Friday, May 6, 2016

New York, New York

In three weeks James and I are headed out on our first ever solo vacation without the kids. First ever, ever! And, even better, it's in one of my favorite cities, a place that I most definitely want to take the kids but am also quite happy to explore as an adult with another adult. AND it's for the super fancy black tie wedding of James's swim teammate who tore up the dance floor at our own wedding back in 2005.

dancing Dave; now a dentist and pro-triathlete

I am SO excited. We fly in Saturday at noon and are staying in midtown, 2 blocks south of Bryant Park. We have some time to do city things before the rehearsal dinner (in midtown too; as are all the wedding things) at 7. Then the (enormous, uber fancy) wedding isn't until 6:30 on Sunday at the beautiful Gotham Hall, so we'll have the whole morning and early afternoon to wander the city, eat delicious things, and generally enjoy being non-stroller and dialer-bag-wielding adults. We fly out Monday around 1 so we should be able to squeeze in a breakfast before we go too.

I haven't been to New York in a few years and James hasn't been since we went with his parents in 2004 to look at Columbia and NYU law schools after I was admitted and we thought we were 100% moving to New York. His jaw was wired shut (he'd just had MAJOR jaw surgery) and we were with his parents most of the time so I'm going to say it was not his favorite vacation. We need to make up for that and I need your recommendations. (And actually during my last trip to NYC James lost his job the first day I was gone and didn't tell me until I got back three days later, so yeah, let's make some new NYC memories!) I've done all the usual touristy stuff and seen all the big things (James has too), though I'm open to revisiting any of them. But mostly I just want to walk. I want to soak up every moment of being in a vibrant, living, breathing CITY. God I love them.

So what should we do? Where should we walk? See? Explore? I don't need a detailed itinerary, just some general goals or landmarks we should ramble too. What's your favorite part of the city to wander? I'm open to taking cabs and the subway as well, particularly to get somewhere else I can do more walking and soaking up of city-ness. I just don't want to wander aimlessly in midtown and come away not having done anything New Yorkish at all.

And then even more importantly- where should we eat? We have lunch (or a late brunch) open on Sunday and breakfast on Monday/Memorial Day. Maybe some after dinner drinks on Saturday night? I enjoy delicious foods (all kinds except Indian; apologies to curry lovers, but just the smell makes me very sick) and need somewhere fun and tasty to take a break from all the walking I'm going to make James do.

On things I can play all by myself -- my outfit! Though not quite by myself, I'm heavily utilizing Rent the Runway (referral link; if you use it, you get $20 off your order and I get $20 off my next order too!) and I am so excited about it. I haven't had a reason to dress up since we moved to Fort Worth. The SEC doesn't have fancy parties, James's swim school doesn't have fancy parties, and we missed my friend's beautiful black tie wedding in NYC last summer because we were in Jamaica. Should I ever get a chance to dress up again in the next 5 yeas, I'd want a new dress, so I decided to follow the lead of my fabulously stylish friend Katie and rent something fabulous too.

Rent the Runway has a huge inventory of items for all occasions that gets updated with the seasons. I've had so much fun perusing their selection since we heard about the wedding last summer. In fact, I had so much fun perusing I almost forgot I did actually have to reserve a dress before the wedding date. I finally booked one on Wednesday and the earliest they can get it to me is the day before we leave (though they promised I'd have it, and I get to save a little money with the 4-day rental option instead of the 8-day I was going to do). Dress shopping can be tricky for me- I have upside-down triangular body proportions (my hips are several sizes smaller than my shoulders), and I always need a size long/tall-- and I wanted something fun and different, Spring-y (no black!), and dressy enough for a NY society evening wedding.

I finally decided on this cobalt blue Shelli Segal gown and I think it's going to work. It's beautiful and fun and is open at the shoulders and zips low in the back.

And even more fun, I got to rent accessories! Specifically, this clutch:

and these earrings:

And I have these shoes:

I just love it all. And if it doesn't work, I have free same-day NYC delivery to secure a backup dress or I will more likely just go to their NYC store to try on whatever they have in my size. There were several others I was mulling over on the website, so surely something will work.

And then, to pull it all together- someone else is doing my hair. As I have previously mentioned, I have absolutely no hair game. I've never used a curling iron, though I've owned 2 different ones for 8 years but they intimidate me and I always sheepishly put them back in the drawer anytime I pull them out. I don't own hairspray and usually brush my hair with my fingers. This is how my hair looks right now:

I'd like to pretend that today's 'do can be blamed on my rather constrained toilette facilities this morning (i.e., the tiny shower room at the Orangetheory gym), but this is how my hair looks 90% of the time.

But I found out that Dry Bar does on-site service calls for $10 more than their usual price! So someone else can give me a proper blow out, some loose curls, and maybe pull back back a little from the front. Nothing too fancy- I'm just a guest, but something pretty that make me feel good because damnit I have a lot of hair and people constantly compliment the color and someone should do justice every now and then since I clearly can't.

So it's going to be awesome. I really really love cities and I love being with James ever more than that. And he loves dancing and there WILL BE DANCING. In a fancy dress with fancy hair and no children to wake us up in the morning. I almost can't even imagine. Three more weeks!


  1. If you're willing to venture to SoHo, I highly recommend the Mercer Kitchen. Downstairs is stone arches of fabulousness. They make their own sodas. All around delicious. I've only been there for dinners, but apparently, there is also brunch.

  2. My most favorite restaurant in Manhattan is Indian, so scratch that, but I've got an equally awesome suggestion. Go to Oda House, at 76 Avenue B in Alphabet City. It's Georgian food (the country, not the state), which is quite possibly the most fabulous yet unknown cuisine in the world. Get the khachapuri, which is a glorious gooey cheese bread. Get the khinkali, which are like Georgian soup dumplings. Get anything.

    As far as walking, stay the hell out of Midtown (NO TIMES SQUARE!) and you should basically be happy.

  3. Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen has a lot of great suggestions.

  4. Having also done all of the usual touristy NYC things I head straight for Broadway and see every play I can fit in !! If I don't have time for that I go to Ellens Stardust Diner, where the waiters sing and serve, so much fun and the food is good too ! There can be a wait, but worth it in my mind ! It is located in the theater district. Serendipity is also fun, the frozen hot chocolate,famous and worth it !Enjoy, NYC,my favorite place ever !

  5. Good for you guys!! I'm going to post a link to my most recent NYC trip with my mom. My husband's cousin goes to NYU and is a super foodie and gave us some awesome off the beaten path places to eat and check out.

    Palma is a must!! And you havvvvve to go to Eataly. You and James will DIE right there in foodie heaven.

    I have a super planner friend who sent me some awesome, detailed NYC plans (I'm talking day by day spread sheets) with things to do and places to eat. I would be happy to email you those.

    A few that come to mind are the Skyline Bridge/Park, The Tenement Museum (I'm dying to see this) then all the usual museums and libraries everyone knows about.

    1. Also after you un-die from Eataly, walk over to Max Brenners and get some gourmet chocolates.

  6. I've lurked for awhile, but I had to come out of lurkdom to tell you to go to Levain Bakery! They are famous for their massive cookies, which are to.die.for. I haven't been to New York in a few years, and when I finally make it back there, those cookies are at the top of my list.

    Also, since this is my first-ever comment (though I've been reading for a couple years), I want to thank you for sharing your life with us. I'm a 3L (in the middle of finals right now and graduating in 2 weeks, ahhh! It can't come soon enough!), and your blog gives me hope that it *is* possible to have both a successful law career and a thriving family--so thank you for that.


    1. I second the recommendation for Levains if you are In that neighborhood. Sooooo delicious!!

  7. Hi Lag Liv it's Katie, that Aussie girl you gave Austin and shopping recommendations to not so long ago!! We have just got back home and thanks to you I brought with me an extra suitcase of fab work clothes for when I return to work next month, and some amazing Austin memories!!! What a special place :-)

    We spent some time in New York this trip and I was also there for a month at the start of 2014. I highly highly recommend you find a rooftop bar for an evening drink and enjoy the skyscape that lays before you!!! I don't have one in particular - just find one within walking distance with a good review on Yelp and you'll love it!!

    I also used to just wake up each morning and say "today I will go visit TriBeCa" or china town or Greenwich village or whatever, and just make my way there and stroll around looking for trouble. It was great!!! Also there's a dive bar called wicked willys in Greenwich village that had cheap frozen margaritas and wings. A novelty for us Aussies but maybe less so for you guys!!! Enjoy!!! Xoxo

  8. Joes Shanghai for Chinese soup dumplings... They are great at curing hangovers ;) also walking around in Soho and window shopping is my fave NYC pastime!

  9. The Highline park (on the former elevated train tracks) is a must. If you start on the north side (near 33rd) you walk downtown and you can exit at either Chelsea Market (17th Street), which is a fun, enormous indoor food market (get Fat Witch brownies packaged up to bring home to the kids) or keep going down to the Meatpacking District, and get a drink at The Standard Hotel or the Gansevoort Hotel.

    For delicious eats, I cannot recommend highly enough Xi'an Famous Foods, which is food from north Central China. They started with one location on St. Mark's in the East Village and now they have several locations, including two near where you are staying. They make their own noodles -- and you cannot beat fresh, handmade noodles. Warning -- don't go if you don't like spicy foods, cumin or cilantro.

    Other NYC food pilgrimages that I make are Baohaus on 14th (Taiwanese-style hand-held buns -- the pork belly is delicious), Laduree macarons and ridiculous chicken Parmesean sandwich at Parm in Nolita, and Shake Shack (although that novelty has worn off since they have expanded outside of NYC).

    Shopping in the little shops on Bleecker (also a good west-to-east side of the island walk) is fun. As is shopping in Nolita and the Lower East Side.

    Bring good walking shoes and stay hydrated!

  10. Two more recs - get Korean fried chicken in Koreatown if you have never had it. So delicious with beer. Bon Chon Chicken is your basic version; other places also exist. Ramen is also excellent in NYC (Totto, Santuoka, Ippudo).

  11. Lady m bakery in Bryant park, green tea crepe cake I to die for. For lunch bouchon bakery at Columbus circle or any restaurant in eataly. Walk on the highline from up north (the 40s), south to 14th st, get off at Chelsea market and enjoy there any of the snacks and food that they offer.

  12. also highly recommend the highline. and check out if you haven't already for food.

  13. Sylvia's Soul food in Harlem - delicious!

  14. I mean, you can't really come to NYC and just stay in Manhattan. Manhattan is SO over ;) You must spend some time in Brooklyn. You can take the train to downtown Brooklyn and wander around the Piers and enjoy the views of Manhattan from across the river. Above the piers is the Promenade/Brooklyn Heights, which is the same view just higher (surrounding neighborhood is very charming, though). If you want to splurge, go to the River Cafe (next to Brooklyn Bridge). It's $$$, but my favorite law school professor and Brooklyn neighbor declared it WORTH IT. I'm thinking when my JP finishes his PhD program, that'll be our splurge. For less expensive, there's Grimaldi's and a quaint little ice cream shop right on the water. There will be a crazy line at Grimaldi's, but pro tip: order to go and take it to Brooklyn Bridge Park and enjoy a picnic! Then you can cross the bridge to burn off all the calories and take a train uptown a bit. In Manhattan, I really only like Greenwich Village (far west) or super uptown on the north side of Central Park. Soho is basically an outdoor mall now. I actually never go to Manhattan unless I have to, so I have less relevant advice, but I think you need to go to Brooklyn this time around to get away from the bad Manhattan mojo ;) Have fun! How sad we'll be out of town then...

  15. Strongly recommend either Murray's Bagels or Dominique Ansel Kitchen for breakfast to go - the former = best bagels in NYC and the latter = best pastries. Can eat at either, but really perfect for grabbing breakfast and walking around the West Village and its brownstone-lined streets. Very authentic NYC experience and one that you will see few to no tourists at!

  16. I second the idea of Stardust Diner. Cheesy and touristy yes - but good brunch and fun atmosphere.

    The BEST brunch is actually in Tribeca - Square Diner and close to a subway stop; 33 Leonard St, at West Broadway.

    Nice dinner in mid-town is Chez Josephine (need reservations via opentable) 414 W 42nd St.

    Amazing view and cocktails is a MUST at the Rainbow Room's lounge, 65Lounge. "The highest outdoor terrace bar in New York City creates an elevated lounge experience 65 stories above the landmark Rockefeller Center. Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room offers playful bistro fare and curated cocktails in a polished vintage gem framed by awe-inspiring urban views."

    Bar SixtyFive is open weeknights from 5:00 PM until close for walk-ins, reservations and private events upon request. The kitchen is open until 11:00 PM Monday to Thursday and until close on Friday.

    You can get heavy apps and drinks there or have full reservations at the fancy Rainbow Room. AMAZING!

  17. oh, and Han Bat is great for Korean food; 53 West 35th Street. It's located right by the big Macy's too.

    On another cheesy note, there is a SNL exhibit that we really enjoyed. Lots of historic costumes and sets on display. Its about $30 for a 90 minute tour. located 38th/5th in mid-town.

    Also check out Central Park - it's huge but I like the Strawberry Fields area. It is across from the Dakota building where John Lenon lived. The Dakota is also a cool thing to see - it's huge.
    West Side between 71st and 74th Streets

  18. Wanted to drop a quick comment here to say thanks for collecting these comments! They were a great help in planning my last minute trip to NYC last weekend.