere, rather than sprinting the whole time to hit all the top hot spots.