I grew up in upstate New York, so New York City has always felt like the centre of the universe to me. It certainly is my favourite city in the world, one that I even hope to live in at some point in my life. Every time I visit, the magnificent, palpable energy of this city puts me in a happy trance, it gives me the opportunity to see some loved faces that I’ve know since I was a kid, always welcomes me back with open arms, and this trip was no different. No doubt home to one of the most diverse populations in the world, the bar & dining scene here is among the best on the planet. There’s always somewhere new to go and check out, even for people who have lived here their whole lives. Here are 10 places that I LOVE in New York City for eating, drinking and general merry making; the 2016 edition.
So here’s a little thing about me that you will soon come to know; I’m absolutely friggin OBSESSED with Mexican food! I try to find a good Mexican joint almost everywhere I go (much to the dismay of my sweet boyfriend who always gives in by the end of it) and theres nothing I love more than that perfect combination of sweet, spicy, creamy & crunchy only Mexican can provide. This little hole in the wall is hands down on of my favourites on the planet, and if you’re in NYC and don’t go I will be personally offended. First introduced to us a couple of years ago by a friend, we stumbled upon it again on this trip (much to my delight) and decided to settle in for lunch. They make a truly mean margarita, with flavours ranging from jalepeno (SO GOOD) to raspberry. It’s not a fancy place but definitely has a hip, cool vibe. It doesn’t even have a big sign outside- just a little chalkboard, drinks are on a hand written cardboard menu & the food tastes like a teeny, tiny Mexican grandma is in the kitchen sprinkling every plate with her magical secrets. During the day the vibe is sunny & relaxed, while at night it becomes quite loud & fun. Take your friends and GO NOW!
Address: 253 Broome St New York, NY 10002
If the locals are eating there, you know its got to be good, and thats just the case with Golden Unicorn; smack in the heart of Chinatown. This is dim sum heaven people, and on weekends and holidays you’ll have to stand behind a cue of at least 100 Chinese families waiting for lunch. Fortunately the place is pretty big and service quick, with red & yellow satin dining rooms (as Asian as it gets) on a couple of different floors. There are no real menus, people just walk around with carts of different food, you can take a look and decide what you want & its immediately set on your table and marked on a little tab that becomes your bill at the end. You get everything from chicken feet, tripe, and other weird & wonderful things, to your standard pork buns, all kinds of dim sum, spring rolls, rice dishes etc. The choice is massive, so don’t be shy to wave down the cart you want. Go on a seriously empty stomach to be able to do it justice, and do not miss the little egg tarts for dessert. True blue Chinese food heaven.
Address: 18 E Broadway New York, NY 10002
This is a sweet little spot down in the Meatpacking district, it’s essentially a 3 level bar but the rooftop terrace is the spot to be when the weather gets nice. It has a gorgeous view of the water and a chilled out crowd. Perfect for sipping rose in the sunshine before dinner at one of the fantastic restaurants around the area. Gets full early summer evenings but you can always stand around and order drinks from the servers until a spot opens up. Perfect venue for a classic NYC rooftop drinking session.
Address: 55 Little W 12th St New York, NY 10014
Sushi Ginza Onodera
We happened to go here on the opening night of the NYC branch (they also have the same restaurants in Hawaii, Shanghai, LA, London & Paris) and it was one of the best sushi meals I’ve ever had. The focus is on extremely high quality seafood, old school Japanese techniques, attention to detail and personalised service. I’m not super hot on all kinds of raw seafood, I love some and hate others, and the team made sure they took my preferences into account. The best way to eat is to sit at the counter and watch your chef meticulously prepare each morsel of food that goes into your mouth. Each course is served in a different plate based on what you’re being given, and this only adds to the gorgeous charm of this place. We were even shown the traditionally correct way of eating sushi by our super friendly chef, who despite speaking only Japanese, managed to interact with us. My favourite course was the monkfish liver, the fatty salmon & the matcha panna cotta with blackbean. We also had a bottle of sake and they let J & I pick our sake glass from a whole tray of differently coloured crystal glasses, a sweet little authentic touch. It’s not a cheap meal, so definitely save it for a special night. You will walk away very satisfied though, so don’t fret about the price too much if you’re in the mood to splurge.
Address: 461 5th Ave. New York, NY 10017
This glorious restaurant has to be one of the gems of New York City. With a menu that changes seasonally, and even weekly, you’ll never be bored of the food here. I’ve been here a couple of times and the menu has been vastly different each time, mimicking nature and complementing the temperature outside with perfection. They use fresh, seasonal produce, have delicious cocktails, and their staff is friendly and extremely well trained. The Gentlemen Collins is my favourite drink here, and in terms of food everything is unreal. We had fried oysters, scallops, fish, beef & pork with each dish surpassing the previous one. They also have a truly beautiful creation on the menu, and if it’s there when you go, please do yourself a massive favour and order the popcorn ice-cream. I’m not even an ice-cream fan and I would go back just for this. Cookshop is a fail proof lunch or dinner option for when you just need some good, good food for the soul.
Address: 156 10th Ave New York, NY 10011
This is the cutest speakeasy bar I ever did see, so much so that I wish more than anything that we had one at home. Our friends took us here one night for drinks and we did not want to leave. The ambiance is dim, luxurious and vintage, with inventive, gorgeous cocktails. They have lots of different types of seating available based on your mood. You can sit at the bar, grab one of the more private couches or even take over the back room if you’re a big gang of people. We were a group pf 6 so we chose a gorgeous couch booth with hanging crystals for privacy This is not a party place, but rather for when you want to drink and catch up with your friends in a cozy, relaxed atmosphere that sends you home all starry eyed and giddy. If you’re looking for low-key drinks or a super romantic night then this is the place to be.
Address: 55 Irving Pl, New York, NY 10003
Standard Highline Biergarten
I love The Standard Highline and all of the bars/restuarants they offer, from the outdoor bar, the grill and the casual biergarten, they all have delicious drinks and a great look & feel. This is a great spot to grab a few beers with friends and enjoy a super chill vibe with picnic table style seating, self service, and some delicious german sausages with your brew. They obviously have a ton of beers on offer since thats what they pride themselves on, but they also have a bar for all other kinds of drinks if beer is not your thing. Buy coupons at the entrance and use these as cash for food & drink. Sharing tables and being friendly is encouraged, and it’s a good post work spot for a few pints before calling it a day. It’s always full so just lurk around a table that looks like they may be getting done and pounce as soon as they get up.
Address: 848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014
Sometimes you just need good, ol’ diner food. A nice cheeseburger, some pickles, onion rings, or in my case anything that contains buffalo chicken. This is a fuss free spot thats perfect for lunch while walking around. J had the burger which was delicious, and I had the buffalo chicken wrap with a side of caesar salad. Also their fresh orange juice was the only thing that cured my hangover that day. This is your spot for some cool, retro diner decor and uncomplicated, good, solid food.
Address: 244 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016
For all your breakfast or brunch requirements look no further than this cute little corner spot in the lower east side. The menu is small and focuses on breakfast food such as eggs of all kinds, waffles, and french toast. The cocktails are delicious, try the gin, lime and honey one and for mains the steak & eggs were banging, as were the eggs with quinoa, avocado & spicy hollandaise sauce. A refreshing and delicious meal in the sunshine before heading out to all the adorable boutiques and shops in the area. Rintintin is the perfect brunch spot for those glorious summer afternoons in the best city on the planet.
Address: 14 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
Dinner on night one was here, a fabulous Italian restaurant with high ceilings, warm decor and a hip, urban crowd. The buratta with truffle is just about as good as any food can possibly get, so order 2 and get ready for a life changing experience. We also had artichokes, eggplant parmigiana and a couple of other starters. For mains standout dishes were the squid ink pasta, the ravioli with butter sauce and the pizza with spicy sausage spread and fresh mozzarella cheese. The food was so good (and I was so tired from the long flight) that I didn’t take any pictures at all, regardless of this though it’s a truly fantastic place that you have to check out. The sommelier is well informed and helped us out with a bottle(s) of wine that everyone enjoyed, and it was really such a great way to start our time in NYC. Surrounded by old friends, wine, Italian food and happy vibes; what more could a girl want?
Address: 928 Broadway, New York, NY 10010
Jasleen Gill is a fashion & celebrity stylist, model, and blogger currently residing in Mumbai, India.READ MORE