Apr
6

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My NYC Spring To-Do List

tp-central-park-spring-blossoms-4-16-131. Go to a pizza speakeasy.

2. See Gigi on Broadway (because romance, Paris, and show tunes!)

3. Have a Kentucky Derby Day right here in New York–at Belmont Park!

4. Try a traditional Scottish dancing class.

5. Visit the Bjork exhibit at the MOMA.

6. Do a SoulCycle ride for a NYC charity (still tickets left if anyone wants to join!)

7. Take a (free!) tour of the super secret NYC Masons headquarters.

8. Stroll through the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.

9. Throw a spring vegetarian dinner party for my recently engaged friend!

10. Celebrate Poem In Your Pocket day.

I’d love to know…what’s on your spring to-do list?

xx,

Jess

p.s. here’s last year’s fall and summer lists!

||Photo Credit: 1||

Apr
3

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2015: The Year Of No Restaurant Repeats (March Edition)

We’re live with the March edition of “no restaurant repeats!”  For our #travelthroughfood this month, we indulged in amazing Indian in Queens and Japanese in Midtown (okay, okay, the Japanese may have been more tourist trap than authentic, but SO GOOD!)

My favorite dining experience this month, hands down, goes to Joseph Leonard–seriously, go for your next dinner date and sit at the “chef’s table” for an upfront and personal view right into the kitchen magic.  The best dessert I ate was Treat House, they certainly know how to put the grown-up spin on rice crispy treats!

The budget friendly award goes to Sigmund’s Pretzels, if you sit at the bar and order a beer you get a free pretzel!

We’ll see you back at the end of April, but for more foodie adventures, follow us on Instagram!

And share below…what’s the best dish you’ve had lately?!

March 2015

unnamed-26{Bar Pleiades: Upper East Side // $$$ // Nestled in the Surrey Hotel, this spot can do no wrong in my book.  Top notch service, artfully displayed meals that are as tasty as they are pretty, it makes for a wonderful date spot…and who knows? It may even inspire you to elope on the rooftop as we did in the summer of 2013!}

unnamed-25{Urbo Grind: Times Square // $ // I swear, this place is a hidden gem on what is probably the busiest street in all of America. We were looking for a quick spot to grab coffee before a show, and stumbled on in–shockingly, there was no wait, and we pretty much had the cafe to ourselves!}

unnamed-23{Sigmund’s Pretzels: East Village // $ // After reading Sarah’s zest for these pretzels at the Choice Eats Food Festival, I knew I had to check it out. I ordered an egg sammie on a pretzel bun, which was phenomenal, and the hubs went for the burger on a pretzel bun. Little secret: we liked this place so much (and the price point!) that we broke our little “no repeat” rule and came back again.}

unnamed-16{Prohibition Bakery: Lower East Side // $ // Okay, while this definitely won’t be taking the place of my favorite cupcake bakeries, I needed to include it because a boozy bakery is something you should for sure try…once.  The tiny bite sized cupcakes are packed with alcohol infusions that create such intense flavors your tastebuds will do little cartwheels in your mouth–beer and pretzel was my favorite.}

unnamed-18{Benihana: Midtown // $$ // Is now a good time to admit that hibachi is one of my foodie guilty pleasures?  Okay then.  If you have a weakness for rice with garlic butter fried and smothered with ginger dipping sauces, all made with fire and fanfare in front of you, this is your spot.}

unnamed-27{Joseph Leonard: West Village // $$$ // Intimate, small, cozy, and food cooked to perfection. Just trust me on this–go–and send my compliments to Chef Pablo. The ONLY downfall is they don’t take rezzies–so go at an off time or be prepared to squish into the bar and wait.}

unnamed-19{Treat House: Upper West Side // $ // A five year old’s dream–and mine too, apparently. This place specializes in one thing, rice crispy treats, and boy have they perfected them.  The sugar cookie treat (with the little duck on it) was my favorite.}

unnamed-17{Saffron Garden: Sunnyside // $ // When Indian is done right, it can be one of my favorite cuisines. I loved how everything on the menu was clearly labeled as veggie or vegan friendly, and the aromatic spices in the food really created a lovely experience for all the senses.}

February 2015

unnamed-1{Le Pain Quotidien: Various Locations // $ // While not quite as popular as Starbucks, you can pretty much find an LPQ in any neighborhood.  The food is healthy and fresh, and I think it’s adorable (and very French) how they serve their coffee out of bowls.}

unnamed-2{Jean-Georges: Columbus Circle // $$$$ // Without a doubt, one of the top 3 dining experiences I’ve ever had in NYC.  The vegetarian tasting menu was out of this world (I finished EVERYTHING), truly deserves a post of its own. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, skip the gift and come here instead–an experience you and your tastebuds will not soon forget.}

unnamed-3{Chez Napoleon: Hell’s Kitchen // $$ // This has long been my favorite “hidden gem” French comfort food restaurant–owned by the most delightful French family, you can expect warm service and the most delicious house-made vinaigrette that you’ve ever tasted–slather it over everything!}

unnamed-4{Bouchon Bakery: Inside the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle // $ // Perfect place to catch your breath after a walk in the park or a morning of shopping–large size vanilla macaroons are my go-to order.}

unnamed-5{Tavern On The Green: Central Park West // $$$ // I always assumed this was a tourist destination so steered clear until recently (it’s where our out of town guests picked, go figure), but was really pleasantly surprised! The food was delicious, and there’s a toasty fireplace you can warm up next to! I got the soup for brunch, but the french toast was clearly the way to go.}

unnamed-6{1 Dollar Pizza: Hell’s Kitchen // $ // Dollar pizza, folks. Love it or you hate it, but I’m SUCH a lover.}

unnamed-7{Nai Tapas Bar: East Village // $$ // Feel like transporting to Spain for the evening? This hole-in-the-wall tapas joint will get you there. Along with the small plates, we were so pleased with the entertainment–live music and gorgeous flamenco dancing, and no cover charge to boot!}

unnamed-8{Dominique Ansel Bakery: Soho // $ // Meh, ok so were got here early in the morning for the cronuts (but nope, not early enough).  After waiting we figured we may as well order something, so we grabbed a few croissants and this Nutella bread.  It was okay, but just okay.  It left me a little confused as to the popularity of the place?}

unnamed-9{Circo: Midtown // $$$ // We stumbled on this circus-themed joint during restaurant week, and while I was impressed with my appetizer (cauliflower flan, now that’s fun!), the main course and dessert course were just so-so.  Because it was Restaurant Week?  Maybe.  But it wiped out any chances of becoming regulars–which I guess is good for this No Restaurant Repeat Challenge!}

unnamed-10{The Four Seasons: Midtown East // $$$$ // Ok, you know how I said before Jean-Georges was one of the three best restaurants I’ve experienced? Well, this is on that list, too!  Seriously, BEST SERVICE I’ve ever received in NYC…not to mention such playful and innovative dishes–besides that cotton candy, I was over-the-moon thrilled with their veggie lunch option (a delightful farro salad) and miniature house-made croissants, still warm from the oven.}

January 2015

unnamed-1{The Modern: Midtown // $$$ // Perfect for a classy date night.  Wear your favorite dress.}

unnamed-5{Bibble & Sip: Midtown // $ // Their  lavender latte is everything you’d ever dream it could be. Small cafe, but nice for catching up with a book or friend…tends to be my post-yoga class spot.}

unnamed-3{Prune: Lower East Side // $$$ // Great for meat lovers–the vibe is leaning towards the side of hipster for a casual, yet pricy, night out.  Probably not the best place if you have any food concerns (gluten-free, vegan), but they will produce this lovely off-menu veggie platter if you ask nicely–you must not be afraid of butter, though.  It’s on the cozy (read: small) side, so claustrophobics need not come.}

unnamed-4{The Bar Room: Upper East Side // $$ // They won me over with peacock wallpapering, and then locked it down with those extra crispy french fries–nice spot for a casual lunch or dinner.  You can also catch the game at the bar.}

unnamed-6{BluePrint: Whole Foods // $ // Well, it’s not a martini on the rocks or anything, but certainly the most efficient way to get in all your leafy greens in one swig. The taste is not nearly as terribly as one must think, promise!}

_________________________________

{please note: this article will be updated monthly throughout 2015 to reflect the best of the best of what we’re noshing + sipping on around town}

Perhaps the #1 question I get from both tourists and locals alike is, “well, where are the BEST places we should we eat?”  Such a personalized question that I truly hate answering because, truth be told, my favorite foods and restaurant vibes are probably going to wildly vary from the ones you enjoy…and I’d hate to steer you down the wrong path!

That being said, I decided to take a new approach on the blog when it comes to documenting real food at real places.  As I may have mentioned to you before, the hubs and I are trying this 2015 no-restaurant repeat year!  Easier said than done, cause we do adore our tried and trues, but we’ve also discovered quite a lot of unexpected gems that we never would have found otherwise! 

So my friends, I’ll post a single photo from each meal that we eat out throughout 2015, along with the restaurant link and part of town it’s in, with just a teeny bit of restaurant background…the rest is up to you!  Just remember, the mantra of our site is “best of new york, as used by new yorkers”, so if something is truly awful, it won’t be making the list.  Keeping it real for ya, my friends.

I’ll be updating the page monthly, both for your food porn pleasure and also for some inspiration of where to catch your next date night without being overwhelmed by so many options.  And as always, if there’s a place you’re curious about, leave it in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer your question!

Apr
2

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NYC Celebrates 100 Years Of Frank Sinatra

unnamed-16Our town. That’s what Frank Sinatra called New York. Combine that pure city love, soulful voice, and the bluest of blue eyes, and you have yourself THE American icon, who can be celebrated right here in NYC.  The NYPL for the Performing Arts is commemorating the Frank Sinatra Centennial with a beautifully curated free exhibit through September 4th, showcasing 100 years of Frankie’s legacy.

The exhibit has never-before-seen photos, family mementos, artwork, outfits, video interviews, and of course, music galore.  You’ll learn a host of new things (Frankie was a painter! Frankie was a film star! Frankie was the original “The Voice”!)

I particularly liked the interactive nature of the exhibit–there was one station where you could actually mix Frankie’s music yourself, a large jukebox where you could choose any and every Sinatra song ever made to play throughout the room, a huge wall filled with TV’s showing Sinatra in concert, and my personal favorite–a karaoke-like booth where you can record your voice singing New York, New York along with Sinatra’s.  Swoon!

In addition to the exhibit, you can also stroll the streets of NYC and Hoboken, NJ, (Frankie’s birth place), checking out all his favorite haunts with this free walking tour.  I, for one, can’t wait to check out Patsy’s for some of that legendary Italian food he loved!

unnamed-17 unnamed-21 unnamed-19 unnamed-18 unnamed-22 unnamed-24 unnamed-23In celebration of the centennial, there’s a host of free public programs also celebrating Ol’ Blue Eyes, from films to concerts to sing-a-longs, New York is paying tribute to the one who made popular our very own theme song, New York, New York. And for that, we thank you, Frankie.

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Apr
1

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Art In Bloom At Macy’s Herald Square

unnamed-4While the temperatures still have us questioning whether spring has, in fact, sprung, there’s certainly do doubt when you walk into Macy’s.  Strappy sandals, bikinis, and most importantly, blooms galore!

For the past 41 years, Macy’s in Herald Square welcomes spring by showcasing gorgeous gardens and beautiful arrangements in what they call a “celebration of imagination and creativity.” I really love how each arrangement is made to embody a specific form of art—from Pop to Abstract to Surrealist and beyond—truly making art accessible to the public.

It’s quite pretty, isn’t it?

unnamed-5 unnamed-8 unnamed-13 unnamed-9 unnamed-12 unnamed-11 unnamed-10 unnamed-14 unnamed-15The show goes through April 4th and is completely free, so do stop by—it makes for a wonderful indoor lunch break stroll!

Would love to know…how have you used your city this week?

Mar
31

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Learning A New Language: Month 3

Welcome to learning a new language with Jess!  Today I’m updating you on my third month of progress.  As a quick recap: my 2015 resolution is to learn Bosnian so I can speak it with my hubs and his family.  I’ve tried and failed at this quite a few times (1/2 lack of follow through on my part, and 1/2 language acquisition is a super tough skill for me and I was struggling to find a method that worked.)

9us3e2But!  2015 is going to be the year:-)

And, so far, March was the best month yet.  Here’s why.

I teamed up with an accountability partner, i.e. a paid tutor.  I found a very skilled teacher through the website iTalki, and we have standing lessons twice a week at the same time via Skype.  Consistency!  Plus, I know that if I flake out and am a no show, I’m still responsible for paying for the lessons–which is extra motivation!  I also really like that he gives me specific homework each time, which takes the guess work out of me trying to figure out what to study from week to week.  As the habit guru Gretchen Rubin says in her book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives:

“Accountability means that we face consequences for what we’re doing–even if that consequence is merely the fact that someone else is monitoring us…On the flip side, when we don’t feel accountable, we behave worse.”

Have you guys tried having an “accountability partner” for any of the habits/resolutions you’re mastering in 2015?  Share below!

p.s. here’s month 2 and month 1 updates.