Even the Weekend Traveler likes to grab additional days for a vacation, so recently my husband and I flew to New York. What’s not to love about the Big Apple? It’s high energy, a great walking city, has wonderful neighborhoods, terrific food and yes, even friendly people. You can’t possibly do everything you want to in one trip, so pick choose a few things and have fun!
From 1789 to 1790, New York City was the nation’s capital. It even was the site of George Washington’s inauguration. It was here that the Bill of Rights was drafted and the first Supreme Court convened. In the mid 19th Century, immigrants began pouring into New York. After the Great Depression and World War II, the City thrived. Today, New York remains one of the most important cities in the world.
This trip we decided to walk and eat our way around the City. With just a few short days in which to accomplish our goal, we were off!
Stay: We chose the historic Waldorf Astoria as our home away from home. Located on Park Avenue north of Grand Central Station in midtown, this art deco grand dame is still a destination.
Opened in 1931 in its current spot (the original site was where the Empire State Building now sits), the hotel became one of New York City’s official landmarks in 1993. It’s replete with stunning chandeliers, old photographs, fascinating murals and lots of people – a lively scene!
The hotel is massive and occupies almost a full city block. Our king room provided adequate space with the usual high tech amenities and a view of Park Avenue. Loved the Salvatore Ferragamo bath products though the bathroom itself is in need of an upgrade.
Dine: Brunch at The Fourth is a delicious way to start the day. Located off Union Square, the restaurant boasts modern décor and an open, airy feel. The crunchy brioche French toast is as good as it sounds and served with New York state maple syrup and mascarpone, it’s irresistible. The pink salt brick Amish country chicken retains so much of its natural juices and flavor cooked under a brick. And with each entrée, sip a bloody Mary or Bellini.
The Magnolia Bakery is a great place any time of day. We visited the location in the food hall at Grand Central just below the market. Everything we tried was straight from the oven and yummy – a magic bar with a graham cracker crust, chocolate chips and shredded coconut; a salted caramel chocolate chip cookie, a red velvet cupcake and a luscious lemon bar.
The Bull & Bear Bar is the classy watering hole at the Waldorf. An institution itself, it salutes Wall Street with the four-sided bar, the bronze statutes of the bull and the bear and the stock ticker running along one wall. Try a signature cocktail like the Bull & Bear 75 (cava, St. Germain liqueur, gin and lemon juice) as you taste the tuna tartare, the decadent angus beef and foie gras sliders and a rich brownie à la mode for dessert.
Just off Madison Square Park, Bo’s is a treat for New Orleans cuisine. Stepping into the dining room is like entering a Southern garden with ferns, beads, fleur-de-lys and lots of charm. The house made Monkey bread is immediately brought to your table – warm, drenched with butter and to die for. The appetizers are seriously Cajun: Try the shrimp étoufée (kicked up with madras masala) and andouille gumbo (with plenty of okra). The succulent Louisiana spiced redfish is served with parsnips, Asian pear and okra with a crabby sauce. Savor a sazerac cocktail with your meal and you won’t believe you’re in New York. (212-234-2373, )
The bright lights and crowds in Times Square are something to see, but when you’re hungry head straight to Virgil’s (one-half a block away) for mouth-watering barbeque. Opened since 1994, the kitchen boasts two two-ton smokers that work overtime on pork, chicken (including wings), turkey, ribs, brisket and shrimp using a dry rub and/or sauce. The décor is casual with all kinds of barbeque memorabilia hanging on the walls. With a choice of over 50 beers, it’s the kind of down home place that’s fun to find in the bustling city. And the best part – left over food goes nightly to City Harvest where it’s donated to over 500 community programs feeding the hungry.
ESSENTIALS: New York City Tourism: www.nyc.gov; www.nycgo.com
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb