So here’s what we did!
We stayed at the Indigo Arms Guest House in Harlem. It’s just two blocks from Metro 2/3 which is just fifteen minutes ride from Times Square. It was a perfect location and we’d definitely recommend it. It’s also very good value for New York.
Dinner: Our number one tip is MAKE RESERVATIONS! We were hoping to eat at The Little Owl restaurant that night but it was fully booked. Instead, we ate at Risotteria, a great little restaurant that specialises in gluten free pizzas and paninis and also has a great list of risottos.
Drinks: We went to Arthur’s Tavern on Grove Street, which has great live jazz music, and still had their Christmas decorations up.
Then Little Branch. You could walk past this bar twenty times without noticing it. After you go in and down the stairs, you find yourself in a tiny speak-easy style cocktail bar. The waiters wear waistcoats and mix you drinks based on your favourite liquor. I had some amazing concotion of fresh blackberries and tequila.
On the way back to the guesthouse, we went via Times Square for the complusary night-time viewing. It really is staggeringly bright!
We started with brunch at the Barney Greengrass deli in the Upper Westside. He is the self-proclaimed ”King of Sturgeon”, so I ordered the scrambled eggs with sturgeon and smoked salmon which was divine. The bagels were also true New York bagels. The little cafe next to the deli looks like it hasn’t been decorated in the last 80+ years, which just adds to the charm!
Sightseeing: Top of the Rock, where we’d been promised the views were as good and the lines shorter than at the Statue of Liberty, was amazing, and not too many people to fight for ledge space with.
We also visited the Grand Central Terminal, St Patricks’ Cathedral, and picked up some yummy mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa. We stopped for afternoon snacks and drinks at the Heartland Brewery where I sampled their seasonal pumkin ale – not too bad.
Evening: We had tickets for Wicked which was just fantastic! Definitely try and see a show when you’re in New York. You can get cheaper day-of tickets by going to the TKTS box office, but the big shows are usually all sold out so we’d booked Wicked in advance to be sure to get in.
Brunch: We went to Katz Deli after a recommendation, which is the site of the infamous orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally. It was fun to be eating in a film location you know so well (who else loves that movie?!). The brunch was not bad (we had eggs, sausage, fries and toast with coffee and OJ) but the waiters were downright rude. Maybe it’s part of the experience?
We spent a pleasant morning wandering through Chinatown, Little Italy, Nolita and Soho, doing some shopping on the way and picking up some delicious doughnuts from The Doughnut Plant with raspberry and pistachio glazes.
Evening: We went to The Chelsea Market and The High Line park that evening. We were there late because I’d been too sick earlier, and I’d love to go back again in the day time when everything was open and busy, but it was great to be there anyway.
We had dinner in the Meatpacking district at a restaurant called 5 Ninth which was very good.
Sightseeing: We headed out early to the Staten Island Ferry, and enjoyed the free ride across and back to see the Statue of Liberty and the great views of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Afterwards, we wandered up Wall Street and past the 9/11 Memorial, although we didn’t go in. Then we got some lunch in a restaurant that’s decor has got it into Elle Decor magazine, but whose food and service left quite a bit to be desired.
We walked the Brooklyn Bridge after lunch, getting the metro to the Brooklyn side so that we could walk it with Manhattan in our view, which is much more interesting than walking towards Brooklyn. There were a LOT of people on the bridge, so maybe going early in the morning would be better, but it was worth doing.
After the necessary afternoon nap, we went out to Little Korea for dinner at a BBQ restaurant called Miss Korea BBQ. We muddled through the not-having-any-idea-what-to-do and enjoyed a very good dinner with a pork dish and a beef dish both cooked in front of us by the young chefs.
We resisted (or rather, Rasmus refused) the karaoke on the fourth floor, and we headed instead for the Empire State Building. The tales of ridiculously long waits were all true. But the night views of city were wonderful and it was truly romantic to be at the top of such a famous building. I felt like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle!
Our last day, we had a lovely brunch at a Harlem cafe, just three doors up from our guesthouse called Il Caffe Latte, which was a fun and busy little place. We got some of the Red Velvet cake to go and took a walk around Central Park before our shuttle came for the airport.
It was SUCH a good trip and there are a million more places on my list to visit and eat at and shop in. Seeing a little tiny bit of each part of the city has just wet my appetite for more. We’ll definitely be on the look out for cheap tickets back so feel free to tell me what I missed!