You could spend many days in New York and still not do it all, but with two nights and one short day, there was a lot to do and very little time. I strategically made the most of it and covered a lot of ground in Manhattan.
I tagged along on Johnny’s business trip and we met up with a longtime friend of mine, Abby, to start with drinks before dinner. Abby has worked in the city over the last few years, and briefly lived there, so she has a bit of a local’s vantage point and we let her lead the way.
First we stopped at The Garrett in the West Village, a hidden loft bar with an entrance via stairwell in the back of a local Five Guys burger joint. Handcraft cocktails, friendly bartenders and homemade pickles are just a few of the charms that grace the joint. Cozy up for the night or stop in for a drink, but definitely find this gem.
Dinner was at Jack’s Wife Freda, a boutique café serving up a variety of American, Israel and South African-inspired fare. A narrow room with shared seating, you could easily sit all night as if enjoying dinner at a good friend’s house instead of a dining room in the city. Starters ranged from grilled haloumi to roasted cauliflower. We all opted for a sandwich, like my choice, the Madame Freda, featuring duck prosciutto, cheddar béchamel, gruyere & a sunny side up egg.
Our final stop of the night was another speakeasy-style bar ironically named The Up & Up, located below street level. The extensive menu highlights elixirs for any palette, ranging from classic cocktails to creative concoctions. Can’t decide? Trust the bartender to mix something up.
The next day I set out to make the most of my short trip, despite staying out later than we should have the night before, catching up with Abby. I headed straight for Central Park, not far from our hotel, to run (ok, and walk) through the dreamy green sanctuary.
We walked to Urbanspace Broad Bites for lunch, a cool pop-up restaurant concept located in Greeley Square Park at Broadway and 33rd. Vendors line the park, serving up everything from Cajun cuisine, to street tacos, Thai food and more. Johnny and I split a cheesesteak sandwich from the Truffleist, featuring their truffle honey oil, and assorted arancinis from Arancini Bros.
After lunch Johnny went onto his meetings and I made my way to the Chelsea Market, a collection of unique shops in the ground floor of a gutted brick building loaded with as much character as each market it houses. I wandered through the artisan food joints, down through the restaurants and to the back, to find a flea market with rotating jewelry and other crafty vendors. Posman Books, just outside the flea market, sucked up the rest of my time shopping before I ventured back outside.
The Highline, dubbed the park in the sky, is a 1.45-mile-long stretch that passes above the Chelsea Market. Formerly an abandoned railroad, the park offers stellar views, interesting brush and foliage, as well as local vendors. I strolled along after leaving Chelsea Market and wished I had time to walk the full length.
My final sightseeing item of the day was to visit Ground Zero of the World Trade Center Twin Towers (no, I haven’t been since 9/11). I cabbed down to the site and walked over to the memorials and stood in awe. I’ve been told that the museum is well worth the tour, but with my limited timeframe, I tabled it for another visit.
Pre-dinner drinks were at The Knickerbocker hotel on the rooftop bar and patio, St. Cloud, overlooking Times Square. Abby was able to meet us that night as well and we all made our way to Barbounia, a Mediterranean restaurant Johnny was familiar with. We split several menu items, including a variety of hummus, grilled fish and the evening special.
Everything we ate and saw was wonderful, and I was exhausted by the time we left! With even one more day on our agenda, I would have tried to include the 9/11 museum tour, MoMA and/or a Broadway Show; I’ll simply have to make another trip soon!