Helps up plan our first real vacation!
February 10, 2011 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Hooray, we're taking our first "big kid" vacation to New York City for a week!, what now? (March 13-19 edition)

I have family in NYC, and have been there many times, but it's her first time. We've both been talking about this trip for a really long time, but now that it's actually happening I think we're both kind of feeling paralyzed about what we should, you know, do while we're there. What we do know:
  • Flight and room are paid for — we're staying in an apartment in the Bowery we found on AirBnB — and we have about $2500 set aside for everything else.
  • Obviously some time will be spend visiting family; my grandmother lives in Bayside, one uncle and aunt in King's Park, another in Jersey City (but who works in the Financial District I think?), and 7839478923 cousins and assorted other family members. Possibly (probably?) this will happen all at once (i.e. we won't be going to Long Island one day, New Jersey another day, Queens another day, Connecticut another day, etc.)
  • We're both pretty jazzed about food and cooking, and we'd like to eat some totally awesome meals while we're there, including a fancy meal or two (Daniel, Momofuku, Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, others?). But also, you know, a really good slice of New York Pizza, a great New York bagel, some authentic Chinese food and/or dim sum... I think those are my big three; maybe Caroline will pop in with some other stuff.
  • We talked about a show, but I don't think we want to see a show just to see a show. I could totally get behind an awesome one though! I loved LOVED "Gutenberg! The Musical" and the Blue Man Group, really enjoyed "Company" and "Avenue Q", and was just okay with "The Lion King" and "Bring in the Noise" if that helps. She also really enjoys watching "Masterpiece," so stuff in that vein could be good.
  • Museums are sweet. In past visits, I have really enjoyed PS1, the Morgan Library, an exhibit of Van Gogh drawings at the Met, and MoMA. I was expecting to really enjoy the Cooper-Hewitt last time I was there, but I didn't at all. (The whole reason I even went to PS1 last time I was in NY because I saw this Olafur Eliasson retrospective at MoMA that totally hooked me so I went to PS1 to see the rest and then PS1 wound up being the highlight of my trip.)
  • It's her first time in NY. Is any typical NY-touristy stuff worth doing? The Empire State Building? Statue of Liberty?
  • Shopping: She wants to look at wedding dresses at a few places while we're there. I was thinking of stopping by Self Edge or Blue In Green and picking up some new jeans. I'd consider hitting some thrift store if they're awesome. She likes to knit, so a yarn store could be cool.
  • Shows? Are there some awesome shows we shouldn't miss? I saw the IRL threads about the two Godspeed shows, but we've never really gotten into them...
Of course, now that I've written this all out, it already seems like kind of a full trip! But we'd still love your suggestions!
posted by joshuaconner to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (20 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Re: fancy meal, Craft is reeeeally really good. Also I saw Tyra Banks there once.

Re: museums, the Rubin is new-ish and awesome (and has free admission on Friday nights). It's for "Himalayan art," which mostly means Buddhist art, ranging from ancient religious objects to experimental contemporary stuff. Definitely worth a visit.
posted by oinopaponton at 5:39 PM on February 10, 2011

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were both worth the trip IMO. Little Darling and I loved the Tenement Museum. For heights and views, Empire State was good but people also say that Top of the Rock is better because you can see the Empire State. On our last trip, we finally got to the Guggenheim, which I loved. We also spent an afternoon just walking around Central Park and stopping at a couple of different benches: watched the firefighters play softball on their day off, watched a movie being filmed. Enoy the trip!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:47 PM on February 10, 2011

I spent two weeks in New York last year. I had been once before, but only for a few days. Here's what I really liked and still remember well now:
* Walking across Brooklyn Bridge - I took the subway to the Brooklyn side and walked back towards Manhattan. It was a beautiful winter's day, with a bright blue sky and the views were beautiful.
* Wandering along the High Line - love the concept, different perspective on the city.
* Library tour at the New York Public Library - it is a really beautiful building
* "Low-brow" food - I liked Shake Shack (burgers - known for long queues, but I barely queued at all), and also Doughnut Plant (creme brulee doughnut.. mmmm!), good mac and cheese at Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle
* Brunch at Clinton St Bakery - it was cold outside, but warm inside, with relaxing jazzy music, coffee and pear pancakes with maple butter and bacon on the side.
* Scott's Pizza Tour - this was great fun, and if you are into food, worth looking into. You probably don't know how much there is to know about pizza! Scott is like a pizza-obsessed Zac Branff.
* Wandering around Central Park and everywhere else - just hanging about and walking around was generally my favourite thing in New York, set aside time to do "nothing".
*Met - I love the Temple of Dendur exhibition, with the big window looking over Central Park.

Get a subway pass for the week to get around.
posted by AnnaRat at 6:01 PM on February 10, 2011

As an alternative to typical touristy-stuff like statue of liberty or the empire state building, just take a ride on the staten island ferry. it's free, you get to see the harbor, it's beautiful.

for a slice of pizza, hit up Di Fara Pizza in Midwood. expensive but worth it.
posted by entropone at 6:25 PM on February 10, 2011

Staten Island Ferry... :)
posted by jchaw at 7:04 PM on February 10, 2011

Keep in mind that you will be in NYC on St. Patrick's Day (March 17th). The parade will be marching up Fifth Avenue (and there will be THOUSANDS OF AMATUER DRUNKS crawling all over the city (primarily Midtown and Downtown), getting in fights and throwing up on you on the Subway. That would be a good day to take in a Museum and a show in the evening (you will want to avoid bars like the plague that night). Might I suggest the following itinerary for that particular day?

First and foremost, go to the TKTS booth in Times Square when it opens up at 9 AM and get yourself some cheap tix for a Broadway show that night. If you really want to catch some of the parade, you can head up to Central Park and sit on the steps of the Met. Great view, and you can duck inside the Museum anytime you want. HOWEVER . . .

. . .I would suggest The Museum of Natural History/Rose Center for Earth and Space (79th Street and Central Park West) instead. You'll be a little further away from the revelry of the Bridge & Tunnel crowd. You can walk across the park from The Met. Make sure to stop by Belvedere Castle on the way! For lunch, there is a Shake Shack location right behind the Natural History Museum on 77th and Columbus which does not suffer from the long lines of the Madison Park location--and it has indoor seating!

Hope this helps, even if it's a springboard for something else.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:05 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Tenement Museum. Its really quite amazing. Walking around Central Park is always amazing, but might be a little slushy and dismal in mid March.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 7:51 PM on February 10, 2011

Your ideas and all the suggestions so far look awesome -- I'm already jealous of your vacation, and I live here! A few more notes and suggestions:

If you want to spend an afternoon snacking and wandering, Chowhound RGR's Lower East Side self-guided food walk is rad, and includes an optional visit to the tenement museum. It's a few years old by now but most of the places are still there and are great.

Thrift stores in New York are a little underwhelming, though if you're in the area you can stop by the City Opera Thift Shop and the Housing Works Thrift Shop. Yarn stores are similar -- plenty of nice ones, but nothing so OMG amazing that you need to take time during a short trip seeking them out. My favorites are School Products (on the second floor of a nondescript office building, so a little tricky to find) and Purl Soho.

For museums, if you liked the Morgan Library, you might like the Frick Collection, a kind of magical house with a private collection of art hung in it, mostly Renaissance through 19th century paintings or The Cloisters, the medieval section of the Met, located way the hell uptown but also totally magical. Also, you guys will be right near The New Museum, free on Thursday nights 7 to 9 and in the same vein as PS1. If you feel ambitious, you can also spend a couple of hours visiting galleries in Chelsea (mostly between 10th and 11th avenues, from 21st to 25th street), combined with walking the High Line.

And seconding the Staten Island Ferry and walking the Brooklyn Bridge. Fun!
posted by LeeLanded at 8:20 PM on February 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

^Second Di Fara's in Brooklyn. Ridiculously good. People will claim Grimaldi's or Lombardi's if you like that style, but I will always be loyal to the man at Di Fara's.

I watch Broadway shows fairly regularly (at least once a year) and my favorite for all types of crowds is Wicked. Look online for discounts first before you buy tickets. If you go the TKTS route, call ahead and see if all the booth locations have the same show. The one in downtown Brooklyn is WAY less headache-y and with shorter lines than Times Square.

With that said, if it's her first time, definitely go to Times Square. Be wary of people on the street trying to sell you comedy show tickets and reel you into three-card monty deals. Also, take her on a stroll through Central Park, Soho/LES, and West Village just to soak up the shopping culture.

Definitely go to Chinatown. Dim sum everywhere is pretty standard fare; go early to get the freshest selections. Get Shanghai food at Joe Shanghai, find a hole-in-the-wall for hand-pulled noodles with FJ fishballs (the ones with meat inside). (Msg me if you're interested and I'll get you some more specific names and locations.) Walk down the infamous Pell street and check out the little knick knack stores.

If you want awesome Ramen noodles go to Ipuddo. There's usually a 2 hour wait at least during dinner time but for 2 people in the daytime, you could probably get in within half an hour. Get the Akamaru Modern. They're also famous for their pork bun appetizers.

Korea town is located on 32nd street and Broadway if you want to try Korean BBQ. St. Mark's has Japanese yakitori and other food stores.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 8:51 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

We're both pretty jazzed about food and cooking, and we'd like to eat some totally awesome meals while we're there, including a fancy meal or two (Daniel, Momofuku, Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, others?). But also, you know, a really good slice of New York Pizza, a great New York bagel, some authentic Chinese food and/or dim sum... I think those are my big three; maybe Caroline will pop in with some other stuff.

For your fancy meal, it should be driven by a) availability and b) budget. It's really hard to recommend a high end meal without knowing your cuisine preferences (French? Italian? Asian?), either. It doesn't necessarily have to be a four star New York Times restaurant. Craft is excellent but a notch below some of those you've mentioned.

Per Se opens its reservation books two months in advance. If you wish to dine there, it might already be booked during your dates. The rest of the ones you mentioned save for Momofuku can easily be had if you book the moment they take reservations for the date you want. So you should probably decide in the new day or so, call up the reservations desk, and ask how far in advance their books open and at what time. A lot of the restaurants you mentioned book up well in advance, especially for the coveted 7-8pm Friday and Saturday night reservations.

As for Momofuku, there are now five Momofukus: Milk Bar (takeout/no seating/dessert focused), Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar, Ma Peche, and Ko (high end, notoriously difficult to reserve, tasting menus only). Only Milk Bar is vegetarian friendly, and none of them do substitutions or modifications to dishes. Ma Peche and Ko will take reservations for a party of 2 but only online. I've listed them in order of cost. You could get out of Noodle Bar for about $20pp. Ssam Bar will be more like $40-50pp. So you could still dine at one and have your fancy meal elsewhere.

For pizza: There are a few distinct styles of round pizza found in NYC: New York style (which is basically what every gas-oven powered Famous Original Ray's serves), Neapolitan style, and a hybrid style of the two (and these are mostly coal-oven places). Then to throw a wrench into things, some places are known more for square pies (like Artichoke) or a very unique style (Di Fara gas oven but done with a proprietary mixture of cheese including parmesan, drizzle of olive oil to finish, and freshly cut basil on every pie).

My current favorites in Manhattan are Motorino, Keste, John's of Bleecker and Patsy's of East Harlem (117th street only), but the first three are whole pies only. The first two are Neapolitan style. Patsy's and John's of Bleecker are NY-Neapolitan (hybrid) style, done with a coal-oven. Avoid Grimaldi's and Lombardi's. My favorites outside Manhattan are Di Fara and Totonno's on Coney Island but both are a trek. Di Fara has oddball hours because all the pies are made by one person and they are closed two days a week. Waits can be 1-2 hours long. I've seen line arguments and neighbors cutting in line. Check their Facebook page before you make the trek and bring a bottle of wine and some cups and a lot of patience.

For your bagel: bagels have a surprisingly short shelf life. NYC bagels aren't what they used to be. But smoked salmon? Heavenly. I would recommend getting a mini-bagel sandwich with smoked salmon, capers, red onions, tomato, and cream cheese at Russ & Daughters (takeout) from the counter. The smoked salmon is fantastic. Alternatively, visit Barney Greengrass for a 1970s experience with good smoked salmon.

For Chinese food: depends what you want. There's a lot around, but I'll keep my recommendations to Manhattan. Szechuan Gourmet for mapo tofu and cumin lamb and dumplings with chili-soy or Sichuan style hot pot (only in the winter), Noodle Village for wonton soup claypot rice, Great NY Noodletown for flowering chives with beef and roast meats, Xian Famous Foods for Xian style food especially the hand pulled noodles with cumin lamb, South China Garden FKA Cantoon Garden for Cantonese seafood, Best Fuzhou for Fuzhou style food, Bao Haus for Taiwanese gua bao, Shanghai Cafe for soup dumplings (the really good place is in Flushing)....

For dim sum, depends if you want ambiance (rolling carts) or quality (dim sum has a short shelf life). Chinatown Brasserie is the best I've had in Manhattan but pricey, and you order off the menu. Red Egg and Dim Sum Go Go are a notch below. For atmosphere, Jing Fong has decent enough dim sum for Manhattan. Go around 11am, which is primetime -- more turnover means fresher food. Golden Unicorn isn't that great. The really good stuff is in Flushing.

For the quintessential foods of NYC, my list would probably be:

Bagels and smoked salmon
Egg cream (which has neither egg nor cream)
Black and white cookies (William Greenberg)
Cheesecake (Junior's is fine, some like Eileen's, try also Two Little Red Hens)
Halal chicken and rice (preferably the one on 53rd and 6th, SW corner at night, SE corner during the day, look for yellow bags with circular logos)
Bialys (Kossar's)
Knishes (Yonah Schimmel)
Pastrami on rye with mustard (Katz's Deli is the place to go for this)
Pickles (including quarter sours, half sours, etc.)
Recession special with papaya juice from Gray's or Papaya King (the NY hot dog is a very different beast from, say, the Chicago hot dog)
A beer at McSorley's (light or dark, you only have 2 options, each order is 2 small mugs by default, and no, they've never been able to prove that Lincoln drank here post-speech at Cooper Union)
NY style pizza (see above)
One of Mario Batali's restaurants (Otto or Lupa for the budget minded, or dinner at Babbo)
Weekday prix fixe lunch at one of the upscale fine dining destinations (Jean Georges or Del Posto is the the most bang for your buck)
A decadent gut-busting brunch at Locanda Verde or Minetta Tavern (call to reserve) or Prune or Clinton St Baking Company or Shopsin's (no reservations)

Also, I love Chowhounder RGR's Lower East Side Gustatory Tour -- but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles, which has closed. You can also add on Sugar Sweet Sunshine for cupcakes and the Essex St. Market for a taste of Saxelby's cheese and Roni-Sue's Chocolates if you like.

If you want Korean BBQ, go to Madangsui. If you want yakitori, I've found Yakitori Totto and its sister restaurants to be much better than the St Marks joints.

For Broadway and off-Broadway shows, check this thread, too.

Definitely do MoMA, Top of the Rock, Rock Center, Times Square, Grand Central, Natural History Museum, the Met, and at a minimum a stroll past the Chrysler Building and NYPL. They're classics for a reason. I've lived here 7 years and I still love taking people to these places for the first time.

For shows, check Since you are coming just before SXSW, you should be able to see foreign bands who swing through New York on their way to Austin.
posted by kathryn at 9:44 PM on February 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

Forgot to mention: Self Edge is very cool. Atrium also has a huge selection of designer jeans as well.
posted by kathryn at 6:11 AM on February 11, 2011

I'll confine my recommendations to the Chinese food part of the question, as I don't feel qualified to answer the other parts, but I want to put in a strong suggestion for heading out to Flushing, in Queens, if you want good Chinese food. It's a trek (you'll have to take the 7 train out essentially to the end, so it's about 40 minutes on the subway from Times Sq.) It's where a lot of the newer immigrants from China and Taiwan have settled, and I find that in general it's a bit newer and cleaner than Manhattan's Chinatown.

(At the same time, it certainly feels less urban than Chinatown, so keep that in mind.)

Here's a good NY Times piece about the food there, complete with a handy map of places close to the Main St station on the 7 train.
posted by andrewesque at 7:43 AM on February 11, 2011

Are you in luck! They extended Restaurant Week until the end of February. There are a lot of Michelin recommended and starred restaurants still participating!
posted by spec80 at 8:12 AM on February 11, 2011

Also, consider a City Pass which includes access to:
  • Empire State Building
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • MoMA
  • Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island OR Circle Line Cruise
  • Guggenheim OR Top of the Rock
Keep in mind that is a LOT of stuff to do and if you get to do only 3 of those, you'll be losing money so it'd be better to pay for it separately if you want a little bit more freedom.
posted by spec80 at 8:16 AM on February 11, 2011

For Masterpiece-y theatre, consider The Diary of a Madman at BAM.

Sorry I didn't make it all one answer.
posted by spec80 at 8:22 AM on February 11, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, spec80, but we're actually going March 13-19. Otherwise we would totally hit Diary of a Madman AND restaurant week.
posted by joshuaconner at 9:03 AM on February 11, 2011

If you want to go to Flushing, Queens, I highly recommend the LIRR instead. It's a 20 minute trip and just feels much faster than the 7 train. The CityTicket program also makes it discounted on the weekends. And dependent upon where you are staying, Penn Station may be equally convenient.

Here's a good NY Times piece about the food there, complete with a handy map of places close to the Main St station on the 7 train.

That NYT Flushing eats map is way out of date:
- Xiao La Jiao AKA Little Pepper has been closed for renovations for weeks
- Yipin Chinese Cuisine lost their head two years ago and no longer worth the visit
- Shi Hong Mall at 41-42 Main St has closed and reopened with different vendors
- You don't need to travel to Flushing to eat at Xian Famous Foods, they have Chinatown Manhattan and East Village locations now

My picks:

- I love Guang Zhou restaurant for dim sum (particularly the rice crepes and char siu sou).

- Get some boiled dumplings at Best North Dumpling (41-42A Main Street). The steamed pork and fennel dumplings are very nice.

- Get some fried dumplings at the window of Zhu Ji Guo Tie (40-52 Main Street is the technical address, but the actual window is on 41st Avenue). NB: 41st Avenue and 41st Road are not the same! They are hot and a little oily, so satisfying.

- Get a dozen meaty, juicy wontons with hot sauce, scallions, etc. on top from White Bear (135-02 Roosevelt Ave #5) for only $4.50. Don't be alarmed if the awning says something about a Travel Agency or Ice Cream! It's a dumpling and wonton hole in the wall.

- Get some soup dumplings at Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (38-12 Prince Street). The lines are long but it's worth it. Also order the beef stuffed scallion pancake.

- Corner 28 (40-28 Main St) has roast duck buns in a soft, white bread for $1.50. The steamed rice crepes are not worth it in my opinion. A bit gummy and too hard to eat standing up. The buns are good, though. They say Peking duck on the sign but it's not true Peking duck, but I doubt many people care.

- The food windows undernearth the LIRR station (AA Plaza, 40-40 Main St) have scallion pancakes, chicken legs, "big" bready buns, for $1-2 each. Some people like the "big buns." I can never resist getting a hot, fresh scallion pancake.

- XinJiang BBQ Master at 41st Ave. & Kissena Blvd. for all manner of meat kebabs.

- The most famous Flushing "mall" written about online is the somewhat dingy, byzantine, poorly ventilated, but supercheap Golden Shopping mall (41-28 Main Street) that has multiple entrances and exits.

The Xian Famous Foods stall (#36) has wonderful, filling cumin spiced lamb sandwiches for $2.50 and a cold noodle salad (liang pi) for $3.50, as well as hand pulled noodles with cumin lamb. Note that they have branches in Manhattan, so you could skip this stop.

A big bowl of hand pulled noodle soup at Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles (#27) will run you $4-5 dependent upon if it's lamb, beef, etc. Look for the people making noodles -- you'll hear them before you see them.

You can also grab some mouth tingling spicy dan dan noodles from Sichuan Heaven (#31) for about $4. They also have an extensive menu in photographic form on the walls, but their English is not quite so good.

I also like Wang-Zheng's Halal Snacks (chive pocket with egg, rice noodles, you tiao) and Old Wang Ji well (comforting Fujian soups), Shangdong dumpling is only OK.

Out of the many stalls here, I think the Xian Famous Foods stall is the most unique and friendly to the Flushing newbies, but over all this mall can be intimidating.

- The (Western-style and less intimidating) Flushing Mall (133-31 39th Ave) has a Taiwanese food court in the basement that has Chinese sesame pancakes, soy milk, fried crullers, shaved ice, pearl milk tea, Taiwanese "gua bao," stinky tofu, hot pot, beef noodle soup and more from a variety of vendors, all in the range of $1-5. This is more like a Western food court with picnic style seating, a janitorial staff, plastic trays, but sometimes the signage is all in written Chinese. It's a little easier to ask for help here, though. I highly recommend the gua bao (from Temple Snacks, they're on the right side of the food court as you enter) and the shaved ice (from the juices/bubble tea vendor). Note that you need to order from a centralized register not at the individual stalls.

- Go to Hong Kong Super Market (37-11 Main Street). Buy some groceries to bring back with you. The selection always seems mind-boggling to me, who is used to tiny Manhattan supermarkets.

- Stop at the Sun Mary Bakery (13357 41st Rd). Checkout their layer cakes (green tea, etc.), cookies, and freshly made pineapple tea cakes (it's like a Fig Newton but with pineapple).

You may also be interested in these maps of the Golden Mall, a dingy, byzantine, poorly ventilated, but supercheap Chinese food lovers' paradise. First floor and basement.

More options (sit down restaurants):
- Cantonese seafood at Imperial Palace or Canton Gourmet
- Sichuan at Spicy & Tasty, though I think general consensus is that Little Pepper is better, but it's closed for renovations right now
- Hunan at Hunan House or Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan (the latter just got a review in the New York Times)
- Dongbei at Golden Palace or Fu Run
- Shandong at M&T
- Taiwanese at Main Street Imperial
- Peking Duck (the real deal) at Deyi Peking Duck House
posted by kathryn at 10:45 AM on February 11, 2011 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Okay, we're back! We had a super duper time. Thank you so much for all of your input! We took many of your recommendations, in addition other things we'd planned on doing, and put it all into a map with Google Maps and then sent it to our iPhones using this handy website. We're not big plan-everything-little-thing-out types, so it was great to do something and then just pull up the map and see if any other fun stuff was nearby. Pro-tip: SO spent a lot of time making fancy icons and adding descriptions, which it turns out don't transfer to the iPhone Maps application when you send it, so I wouldn't bother with those things. Also you can look at your My Maps with the Google Earth app, but we couldn't get it to show street names, which made it considerably less useful.

We arrived Sunday, got to the apartment we were staying at, took a nap, spent most of the day with family in Queens, and then kind of just walked around the LES and Chinatown. We had a hot pot at Grand Sichuan on Canal St. Spicy but super tasty, and cheap! Super-refreshing beer; super great, fresh ingredients; spicy, spicy broth; zero ambience – if you go there expecting that, you'll have a great time and eat a really wonderful cold-day meal.

Monday, we slept in and had lunch at Prune – good burger, good (but super buttery) butter-poached skate, fantastic coffee – and then walked around Soho and did some shopping. Then, we saw a preview performance of The Book of Mormon on Broadway, which was really really funny and great. (LDSers: not really down on your religion either! I think laid-back Mormons would enjoy the show.) Afterwards, it was late so we went to 'inoteca, which was good, though I can't remember everything we ate (the bruschetta were good, especially the gorgonzola and fig).

Tuesday we went to Gray's Papaya (mostly to check off "have a NY hot dog" off the list), wandered around the West Village, then dinner at Ko, easily the best food of the entire trip. We're still talking about how good two or three of the courses were; it's well worth getting up early to make reservations. Fair warning: ambience-wise, it's more like eating at a neighborhood sushi joint than the Michelin 2-star restaurant it is; though the service was prompt and friendly, it's not a big choreographed thing like at some high-class restaurants.

We also got the beverage pairings, and we're really happy we did; rather than exclusively wine, there were pairings of wine, beer and sake. It was super interesting and really added a lot to the experience. There is a beverage pairing for each course, but it's not even half a glass. We left pleasantly intoxicated but not falling down or anything, and we don't drink much, so don't skip the pairings for that reason!

Wednesday was more of a shopping-for-Josh day. First, we got a sandwich at the difficult-to-find 'wichcraft in Soho, then to Jean Shop, Blue in Green, and finally to APC in my quest for a new pair of jeans. I wound up just getting some New Standards, but it was fun to try stuff on. (Blue in Green chainstitched them to the correct length for $30.) Then we went to Motorino for some super delicious pizza – we had a margherita and a brussels sprout and pancetta, and a beet salad, and they were all delicious.

Thursday we realized we had forgotten our debit card at Motorino, so we went back to get it and wound up getting lunch. They have a $12 lunch prix fixe of a giant green salad and a pizza, which is a super deal, though my pizza was not as good (though still fine) at lunch as it was at dinner the previous night. Then we went to PS1; the giant, playable video game was pretty rad, as was the Logic of Association exhibition (especially Peter Piller). Lauren Nakadate's retrospective was definitely affecting, and at times a little uncomfortably voyeuristic, though I'm glad I saw it.

After, we went back to the apartment, changed, and rode the subway up to Eleven Madison Park for another really wonderful meal. The food was, of course, excellent; the flavors were more subtle, less brash, than at Ko, but there were still a number of really excellent dishes (including a dish of carrots so good we're still talking about it). If I had to compare the two, we agreed I enjoyed the food at Ko more, but the whole experience at EMP – unbelievable service*, unmatched ambiance, fantastic cocktails, wonderful desserts. Also they gave us a jar of really delicious granola to take with us at the end of our meal.

*Seriously, this was like my Platonic ideal of what fine dining service should be, and I work as a waiter in a fine dining establishment so I've thought a fair amount about service.

Friday, we got up, ran a few errands and then went back to Queens to have dinner with my grandmother, which was really nice. Afterwards, we walked around midtown for a bit (thought about Top of the Rock but decided against it, as the SO isn't big on heights. Whatever, I thought it would be romantic. Eventually we took the subway back downtown, walked around a bit, had a hot dog at Crif Dogs (much better than Gray's, though the fried egg and bacon hot dog was maybe a little over the top) and put our name on the list for PDT (you enter through a phone booth in Crif), but we were tired and they seemed a little too cool for us, so we just went home, packed and went to bed.

Saturday, we got up, showered and pretty much left. I wanted to stop for bagels and lox at Russ and Daughters, but we weren't sure we'd have time, so we didn't. (next time!) That wound up being a good choice because we got lost on the way back to the AirTrain (if you take the A, make sure it's going to Far Rockaway and not Lefferts), and then security took a while. We wound up almost missing our plane! ("Final, FINAL boarding call!")

So that was our trip. Again, we are just so thankful to all of you who took time out to point us in the direction of neat things in your beautiful city. kathryn, thank you in particular for your wonderful guide to dim sum in Flushing. We were totally going to do it, but we were both sort of half-sick for the first half of our trip, and so sleeping like 11 hours/night, so we slept through it the day we were planning on going. Next trip, we promise!
posted by joshuaconner at 1:30 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: tl;dr: Thank you all! We had a super time. If Caroline feels like it, maybe she'll pop in and share her (probably less long-winded) experience. We ate some wonderful food and kind of just wandered around the city, which was pretty much exactly what we wanted.

If you're planning a trip to NY, we made a couple maps from recommendations we found here and elsewhere. (If you have an iPhone, you can send these maps to it with this website.) It's super effective!

Thanks again.
posted by joshuaconner at 1:35 AM on March 23, 2011

Thanks for reporting back!

BTW, I've found that the MyMaps app for the iPhone to be a little harder to use but if you can export your Google My Maps map as a KML file, it'll retain the full descriptions and give you offline access.
posted by kathryn at 3:02 PM on March 26, 2011

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