MM and I headed to Brooklyn and NYC for a few days. It was our third trip together and since we’d already done all the touristy stuff, we were excited to check out some restaurants and good drink spots as well as do some shopping, natch.
We flew Porter (the best!) from the Toronto Island Airport to Newark, New Jersey, which I highly recommend to anyone heading to New York. Not only is it super easy to get to Porter if you live in Toronto, but you only have to check in like 45 minutes in advance and there’s free coffee/pop etc. and snacks in the posh lounge. We arrived in Newark and got on the Skytrain to Penn Station, where we purchased our Metro Pass and headed for Brooklyn via the subway (and were serenaded by a very loud and enthusiastic mariachi band).
Thanks God for MM and her navigating skills! She figured out all the subway routes and got us from everywhere to everywhere on the subway, allowing us to cover a lot of the city without shelling out for cabs. We still did a ton of walking (I vividly recall moaning “my hip” about mid-way through the trip), and the weather was definitely on our side (sunny and beautiful – maybe a little too hot).
We checked into our Brooklyn hotel – ALOFT – which was cute and convenient but we definitely struggled with some of the front desk staff who seemed a little…..relaxed about their jobs. But the lobby was super fun and our room was large and clean (minus the massive red wine stain on the floor which must be a bummer for the hotel since it just opened in June).
After checking in we dropped off our crap and made a beeline for Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, located nearish the Brooklyn Bridge.
And then waited in line for like 45 minutes.
My GOD that was a wait.
But I’d read so many great things about the food and since we weren’t planning on doing anything super touristy on the trip, I figured this was the one line we’d have to wait in so we stuck with it. The pizza was really good but I wasn’t blown away. Perhaps because coal/brick oven pizza is popular in Toronto at places like Terroni and Pizzeria Libretto. I guess that style of pizza is a novelty in NYC, where it’s all slices. Grimaldi’s only serves whole pizzas (but you can design your own, unlike Terroni and Libretto), but the atmosphere is fun and the small size pizza was HUGE and more than enough for two starving people!
We headed into Manhattan and the West Village to grab cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. I’ve always been a fan but there are definitely a lot of people out there who hate on Magnolia. They made a great 3 a.m. snack later on :)
We went to the Marc Jacobs stores (yes, plural) and stocked up on jewelry and souvenirs and bags, oh my. Also, I absolutely love the arthitecrure in the West Village in Greenwich.
We did some shopping along 5th Avenue then hit up a bodega for some tall cans.
That night we popped into Pinche Taqueria for some cheap and delicious tacos then made our way to a strip of bars we stumbled upon waaaaaay back on our first trip and they were just as fun as we remembered. We hit up Peculier Pub for some yummy wheat beers then walked two doors down to The Red Lion for some PBRs and a soul band.
We got an early start and headed to Broadway to flex our shopping muscles. We popped into a wonderful bookstore called The Strand then hit up some clothing stores like Top Shop (kind of a bust), Nordstrom Rack (scored a fab Calvin Klein dress for work for $50) and Sabon (heaven – you MUST).
Lunch was vegetarian fare at Red Bamboo, one of MM’s faves from her last visit. It’s all ‘mock meat’ and it was cheap and delicious. I recommend the Soul Chicken Sandwich (panko breaded soy chicken nuggets with romaine lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo and vidalia dressing with vegan cheese). Yum.
After some more shopping on Broadway we went into Tonic East for some happy hour drinks then headed back to the hotel.
That night, we got all gussied up and went to Butter for a late dinner. Oh, Butter. So good. It’s a fairly expensive restaurant but we were excited that our trip fell during restaurant week so we were able to get a fixed price dinner for $35 and it was fantastic. We each got a cocktail – mine was a potent Sidecar and it kicked my ass. Chock full o’ booze. Fully worth the $15 price tag. Highly recommended – I would suggest making a reservation like we did – it’s a very popular place. Also, Justin Timberlake eats there. Enough said.
After dinner we went to Puck Fair Bar in NoHo for some apricot wheat beers. Perfection.
Our first stop on Saturday was the Brooklyn Flea Market. It’s held in Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays in the Spring/Summer. And the Fort Greene location was only a 20 minute walk from our hotel, which was great. Brooklyn Flea Market was my favourite part of the trip. It’s a great mix of vintage clothing and albums, good food, and just plain cute stuff. It was a boiling hot day, otherwise, I could have spent hours there. I did pick up a great vintage postcard print and a t-shirt from Loyalty and Blood. I absolutely fell in love with the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn. I want to live there.
We made our way to the Lower East Side for brunch at Epstein’s Bar. The reason? ALL YOU CAN DRINK MIMOSAS.
We got breakfast burritos. I wasn’t expecting much given the $13.50 price for food plus unlimited mimosas or bloody marys (aka Caesars) but the food was great. And the people watching was even better. This place is a gem, and if it were in Toronto there would be brunch lineups around the block every weekend, guaranteed.
Our next stop was Chelsea Market. For those who are familiar with St. Lawrence Market and The Distillery District in Toronto, Chelsea Market is a combination of those. Indoors, a little pricy, and some really tony little shops. I would definitely go back.
A short walk from Chelsea Market is the outdoor Biergarten, part of The Standard hotel. This is the largest outdoor bar space I’ve ever seen in NYC – they are few and far between. It was impossible to get a seat on a sunny and hot Saturday afternoon, so we parked ourselves in the shade and enjoyed a laaaaaaaarge pint. If you like beer and patios, this is a must-see in NYC. My only complaint is that you have to line up for a ticket ($8 per and each ticket entitles you to one beer), so you have to either know exactly how much you plan to drink or be prepared to wait in line each time (though it moves quite quickly but you risk losing your seat and they are hard to come by). Also, if you’re trying to meet up with a group of friends, you better be prepared to wait eons for a group of seats to open up or prepare to split up and sit closely packed with strangers (though they will probably be attractive as most of the people there were…or was that beer goggles?).
Sadly, then it was time to say goodnight and catch a few hours of sleep before our flight home early Sunday. Sigh.
We’ll be back!
P.S. Here’s what I bought (clockwise from top left):
- Calvin Klein dress
- $19.99 Bottle of Absolut vodka from duty free (still kicking myself for not grabbing a bottle of my fav Grey Goose from a discount liquor store on Friday afternoon but it would’ve been too heavey to carry all day – $36.99 for a litre!!)
- A New York City Metro Pass
- A vintage postcard print from the Brooklyn Flea Market
- A bookbag from The Strand
- An owl-themed mug from The Strand
- Funky fish cork board tacks for a co-worker
- A bird print t-shirt from the Brooklyn Flea Market
- A neon green reusable bag from Marc Jacobs
- Magnets from The Strand
- A Marc Jacobs tote bag
- 2 necklaces from Marc Jacobs (on the tote)
- A pencil case from The Strand
- A printed shirt for work
- New Yorker-themed magnetic bookmarks from The Strand
- Heart-shaped hand mirror from Marc Jacobs
- Body scrub from Sabon
- A leopard print Marc Jacobs key chain