first up is (1) cafe lalo which is just a shimmy away from my hosts' home. this pretty neighborhood resto in the upper west side was featured in the movie 'you've got mail.' good coffee, a great selections of desserts and a quaint hispanic ambience are what make this place a good place for meet-ups and catch-ups. =)
spotted pig for lunch. i passed by it a couple of times, before i finally asked someone for help and realized that this little space was the restaurant. =) another cool little space. i love how a lot of smaller restaurants have the mix of great food and personality on balance. =)
had roasted beet salad with walnuts and young goat cheese for appetizer, and a chargrilled burger with roquefort and shoestrings for mains — and while it was SOOO good, i struggled with the serving sizes. paired it with yummy apple cider.
bryant park grill which is a cool place to peoplewatch. there's a mix of folks just catching up with friends and sunbathing in the park, tourists stopping by for a treat, and office folks powerlunching.
west bank cafe. passed by it a couple of times during my trip and immensely curious both times (they were having a great deal on their wines!) before i decided to pop in for lunch. tried their hanger steak sandwich, and one thing i love about the restaurants in nyc is they can get medium rare right, most of the time. =)
some of the grouchiest cupcake sellers are at (5) magnolia cupcakes, and they grouch at you while you look at their yummy treats. if the cupcakes weren't so pretty and so good, i'd be grouching them back.
what's new york without pizza? =) definitely had to try (6) lombardi's. would have loved to swing by grimaldi's under the brooklyn bridge, but in the interest of time, lombardi's was much closer to other places i wanted to check out. very busy and quite a significant wait before you get any seats, but the pizzas were yummy. we had a standard margheritta and added mushrooms, then paired it with beer. i do believe that the simplest recipe can leave a great impression as long as it's done right, and they do it well here.
fringe festival was going on, so i checked their calendar and tried to see if i can catch any of the shows. one of their event spaces is (7) bowery poetry club, a hole in the wall joint that welcomes you with a greeting that highlights the transitory nature of life "everything is subject to change," pots and pans on the ceiling, and neruda's poetry in spanish and in english on their staircase. sigh. where can i find something like this in singapore?
little branch, which is a cozy little (possibly maximum 30 people can fit in inside at standing room capacity) jazz bar with no signs except for a scratched out metal engraving on their door. we had to wait outside for a while to get a chance to go in, and i love that they ID-ed us. grin.
of course, last and definitely not the least on this list is (9) peter luger in brooklyn. we braved the rains to savor some of the finest steaks in new york (smith and wollensky is still my fave, but peter is perhaps in my top 5). what's more, it was in the company of great friends from all the way back! thanks for hosting me, guys! (and hugs to the not-so-little ones!)