New York City Weekend
Wow, this city has the food thing down. Even though I came to NYC for the purpose of competing in a Shakespeare competition, I found myself exploring the thriving food scene during all of the hours that I was not with the Shakespeare group. Yes, I only began to scratch the surface of the delicious restaurants there, but I hope that if you are ever in New York this post at least gives you a little guidance among the many, many amazing options. Happy browsing!
GRECA (Soho, Manhattan)
Upon arriving in the city Sunday morning and not having to be anywhere until that afternoon, there was one thought on my family's mind: brunch. However, with a group of five trying to eat at peak Sunday brunch hour with no reservation, this idea seemed a little half-baked. That is, until we stumbled upon GRECA, a relatively new local cafe with a chill atmosphere and wide-open floor plan. Upon entering, I realized that this place was the perfect escape from the business of the city with its large couches and relaxing music playing. Because of the order-at-the-front dining system, tables are quickly overturned and we were able to get a spot for five with no issue. All of the food on the menu was totally up my alley with coffee, breakfast bowls, yogurt parfaits, and toasts galore. Their menu changes a bit almost daily so there's no guarantee that they'll have all of those items everyday, but I'm sure that anything you'd get here would be delicious. My mom and I split the avocado toast and a veggie-rice bowl - both very fresh and flavorful. I would definitely recommend stopping by GRECA if ever in this area, whether you're wanting brunch on a weekend morning and don't feel like waiting for a table or you're simply wanting to grab a cup of coffee and people watch on one of the couches.
Jack's Wife Freda (West Village, Manhattan)
Jack's Wife Freda, the brainchild of the chef and owner of Cafe Roze in Nashville, is a New York hotspot for a reason. The food is well thought-out and styled, the atmosphere is cute and sleek, and the staff is fantastic. I had a great dinner here a couple of years ago, but I don't think that any meal of the day could top their breakfast. Although the "upscale New American" vibe is nothing new in the world of New York restaurants, they present it in a uniquely delicious way, creating perfect pairings of flavors within seemingly basic dishes. Yes, it is a bit on the expensive side, but the thoughtfulness of the dishes and the on-the-ball staff who top off your coffee and ask if you need anything every five minutes make this place more worth the extra expense. After a meal spent of my whole family trying each other's dishes, the smoked salmon avocado toast and the rosewater waffle were both some of the collective highlights. I would also recommend the Mediterranean breakfast as it is a different option for those who enjoy a traditional poached egg breakfast. If ever looking to try this spot out, I would recommend going for breakfast during a weekday if possible because they do not take reservations and weekends mornings and nights tend to have rather long waits. Whenever I return to New York, this place will most likely be one of my first stops.
5ive Spice Tacos and Banh Mi (Brooklyn)
While I'm usually all about pre-planning where to eat using Yelp when I travel, we happened to just stumble upon this place during our couple of hours in Brooklyn and, oh boy, it may be at the top of my list of places I've eaten in the city! Complete with a full menu of all kinds of pho, banh mi, spring rolls, and tacos, this place could not get any better. We ended up just ordering a bunch of dishes for the table and trying a bit of each as they came out and - would highly recommend this system if going with others so that you can try as much as you can. All of the food was incredible! Definitely do not pass up getting an order of the shrimp spring rolls and the crispy brussels sprouts - some of the best I've had of each. Aside from being a delicious find, it is also the ideal place for Brooklyn people-watching. Yes, a few tourists seemed to hit up this spot, but, from my observations, 5ive Spice seemed to be a highly frequented local place as well as it is the perfect spot to stop in on a lunch break and enjoy a bowl of pho by the window. While there are so many more restaurants in the area I would one day love to try, I'd be so content with 5ive Spice as my impression of the Brooklyn area.
The Hungry Ghost (Brooklyn)
Although we just stopped in here for a moment before departing the city altogether, the treats that we found here are well worth a highlight. The Hungry Ghost, a cute little coffee shop off of a major street in Brooklyn, was complete with cozy seating and great pastry options. The pistachio and granola cookie, both gluten and dairy free, could not be more delicious. This place is a must for the next time I find myself in NYC!
Although my time exploring the city was brief and the great food choices were overwhelming, I hope this post gives you a bit of insight into the highlights of some of my finds and provides you with some solid places to start if you ever find yourself in New York City in the future. Enjoy!