Last month I had the chance to spend almost five days in one of my absolute favorite places: New York City. I stayed with my sweet friend Ainsley and her husband, Justin, and I had the best time. What I loved most about this trip was that I hung with them about half the time I was there and then ventured solo for the other half, which was really fun to do in what is literally the biggest city in the US. It's going to take a few posts to share all the things I want to, so let's start with one of the best things: the food. I've tried my best to arrange this list by neighborhood, and I very obviously did not stick to my usual gluten- and dairy-free diet because vacation, so no judgement, k? Okay, let's get started!
MIDTOWN + EAST VILLAGE
EATALY FLATIRON was a great place to start off my first day in the city. After taking in the spectacular Flatiron Building, my friend Ainsley and I got some almond milk lattes from the cafe and then walked around the marketplace. Among the small restaurant spaces, there were aisles full of all types of pastas, olive oils, cheeses, and more baked goods than you could imagine. There was even an entire bakery space dedicated to baked goods with Nutella, a.k.a my dream. After winding our way though Eataly, we headed across the street to Madison Square Park to drink coffee and people watch.
As we were walking toward Union Square Park, we stumbled upon UNION FARE, a restaurant that came strongly recommended from my girl Jessica. Ainsley and I headed straight to the smash bar to get some toasts: one with avocado and watermelon radish, the other with cheese, balsamic, and tomatoes. YUM. This is somewhere that I absolutely want to hit up when I'm back in NYC in October because they had a lot more options for lunch and dinner that I want to try!
After leaving Union Fare, we walked by a cute shop called CHLOE'S SOFT SERVE FRUIT and I knew I needed it in my life (and belly). Their ingredients are literally just soft serve fruit, water, and a little bit of sugar, so Ainsley and I shared a mango one with blackberries. Then we walked through the farmer's market at Union Square Park and I immediately wished we would have gotten a larger size because it was so refreshing!
One of the days that I was exploring solo through the city, I managed to accidentally pass MAGNOLIA BAKERY, which I had been told was a "must-do." While they are famous for their banana pudding, I just really wanted a lemon bar, so I got that and then walked down to Bryant Park. It was there that I ended up being a part of a random photoshoot with the guy sitting at the table next to me. It was definitely an "only in NYC" moment.
In true Gossip Girl fan fashion, I made it a personal priority to make it to the CAMPBELL APARTMENT within Grand Central Station. Once we found it, we sat at the infamous bar and ordered some mules (plus our bartender gave us a third one for free, hollller) while we enjoyed a little break from the hustle and bustle. Tip: if you decide to hit this spot, note that it's actually located just outside of Grand Central.
Oh what up SHAKE SHACK?! I had heard from so many people that this was a place I had to hit, so one night the three of us went to the one located in Madison Square Park, which we mostly chose for the atmosphere -- I mean, look at those string lights! I had the Chick'n Shack (so much yum!) and we all shared a red velvet shake. I learned that lots of people like to say Shake Shack is better than In N Out, and while the former was delicious, I am here to say not true. I'm a California girl so I'm probably biased, but In N Out will forever be my jam (lettuce wrapped double-double and animal style fries always).
GREENWICH VILLAGE + CHELSEA MARKET
Ainsley insisted on bringing me to COOKIE DO NYC and I am so glad she did, because who doesn't love cookie dough on a cone? When we got there the line was super short (praise!), and we decided to split a scoop of unicorn dough on a pink waffle cone. I won't lie, it was so fun for the photos and yes, it tasted good, but we agreed that it was waaaay too much sugar for both of us. Still a real fun place to pop into! (PS how cute is my girl Ains in that photo?)
When planning my trip, I decided it was a priority to take myself out to a nice dinner, which landed me at PALMA. I sat at the bar with a glass of rosé -- because I'm hella fancy -- and ordered their naturally gluten-free Ravioli Ricotta e Spinaci. So good, and my little Italian heart was just so happy to get to eat pasta and not feel terrible afterward. Plus the atmosphere of this restaurant was real cute.
After dinner, I decided to walk up a few blocks through Greenwich Village to hit up BIG GAY ICE CREAM for their "Salty Pimp" cone: vanilla soft-serve with dulce de leche dipped in salty chocolate on a waffle cone. Yep, freaking yum.
There were so many great little spots to eat at in Chelsea Market, but one of the days I was solo I ended up at a farm-to-table restaurant called THE GREEN TABLE after remembering a friend back in Nashville had recommended it. I got the GT Burger and it was so, so good. But I mean, I'm pretty convinced that any burger with aioli is destined for greatness.
I also stopped in a the DOUGHNUTTERY (twice) for their delicious little bite sized donuts. Their Paris Time flavor with lavender, pistachio, and vanilla sugars was definitely my favorite.
UPPER EAST + WEST SIDES
I mean, of course I had to stop to get some macarons at LADUREE, because I had to make my girl Blair Waldorf proud. And also macarons are the one dessert I don't have to feel guilty about eating because they're naturally gluten free... praaaise. We walked out to the mall in Central Park to enjoy these bad boys.
Okay y'all, I had heard that the cookies at LEVAIN BAKERY were to die for, and it's absolutely freaking true. While their most popular cookie is the walnut chocolate chip, I opted instead for the dark chocolate peanut butter chip and it did not disappoint. I walked through a misty Central Park while I ate some of it, and then saved the rest for the plane ride home (because it was massive). But guys, I so wish I would have gotten more because they real good. #nexttime
We stopped for some tea at FEED CAFE in Dumbo, which was super cute and had an awesome, noble cause: with every purchase made, they work toward fighting world hunger and providing meals to those who need it. It's a great little space with great drinks and beautiful products, so be sure to stop in if you find yourself in Dumbo.
When in New York, one must get pizza, and after a some serious research I landed on JULIANA'S in Dumbo. There was a bit of a wait, but it was totally worth it because the staff brought out individual slices to us while we were in line, which only made me more excited to get inside. For lunch, Ainsley, Justin, and I shared a half margherita, half pepperoni pizza and freaking dominated it. It was so, so, so delicious.
Finishing up with sweets because of course and also I didn't really care about calories because I was walking 10+ miles a day. In Brooklyn, I made sure to get some ice cream at BROOKLYN ICE CREAM FACTORY, which is right near Pier 1 and just a few steps away from Juliana's. We then took a water taxi to Williamsburg to find MAST BROTHERS CHOCOLATE, where I got the Maple and Horchata chocolate bars. Verdict: both SO good.
LONG ISLAND CITY
I got coffee at TOBY'S ESTATE two days since it was right around the corner from my friends' apartment, and it was so good. Plus their courtyard out back was the ideal place to chill, eat breakfast, and make plans for the day. Plus I mean just look at that avocado toast! YAS.
Okay, I'm only a little bit sorry for the crappy iPhone picture, but you guys this may have been the best burger I've ever had (and I would consider myself a bit of a burger fanatic). It's from LIC MARKET, and if you're in the city it's 100% worth the E/M/7 train ride to Court Square. Do it and thank me later, for real.
- Lillie's Victorian Establishment in Time Square -- after seeing a show on Broadway, I met up with a friend from college at this cute restaurant and it was so good. I got the Chicken and Kale Ravioli (naturally gluten-free!) an enjoyed getting to catch up with my friend for a few hours in this beautiful spot.
- Takumi Taco in Chelsea Market -- this place was so interesting! It's Japanese-inspired Mexican, and it's delicious. I got the chicken adobo burrito bowl and Ainsley got the nachos, and both were real good.
- Joe's Pizza near Union Square -- no-frills spot, just good old NY pizza.
So yes, I did pretty much just eat my way through New York City and still have zero regrets. It was all just so good and plus I was walking so much much that it burned off most of the calories anyway (right?!). Now, do you have any new spots I should hit up when I go back in October? Holler at ya girl if so. And I hope this list helps you if you find yourself hungry while in NYC!