Trip Report: 4 whirlwind days filled with lots of walking and even more eating!
Just wanted to thank everyone who takes the time to post here to make this board what it is. I learned a lot of valuable information here that helped make my trip great, that I would not have otherwise known!
My little family - myself, husband and 2 year old, returned from 4 packed days about 2 weeks ago and I am still tired from it all!
We had plans for lots of food tours and dinners, but that had to be slightly adjusted when 2 weeks before our trip, we had to bring our son with us. In the end, we still do some of those food tours and ate a lot of delicious food.
I will spare the in depth details of places we visited and focus on the food.
First up: a DIY food tour of the village with a picnic in Washington Square Park and stop at Union Square Greenmarket.
Wednesday - Day 1
We arrived at LGA at 9 am. We were already tired, but weren't about to let that stop us. Since we were staying in Long Island, we went there first to freshen up and look at the LIRR train schedule. After some parking issues at the train station, we finally arrived in The Village around noon.
I had planned our own walking food tour, so we were hungry and eager to get started. First stop: Big Gay Ice Cream for a Salty Pimp. It was everything I expected a caramel, salted chocolate dipped ice cream cone to be and more. I had a groupon for Milk & Cookies bakery, so we stopped there for a baker's dozen of cookies that we would spend the next 4 days eating. They had ice cold Roonybrook farm (organic) milk available. I just love how easy it is to get organic milk in this city. The lady was great and told us to check out Bantam Bagels - this is a new spot on Bleeker that does filled bagel bites. Brilliant idea. We crossed the street to go to Murray's Cheese Bar, and was confused when someone in a Murray's shirt told us it was closed after she looked on the door and didn't know the hours. We shook our heads and went into Faicco's Store for an Italian Sandwich and some homemade sopressata to eat at a different time. When we came out, we saw another's Murray's cheese bar, which was actually open. Grabbed some cheeses and walked back across the street to Rocco's bakery for a black and white cookie and a slice of turtle cheesecake. The cookie tasted too lemon-y, so I was not a fan. The turtle cheesecake took us 2 days to get to it, but it was way too sweet and the 4 of us never finished it. Last stop was at Bious Caio for some very expensive, but equally delicious macarons(my first ever!). Since we were already getting full and hadn't even touched half our food, we had decided to skip Joe's Pizzeria around the corner, and glad we did since when we turned the corner, it was closed and under construction for "mandatory upgrades." Ew.
We finally made it to Washington Square Park where we sat down to share that amazingly delicious Italian sub from Faicco’s, watch the birds and listen to some music being played. I just loved this park, it was everything I'd hoped it would be and more. I still can't get over how crowded everything is at any time of the day/week (and I AM from Chicago), but it was great people watching. The little guy enjoyed chasing after the pigeons and we stopped to enjoy the fountain before continuing on since it was pretty hot and we had one more stop to make.
We walked over to Union Square for their greenmarket. They had some great produce, flowers and the other typical things you expect to see at a farmer's market. I picked up some amazing blackberry preserves to eat with our cheeses later, and after some people watching, we were hot and exhausted so decided to head back to LI.
My friend was excited for me to try some "real" pizza, since we have gotten into arguments over this. So another friend of ours stopped over with her daughter so the kids could play and we ordered pizza. I was not impressed, but still willing to give it another try (more on that later).
We crawled to bed that night, hoping to sleep in the next day since we had no set time to be anywhere.
Overall thoughts: This was probably my favorite neighborhood. I just loved the architecture and vibe of it, plus the beautiful parks and what they had to offer. Overall, I was very surprised at how comparable NY is to Chicago. The Village reminded me of a blend of Wicker Park, Lincoln Park and Old Towne. I would definitely love to go back, try some more great places to eat and do some shopping.
Next up: Central Park & Times Square
Day 2 – Thursday
We "slept in" today because it was the one day we didn't have to be anywhere at a specific time. My friend dropped us off at the subway for what was to be our only solo day. We arrived at Central Park just before noon.. I truly underestimated the complexity of getting around the park and after we got lost trying to find Belvedere Castle and having to back track, we downloaded an app to get around. We stopped at conservatory water café where my husband enjoyed a Brooklyn Brewery Octoberfest, before we chugged on.
We attempted lunch at Le Pain Quitoden, but it was packed and their “to go” menu was not appetizing. We were able to get ice cold organic milk for my son, so we took it and walked toward the carrousel. After that, we were starving and sat down at the Ballplayer’s House café right next to the carrousel. They make you use waiter service and it was a good 45 minutes to receive lemonades, a quesadilla, a hot dog and then the check. The prices were reasonable though and it was nice to sit and relax for a bit. I had a quesadilla and my husband had a chili dog. It was nothing to write home about, we just needed something to eat and couldn’t wait any longer.
Our last stop was supposed to be the zoo, but by the time we found it, the little guy was knocked out. So since it was already 430and he was sleeping, we felt it was best to skip it. We had planned on having a late lunch inside the Plaza hotel, but since we had just had lunch and not done the zoo, we were not hungry.
After hitting up all the toy stores: FAO, Toys R Us and the Disney Store, we were finally starving.
As we had walked through Times Square I thought we are never going to find any of these restaurants I remember researching IN times square, I looked down the street and there was Junior's. We were able to leave our stroller up front, and seated right away (it was around 7/7:30 pm). We each ordered a burger – they were huge, came with some of the biggest onion rings I have ever seen and steak fries. My son had a large bowl of mac and cheese that he didn’t finish until the next day. My husband and I split a chocolate egg cream and the cheesecake (amazing!). All of that and our bill was $57 before tax. Not bad at all!! We had a wonderful waiter who was very attentive (he even charged my phone for me!) but when it came to ordering/getting dessert and our check, he was MIA. So we spent probably 90 minutes there when it maybe would’ve taken us an hour. We got back to Long Island around 10:30, much later than we thought.. so right to bed since we had timed tickets for the morning.
Next up: 9/11 memorial, Financial District, Lower East Side, The High Line & Chelsea Market
Friday - Day 3
Today was a short day as we set out early for the 9.11 memorial and we were tired. After FiDi, we headed to LES and stopped in Economy Candy. Spent way too much money on chocolate covered goodies - graham crackers, pretzels, pecans, almonds and oreos! Loved seeing all the candy from our childhood.
Headed to Katz's for a light lunch - split a corned beef with my friend and husband split a pastrami with friend's hubby. Little guy ate a knish and we drank an egg cream and dr brown creme soda. Great experience, wish I had another sandwich right now!
Made our way to the High Line and enjoyed a freshly made mexican coconut popsicle.. cannot remember the name of the cart now, while we walked toward Chelsea Market.
I was really disappointed because by the time we got there, I was not feeling well at all. Totally not the way I wanted to spend my time in CM! Everyone but me ordered lobster bisque from the Lobster Place and raved. It's one of my husband's favorite soups. I wish we'd been more hungry and I felt better because the fresh lobster people were eating looked absolutely amazing.
We stopped in the italian marketplace and got some fresh salami and baguette crackers to go, after breathing in the delicious scents of the italian sausage they were cooking.
Stopped in Los Tacos No 1.. for some of the best tacos I think I have ever had. They were on the smaller side, so I am only sad that we did not order like 15 more, if even to go. Still thinking about those tacos! So fresh, just the right about of spice. Nom, nom nom.
Last stop was in front of a new spot at the end that I didn't catch the name of. They were sampling focaccia and hot vanilla ravioli is some kind of creme sauce. So good!
We left with a chocolate croissant from Sarabeth's in our bag to go and headed back to Long Island to finally include in all of the goodies we had collected the past few days: Murray's cheese, fresh preserves from union square farmers market, soppersota from Fiacco's, salami from Chelsea Market and cheesecake from Rocco's.
Next up: Final day - Smorgasburg & Rockefeller Plaza
Day 4 - Saturday
This was our final day and was the only day that didn’t quite go the way I would have liked. We had plans to meet up with my cousin from Connecticut for the day. We started in Brooklyn, at the Brooklyn Bridge Park and were supposed to meet him at 1030. We got to the Carousel at 10:40 and my cousin called to say that there had been problems with the CT trains and they had to drive in and only just arrived in times Square.. not sure why but he did not feel comfortable taking the subway or taxi or ferry to meet up with us, so we told him we would seem them later.
Anyway, from the carousel, we walked back to the pier to catch the East River Ferry to North Williamsburg. We bought tickets at the kiosk and were the first people on. 20 minutes later, we were arriving in Williamburg and walking into Smorgasburg. OMG, it was amazing. I could not be more happy with our decision to stop here. We had smoked brisket, chicken and waffles, maple bacon pieces, a homemade ice cream sandwich, tacos, teriayki balls, these little thin bun sandwiches filled with duck (my first time ever eating duck!) and of course pizza (now this pizza I liked!) It was all relatively small bites and the prices were not bad at all.. we only spent $50 there and ate all of that for 3 people.
I wish we had room for so many more things, but it was hot and we were stuffed so we got back on the ferry to go back to the DUMBO pier because now we were headed on the NY Water taxi. We rode it around so that we could see the Statue of Liberty, and the guys enjoyed some more Brooklyn Brewery Octoberfest on board.
We got off and hopped in a cab to take us to Grand Central Terminal and meet up with my cousin, finally. We walked through Grand Central, just to see it, and then took the shuttle to Times Square so that we could explore Rockefeller Plaza before heading up to the Top of the Rock. It was around 5 pm when we were passing by the entrance to the observation deck, so I went inside to redeem my vouchers for a 6 pm ticket. Well, when I got downstairs and saw the board.. my heart sank! The next available times they had were 7:30 & on. I was SO disappointed. I really wanted to be up there for sunset. PLUS, we had dinner reservations at 7:30 at Ruby Foo’s. So we had to cancel reservations, find a place to get dinner and got 8:05 pm tickets instead. We ended up at a sushi place, HATSUHANA. which the group made reservations while I was downstairs getting tickets, and I was kind of annoyed because I knew there was going to be nothing for my son to eat. I am also pregnant, so it’s not like I can eat a whole lot of sushi either. They didn’t even had any cooked options, I ended up ordering chicken teriyaki so we could split it. Those who ate sushi, said it was very good and fresh. Their plates were small, about 2 rolls and 5 pieces of sushi each for around $35 (this also included soup or salad, green tea and dessert). My husband can easily eat 6 rolls and 15 pieces of sashimi, so he was not totally satisfied. It was just nice to sit down, in a quiet place and catch my breath and some air conditioning.
We headed back toward Rockefeller and stopped to get a pastry at the fabulous Bouchon. I practically swallowed the éclair and my husband got the homemade oreo. Since it was almost closing time, they didn’t have too much left, but it was enough to satisfy us! We finally made it up to the Top of the Rock and enjoyed our last few moments in NYC.
It was quite the whirlwind and we came back exhausted! Looking forward to coming back and eating a lot more good food – hopefully with some really great, less casual restaurants next time!
Thanks again for all the suggestions!