Best Restaurants in New York City, Part II

We all need to eat, that is a fact. But that does not mean our choices have to be limited. In New York City, the possibilities of where to eat are endless.

Burger/Fast Food Restaurants

Schnipper’s

With two locations in Manhattan (Times Square and Midtown East), this restaurant does not disappoint. Though it is fast food, it does not leave you with the cheap, empty calories feeling. The menu is much more than burgers and fries, allowing almost anyone to find something to eat.

Roll n Roaster

Located in the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay, Roll n Roaster has been around for fifty years. Famous for its roast beef sandwiches, the menu is fast food in the best sense of the word. There is an old-school feeling to the building that makes you feel like you have gone back in time. It’s a bit of a hike from the city, but the trip is definitely worth it.

Dessert

Lady M

Lady M is a semi-national chain with three different locations in Manhattan. The variety of crepe cakes is enough to make one’s mouth water and force a difficult decision to be made. Regardless of whether you purchase a slice as a special treat or a whole cake for a special occasion, it is worth every bite.

Ample Hills Creamery

Ice cream is one of those types of foods that can be as simple or as complicated as we want it to be. Ample Hills Creamery is one of the most respected ice cream stores in the city. It has 10 scoop shops in three different boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens) and sells their products to take home in a handful of retail stores. The variation in flavors is ridiculous in the best way possible.

Gluten-Free

Friedman’s Restaurant

Friedman’s Restaurant with its six locations across Manhattan is a diner, but the food and the experience are a notch above the average diner. There is a level of creativity to the dishes that make this restaurant stand out. What I personally love about Friedman’s Restaurant is that they offer gluten-free options. I’m not on a gluten-free diet, but a good friend of mine is. She was more than pleased with her meal. It’s a perfect place to go for brunch, a pre-theater meal, or just a good cup of coffee.

Tea Time

Alice’s Tea Cup

There is no better break from a busy day (at least in my mind) than a cup of tea and a delicious scone. Alice’s Tea Cup has two restaurants and one to-go location in upper Manhattan. With an Alice in Wonderland theme, the atmosphere is cozy and the food is yummy. Though they can be a bit busy at times, the experience is worth waiting for. Whether you go in for a full meal or just tea and a piece of cake, you will walk out satisfied

Kosher/Kosher Style Deli

2nd Ave Deli

The New York City restaurant scene used to be dotted with kosher/kosher-style delis. While many have gone the way of the dodo, a few remain. Among these is 2nd Ave Deli. There are two locations: Midtown East and Upper East Side. Whichever one you choose, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. The sandwiches alone are a meal unto themselves. They also cater for large events and for Passover. Anyone who has prepared for a Passover Seder knows how much it helps to have some of the food made by a professional.

Ben’s Kosher Deli, Restaurant, and Caterers

This restaurant and its six locations (most of which are either in or close to NYC) is one of my family’s favorite places to eat. I have yet to walk out as an unhappy customer. Both the sandwiches and the potato pancakes are huge. Depending on when you go, there is a line out of the door and very few tables available. Trust me when I say that it is not uncommon to walk out with leftovers or takeout.

Traditional Ukrainian Food

Ukrainian East Village Restaurant

There is something about traditional food of every kind that makes you feel happy. When it’s made right, it feels like it is straight coming out of a mother or grandmother’s kitchen. I came here for dinner with friends a few months ago and was a happy camper. My favorite part of the meal was the pierogies. They offer several kinds and each is delicious. Given what is happening in the world, I felt like I was in a small way, contributing to helping the people who make this food be seen and heard for more than the headlines.

Veselka

Located in the Ukrainian heart of the East Village, Veselka’s two restaurants are a favorite of locals. For me, it is a reminder that this country and the city have been built and maintained by immigrants. It is those unique flavors and meals that have kept the seats filled for years. I cannot think of a time that I have gone to Veselka that I have not walked out feeling satisfied.

Readers, what do you think? Do you have a favorite among them?

The Best Places to Eat in New York City

It has been said that New York City is foodie heaven. Whatever you are craving, there is always a restaurant to satiate the appetite. When you’re coming from out of town, the obvious places to eat are the national chains that everyone knows. There is nothing wrong with that, but when you are in the greatest city in the world, why not try something new?

L&B Spumoni Gardens

Located in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bensonhurst and Dumbo, this old-school Italian restaurant is a local favorite. Every dish is delicious and the portions are huge. I have rarely left this place without a doggie bag and a full stomach. If you’re not going to stay for a traditional entree, at least try the pizza. I guarantee you’ll love it.

Max Brenner

If you’re a chocoholic, you’re going to love this place. Walking into the Union Square restaurant is akin to walking into chocolate heaven. Whether you are there for a meal, dessert, or just a sweet treat, it is the perfect break from a busy day. There are also two other locations: a retail store in Times Square and a sister restaurant in Philadelphia.

Coney’s Cones

Summer is nothing without ice cream. Located on the Coney Island Boardwalk, Coney’s Cones sells the most delicious, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth gelato. Selling half a dozen flavors, the choices are as simple as a scoop in a cone or a cup or as complicated as a full-on dessert. This is one of my personal go-to places on the boardwalk.

Buddha Bodai

NYC is if nothing else, a city of immigrants. This often leads to a melding of dishes that otherwise, would not exist. Located in Chinatown, Buddha Bodai’s dishes are based on traditional Chinese food that is also kosher and vegetarian. I have never been in there when it is not packed or at least partially full. The food is mouthwatering, filling, and has a wide appeal.

Junior’s Cheesecake

Every culture and every city has certain fare that it is known for. One of the dishes that New York City is known for is cheesecake. There is one restaurant that makes the best cheesecake in the city, Junior’s Cheesecake. It has both retail and restaurant locations. All but one is in the city. It is perfect for a meal, a post-theater snack, or just because.

Readers, what do you think? Do you have any other recommendations to add to this list?

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Things to do in NYC That are Not on the First Page of the Tourist Guide Book

Imagine the following, if you can: your coming to NYC for a vacation. You’ve consulted the various tourist guide books, but you want to see a little more of the city. You may or may not have taken the obligatory pictures at Times Square or gotten tickets to a Broadway show. As a local, trust me when I say there is much more to see and do.

  • One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go to a Brooklyn Cyclones game in Coney Island. MCU Park is an easy walking distance from the train station. Tickets prices range anywhere from $10 to $20 a seat. Unlike the larger stadiums, every seat is a good seat. And if one is to get there early enough, there is a free goodie that corresponds with the night’s theme.
  • The Museum at Eldridge Street is both a museum and a working synagogue. Built in 1887, this absolutely beautiful building is a reminder that America is a land of immigrants. Though the original worshippers are long gone, the soul of that generation and the belief in one’s faith are part and parcel of the structure.
  • The Brooklyn Promenade is one of the most picturesque parts of the borough. On a clear day, you can see across the river to lower Manhattan and all the way to the Statue of Liberty.
  • If you’re looking for a good meal and then a walk to burn it off, head to Chelsea Piers and the Highline. Anyone who loves to eat will have a hard time choosing where to dine.
  • After spending all day inside, a day at Prospect Park and the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn is the perfect antidote. The park is perfect for picnicking, taking a walk, getting some exercise, and learning about the wild world around us.
  • If you are willing to try something new, take the Q train to Emmons Avenue. Foodies will be in heaven.
  • The Morgan Library is one of my favorite museums. Originally the home of J.P. Morgan, it hosts a variety of exhibits. My favorite room is his personal library. It is a bookworm‘s wet dream.
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MCU Park

Readers, what do you think? Do you have any suggestions?

How to Save Money in NYC

We all know that NYC is an expensive place to live. As much as I love this city, I am fully aware that the cost of everything is higher. But, if you know where the look, there are ways of saving a few dollars.

  1. Take public transportation. Like anyone who lives there, I am fully aware of the downsides of using the MTA to get around. But even with those problems, there is no beating that for one fare, you can go from one end of the city to another, 24/7/365.
  2. The dollar store is your best friend. Not everything is cheaper than the big box stores, but the deals may be surprising.
  3. Not everyone can afford to live alone. Though the roommate experience is sometimes hit or miss (as I painfully remember), it is the most economical way to reside here if you cannot afford an apartment on your own.
  4. If you need furniture, there are multiple options: local stores, Craigslist, various apps, etc. If you must buy new and prefer to go to a name brand store, hit up Target or Ikea. They are a pain in the ass to put together (even if you have to pay someone), but overall, it is worth it. The pieces I bought from Ikea more than a decade ago are still in good condition.
  5. When it comes time to get a haircut, find a local salon. Their work is just as good as the expensive salons and many will throw in a free blowout. In my experience, the ones owned by AAPI owners provide a pretty good service at a price that will not break the bank.
  6. Buy in bulk, large sizes, and store brands. If you do have access to a car, stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are worth the drive and the membership fee.
  7. Take advantage of the opportunities to be outdoors. Most, if not all of the parks and beaches are free to enter.
  8. If you are a bookworm like me, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the public library. If you must buy a book, hit up a local bookstore or 2nd hand store/thrift shop. This is also good if you are looking for a gift for someone. Now granted, you might not find exactly what you are looking for. But you never know what you may find. My favorite bookstores are the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan (great for browsing), Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, and of course, Housing Works.
  9. If you have a New York State driver’s license, you can get into some museums for nothing or almost nothing.
  10. Use Yelp and Time Out. Yelp is great because the reviews come from customers. Time Out has listings for things to do that will please almost anyone.
  11. If you can, purchase your produce from a street vendor. The quality is just as good as a traditional retailer and the price is just a tad cheaper.
  12. Finally, if you want to see a Broadway show, there are ways to have this experience that will not empty your wallet. If you are willing and/or able to climb stairs, seats on the upper levels of the theaters are always cheaper. For me, it’s about the experience. I don’t mind going up a few flights. Organizations like TKTS sell tickets at discounted prices. However, not every show is listed (especially the popular shows) and the desired seats are not always available. There is also the option of going to one of the booths. The primary one is located in Times Square. Just prepared to be waiting in a very long line.
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End of an Era: The Last Public Payphone in NYC

There was a time in which payphones were everywhere. It was an indispensable technology that we all relied on. These days, it is a thing of the past.

In New York City, the last public payphone was removed from its Times Square location earlier this week. Its new home will be a museum.

I have mixed feelings about this. To be truthful, it was inevitable. There is no need to use a payphone when we are all walking around with cell phones. But it also represents the end of an era, both in the area of technology and how our world has changed dramatically in the last few decades.

RIP to the public payphone. Thanks for the memories.

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Michelle Go Should Be Alive

If there is one thing New York City is known for, it is our subway system. It is the lifeblood of not just the city itself, but of the region. Without it, NYC would not be what it is.

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Last weekend, Michelle Go was shoved toward a subway car by a homeless man as it barreled into the Times Square station. She did not survive. The accused, who will not be named on this blog, has a history of previous arrests and emotionally disturbing encounters with riders.

There are two theories as to why Ms. Go was targeted. The first is that the accused has severe mental health problems and should not have been on the streets. The problem with this accusation is that it casts a shadow on everyone who lives with a mental illness. The truth is that most of us who live with it are just trying to get by. If such an act happens, we are more likely to be the victim, not the perpetrator.

The second theory is that she was targeted because of her ethnicity. It is sadly not the first time this has happened and will not be the last time. Back in November, Bew Jirajariyawetch was chocked one station south of where Ms. Go was killed. Ms. Jirajariyawetch is a model originally from Thailand.

My feeling is that both played a role in Ms. Go’s death. Which as a rider of the NYC transit system scares the shit out of me. I should not be afraid to get on the bus or train. But until the city does what they need to do to protect straphangers, I am forced to be more vigilant than I have been before.

Saying Goodbye to Melania Trump in the Best Way Possible: With A Song In Her Heart, Melania Trump Returns To New York

Imitation, we are told is the sincerest form of flattery. It can also reveal truths that we would rather not deal with.

For the last four years, actress Laura Benanti has been satirizing former First Lady Melania Trump on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Last Tuesday, Benanti stepped into the shoes of Mrs. Trump for the last time.

Start at 3:53

It’s as if they were saving the best for last. Using the opening number from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as a baseline, the song speaks to how much we want her and her family out of the city.

I hate to say it, but there is one thing I will miss about you know who and his family. It is the comedy that is writing itself.

New Randy Rainbow Video: RUDOLPH THE LEAKY LAWYER – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

From the outside looking in, the law profession is a noble one. But then I see the commercials for law firms on television and I have to wonder if they are as legit as they promise to be.

One could say the same for former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Once upon a time, he was respected lawyer and politician. These days, the man is a punchline waiting to be written.

Randy Rainbow released his latest video today. Entitled RUDOLPH THE LEAKY LAWYER – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody, the song is based on the beloved Christmas song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

He could have gone down in history as the NYC Mayor who cleaned up Times Square and led us through the darkness of 9/11. But instead, he will be remembered as a bloviated fool who nearly destroyed the American democracy to protect the fragile ego of you know who.

Thank you, Randy, I needed to laugh.

Karma is a Delightful Bitch Part II: Rudy Giuliani Has Covid-19

Once upon a time, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was considered to be a hero. During his time in office, cleaned up Times Square and led the city during the darkest days right after 9/11.

These days, he is a joke.

For the last few years, he has been been the legal stooge of you know who. As of this afternoon, it was announced that he has Covid-19.

Karma, once more is a delightful bitch. While she and Covid-19 strike indiscriminately, this time, her aim is right where it needs to be. I would wish a speedy recovery, but given his recent actions, I wouldn’t waste my breath.

P.S. This week’s SNL skit was on the money.

Gulliver’s Gate Review

Gulliver’s Travels is one of the most unusual narratives ever introduced into the world of literature.

Inspired by the book, the exhibit, Gulliver’s Gate is one of the more unique experiences in New York City.

Visiting Gulliver’s Gate is akin to traveling the world without needing a passport or getting on an airplane. The visitor walks through realistic looking and technologically awe-inspiring miniatures of over twenty cities spread over five continents.

Ask anyone who lives in New York City and they will probably tell you that they avoid Times Square like the plague. But for Gulliver’s Gate, I would brave the crowd in Times Square just to revisit this amazing exhibit. It is fun for all ages, interactive and feels like you are traveling the world without leaving New York City.

I absolutely recommend it.

Gulliver’s Gate is at 216 W 44th Street in New York City and will be open until December 31st, 2019. Check the website for ticket availability and prices. 

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