For the Labor Day weekend, a couple friends from D.C. and I decided to take a long overdue trip up to New York City. Being from the east coast and having several friends and relatives living in the city over the course of my lifetime, I’m very familiar with the place (and their horrible professional sports teams). However, the thing that I love about New York is that every time you go, there’s always something new to discover.
For this post, I’m not going to go over the typical New York places to see that we did (a not so full effort to find the bridge from Home Alone 2 in Central Park, the Flatiron building, Time’s Square, etc.), but I’ll give you a rundown of a few places that we went to that were recommended by the locals.
230 Fifth (the name of the place is the address)
Located down the street from the Flatiron Building, this rooftop bar has the best view of the NYC skyline that I’ve ever seen. Bring your camera, you’ll have some great shots of the Empire State Building, Hudson River and in the distance the Freedom Tower. There’s plenty of space on the rooftop, as well as a large, indoor lounge on the top floor of the building, but regardless it does get busy around happy hour. There’s no cover charge, but the drinks will cost you a pretty penny. Because we went during Labor Day the temperature was nice, but the bar does offer red robes for everyone in the winter months.
Absolute Bagels and Sal & Carmine’s Pizza
We stayed at my buddy’s place on the Upper West Side and these are a few of the quick, and very New York eateries we tried. Realistically, I wouldn’t say to make a dedicated trip up to the Upper West Side to try these places, but if you’re in that area, they are very good options. Absolute Bagels had exactly what you’d expect from a NYC bagel – perfectly warm, soft, but not too chewy bagels with a large variety of cream cheeses and lox. I had a sesame bagel with walnut & raisin cream cheese and it easily trumped any Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Bruggers bagels I’ve ever had. Keep in mind, there will be a line of Columbia University kids (especially on the weekends) and it is CASH ONLY. And of course, only in New York, you have to pay an extra 10 cents to have your bagel toasted.
For a quick lunch, down the street from Absolute Bagels is Sal & Carmine’s Pizza. Like Absolute Bagels, you will walk right by this place if you’re not looking for it – it’s pretty boring looking. But you’re there for the pizza, not the ambiance. And the pizza does not disappoint. Your order will be taken by this really crusty, curmudgeonly old guy (my guess is he was either Sal or Carmine…) but he’s harmless. The cheese slices are $3 and the ones with toppings are $4. As far as slices go, you’d be hard-pressed to find a place with a better New York slice. The slice was very large, and the crust was perfectly thin and crispy. The pizza had the right amount of cheese and was greasy enough without dripping all over the place. It really hits the spot if you have that pizza craving.
We actually found this place on accident and I’m glad we did. Located on the Lower East Side, Rue B harkens back to the jazz clubs of the past. Dimly lit and intimate, the bar isn’t huge, but has a lot of character. The atmosphere is very chill with vintage black and white photos all along the walls and there’s live blues/jazz music performing. Good place to go if you’re looking for a place to have a relaxing drink or taking a date.
Pretty much the opposite of Rue B, the Blind Barber is like a speakeasy/dance club that literally has a rundown looking barbershop as its front. There wasn’t really anything special about the place (expensive drinks, dance music, people having fun) other than that random ass barber shop that you need to walk through to get inside. If you do get inside, you’ll probably have a good time if you’re with a group of friends and if you can get the bartender’s attention at the packed bar. And you get to say that you walked through a random ass barbershop to get into a club.
The Manhattan Beer Garden at the Standard
Located in the newly created Chelsea High Line (also definitely worth checking out is the new Chelsea Market as well. We only were able to walk through it though because we were on a mission to drink), this beer garden is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a fun, outdoor (and covered) venue with German big beers and a healthy array of pretzels and sausages. The process for getting draft beers is unique in that you have to buy a ticket for a beer at a separate booth first, then go to the bar and order. Each ticket is $8 (which gets you one beer). If you see a long line, don’t let that dissuade you. It moves quick and will have moments where there’s practically no line if you wait a few minutes. If you’re in that area, but want a more rooftopy bar experience with a more standard drink selection, the Brass Monkey next to the beer garden has a nice rooftop where you can catch some sun and a drink list with more typical libations.
Saxon and Parole
For those of you looking for a little bit of a fancier restaurant to eat at, we stumbled upon Saxon and Parole. Admittedly, we were trying to go to the italian restaurant around the corner, but the wait there was an hour long, so we ended up at S & P instead. That being said, I think we were pleasantly surprised. The hanger steak I had was excellent and came with these duck fat fingerling potatoes that were awesome. The cheese plate we ordered as an appetizer was pretty good too, though they were, in my opinion, a little stingy with the amount of cheese given. The service is what takes the place down a notch – it was just a little too slow, though the waiter himself was perfectly fine when he was actually around.
Sing Sing Karaoke
It’s awesome. We went singing there from 1 AM until 4 AM. It’s $8 an hour per person. That’s all that needs to be said.