I hope everyone had a great and blessed Christmas and holiday season! We caught the Christmas fever in our house, literally. Kristin and I have both been a little under the weather, but are happy to be back with more details on our trip to NYC!
So…where should I begin talking about New York City? Let’s start with something everyone likes to do…eat! NYC has more varieties and variations of food than anywhere I have ever been. It’s hard to know where to start because of the sheer volume of restaurants. I can honestly say that we would have likely not found the number of awesome restaurants had it not been for modern forms of communication that utilize “word of mouth”. My friend and fellow NYC traveler, Wesley, is a huge fan and user of new media. He has been telling me for a few years now how useful new media can be in professional and social applications. Well, if there were ever an example, navigating NYC is it. Within minutes of asking friends on facebook, twitter, and simple texting we were swamped with suggestions of “must go” restaurants. It made sifting through the sand and grit to find the gold pretty easy.
Pop Burger was the first place that we tried in NYC. We were out getting our bearings in the city and wanted a quick bite to eat. They offer tasty small burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and the usual gang that you would expect as sides at the first floor counter. The lounge on the second floor offers the same as the first as well as some more options for dinner. The décor in the restaurant is a retro tribute to pop art. On the first floor there is a simple eating area, but upstairs there is a lounge, pool table, and full bar. It’s the best of both worlds, somewhere quick to eat or somewhere to chill out at night and grab a snack.
Our first night in the city we ended up at Pastis, a French Bistro in Manhattan’s meatpacking district, through a recommendation by a neighbor. They offer some traditional French dishes along with a few twists on bistro fare. It is a very open, tightly knit restaurant that gives a true sense of community. You can make reservations, or take your chances on finding a seat at the community table. We were lucky enough to be able to walk in and grab seats at the community table. I would actually recommend this option because of the forced interaction with other people. You may just end up next to someone that provides you entertainment with your meal. The food was outstanding.
Admittedly, I watch a lot if Travel Channel TV…I love Man v. Food. Watching Adam do some of the spicy food challenges has inspired me to attempt a few of them myself. I was interested in checking out Brick Lane Curry House whenever the show visited it to do its Phaal Curry Challenge. Phaal is a super hot curry that uses the ghost pepper, which is the hottest pepper on the planet. If you finish the phaal you’ll get a free beer and your picture on the wall. Not exactly like winning the Superbowl, but a small victory none the less. We hoofed it over there for an early lunch on day two. I had never been to an Indian restaurant, so I didn’t know what to expect. The staff was very friendly, and explained what everything was to us. I considered doing the challenge, even went as far as to try the sauce on its own (incendiary), but decided being on foot in NYC after braving that was not gonna be very well thought out. Kristin spent the rest of lunch telling me I was scared, but I didn’t see her attempting it either. All of the food was very flavorful and well prepared. It is worth a go if you want to try something different and spicy.
That night after some suspect Chinatown shopping we decided to head into Little Italy and try Angelo’s. To me this was exactly what I was expecting in a NYC Italian eatery. The food was rich and flavorful. The quarters were intimate and dimly lit. The majority of the staff and patrons all seemed to have been cast by Francis Coppola himself. It all just felt right…not to mention that they have, without a doubt, the best veal marsala that I have ever eaten.
We took a subway ride down to the Lower East Side to try Katz’s Deli. It is a Jewish kosher style delicatessen. The restaurant has been around since 1888, and was the site of Meg Ryan’s climactic scene in “When Harry Met Sally”. The restaurant has some of the best pastrami and corned beef that I have had. The meat punches you square in the mouth with flavor! House made pickles and fresh cut fries made it outstanding.
We tried out Sushi Samba for dinner on our third night in NYC. It is a unique restaurant that offers a blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian food and music. While the food was very good, the volume inside of the restaurant was deafening. It seemed like the “seen and be seen” crowd was out in full force fronting for the world to see. Finding humor in this sort of situation though, I enjoyed the dinner and the façade that the tables around us tried to project…good times.
Throughout the trip there only remained one constant…Coffee. I don’t want to speak for the entire group, but I know that I have a healthy addiction to caffeine. I am not sure how many Starbucks there are in NYC, but we visited a good many. Sometimes you need something to level you out, keep you going, or to get your fix. Why not make it a legal addictive substance? We take our coffee pretty seriously around here…