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New York for a New Year

The snow is coming down outside, and I’m happy to say that I decided to take a relaxing snow day off. Dinner is in the slow cooker and it’s starting to smell super cozy in here.

This weather has worked out well, because I could use a recovery day from the long weekend trip I just took to NYC with the BF. The day after the ball dropped in Times Square, we made our way from Northern Virginia to Brooklyn, aka, my old stomping ground.

I hadn’t been back since I moved away about 5 years ago. It feels like my time in New York was during a previous lifetime, and so you can imagine I had a few Twilight Zone-like moments going back.

And in perfect tourist fashion, we decided to eat and drink our way through Brooklyn and Manhattan. Despite the especially overcrowded trains and unrelenting snow and rain, we managed to stumble upon some really fantastic spots I want to share.

When I was living in Brooklyn, one of my favorite spots was Sunny’s Bar out in the Red Hook part of town. I love that the neighborhood feels abandoned at night – an old neighborhood full of shipping warehouses and modern businesses trying to embrace the industrial, historical persona. The bar is right on the waterfront, looking out onto the New York Bay, the statue of liberty glowing in the distance. Once you step inside the dimly lit bar, you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time; a time capsule full of tchotchkes and memorabilia that adorn the walls, collected through the bar’s 100+ year history.  No frills. No pretension. And, there’s even a bluegrass/folk jam in the back room each month! It’s one of my favorite bars on the planet; a time-warped American treasure, in my opinion.

Our first full day in New York turned out to be full of snow and rain. Due to the ‘pain in the ass’ weather, we could only do so much walking around Manhattan – visiting the quaint cafes and boutiques of SoHo, the overly hip shopping hot spots and tattoo parlors (in our case) of the Lower East Side – so we decided to take our touring inside. I’ve been to the New York Tenement Museum at least 3-4 times, and it never fails to impress! And lucky for us, they had recently opened a new exhibit in their Orchard Street property. My family first came to the States through Ellis Island, and lived in the Lower East Side before it was a fashionable place to live. That’s why I love this museum. It gives a very interesting perspective into what it was like to be an immigrant coming to and living in America during various periods throughout history.

After the museum, the weather was turning colder and we needed some fuel, so we dodged into Freemans. Tucked away in a Lower East Side alley, the restaurant has a tavern-like feel to it. Taxidermy rules the decor and the food is rustic and traditional. And don’t you dare overlook that cocktail menu – it’s a good one!

 ny alley 1 ny alley 2

With full stomachs and a new appreciation for infused scotch (who knew that was a thing?!) and rye, we met up with my cousins and proceeded to drink ourselves stupid. Thankfully, Sunday’s breakfast was the perfect remedy.

We decided to grab breakfast in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn at Diner. The name is an understatement for this fantastically hip restaurant which operates out of a 1920s era train car. The menu consists of simple and beautifully prepared dishes, and happens to be scribbled on the paper table cover by the waiter.  It’s classic New York. It’s friendly. It’s most definitely worth the trip.

While I much prefer to visit New York than live there, I love the personality of the city. I love that it’s steeped in culture, history and a pride in preserving those treasures.  I also love that it’s January 7th, 2015, and I’ve already made one spectacular trip this year. Cheers to NYC and many more travel adventures that are sure to come in the remaining 358 days!