Where to Eat in NYC

Has anyone else who lives in NYC noticed how many people enjoy talking about restaurants?  I have also fallen into the restaurant chatter trap and I must admit, I love it!  My girlfriends and I even started a “Supper Club” a couple of years ago to feed this fixation (pun intended) and it has been an absolute ball (and a fun way to see the city).  Every month we will pick a restaurant we’ve all been dying to try (because let’s face it, us girls tend to be a little more excited about these things) and then one of us calls about a month in advance to reserve (gotta love New York).  Most of the time, we have something to celebrate coincidentally, like a birthday, an engagement (we’re 2 for 5 now), a new job, a half birthday…. ya know, important things worth celebrating!  We have tried several places now from Corner Bistro to The Darby, but still haven’t even begun to tap our resources.  There’s always a new spot or a classic you haven’t tried.  One thing I find truly overwhelming is when my parents/relatives/friends are in town and I am in charge of choosing where we go to dinner every night.  Yes, I know there are worse things in the world, but it really is a feat in this town!  There are simply too many options and too little time!  So because I am obsessed with talking about it AND many of you people will be either having visitors to New York or visiting New York for the holidays, I’ve put together a list of my favorite places to make it easier on you (you’re welcome).

The parent visit

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Blue Water Grill

While unfortunately located in Union Square (in my opinion), this gem will typically be a central location for wherever you’re parents might be staying and you might be living.  There’s a jazz bar downstairs (for the dads) and the venue itself is sophisticated and fun at the same time.  Amazing seafood and sushi which is great for sharing, at a price that you’re happy you won’t be paying (Sorry mom & dad… I’m riding it out for as long as I can).

The friends visit

Locanda Verde

If you can get in, you will not only be ooo-ing and ahh-ing at each bite, you will be guaranteed at least one celeb sighting and fantastic people watching, among other things.  If you walk in, get there early, and make sure to order a pasta or scallops and don’t miss the side of brussel sprouts with pancetta (if they’re still on the always changing menu).  Hands down one of my favorite places in the city.  PS – also great for brunch!

(photos one, two)

A special occasion

Il Mulino

This brought me back to living in Florence.  Each waiter is more of a bs-er than the next, but it is the farthest thing from obnoxious and if you’re anything like my girlfriends and I, you will eat up every minute of it.  Your dining experience can be explained by imagining you’re sitting in your [Italian] grandma’s living room getting fed appetizers you didn’t order and spaghetti Bolognese that melts in your mouth, while one of the ten Italian stallions waiting on you yells “bellissimo!” in your ear.  It’s fantastico!

(photos via NY Mag)

Brunching with the ladies

Freeman’s

It’s as if Ralph Lauren and Anthropologie opened a restaurant…a.k.a. a feast for the eyes and the palette. The skillet eggs are amazing and if you’re in the mood for lunch, order the burger. ‘Nuff said.

(photo one, two)

OR

Bubby’s

Oh my beloved Bubby’s… so many great memories, so many uneaten pancakes.  A few pieces of advice: expect to wait, split the blueberry pancakes (1 order is enough to feed a family of 4) or any of their egg dishes, order the biscuits (I don’t care if you’re not that hungry) and keep your eyes peeled for nonchalant celebs. Cash only!

(photo one, two)

A romantic date

Il Buco

This is not easy on the wallet but the atmosphere and food makes it worth it.  Order pasta and red wine and whisper sweet nothings across the table.  Oh and while you’re at it dress to impress, this is not the crowd you want to see you in your work attire (coming from experience).  The appetizers are what get you, so watch out.

(photo one, two)

A hot date

Buddakan

Call me unoriginal but this place is sexy!  The lighting is dark, the ceilings are sky-high, the music is on, the people are young and the food is delish.  Plus, you’re steps away from the heart of the meatpacking, just in case you want to follow your hot date with a wild night on the town.

(photo one, two)

A cheap (but awesome) date

Bianca

Girl or guy dates go just fine with this little slice of heaven.  It’s a cutesy wallpapered hole in the wall that has delicious Italian food for a fraction of the price that you’re used to paying.  What more could you ask for?  No reservations so walk in and hope for the best!

(photo one, two)

A casual date

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JG Melon

It’s embarrassing how many times the BF and I have been here considering all of our options, but I am telling you, best burger in the city!  It’s a more authentic P.J. Clarkes, with no frills and a guaranteed good crowd.  They don’t take ressies so walk in, get your name penciled in on the list and saddle up to the bar for a beer.  Yet another, cash only!

(photo one & two)

A cozy date

The Place

One word: fireplace.  It is below ground and teeny tiny, there’s a fireplace (did I mention that?), a miniature bar and the food is very good (and comforting).  You are right in the heart of the West Village, on a cobblestone street no-less!  Perfect for a post dinner romantic stroll.

A first date

Frank

Now maybe I am biased because this is where the bf and I had our first date (can you say AWKWARD!), but I must say, it is a great first date locale.  Close to all the East Village bars in case things get really uncomfortable, and cheap, delicious Italian food with a laid back atmosphere.  Just remember your dolla dolla bills because it’s cash only!  Oh and order the kale caesar, delish!

(photo one & two)

A “fun” dinner

La Esquina

I am just flat-out obsessed with this place.  While it’s hard to get a reservation (sensing a pattern here?) the food and scene is unbelievable!  You typically see a celeb or people who think they are celebs (equally as entertaining) and the margs knock your socks off.  Make sure to order the Mexican street corn and the cheese fondue with pumpkin seeds… I dream about both, regularly.  Just to paint a picture, to enter the restaurant you walk into a taco stand, through a hidden black wall, down stairs and through the kitchen.  No joke.  After dinner and several tequila cocktails, you will be ready to stroll next door to Southside to get your dance on.

(photo one, two)

A hidden gem

Hudson Clearwater

Hudson Clearwater

Walk down Hudson Street and you will walk right past this discreet secret garden.  So here’s the inside scoop, walk along Hudson and go west on Morton Street. Check out the brick wall on your right and enter the first door you see.  Voila!  A little adventure into culinary bliss!  The scene is trendy, the waiters are aspiring models and you may be as lucky as I was and see Ryan from the OC sitting next to you on a date.  Eat your heart out ladies!  And order the duck or the sea bass.

(photo one, two)

A scene

The Standard Grill

Located in the bottom of the infamous Standard Hotel, you’re always guaranteed an interesting crowd of trend-setters (and tourists), along with a meal you won’t be disappointed with (until you get the bill).  The Standard Grill is great for brunch or dinner and the Standard Bier Garden next door is great for après dinner drinks, especially in the warmer months.  Ideal for those who enjoy people-watching.

(photo one, two)

A BFF catch-up

SANTORINI TO NICE Extra Virgin, on West Fourth Street, specializes in seafood.

Extra Virgin

Equally as delicious for brunch or dinner, this quaint restaurant is packed with the West Village locals and usually requires patience, as you will never forego a crowd.  For brunch they keep the tables open outside for most of the year and for dinner it’s dark and cozy and perfect for an intimate dinner with a friend.  Order the banana french toast for brunch and the sea bass for dinner.

(photo one, two)

An oldie but a goodie

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Raoul’s

Don’t be fooled by its grungy exterior, this old school joint packs a punch!  Not only does it become quite a scene as the sun goes down, the food is out of this world!  Order the steak frites or halibut.  Just don’t have too many martinis or else you may have trouble climbing up the windy staircase to the bathroom.  Unlike most restaurants in the city that come and go in the blink of an eye, Raoul’s still looks the exact same as it did over 35 years ago.

(photo one, two)

Sunday recovery

Molè

Whether you’re on the UES or down in the West Village, Molè is your Sunday pick-me-up.  The margaritas are the best in the city and it is the freshest Mexican food you will find.  The fish tacos and chicken burrito are my go-tos, along with guacamole to start, obvi.  They also have a great daily happy hour from 4-7pm where you get half off drinks and discounted food specials.

(photo one, two)

I use “date” loosely, because all of these spots are just plain awesome whether you’re in a group, by yourself or with a lovah.  As New Yorkers, we are spoiled by the amount of amazing restaurants we have at our fingertips!  I hope this helps next time you are visiting or hosting!

What are your top dining destinations?  Do you tend to stay in your neighborhood or branch out?  Are your more of an atmosphere or food snob?  Is anyone else hungry now?

HAPPY WEEKEND!  Now go out to dinner or grab some brunch with friends!  Treat yourself!

XOXO

A Day in the Life: Courtney

Courtney

Age: 26
Current City:  Scituate, MA
Job:  Private Equity
Nickname:  Court
Ideal date: Going out to dinner and a movie. (Fave spots: Tosca’s “when we like to indulge”,  Satuit Tavern or Wahlburgers “for a casual night”)
Beauty Secret: Clarinsonic Mia, lots of water and Rainbow Light one-a-day multivitamin
Fave Food: Cheeseburger or pineapple pizza (only from Cosmo’s) and Greek salads
Drink of Choice: Kettle One soda with a lime
Where I Shop: “I love a good deal and so does John so I usually like to go to TJ Maxx.  I have found some really good stuff at the one in Downtown Crossing [Boston], also love Target and always have been and always will be a lover of Gap.”
Fun Fact: Married to her highschool sweetheart, John and mamma to the cutest baby in the world, Grace (in the turkey hat)

A DAY IN COURTNEY’S LIFE

5:45am – “Alarm goes off and I immediately snooze….I sometimes wake up with a babies foot or hand on my face depending on how the night before went.”

6:00am – “Get up and shower after being told by my husband that he cannot be late today.”

6:05am – Use Clarisonic with Cetaphil face wash followed by Cetaphil moisturizer (“I don’t use the moisturizer in the summer because it’s pretty heavy.”);  “I am a sucker for anything NARS so my make up bag consists of mostly NARS products except I LOVE Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer (summer: almond winter: bisque).”; blow dry front of hair and air dry the rest then flat-iron; “…head back into my bedroom stare at my closet with no idea what to wear.” – this is a common problem amongst us girls!

6:20am – “Get Grace’s diaper bag ready;  I pack two outfits, diapers, wipes and her snacks and Elsie her doll (interesting stuff I know). John changes her and puts her in the car seat to head out.”

6:45am/7:00am – “Ideally John likes us to be out the door at 6:45am but it is usually 7:00. We drop Grace off at John’s parents house (I like to give her a big wet kiss before she goes inside).  At this point Grace is just starting to wake up and she has breakfast inside.”

8:15am – Arrive in Boston for work; head to the locker room “check myself out and apply the rest of my make-up”

8:30am – “Make the loop back to my desk grabbing Chobani yogurt with granola and 2 bottles of water. Check emails, start work for the day.”

10:30am – Head to the break room to grab Zen green tea and a cup of almonds

12:00pm – Check the lunch menu for the day;  “Monday’s we have fish (usually salmon) so I make a plate around 12:15pm, wrap it and put it aside for later.” – YES, her office has an in-house chef!  Can you imagine?

12:30pm – Grab a water bottle and go to gym for class (“usually it’s a little cardio with some muscle mix ending with yoga and stretching”) – YES, her office has in-house personal trainers and a gym!  Must be nice, Court!

1:30pm – Shower and back to desk for lunch

3:30pm – “My friend comes by my desk and we catch up over coffee (tea for me).”

5:00pm – Meet John and drive home

6:00-6:30pm – Pick-up Grace and head home

6:45pm – Make dinner, eat and play with Grace

7:15pm – “Bath time for Grace!”

8:00pm/8:30pm – “Give Grace a bottle and read her a book or two (we like Olivia, Z for Zamboni and of course Goodnight Moon).  Cuddle some more in bed then she is down for the night…hopefully.”

9:00pm – Brush teeth, wash face (with Clarisonic), moisturize; “Catch up on our fave shows…Dexter, Modern Family, Homeland, Nashville (I watch this alone – John likes American Horror Story and I’m scared of my own shadow so I refuse)”

9:30pm/10:00pm – “Lights out for me!  Can’t sleep without a glass of water on my side table and the fan on…even in the winter!” – I am a year-round fan person too!

Thanks Court!  Love hearing the day in the life of a mamma.  Court is one of the most relaxed first mom’s I have ever come across!  If you couldn’t tell through reading this, she makes it look easy!  Grace (also known as “false advertising”) just so happens to be one of the calmest (and cutest) babies of all time.  It’s so impressive how Courtney and John work together to make everything run smoothly while both working full-time.  That’s what I call team-work!

Hope everyone had a fun and relaxing Thanksgiving weekend!  Can’t believe it’s already the Holiday season!

XOXO

Downward Doggin’

So I think I have officially caught the Yogi bug.  Ever since my doctor appointment, I started experimenting with a couple of yoga classes and ended up buying a Groupon for one month unlimited at a studio called YogaWorks.  Since I had minimal experience and didn’t know the good from the bad studios, I figured I would try whatever was somewhat close to my apartment and didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.  After trying a few less than impressive studios, YogaWorks was exactly what I had been looking for: a variety of classes from bar to power yoga, people of all levels, a zen studio, approachable instructors and multiple locations all over the city.  While I am usually not one to a) workout after work or b) go to a workout class of any kind, I found myself running out the door of my office every night to try to make whatever class was available at that time.  I am typically a run in the morning type of gal and usually don’t like the restrictions of having to make a class (only exception: SoulCycle), but for some reason, yoga has changed all of that.  Not only did I find myself leaving class more refreshed, I was relaxed, happier and clear-headed.  A yogi miracle!

Just to give you a little anecdote, my boyfriend and I were planning on meeting for dinner after he finished work drinks and I finished a yoga class on the Upper East Side.  After I spent a majority of the day telling him this probably won’t work tonight because “you will get caught at drinks longer than you think” and him encouraging me that was not going to happen and that we would meet at 9pm, I finally gave in.  Be the bigger person, let him win, I thought.  Fast forward to 9pm when my class is finished, I check my phone to find three texts along the lines of  “I’m going to be a little bit late.”.  What was my first thought?  No problem.  Now, fast forward to 45 minutes later and I’m sitting at the bar by myself next to two creepy grown men, while awkwardly checking my phone to avoid having to converse with them.  Still remaining calm all the while.  And finally, at 10pm, that tall drink of water walks in smiling from ear to ear, “I’m so sorry.”  My reaction?  Pure and utter forgiveness.  Not only did I not care, I was extremely happy to see him!  See?  Yoga mind in progress!  HA!  I am only kind of kidding.  But really,  I think everything that they say about yoga is true.  I’m drinking the Kool-Aid people!  It is such a great mind-body exercise with so many benefits short and long-term.  It makes you feel at peace and helps you rid yourself of a racing mind (which I am more than guilty of).  Not to mention it can totally change your bod!  (Fine, I will look like Jennifer Aniston if I have to.)  I hope to be “practicing” for the rest of my life!

Hello, amazing body!

Anyone who thinks “Yoga isn’t for me” should give it a second shot!  Because I was one of those people.  I think it’s about finding the right studio and classes and not being intimidated.  For me I really enjoy the Vinyasa flow style because you don’t stop moving and you don’t hold positions for very long.  The other class which has been really enjoyable is BarWorks, which is a class at YogaWorks very similar to a Bar Method or Physique57 class (for a fraction of the cost).  It’s all about mixing it up!  I have noticed a small difference in my body already and feel so much stronger from only a month of full on commitment!  Grab a friend and give it a whirl if you’re not already addicted!  And who doesn’t want an excuse to buy more Lululemon?

Hope you’re enjoying the long Thanksgiving weekend!  It has been absolutely beautiful in Massachusetts and so relaxing and fun hanging out with my family and friends!  So cliché – but I’m feeling very thankful!

XOXO

 

(pictures via Pinterest)

You Turkey!

I can’t believe today is Thanksgiving!   This year is going by way too quickly!  In the spirit of T-day (and in the interest of time), I put together some photos which represent just a few of the things I am thankful for!

Enjoy the time with your family and friends and think about what you are grateful for!  Happy Thanksgiving!

XOXO

A Day in the Life: Hillary

Hillary

Age: 27
Current City:  East Village, NYC
Hometown: Garden City, NY
Job:  Pre-K Teacher in NYC
Nickname: Hil
Beauty Secret: a good nights sleep
Favorite Restaurant: Via Della Pace in the East Village
Fave Food: “My mom’s mac and cheese, deli sandwiches, and salt and pepper potato chips.”
(Wearing: Zara top, J.Crew pants)

A DAY IN HILLARY’S LIFE

6:30am – Wake up, make Dunkin Donuts hazelnut coffee, wash face, use Origins Purifying tonic, brush teeth, moisturize my face with Olay regenerist and apply Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer (“I shower at night because I don’t like to get into my bed without being clean and working with kids all day I feel like I am covered in germs by the end of the day!”)

6:50am – Chug water followed by first cup of coffee of the day while making a sandwich for lunch (maple turkey and swiss on rye bread); “For breakfast I usually make myself egg whites with cheese if I have time or grab a Kind or Luna bar at the deli near work.”

7:00am – “Sit on my bed for longer than I should staring into my closet trying to figure out what to wear.  Rush to put something on and get out the door.”

7:20am – Walk to the subway.

8:00am – Arrive at work, eat breakfast, fill up a big water bottle and start setting up classroom.  “Mornings are not as academic and more so just fun things for the kids to do as they trickle in from 8:15 till 9:00.  So I usually put out art supplies, some dry erase markers and boards for writing practice (we are working on proper pencil grip at this age), playdough (builds fine motor skills), puzzles and trains.  The morning “free play” promotes social skills and may not look it, but is a very important time of the day!”

8:15am – “The chaos begins as kids start to come in. Blast Disney station on Pandora to drown out the siren/shooting noises the boys make! Greet the kids, talk to parents, depending on my mood….play with the kids.” – I can’t imagine the patience you must have!

9:00am – “The kids clean up and we all sit down for “Circle Time”. This is when we all sit in a circle on the carpet and talk about the day, put up the date on the calendar sing the days of the week song (to the tune of the Adams Family song), and read the morning message which is a letter that I write to them each morning on a Smartboard. I’ll leave out letters that they have to come up and fill in.  Right now we are practicing for our Thanksgiving show (we need a lot of work) so we practice the lines to that!”

9:30am – “Work with the kids in small groups called “centers” where they work on math, writing, phonics and fine motor skills.”

10:00am – Have hour break while kids are in Greek lesson; go out to get a coffee and go up to friends classroom to chat

11:45am – Kidz Bop dance party (“class favorite is Call Me Maybe“)

12:00pm– “Eat lunch with the kids as they ask me what I’m eating and why.  They don’t seem to understand that their teachers are real humans too.”

2:00pm – “On nice days we will go outside to a courtyard down the block from my school. I teach the kids games like tag, stuck in the mud, red light/green light, and sharks and minnows.” – I would like to propose doing this on nice days at my job…

2:45pm – Dismissal; say good-bye to the kids and organize classroom/prep for the next day

3:30pm – Teach a cooking class for the after school program.

4:30pm – Leave work and go home; usually stop to do some errands on the way

6:00pm – “Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen but go to my favorite class at the gym (Cardio sculpt at NYSC).”

7:00pm – Shower; cook dinner (usually something involving pasta)

9:00pm – Hang out with my roommates and watch Bravo – I think Bravo has been in every female’s average day!

10:00pm – Brush teeth and get into bed, “It usually takes me about 2 minutes to fall asleep.  I’m a really great sleeper!”

Thanks Hil!  Now I want to be a teacher!  I don’t know about you all, but it’s amazing how different my day is from Hil’s!  As a teacher you really have no down time, especially if you’re chasing around Pre-K kids!  It’s like work combined with babysitting!  I am tired just thinking about it.  I have always thought about teaching and wondered if I would be good at it or not.  Unlike most jobs, it is rewarding, but it really does take a lot of patience, planning and hard work.  What do you think?  Could you see yourself as a teacher?

How was everyone’s weekends?  Yesterday I spent all day biking around NYC and Brooklyn and it was absolutely awesome!  So happy it’s a short week!

XOXO

Put a Bib on It

In the timely event of the DANNIJO pop-up shop in NYC (YAY!), I thought I would highlight the sister duo and their amazing jewelry brand.  DANNIJO was founded by two sisters, Danielle and Jodie Snyder (hence the name), who I had the pleasure of meeting because coincidentally, they live in my building!  They are beautiful, young, down-to-earth and extremely talented.  A force to be reckoned with!  I mean, just look at their “about us” photo… give.me.a.break!

Even as successful as they are becoming, they still have a “real-ness” about them that is very approachable and likeable (and they are so much fun to follow on Instagram for all of you ‘gramers out there!).  On top of the sisters themselves, the GEMS are absolutely amazing and especially unique.  The line has a very rocker/boho vibe, which you can dress up or dress down.  Here are some of my top pics and what I would pair them with…

Hilde

Hilde Necklace

Esme

Esme Earrings

Costella

Costella Necklace

More Favorites…

Medine

Lulu

Arquette

Zakaria

Capucine

Alexis

AshleyCecile

Leeloo

In my Leeloo necklace!

Arm Party Anyone?

Wanderlust

Gypset Jackie

Black Phantom

If there’s one thing I can’t get enough of, it’s jewelry.  I LOVE accessorizing simple outfits with a statement necklace or earrings more than anything.  It’s a great way to express yourself.  Unlike clothing, it is easier to find a one-of-a-kind piece and make it your own, which to me, makes it all the more appealing.  While they’re not all one-of-a-kind, DANNIJO has such an array of jewels, you are unlikely to see someone walking down the street in the same necklace and you are very likely to get asked the question “Where’d you get that?  I love it!”.  I recently purchased this bad boy (in pic above) and have received so many compliments!

DANNIJO Pop-Up shop is open now until December 30th!  The store is located at 27 Prince Street (between Elizabeth and Mott Streets).  All jewelry is handmade (in NYC!) and thus each piece is impeccable and the quality is unmatched.  Go check them out this weekend and try things on while you can!

Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend!

XOXO

Color Collective

As I was thinking about what to wear to dinner (here) last night with my girlfriends, the only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to wear my new red Kenneth Jay Lane earrings.  Trying to picture what to wear with them, I thought, black? No. White? Too pale.  And then, aha!  I remembered, Color Collective.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, get involved!  It is an extremely creative and unique blog (the only I have come across) strictly devoted to color pairings seen in fashion, art and the like.  It’s not only a place where you can go for a little daily eye candy, it’s also a place to find inspiration for your style, interiors and beyond.  Here are just a few of my favorite images from the site:

Now, like I said I had picked out earrings and was not willing to give those up.  So after looking at this pairing with my earring red (and some chilly weather):

I thought about what items in my closet I had in the paired colors… and here’s the outfit I came up with!

Color Collective
(Zara jeans, Enzo shoes, Leather jacket from Italy, Forever21 scarf, Kenneth Jay Lane earrings, Rebecca Minkoff Nikki bag, Forever21 shirt)

See?  Inspiration right at your finger tips!  I am learning about color in my interior design course as we speak (remember ROY G BIV?), and it’s been very interesting to hear about the effects of color on mood and self-confidence, and how much culture affects perception of color.  I tend to be very drawn towards vibrant colors, which may be because of the positive effect it has on my mood.  And there are certain color combos that really repel me.  Black and red?  YUCK!  I don’t know why, but I just can’t do it!  What colors are you drawn towards?  What colors to you tend to avoid?

Hope everyone is enjoying the week!  Is it me or has every day felt like Friday this week?

XOXO