Eat, Shop, Drink: NYC
Welcome to our first instalment of we hope many Twangy ‘Eat, Shop, Drink. Repeat’ tales to come.
New York City can be overwhelming as literally So. Much. Amazing. Food. Drink. Shop. Options. Everywhere. So, to avoid a raging case of FOMO we decided to throw out all the lists & plans we made before landing, and just wing it. Really, you could throw a peanut in just about any given direction on any street in New York and hit amazing eating, shopping & drinking options.
We don’t claim our sampling to be exhaustive, nor even the best of the best, (and we didn’t vet it against any internet rating sites before, during or after our trip). We will say, however, that we met some really nice people, had more than our allotted quota of fun and really enjoyed every single thing we put in our mouths (like really really enjoyed). We’re also happy to report we wouldn’t take back, do-over, or change a single part of our adventure - so we consider that some serious first trip to NYC winning!
Our Home Base
When we were looking for a hotel to book in NYC and stumbled across The Hotel Wolcott, it felt like a bigger city version of Vancouver’s iconic The Sylvia Hotel (if you’re not familiar with this Vancouver gem, you should check it out) and it didn’t disappoint. Friendly service, central location in Midtown, and rooms that feel like your kindly great aunt’s guest bedroom, wallpaper and all. The Hotel Wolcott oozes three star charm. Not a ton of amenities, but you’re in NYC baby – it’s one big amenity outside your door. We’d definitely book in for another stay.
In the heart of Soho, (which we learned derived its name from ‘South of Houston’ Avenue – pronounced ‘Howston’ if you are in the know), we recommend checking out Eatly NYC Flatiron for lunch. A bustling café gives way to a sprawling indoor piazza comprised of surprisingly intimate individual eating experiences (e.g. risotto, charcuterie, pasta). Each has their own bar and open concept kitchen and are surrounded by tantalizing take-away delis and engaging retail displays. Everywhere you look is food, people, more food, more people, drinks, and other tempting stuff to buy. We chose the charcuterie experience and happily drank it all in as we sipped on Eatly’s delicious take on our first Manhattan in Manhattan.
After a long day of ‘work shopping’ for Twang & Pearl, we stopped in for happy hour across the street from our hotel at Osamil, a Korean Gastropub with a charismatic long bar. Generally we don’t expect a lot from ‘the bar across the street from our hotel’ – but in this case the happy hour buck a shuck oysters, crispy smoked pimento fries and featured house cocktails more than hit the spot – (go Manhattan!) In fact we’d like to go back and try a few more menu items on our next trip - even if we’re not staying across the street.
We had food cart hot dogs and pretzels on our list before we came – but remember we threw out that list (and thanks be, because frankly the hot dog vendors we encountered did not live up to our pre-trip visions of street cart grandeur). Don’t despair for us though, as we were lucky enough to be in NYC for the Spring edition of Mad Sq. Eats in Worth Square. If you’re lucky enough to be in NYC when it’s on, our advice is to arrive hungry and ideally with someone who likes to share. We chose saucy fried chicken stuffed in a waffle cone from Chick’NCone and a truffle cheese steak from The Truffleist. Let’s just say it wasn’t hideous (soooooo freaking good)! Also, maybe plan to check out Times Square after – it’s a decent clip away to walk off dinner as well as holding a spot on most visitors’ must see at night NYC list.
We dare you to attempt a first trip to NYC without eating your weight in carbs. Seriously folks, prepare to have to roll your selves home. No wonder New Yorkers walk so fast – we figure it’s because they need to in order to burn off all the delicious carbs tempting you seriously EVERYWHERE you look.
Our carb eating highlight reel starts with a slice from Joe’s Pizza. We’re sure there’s a grand debate all over the internet about where to get the best NYC slice – since this was our one and only slice so far we can’t really weigh in. We just happened to stumble upon this NYC Greenwich Village institution after a lot of walking around wishing for pizza (true story) – and we’re so glad we did. We even got to meet Joe himself (and there is a picture to prove it).
Next up, the ridiculously gooey in the best possible way sandwiches from The Press Shop. Try to wind up here for lunch after a morning of shopping. You can thank us later.
And finally if you’re looking for an atmospheric bite for dinner in the West Village - try L’Aile Ou La Cuisse. A very nice local friend of a friend pinged us on Instagram when he noticed we were in New York (go social media!) and took us to this spot. We were too busy savouring every bite of our risotto & carbonara to remember to take photos – sorry – but trust us it was rustically plated and delicious.
Although we do enjoy the odd shiny big brand name flagship store and outlet pop ups (go Soho!), our true love is for indie retailers doing whatever it is they love to do, and doing it well. We really wanted to give some of those NYC peeps a shout out – alas we were a little neglectful on the shopping front this trip because So. Much. Amazing. Food. And Booze. Everywhere.
We can give Mott Street in NoHo (North of Houston) an indie-shopping shout out though. We noticed it while driving by on an indirect route to Battery Park in an Uber Share – and headed there the next morning to take a closer look. We suggest you do the same. You will be rewarded with imaginative window displays, lots of gorgeous maker focused and thoughtfully curated goods along with some very enticing bakeries to keep you happily fueled as you walk.
We’re not sure Pier A really needs our shout out, because it’s an actual New York City Landmark (i.e. read likely already a tourist magnet) with expansive Hudson River views including the distant Statue of Liberty and the Jersey shoreline. But we’re giving it one anyway, because we had a great time drinking micro brewed beer on their outside deck while enjoying a beautiful sunset (plus a few show off jet skiers). Enough said.
If you are feeling thirsty in the East Village, head to Maiden Lane, an atmospheric lively corner neighbourhood bar spinning some great tunes. Though we didn’t sample the food, it did look tasty and very aesthetically pleasing passing by. We did, however, sample some delicious cocktails. Our bartender made a mean Negroni and they have a house cocktail list as engaging as the vibe.
Meet Andrew & Victor – two dapper friendly locals and our bar stool neighbours at Maiden Lane. After a bit of banter about the difference between New York City & Salt Spring Island backyards (we have them, they don’t), Hey Y’alls and BBQ’s (surprisingly, again, we have them, they don’t) they bestowed upon us a curated list for the best Saturday night ever in Brooklyn (complete with directions of how to get there on the subway in one easy stop: take the L train from First Avenue to Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg).
We will confess to getting a little distracted (because Brooklyn) and as a result only made it to three stops on their list – Fresh Kills, Kinfolk 94 and Rocka Rolla (after a pleasant detour stop into Pinkerton, a nice corner oyster bar while a little bit lost and hungry). But if the experience at these first three stops on their list were any indication of what was in store for us on the rest of the tour, we have some seriously tasty and fun unfinished business in Brooklyn (to be continued…)
All in all, we’re pretty sure this first visit to New York won’t be our last – we knew it would be fun, but we didn’t expect to fall so deeply in like with NYC (it being a huge famous city often called out for its excessively impatient populous and us being from a small island known for its slow pace and welcoming folk). We truly can’t wait to go back and see where this budding friendship takes us next.
We’d love to hear from all you Twangy Nation lovelies about your NYC bests! Though we have a few more Brooklyn spots to cross off from Andrew & Victor’s list – we’re free after that. Maybe we’ll bump into one of you on a bar stool somewhere in the East Village. Fingers crossed.