This post is not a comprehensive guide but a collection of my visual memories and personal favorites (expect food, shopping and sights) from my first trip to New York City. A trip I've dreamed about and anticipated for years. It finally happened: 7 days of much needed vacation with my love.
Initially we thought about dividing the week by staying in two different locations for me to get familiar with more areas of the city. In the end we decided to stay all 7 days in the same place to make it less complicated. We stayed in an airbnb in prime Williamsburg located at N 5th st right next to Bedford avenue and Berry st. Two streets full of coffee shops, grocery options, great restaurants and even good shopping. We fell completely in love with the area and when the week was over we kinda agreed that we would never want to stay elsewhere. It just had this home-ish feeling.
5 BREAKFAST SPOTS
Breakfast is crucial for me. I get both (h)angry and fatique without it. And then I just love everything that belongs to the breakfast category. Both the healthy and the sweet stuff. If you can relate I warn you that it can get quite stressful with the amount of promising breakfast spots in NYC. In our case we agreed very quickly that we wanted to just take it easy and do what we felt like despite an intense research phase prior to the trip. This resulting in us having the first meal of the day in Williamsburg all 7 days. Some spots noted in advance, but mostly random.
1. Gotan (Williamsburg)
# the healthy
Simple, colorful and seasonal breakfast / lunch menu with a green focus. The avocado toast with feta is really good, as well as their chia porridge with fresh fruit and coffee in bright red cups. They offer milk alternatives oat/soy/almond which is a big plus in my book!
2. Okonomi (Williamsburg)
# the special
One morning we decided to change up our normal morning routines and visit Okonomi, a Japanese restaurant tucked inside a tiny black clapboard house in Williamsburg. We already had our eyes on this place, but when their traditional ichiju sansai set breakfast was recommended by our friend Nana (who has impeccable taste) we knew we had to go.
Okonomi only has a few seats. Two window-seat tables and a few along the counter that separates the dining area with the open kitchen. It felt very intimate and a bit like a time warp or a two-hour travel to Japan.
The meal consists of 5 small servings, a bowl of multi grain rice, hot miso soup, pickled rainbow colored vegetables, a choice of grilled fish, an optional (but essential) onsen egg and two sides. A cube of omelet, creamy with soy milk, dashi, white soy and a fillip of sugar, baked until bronzed on top and bottom, and a small stack of green beans.
Grilled fish is not exactly what I normally appreciate in the morning, why Kenneth doubled-checked 'are you sure you're ready for grilled fish in the morning?'. But it may be one of the best experiences we had during the week.
3. 5 leaves (Green point)
# the popular
5 leaves is located on a corner that devides 3-4 different neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Due to great popularity the weekend usually means a long queue around brunch time. We went there on a weekday, a little earlier than the rest of the people, and we had no waiting time. I noted 5 leaves from WEAREMAD's wonderful NYC guide (Katrine makes killer travel guides!). Later it was recommended by Frede and a few others of my girlfriends (looking at you Anso & Kristine). I chose the ricotta pancakes with fresh fruit and cinnamon / honeycumb butter. It was possibly the most delicious stack of pancakes I've ever had. The hype is understandable. To close the loop it's worth mentioning that Munchies has made a "how to: make brunch"-video so we can all learn how to make those legendary pancakes!
4. Sweet Chick (Williamsburg & LES)
# the hyped + comfort
Sweet Chick is a modern American diner that serves 'comfort food'. Come here for the best and most hyped duble-coated fried chicken and the perfect airy/fluffy waffles with syrup and three different flavors of whipped butter. Sweet chick was one of the few places Kenneth insisted on showing me and I have to admit that it surprised me a lot and I regret we only went there once. Watch the small video reportage of the place by Hypebeast.
* Met that beautiful couple at Sweet Chick.
5. Pies'n'Thighs (Williamsburg)
# the greasy
Greasy soul + slow food w. a focus on American dishes. Don't get their buckwheat waffles (Sweet Chick does it better) but instead order the biscuits, donuts or pies which the place receives a lot of praise for. I still dream of the delicious crunchy+ buttery biscuits with honey curd. Pies'n'thighs are also worth experiencing for the authentic and local atmosphere with southern interior design and soul on the playlist. Got to love places that serve you Sam Cooke and Erykah Badu tunes for breakfast.
One night we craved Mexican food and went to Tacombi on Elisabeth St. where corn tacos are served from a vintage VW combi truck in a former garage space. The garage is decorated with light bulbs, colorful handpainted wall signs and potted plants evoking tropical feelings. Despite it being a bit pricey we enjoyed every bite and left very satisfied. The chicken quesadilla is a must!
Also known as Katz's of New York founded in 1888. A quick disclaimer is that this is an iconic kosher deli for hardcore meat lovers. The pastrami sandwich is a cult-favorite, but even if you're not a fan of meat sandwiches, the busy space is interest to see nevertheless.
I lost track on the amount of Pokebowls we had during our 7 days. If you haven't heard about this hawaiian/japanese food concept you should check it out. Pokebab quickly became our local to-go lunch/dinner spot as it is an easy and quick way to get healthy food consisting of good carbs, greens and fish.
The Four Horsemen (Williamsburg)
# Neigbourhood gourmet
"A neigbourhood restaurant" that serves natural wines and delicious food in Japanese-Scandinavian surroundings. We spend our last night in NYC with a perfect dinner at the Four Horsemen together with two danish friends. My homegirl Polina lives in NYC and works for LCD Soundsystem's frontman James Murphy and wife Christina Topsøe who together opened the bar and restaurant. For good reasons the restaurant has become Polina's second home and was able to guide us through the menu. But honestly I feel pretty content of saying that every dish served here is a safe choice. It was balanced, interesting and beautiful food. Every little bite. It would be my first choice for a dinner date with friends or a loved one. The prices are high, the crowd is cool, it feels homey and evokes exactly the feeling of a neigborhood restaurant where you want to hang out every night during the week. The spot is featured in the Netflix series Master of None and Vice's Munchies!
In my humble oppinion I think SoHo is New York City’s prime shopping district. SoHo (an acronym for South of Houston Street) features galleries, luxury boutiques and independent-designer outposts. Besides good shopping there are plenty of photo opportunities and great food and coffee in this area. Too many to name them all, so here's a few highlighted stores.
KITH, founded by sneaker designer, Ronnie Fieg in 2010, recently opened up to a three floors flagship store on Lafayette Street. The store caters multibrand streetwear to both men and women. I loved the conceptual and well designed store even tho I didn't bring anything with me home. Check it out if you're into limited edition sneakers, streetwear, or want to be cool with the cool kids and fancy an Insta worthy treat.
Two classics if you're into sneaker re-selling or searching limited releases. There are severals in NYC but these are a must.
For the K-beauty geeks this is a must. My favorite shops were Clio and The Face Shop. Both had a lot of great deals and gave a lot of samples with a purchase. Tho I would recommend doing some research on which brands and products that you're interested in before heading to these shops as you can easily get overwhelmed by the endless amount of options - which are all written in korean to make it more complicated haha.
A few others I enjoyed..
THREE SHOPS TO CHECK OUT IF....
... you're interested in online branding and business development anno 2017.
You either love or hate this brand. But it's impossible not to be fancinated by the recent years succes, insane demand and hype about the brand with the red box logo. It is named the most reselled brand in the world. Therefore it is highly recommended to pay the store a visit to experience the brand culture everything from how you register online (to get a spot in a qeue), stand in multiple lines to get inside the store, the reselling culture (online and supreme pushers at street corners) and the whole vibe inside the store which feels like most kids' holy grail. Make sure to visit the recently opened store in Williamsburg. It's bigger than the one in SoHo and has a built-in skate bowl in the back (like the OG in L.A.). But be prepared for the qeues and bodyguards.
Make sure to check out the girly universe at the Glossier showroom, which has, in the course of two years, gone from launch to being talked about as the beauty brand that possibly defines a whole generation. Another interesting space to visit if you are interesting in a brand that has huge succes with appealing to the digital generation. Again be prepared for the qeues.
A beautiful light- wooden shop of the interesting workout and sportswearbrand that lives a succesful life online (+ offline). Outdoor Voices (OV) is another brand to watch in terms of succesfully understanding this generation and develop products that are great and appealing. OV wants to take out the aspect of competition and is higly based on a loyal community. Check out #doingthings on IG to get an idea.
* See this recent discussion and talk with founder of Glossier, Emily Weiss and founder of Outdoor Voices, Tyler Haney, at TechCrunch to know more about community and brand building, supply chain optimization, and expansion.
* See the Complex produced documentary about the reselling culture around Supreme
NYC is obviously full of sights. Why I have limited this post to only bring my favorites from this visit. Expect no Statue of Liberty but a few other classics.
THE ROCKERFELLER CENTER / TOP OF THE ROCK
For the perfect sunset view. My boyfriend thinks the Top of the Rock offers a better view of the city than Empire State Building. I haven't experienced the latter, but I loved the view from the Rock. Lower Manhattan on one side, Central Park on the other. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance (through website) to skip the line, and I recommend going an hour before sunset to catch both the daylight and the golden NYC light.
WALKING THE BRIDGES OF NYC
We didn't get to see Brooklyn Bridge which is highlighted in every decent NYC guide (saving up for a 2nd visit). But instead we crossed Manhattan Bridge which has a few good photo spots on its way (especially on the Manhattan side) and a cool overview of the city.
China town is busy, noisy, interesting, colorful and full of photo opportunities. But be gentle and respectful as the asian culture is not too keen of being photographed.
Formerly a rail track, now an elevated park that spans around 15 blocks. I loved everything about this park. It's something really special to be able to pass through multiple neigbourhoods and watch it from a couple of meter height. An other very different perspective than the one you get from the street. The modern architecture is softened up with the wild greenery, and this combo makes for great pictures and plenty of spots to relax and take it all in.
Another classic but a must see for a first timer like me. We took the time to walk around and see the different nooks and hooks of the park and stop at the incredible beautiful Bethesda Terrace and Arch in the heart of the park (pictured).
I drink a cup or two a day and I do so with great pleasure. So does my baby K. So of course we were on a daily coffee hunt. Here's three favorites we stumbled upon.
Blue bottle has several shops around the city, with clean interior and product design and cool barista geeks. The brand is said to be somewhat of a cult-favorite and there is no doubt that they served us the best cup of coffee on the whole trip. Make sure to bring home a package of coffee beans!
Buzzing busy cafe/coffee shop in prime Williamsburg with a great cup of coffee. Safe and delicious. Suggested by a sweet native and follower of mine!
Voyager espresso (Manhattan)
Named after the Voyager spacecraft, this shop goes for the sci-fi vibe and serves La Cabra coffee.