This past weekend, I went to New York City with 8 of my closest friends …aka my FAMILY. The end.
Jk! This is a long post, fair warning ok? TL/DR? No sweat. The long and short of it is, if you ever go to NYC and want some BOMB recommendations, just come back and read.
So, my mom turned 60 this year. If you know her, or saw a photo of her, you’d think she was about 40. It’s nuts. Like, I am so proud to be such a beautiful woman’s daughter but also, how many times can a creepy old guy say to us when we are together somewhere “is that your sister?!” Insert eye roll emoji. Good job mom, and you’re welcome future husband. You now know what I will look like at that age.
My aunt had this idea of doing a trip somewhere with all of the girls in our family, so we obviously obliged, and somehow unanimously decided on NYC. It so brilliantly came together in a matter of weeks, that I am still kind of in shock. Getting 7 different families, with kids (not me, suckas!), commitments, activities, jobs, etc. to find a weekend altogether is nothing short of a miracle these days. We surprised my mom on a “conference call” one morning in July and revealed we were taking her to New York for her birthday – mom, me, her 3 sisters, her sister in law (uncle’s wife), and the other girl nieces. Also, our grandmother, who is 81 (and looks like she could be my college roommate) joined us. It was literally every Hartman woman there is. Needless to say…it was already special and we hadn’t even landed yet.
My company is also based in New York, so I tacked a few days on the front and back end to get some face time with the team there. Which was amazing, I really, really love the office there, the people are fun, and the location is fire. But if I am being 100% honest, I just have such a love affair with New York that I made it so that I could stay as long as possible without my dog disowning me or my bank account emptying. We came close to both. It was touch and go for a minute, guys. But happy to report that Lucy took me back and I am not filing for bankruptcy. Woo hoo!
No matter how many times you go to New York, you will always have a list of things you want to try, see, drink, eat…it’s like San Francisco. I lived there for 5 years and feel like I barely scratched the surface of things I want to try. Anyways, we did a LOT, and I am going to tell you everything, even in chronological order, because I’m all about crowdsourcing recommendations and sharing insights. I don’t want to hear any excuses about fitting it all in either guys, because if my 81 year old BALLER of a grandma can keep up with this schedule with a positive attitude, so can you. So without further adieu, here ya goooooo:
- The Smith | Broadway + 29th | Union Square
- A sheik, well-lit upscale American spot in the area between Union Square and Midtown. Good cocktails, diverse menu, excellent atmosphere, did I mention good cocktails? The oysters, avocado toast and bibimbap are pretty amazing. We went for lunch the day everyone arrived. There are actually a number of these sprinkled around the city, but this one is my fave.
- “Come From Away” | 42nd | Broadway
- Go now. Or like, tomorrow. Just go. Based on the true stories of the planes re-routed to Gandor, Canada during the catastrophe that was 9/11, it is human, sweet, sad, comedic, and absolutely worth seeing. Fun fact, it is a 90 minute, no intermission show. Why? Because the people stranded in Gandor, and the people intimately involved with and affected by 9/11…had no intermission in their lives. Who just got the chills? We got to go backstage and meet the gal who plays Beverly, the pilot and main character in the story. More on that in a few.
- Tony’s di Napoli | Theater District
- Traditional Italian food served family style, with an old-school vibe and lots of noise. Think, Chianti wine in a straw case and massive portions of pasta. Honestly, it was a little too touristy for me, but it was solid food and a good crowd. I am all about a good crowd.
- Tavern On the Green | Central Park West
- Such a beauty of a space! Excellently lit, all naturally, and good food (albeit pricey, so be careful here if you’re on a budget). I can see it being a celebrity sighting locale, although we saw none. The burger is fantastic, as is the flatbread, and the aperol spritz I ordered was the best one I had all trip. I am a connoisseur of aperol spritz so I don’t say this lightly, ok. Couple this with a stroll through Central Park, and don’t forget to take a picture of the skyline from the rock on the south side (you’ll know what I mean if you go).
*in between eating and drinking, we walked a TON. I think I averaged like 6 miles a day. We also drank a lot of wine at our Airbnb apartment. I always, always recommend drinking wine in an apartment with your girls.*
- Quality Eats | Union Square
- There are a few of these in NYC, and I was really excited to check it out as I have been to Quality Meats (the more upscale steakhouse). We made an 8:30pm reservation…and got seated at 11pm. While this didn’t exactly go over well with most of the party, shout out to my grandma for being an absolute trooper and not complaining once about this! Also, shout out to the hostess for giving us rounds of free drinks while we were forced to wait, as well as appetizers! By the time we sat down to dinner I was sufficiently drunk and so what we had, I can’t say I remember too well. However, the cocktails were on point so my recommendation here is go sit at the bar. J
- Eataly | Union Square
- You want good, authentic, REAL Italian? You want to buy Italian goods? You want to talk to actual Italians? Yeah, go to Eataly. It’s a bunch of specialty restaurants all under one roof, also a market, also a meat station, and a cheese station, a pasta one, a Pescaria (fish market)…it’s heaven under one roof, basically. We had a little trouble figuring out the sitting situation, if you’ve been you probably know what I mean, but in the end we all got a seat and filled our bellies. I had a Funghi (mushroom) + burrata pizza from the pizza station, and an arugula salad + fritto misto from the Pesce restaurant. Also of course, an aperol spritz. Did I mention it was POURING that day? Shoving Italian food and wine in your mouth during a rainstorm is a highly recommended activity. Just sayin’.
- Macy’s | Midtown | Broadway + 34th
- You have to go to Macy’s in NYC, right? Some of the girls wanted Gucci belts, so what started out as a mission to get to the Gucci store, turned into a 30 minute stop at Macy’s with a Gucci store in it. For someone who traditionally is NOT into department store shopping, I had a total blast. I walked around the makeup counters and basically gave myself a makeover, bought some tinted lip plumping lipstick, and tried on like 45 different perfumes. Having become somewhat obsessed with my skin lately, it was actually fun to see all the products on the market and try them out. Anyways, we made it out alive, but definitely put this place on your list. It’s just sort of…necessary.
- Vino Tapa | Lexington + 31st | Kipp’s Bay
- Ok, this is one of my favorite things we did. A super cute, tavern-like wine bar right near our Airbnb, totally nondescript, and we showed up rain soaked and slightly worn down from walking amidst the drizzle. A few drinks later we were laughing and singing happy birthday to strangers. Go here, it’s cute as can be, and the cocktails and sangria are soooooo yummy.
…after the wine bar we went to visit some friends of my aunt and cousin. Who you ask? Oh, just THE Beverly Bass, the ACTUAL pilot that was the inspiration behind that play we saw, “Come From Away.” My cousin and her daughter showed horses together at University of Georgia, and so we all got to go indulge in wine, apps, and fan-girling HARD at their incredible apartment in the Upper East Side. It was so touching to meet this woman in person. Not all celebrities are assholes, who knew?
- Otto | 5th Ave | Washington Square Park
- Incredible Italian, upscale style. The wine list is nothing short of impressive as well. I had the clams and burrata plate, many of the girls had pizzas, everything looked and tasted amazing. Highly recommended! After dinner, we all went back to the apartment and did face masks, had a dance party, and watched funny YouTube videos. Who needs clubbing when you have FACE MASKS.
- Brooklyn Bridge | Brooklyn/Financial District
- Just under 2 miles each way, and we walked them both! Some of the family had not been to the 9/11 Memorial, so they did that, and the rest of us walked from the Manhattan side into the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn. Lot’s of people, so go into it knowing your patience will be tested. Also, lot’s of selfie taking and photo shoots. We definitely partook in this! Great way to see a diverse range of sights and skylines.
- Pedro’s | Dumbo
- HOLE in the wall Mexican restaurant covered in mural art on the exterior. Chances are if you’re over 6’5 you will not be able to fit in this place. I think they were a little overwhelmed to have 9 women in one sitting, but hey we made it work and the food was pretty decent. Get ready to pay $13 for one 6 oz margarita…
- Rolf’s | 29th and Lexington | Gramercy
- A must-do for a mid day cocktail! Decorated lavishly with Christmas ornaments and décor year round. You walk in and literally feel like you’ve been transported to the North Pole.
- Banc | 31st and 3rd | Kipp’s Bay
- Adorable French-American restaurant near the apartment, live music, excellent food. This was an unexpected delight! Also, on Wednesdays, they have half bottles of wine! This was our last meal in NYC together, and so I think everyone was feeling kind of nostalgic and low key but it’s for sure a spot to put on your list for a low-key dinner.
- Mr. Purple | Lower East Side
- Inside the Hotel Indigo, sort of hard to find but soooo worth it! Rooftop bar with the best view of NYC I have seen thus far, and they make a carbonated Negroni on tap. I let this Swedish guy sitting next to me borrow my phone charger so he picked up my tab. I think I like the Swedish!
All in all, it was an amazing trip with so many memories made! What are your favorite things to do in NYC? You know I love a good recommendation!
Happy Friday, y’all!