I haven't visited New York City since we moved to San Diego two years and three months ago. I expected a whirlwind of emotions as I returned to the city I called home for twenty-two years. Instead, I felt further validated that my family made the right decision when we moved across the country. However, I did love catching up with friends, seeing our old doormen, eating in my favorite restaurants, and discovering new delicious dining destinations. We spent three nights in Manhattan during our recent trip. Below I highlight where we stayed and ate to help you with your plans next time you head to the Big Apple.
Located in Tribeca, this super swanky, boutique hotel was once a favorite staycation (and now vacation) destination of mine. With nightly live music in the main lobby, an art-deco-inspired cinema that plays indie films, Django - a jazz club, and even an oyster bar, you never have to leave the property.
pros: excellent location, well-adorned, retro-inspired rooms with attention to details like a collection of records to play on the record player and a white noise machine
cons: in true NYC fashion, rooms are small
Another one of my favorites is The Conrad, which is ranked by Forbes as one of the world's best hotels. The atrium lobby is jaw-droppingly stunning, the staff is warm and friendly, the rooms are spacious and immaculate, and the location is serenely located off the Hudson River's promenade allowing for peaceful strolls and majestic views.
pros: grand lobby, large rooms, prime downtown location
cons: elevators can be accessed by the public (lack of security)
I made a second visit to Luthun during my recent trip to NYC. I remembered the food being divine, and it still is. The nine-course tasting menu changes every two weeks giving diners an excuse to return again and again. The night I dined here the food was inspired by Mexican, Thai, and Indian cuisines. Highlights were the crab tortellini in a potato and corn cream, the tomato tortilla with monkfish finished in a peanut pesto, and swordfish served with summer truffles in a mushroom crepe.
pros: masterfully prepared dishes that are also presented artistically, reasonably priced at $155, worthy of a Michelin star.
cons: the staff is a little rough around the edges and the tipping options are unabashedly set at 25%, 27%, and 30%. I was promised a printed menu but was never given one, even with a friendly reminder
must order: the nine-course prix fix
This Mexican eatery was our favorite local restaurant when we resided in Manhattan. We love this place so much that we ate there twice during our four-day visit. The nachos are seriously the best nachos you'll bite into, their margaritas are spot on, and the Mexican corn is always fantastic.
pros: well-priced menu in a fun and lively space with delicious food
cons: the after-work crowd consumes the bar area, this place gets packed in the evenings so make sure to make a reservation
must order: nacho mama, grilled corn on the cob, and red bell pepper margarita
If you're a coffee fiend (like me), you need to start your day with a perfect cup of Joe. Jack's has been my go-to cafe in NYC. They have multiple locations which all serve great coffee - hot, not too acidic, not too strong. pros: well-trained baristas who make mean lattes and perfectly brewed coffees
must order: latte or brewed coffee
This is my favorite sushi restaurant anywhere on the planet and one of the places I miss most about New York City. SUteiShi is a no-frills spot with a heavy emphasis on sushi preparation. The seafood and ingredients used in their dishes are consistently the freshest available and the temperature of the fish and rice is always just right. I adore this place.
pros: fair prices, friendly staff, fantastic food
cons: absolutely none
must order: grilled black cod, spicy tuna crisps, red snapper fusion sushi with yuzu and fried ginger, big eye tuna fusion sushi with garlic chip, and any roll on the menu
Located in the Southstreet Seaport this new luxury marketplace is next level. You can find all your culinary needs inside- a fish market, bakery, candy shop, cheese store, oyster bar, and even a florist. You can enjoy a perfect afternoon here by eating a delicious lunch at one of the restaurants and then hitting the stands for some scrumptious concoctions to enjoy at home. Even better, walk off those calories along the beautiful promenade along the Hudson River or cross over to Brooklyn with a scenic stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge.
NOMO Kitchen The entrance into the NoMo SoHo is dazzling, providing a perfect backdrop for those Instagram photos we all like to take. It leads you to the hotel lobby and towards the restaurant which has a whimsical outdoor patio filled with roses and graffiti, an urban fairytale setting of sorts.
pros: lovely outdoor patio, great location
cons: service can be slow
must order: salmon toast with an egg and a pastry from the pop-up Pastis bakery
I cannot describe how delicious breakfast is at this Tribeca eatery! Let's just say it was so good we placed a to-go lunch order to enjoy later that same day. pros: large selection of unique breakfast and lunch options
cons: no table service- order at the counter
must order: the gotan breakfast: eggs over easy, mediterranean salad, labne cheese, zaatar oil, zchoog, potatoes, and pita bread as well as the halloumi and red pepper sandwich stuffed with roasted halloumi cheese, watercress, tahini, red pepper tapenade, parsley pesto, and olive tapenade
Chef Jean-Georges' eatery is an NYC institution and you can always count on eating a great meal here. The emphasis is on organic, locally sourced, GMO-free, seasonal ingredients in an expansive space furnished with recycled materials. You can feel good about eating here. It's bustling any time of day, so reservations are recommended.
pros: high-quality healthy ingredients, delicious food
cons: reservations required
must order: the black truffle pizza with fontina cheese and a farm egg and the caramel popcorn sundae
Your experience becomes immersive immediately upon entering the showroom boasting several models of the Genesis luxury car line. Shortly after, a staff member will escort you as you take the elevator to the striking dining space. Along with eating an exquisite Korean meal in the grand main area, you can peruse the rare collection of books in the library, soak in the views of the lower Manhattan skylines on their outdoor terrace, or remove your shoes and enter the tea lounge in a serene setting. Genesis House is a genius concept.
pros: incredibly creative cocktails, gorgeous space, immersive experience, outstanding food
cons: the tasting menu cannot accommodate pescatarians or vegetarians
must order: spill the tea cocktail with tequila, turmeric green tea, saffron, and orange; suranchae dish with abalone, diver scallops, snow crab, octopus, poached egg in a pine nut sauce; beoseot mandu dumplings with mushrooms and zucchini, the seaweed chips; banana uyu ice cream with black sesame meringue and orange shortbread crunch