8/13/10

Guests Come, Time to Eat, Play, Walk

Many people often ask me what they should do around town when they have guests. Though most people who live outside of New York are morally (it seems) against walking, it's truly the best mode of transportation to really see the city. Mike's brother, Jason, was recently in the city for the day and I wanted to show him a good time. Starting in the Financial District and ending at Penn Station, where we dropped him off to catch the train, we probably logged at least 6 miles for the day. Tip #1 for your guests: wear comfortable shoes!

Jason and Mike on the Brooklyn Bridge

We started our journey with a walk halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. This is really one of the best ways to get a feel for the city. This bridge has been around for more than 100 years and is a one-of-a-kind structure. The bridge in itself is truly a microcosm of the city if you think about it - you get city views, street vendors, a historical perspective and an opportunity to experience the hostility of local pedestrians and bikers.

Next stop, a walk through Chinatown and the Lower East Side. Tourists always get a kick out of Chinatown with its knock-off purses, super cheap tchatchkes, alive and dead animals in shop windows and its funky smells (oh that durian fruit). I love the area as well. There's no better place to find good bubble tea, dumplings, and just about anything you ever wanted to buy for cheap.

Crab tied up in what seemed to be a corn husk among krill.

Eldridge Street Synagogue

The immigrant history of the Lower East Side is dense and the architecture shows it. The Eldridge Street Synagoge on well, Eldridge Street, was built when this area was settled by Jewish immigrants from Russia, Poland, Ukraine and all other parts of Europe. It's gorgeous on the inside and I'd highly recommend a tour. A visit to the Tenement Museum, currently undergoing a revamp, is also a great way to spend an afternoon.

We kept north and ran into one of my favorite holes in the wall, Prosperity Dumpling. This is THE place for dumplings. At 5 for $1, you can order boiled or fried pork and chive dumplings, and their 75 cent sesame pancake is my go-to snack. Everything else on their menu is super cheap as well and the same guy is always running the show in front and taking orders. Definitely check it out, but make sure you take your food to the nearby park to eat as there is limited and crowded seating inside Prosperity.

Jason with his dumplings

Still heading north, we took another pit stop at a place I've been longing to try since it opened a few months ago - The Meatball Shop. Another awesome thing about NYC eating establishments is that so many of them get off with touting one food item. There's Peanut Butter and Co. in Greenwich Village, Rice to Riches (rice pudding) in Soho, and S'mac (mac 'n cheese) in the East Village with its many flavors of the glorious comfort food, and now The Meatball Shop.

The menu listed several types of balls (beef, chicken, pork, veggie and a special - lamb when we were there) and several types of sauces (pesto, spicy meat, marinara, mushroom, parmesan cream, etc.). We did the naked balls, since the boys were full from their dumplings, which was 4 balls with a sauce served with a slice of focaccia bread. You also have the option of ordering a sandwich or meatball sliders. In addition to the meatballs, this place had a great selection of sides (I'd love to come back and try the special risotto), drinks (every day is a special lemonade!) and, wait for it, homemade ice cream! You can even select your favorite type of cookie and flavor of ice cream and they'll serve up a highly dangerous looking ice cream sandwich. 

The Meatball Shop

Although we didn't go in, Katz's Deli is a NYC landmark. It was featured in "the scene" from Harry Met Sally and is known for it's ginormous sandwiches. There's a great window where you can watch the master sandwich builders and knish makers work.

Jason and Mike at Katz's

We ended our food journey at Mike's new favorite place - Lula's Sweet Apothecary in the East Village. It's a completely vegan, dairy-free and mostly organic ice cream shop and since Mike is lactose-intolerant, he was finally able to indulge in a banana split without disastrous effects. Even I, a hard-core ice cream fanatic thought this sundae was amazing. The ice cream didn't taste anything less than the super creamy dessert I know and love. The hot fudge and marshmallow sauce were flowing, sweet and gooey. I did notice a slight texture difference in the whipped cream, but by that point I didn't really care because this thing was the real deal. Lula's also serves "ice cream" shakes and malts, brownie sundaes and a myriad of different flavors on cones. If you are milk-free for whatever reason, I'd run to go find this place.

Lula's Banana Split

Weighed down by fried meat in dough, meat in balls and 3 scoops of ice cream with all the fixins, we slowed down a bit. Headed in the general direction of Penn Station, we strolled through Union Square just to give Jason the vibe (and stop to use Nordstom Rack's restrooms - very nice I might add). If we had more time, and a third stomach, I would have liked to go to Max Brenner's, Chocolate by the Bald Man. They have amazing chocolate food, regular food and like a million different varieties of hot chocolate. I'm not kidding, like a million - Swiss, Mexican, Italian, white, milk, dark, in a hug mug, with caramel, rice crispies, whipped cream. I don't believe I've ever not taken an out-of-town guest there and every single one still raves about it.

I hope I've given you some good ideas for the next time you play city host or hostess. I'd love to know what your favorite places to take your guests are. Leave a comment and let me know!

Lula's Sweet Apothecary on Urbanspoon

Braeburn on Urbanspoon

Lula's Sweet Apothecary on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

  1. Mike and his bro totally look alike! Love your new blog. Had fun with you last night! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amanda Jane is right. They are two hunks!

    Dr. K

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  3. I just stumbled across your blog from the Schnitzel Truck twitter! I actually wrote up a couple blog entries on where to take friends in town -- doesn't it seems like they stream in all the time? I love playing hostess! Here's the link if you ever need a reference guide or something!

    http://www.seejessicago.com/2010/07/nyc-hostess-guidebook-part-ii.html

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