Where to eat in New York City

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And here it is – finally! A post dedicated entirely to what I ate during my time in New York City. Em and I ate and drank at about 60 different places in four weeks. I kept a detailed list on my phone to make sure this was documented accurately because, you know, food is life.

Before flying out we had a Google Doc with about two pages dedicated to cafes, restaurants and bars to check out – most of them recommended by friends and the Internet. Of course every now and then we’d stray off course and turn to trusty Google Maps (“a good Italian place with 4 stars or more within walking distance”) or Instagram (#nyceats).

I don’t know how to accurately compare food in NYC to food in Sydney because we did edit our list quite well but overall, food in New York = bigger portions (oh my god), generally more bad for you, more experimental. Continue reading

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What to do when you’re in Boston (which is kind of like Melbourne in a way)

I didn’t take any photos on my DSLR during my time in Boston – oopsies. But that’s mainly because there is so much going on in the city, so much history, I didn’t even know where to start. So I just decided to take whatever I could on my phone and take each sight as it comes. Did you know Boston, Massachusetts (gee that’s a hard word to spell!), is one of America’s oldest cities and the home of several key events in the American Revolution? Like I said in my DC post: I know nothing of American history. So discovering all this was just fascinating.

Also like in DC, we stayed at the Hostel International, which is centrally located in Chinatown. It’s a bit funkier and modern than its Washington counterpart. There are more rooms and instead of communal showers there’s individual bathrooms – about 15 per floor. The hostel held a number of tours and pub crawls which was super helpful. As I said Boston is home to a lot of American history and one of Boston’s top tourist attractions, the Freedom Trail, is a great way to learn about it. A red brick road carved into the pavements of Boston and passes through about 16 significant sights, from Boston Common to Paul Revere House. You can actually do this as a part of a walking tour and I highly recommend it. There’s two options: north to south and south to north, so 50-50. You can choose to do both or finish the second half of the tour by yourself. The great part about the tour is that the guide is dressed in contemporary costume – whether as a loyalist or a patriot. It’s fantastic. They’re super knowledgable and make the experience very fun. We decided to do the second half of the tour by ourselves, resorting to the Internet every time we approached the next sight and it just wasn’t the same.

The tour that I did ended at Fanueil Hall, where the delicious Quincy Market is located. Everything from cobbler to Mac ‘n Cheese to fancy apple toffee, it’s a great place to grab lunch and I believe it’s open every day.

Of course when you’re in Boston I’d recommend checking out Harvard University (which is actually pretty underwhelming) and MIT. I left with more collegiate souvenirs than I had anticipated but whatevs. While in the area I’d highly recommend grabbing lunch at Alden and Harlow – the menu is fantastic with an emphasis on pork. It’s relatively cheap with mains going for $10-$20 and you should also definitely order the cold brew.

And while we’re on the topic of food, here are my other food recommendations for whenever you’re in Boston, sister city to Melbourne:

  • Sam La Grassa’s (44 Province St)
  • Pho Pasteur (682 Washington St)
  • The Salty Pig (130 Dartmouth St)
  • Abby Lane (253 Tremont St)

If you’re hoping to fit in a lot of shopping while you’re here the best bet would be Newbury St which is home to all your typical high street shops and boutiques.

Generally there’s not a lot of nightlife to Boston – it feels very suburban. If you’re looking to head out to a club or bar you need to bring your passport because a driver’s license just won’t cut it. There are a lot of comedy shows though so you best check what’s on before you head out.

Other highlights of the trip include the Fenway Park tour. I don’t know a whole lot about baseball (damn am I Jon Snow or do I just not know anything), but found it very interesting. We somehow booked just when the Red Socks were playing their away games.

I’d probably recommend about four days to do Boston. It’s probably nicer if you’re a bit older but tbh there’s not a whole of things to do.

Being a tourist in Washington DC

To be completely clear, my knowledge of American history and politics goes as far as National Treasure and House of Cards. So exploring DC was a real eye-opener, especially the tour at the US Capitol (cue HoC theme song).

Washington DC is super manicured. By that I mean everything has been specifically laid out and designed in a way to ensure maximum efficiency. The White House is super central and all the major sights are within walking distance to one another and all the museums are clumped together.

And speaking of walking you definitely do not need to use the subway while in DC. It’s pretty much flat so it’s super easy to get from A to B. By the time you walk to the nearest subway stop you’re already about 80% of the way to the destination. We managed to fit in all the big sites – White House, Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Ford’s Theatre- within a few hours.

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One of my favourites was the Library of Congress which is actually one of the most beautiful libraries out and with such a vast collection of books. It’s adjoining to the Capitol and right next to the US Supreme Court (I told you the city was perfectly manicured).

Also be sure visit the National Archives Building which is home to three of the most important documents of the United States: The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights and the Constitution. There were a lot of school groups during the time we were there and I overheard one girl tell her teacher about how Benjamin Gates managed to steal the declaration and find a treasure map on the back. Faith in future generations restored.

There are so many museums on offer (and they’re all free!). I highly recommend the Smithsonian Air + Space Museum. It’s perfect for all the adult-sized children out there. If you’ve ever been to Canberra it’s like Questacon but only 1000x cooler. Simulations, presentations, demonstrations, all the -tions.

The other museum we visited was the Smithsonian American History Museum. They have a few cool exhibitions include one on the First Ladies, Presidents of the United States and a history of food and dining in America.

Food in DC is pretty average – the vibe altogether is very different to that of New York City. It’s much quieter, conservative. Suburban almost.

Buuuuuuuuut in saying that I did really enjoy this meal from Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken (right by Metro Center Metro). Lettuce, tomato, fried chicken, sriracha mayo in between two pieces of brioche donut? Hell to the yes.

We stayed at the Hostel International on 11th St and it was great – good location, clean, friendly staff, free wi-fi, breakfast included.

If you’re going to make a detour to Washington DC I’d say three days is more than enough unless you want to explore Georgetown/see more of the museums.

New York, New York

It’s been about six weeks since I’ve been back (my travel insurance emailed me this morning reminding me so). In those 43 or so days I’ve been meaning to hop on here and write this post but just couldn’t bring myself to do so because

a) I thought recounting it would mean I would have to accept that it was really over

b) I didn’t even know where to start

c) No time

But here we are. At last.

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I’m going to be breaking up my trip into a series of posts: a general post about New York, this one, a post solely focused on food (Em and I ate at about 65 different NYC joints – for real, I kept a list complete with mini reviews), two posts on each of the areas I stayed at – Brooklyn and East Broadway – and three on the trips in between: Washington DC, Niagara Falls and Boston. So seven posts in total.

Phew!

That’s a lot I’m committing to but it would be nice to share my photos and experiences and all the food recommendations!

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New York was everything I expected and more. It was fast-paced, it was smelly, the portions were huge, people had weird accents, people were sassy. There were buildings, buskers, sales and signs everywhere. It was perfect. The subway system made total sense and there was a Sephora on every block.

Em and I made it our mission to both see as much of the city and be a part of the city as much as possible. We slowly evolved from backpack-wearing tourists to tote-ally (heh) passable locals who could give directions to other tourists.

In our four weeks or so in New York we managed to tick off all of the big touristy sites:

Yeah … we had one massive Google Doc which we constantly referred to and tick off during our time. It was massive – seven pages! It gave us a good idea of what to do but was also broad enough that allowed us to be fairly spontaneous. Our days would usually revolve around a certain attraction or eatery and then we would simply explore around it. If there were other sites around them that was great but we were fairly happy to wander through the streets of West Village and SoHo (my two personal favourites).

If I had to, had to, pick my Top Five things about the trip, they’d probably be:

  1. Broadway. Em and I are both musical nuts so this was a given. We saw Aladdin, which I would highly recommend if you loved the movie/Disney/have a soul. Also finally saw The Book of Mormon which was well worth the hype. Getting tickets for both of these shows was super lucky considering how high in demand they both are. We managed to get tickets to a random Thursday matinee show for Aladdin at the box office (with the best seats!) and some really cheap Sunday matinee tickets in the far back corner for The Book of Mormon.
  2. Sleep No More. Have you heard of it? This was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced in my life. It’s an interactive theatre experience – the play is 1930s Macbeth if that makes any sense. So, so good. Everybody wears face masks, there’s no talking and you wander through four storeys of an old warehouse building in Chelsea, stumbling upon actors and sets.
  3. The High LineIt’s aerial park that runs from 14th St to 34 St – where an old railway used to be. It’s a wonderful walk – there are markets, popsicle vendors and tons of greenery.
  4. Top of the Rock/One WorldBoth locations gave a fantastic view of the City That Never Sleeps. The One World Trade Center actually opened while we were there so we were very lucky to experience it. The tickets are super cheap and time slots are available every half hour. The lift up to the 100th floor is super cool – the timeline of the city is played as you ascend. The tower offers a 360 degree view of the city and I recommend booking just in time to see the sunset. It’s beautiful. Of course we wanted to see the city from another building also and many people recommended Top of the Rock over the Empire State.
  5. Food Markets. From bacon on a stick to mango on a stick, they’ve got everything. There’s so many markets to visit: Smorgasburg, Gansevoort, Gotham West, Chelsea.

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The great thing about New York though is that you can just walk out the door without any plans and end up with the best day ever. We bought cheap $12 tickets to the Comedy Cellar on a random Monday night and who turns up but Aziz Ansari. We ate two giant donuts for lunch just because everybody else was because, hey, National Doughnut Day. We finally find time to go to a rooftop bar in Brooklyn and hey there’s Chuck Bass. We wake up one random day and same sex marriage is legalised.

New York, I love you.