Updated: Oct 22, 2018
Once upon a time, pre Y2K I used to roam the streets of New York City, Lower East Side on Eldridge and Canal. Now the year 2018, walking the streets of New York brought back fun exciting memories of my early twenties, I read somewhere, millennials always wonder why us Gen-X love to reminisce and be so nostalgic about the past.
It's hard not to especially if you've been in a place about twenty years ago and now back to the same spot, the changes are quite distinct but, I'm glad some of the same shops, cafes are still around although Cafe Gitane in NOLITA once used to have French cooks now replaced by Mexican cooks. My romance with Cafe Gitane is finally gone, it's a French Cafe with a simple consistent menu and the food tasted perfect. and I loved it twenty years ago, now I feel the authenticity is finally gone.
I think what made the city so cool were all the artists and creative minds living right in the city, but now, with the crazy rent, they are pushed out to live in the outskirts. Now, Left with I supposed wall street type personalities, banking professionals, yuppies and possibly young bourgeois.
Once upon a time during halloween or NYE the whole area of East Village, Lower East Side, Chinatown was buzzing with house parties, one can easily walk into any building and join in the party. There were many eccentric, unique, friendly people whom I love and feel so comfortable being around with. The building on Eldridge I used to live in was shared with a Mahjong place on the second floor, our neighbor across the hall were a graphic designer and Children's book writer and we all entertained a lot. Whatever happened to Organic Grooves?
Now, it's just not the same. The world is changing I suppose. The world of social media somehow seem to allow us to be close and yet so disconnected from each other, maybe we feel less the need to really connect since we could just catch up online.
Nonetheless, NYC is still lots of fun, but next time I will spend more time in Brooklyn and find where the artists and creative minds hang, because that's what makes NYC special, along with all the mom and pop stores, amazing Jewish Delis, shops and diners.
This time around I stayed at a friend's apartment on Upper East Side, I don't think I would say this back then, but, now, I think it's way nicer and more authentic than downtown.
Although Alphabet City still manage to maintain its charms, more gentrified but less of the craziness of SOHO, NOLITA, East Village and Lower East Side.
My trip to NYC was a long weekend mom getaway, the thing is whenever I go to a city, I can't help myself but to look for a place with good music and vibes, I just want to get my freak on (dance till my feet hurt)! And eat!
First night - Trevor Noah Daily Show with the ladies followed by dinner and drinks at Il Melograno (Local Italian Cafe, highly recommended, great service & food).
We got there about an hour before the show, there was a lot of waiting in line and standing prior going into the studio for the shoot, but time went by pretty quickly, then we had to go through security to check our bags, and more waiting inside, probably about ten minutes more, so not too bad.
Once they open the studio doors, they guided us in and where to sit. I was so sleepy from my flight, we got lucky and were seated in the back at the top row, which was comfortable. The studio is not too big so, we could see Trevor clearly even from the top.
Online it says to wear bright color clothing and has to be semi business casual, dress nice, but truthfully, it doesn't really matter for his show, the viewers won't be seen on tv and nobody checks what outfit you wear.
We were the brightest colored and almost overly dressed for the show, but hey, life is too short and there are way too many gorgeous clothes out there! The show was fun, prior to Trevor Noah, the show manageress talked about how it was going to go, she was so cute and damn funny, hmm future tv personality material I think. There was also another comedian who asked how many people in the audience were from another country, he was funny as well. I have to be honest, being a mom, I simply don't have time to watch a talk show, so I had no idea what his show was about, I was pleasantly surprised. All in all, the experience was worth it. It is very political though.
Second Day - Yoga (New York Yoga) - Ramen - Birch Coffee - MOMA - Baccarat Bar - Drunken Monkey for dinner - Ice Cream (secret Speak Easy Bar) - Golden Record NYC (Underground Party)
New York Yoga, Upper East Side- Just what I needed to Zen out and get some easy work out before the big weekend ahead. A bit steep price wise compare to Seattle $35 for a drop in class but, hey I'm on a holiday. Loved the class.
Ramen - Peng's Noodle Folk - I didn't have breakfast before Yoga so I was starving by the time I was done, went hunting for some nosh and stumbled upon this noodle house. I think NYC seem to have an amazing choices of Ramen restaurants. Peng's Ramen was the bomb, they do have vegetarian choices as well. Service was good and food was quick to come out.
Birch Coffee - Great coffee & Great friendly service
Baccarat Bar - It was an experience, it's in Baccarat Hotel right across from MOMA, it's not usually my scene, but, I enjoyed the decor and ambience of the space. The drinks are very steep indeed, at $30 for the cheapest glass of wine, although the glass of champagne was divine. We were seated very quickly and the host was gracious. Love the art on the wall, great collection, I know they are all famous work but I forgot the names of the artists. We were there for one drink, I'm not very good at recognizing stars and who is who so, I have no idea who was there or not. Lots of guys in suit and more of an older crowd. Overall, I appreciate the beauty of the space, ambience and Art. Worth a visit.
Drunken Monkey - Neighborhood Indian restaurant & Bar
This place was buzzing with people, and mostly local regular patrons. My friend frequent there so we were lucky to get two seats at the bar. We hardly ate on the day, so were starving! I had their Chicken Briyani and my friend had Butter Paneer Tikka Masala.
Food was delicious, great drinks, service and ambience. Gotta love NYC tight spaces, add a cozy feel to a restaurant. Go if you are in the neighborhood.
Ice Cream Upper East Side - Ice cream shop in the front and a Speak Easy Bar in the back. Be nice to the host at the door for the code ;) Creative drinks menu, they seem to have bad reviews for being strict on dress code. It's also a small space inside, you might have to share a booth with another group, we didn't mind that, it is a bar after all. I tend to have a big grin on my face and do love dressing up, didn't have any issues getting in. No one came to get our order from the table, no big deal though, I just went to the bar to order. We had fun.
https://www.theuesnyc.com (Speak Easy)
Golden Record NYC - Ok by this time, around 11pm, my friend was tired but I was adamant in going out for a dance, got myself a ticket to their party, venue said TBA, googled it and gave an address, took a Via (Local car service similar to Lyft & Uber) and left for the party all by myself with my dancing shoes on.
When I got there (TBA is in Brooklyn) found out from the bouncer that I was at the wrong place, so TBA meant To be announced, duh..I had to FB message Golden Record to get the venue address, good thing, the Bouncer was nice to keep me company while I was doing detective work. Got the address, got a Lyft and here we go! The party was in some kind of Art Studio or a warehouse, it was very dark so I can't say. It was definitely interesting, I was probably the only woman out there on my own, it was totally safe. The music was awesome, not your typical horrible EDM in the clubs, how on earth can you call that awful sound music? Sorry guys!
Suffice to say, I danced non stop for four solid hours, did I talk to anyone? Not really, mission was to dance and danced I did. Although there was a lot of nodding between me and the people there, nod, nod. 5am, it was time to get myself some zzzz. Check them out if you feel like experiencing NY underground scene.
Third Day - Brunch at Cafe Gitanne - Walked around NOLITA - Buddha Bodei for vegan dinner - Mace for drinks
On the third day, still tired from all the dancing from the night before, I decided I should do more walking and catching up with some old friends in NOLITA. I had always been a popular place amongst the locals but now it's buzzing with people and street art vendors (which I really love and appreciate). This part of the city is condensed with cafes, restaurants, specialty shops and boutiques.
There was a rice pudding place called Rice To Riches, it was heaving with people and everything looked delectable, unfortunately we were all so full from brunch, I wish I had some room left to try this place out. Please let us know what it's like if you have been there!
Cafe Gitane - I've mentioned Cafe Gitane on the beginning of the article, it's still OK but not as wonderful as I remembered it to be, it's still as busy as twenty years ago though.
There are some local Art and Crafts just across the street from Gitanne, I got a Pigeon Be Pigeon framed Art and a print by Ciaran Tully, both are under a $100, a steal.
Min & Mon - One of my favorite boutique was Min & Mon, handbag and accessory store, all their designs are fun and unique, a must visit if you are in the neighborhood. Their price ranges from $30 for a key chain to $99-$300 for a handbag. https://minandmon.com/
Buddha Bodai - After all that walking around we decided to get some vegan dinner at Buddha Bodai in Chinatown. I promise next time I will take more pictures of everything. If you are a vegan and craving for some Vegan Chinese food, this place hit the spot. We had their special stuffed tofu and stir fried mixed vegetables, they were all tasty although their sauce a tad bit slimy, most probably from the corn starch.
Sake Bar Decibel - Hidden Sake Bar with a huge selection of Sake. After dinner we got into a yellow cab, but got out after another yellow cab stopped next to our cab and had some angry exchange of words, no idea what they were talking about, we didn't stay to watch, got a Via and headed over to East Village. There was a line to get in to the hidden Sake Bar, in the front, was a tiny sushi eatery, pretty much hole in the wall. Once we were in, we got a corner small table and ordered our sake. If you love Sake, this place is a must visit, I'm not a Sake Novice but, what I had was smooth and just being in there was quite an experience. Don't worry if you are not sure what to order, the servers are very helpful.
Mace Cocktail Bar - After some sake, we got a Via and headed over to Alphabet City.
Our night cap was at Mace bar, love love love this bar, one of the best in the world, I've been to many bars, this place has the right mix, professional & charming staff, great drinks, perfect lighting and great music what else do you need from a bar? Love it.
My last day in amazing NYC, brunch and walk in Central Park. I was quite tired after so many late nights in this city. We had a nice brunch at Cafe Boulud on Upper East Side off Madison Avenue. Their service was really up to par and although it is a pricey restaurant, it is worth every penny. I have full respect for this place, wish I was there for dinner for the full experience. Their staff are highly professional and provide the best service. I had their omelette and pain au chocolat, omelette was moist and perfectly done, their pain au chocolat could be better. At the end of our meal, we were served complimentary baby doughnuts (I'm not sure if that's what they call it), delicious.
That pretty much sums up my trip to NYC. Until next time, which will be with our son, so it will be a completely different experience but no doubt fun.