Continuing with our morning theme here, allow me to introduce one of my favorite on-the-go OR sit-and-stay casual breakfast options in Manhattan (and elsewhere). It may be a chain, but each location of Maison Kayser feels as quaint and lovely as the term “French bakery” suggests. It’s the perfect spot for window gazing, morning light savoring, coffee sipping, and pretending calories in croissants don’t count. Breakfast date, anyone?
Slice – App
Slice’s headquarters is in Flatiron but the app is right on your phone. I’m a little biased because I work here, but Slice is making the world a happier place. Our company gives mom and pop pizza shops access to the technology they need to stay competitive AND helps you get pizza from your favorite local places. Plus, we take way less from the shops than the GrubHub’s of the world so you get to eat pizza and shop local all at once. If you want $5 off your first order just lmk!
901 Broadway // The App Store
Switch Playground is one of the most intimidating workouts I’ve ever done. Think soul cycle meets boot camp meets ADHD meets clubbing. It’s won the title for “hardest workout in NYC” on multiple occasions and I absolutely see why. But there’s also a live DJ in every class so it’s confusing. (Here’s a melodramatic video if you want to see more.) It’s intense. But it’s also really fun, a great workout, and the perfect way to burn some serious calories before your pizza tour of the city.
Steven and I met another couple for dinner here on Friday and immediately added it to our list of places to go again. Aunt Jakes is this dreamy little hideaway with understated but elegant decor that makes you want to order that second bottle and stay a while. I’m not usually big on Italian food because it always feels so heavy, but the menu is the fresh, fun, and a far cry from your traditional Italian restaurant. Plus all their pasta is handmade. I got the cauliflower gnocchi ($18)and ate every last bite. Who wants to be our next double date?
47 W. 8th Street. Greenwhich.
I’ve never shared a “Manhattan” that I haven’t been to or experienced myself. Until today. And I do so only to put out into the universe that I want a reservation here!! I am manifesting my meal, if you will. Crown Shy opened this year just down the street from us and has received unbelievable reviews from everyone I know who’s tried it. It’s an affordable, updated twist on Mediterranean food (which happens to be my favorite) and all I want in life is their white bean hummus and their mango mezcal cocktail. Prayers appreciated.
70 Pine Street. Financial District.
Summertime in New York means two things: sweating profusely on the subway and ice cream. There are lots of good ice cream spots in the city and claiming a favorite is sure to spark some controversy. But this is my newsletter, so I hereby state that the best ice cream shop in NYC is Van Leeuwen. It has all your classic favorites and the vegan flavors are the closest thing to the real stuff I’ve ever tried. And since we’re picking favorites here, the vegan mint chip at the Seaport store is definitely the way to go. Grab me a spoon!
224 Front Street. Seaport.
This is not the first bagel place I’ve shared and probably won’t be the last. New York bagels are as good as they’re hyped up to be. And tofu cream cheese is this vegan’s dream. But I can honestly say that in all my bagel-ing, I’ve never had a bagel as good as the ones they make at Gramercy Bagel. Like everything in Gramercy, they are the elite. But unlike everything in Gramercy, they’re affordable. It’s the perfect combination. As is the cinnamon raisin bagel with tofu cream cheese ($3.55), which I highly recommend.
246 3rd Ave. Gramercy.
If you follow me on my personal or my Stuff & Guff instagram, you would’ve seen me post about this coffee shop. My love affair with its decor and drinks has been fast and frantic and shows no signs of stopping. The giant green wreath that hangs over the counter punctuates the dreamy, quiet interior and the giant cups sizes *somewhat* justify the absurd New York pricing. As always, I recommend the iced oat milk latte ($6) but order it to stay and bring a book!
25 East 20th Street. Flatiron.
I know choosing Central Park as my “Manhattan” isn’t exactly an “insider’s guide to the city”. But it deserves its own spotlight in the newsletter (and on my website) because it really is as magical as it seems. Amidst all this concrete and chaos, the winding expanse of greenery and grass and hidden pockets of privacy just does wonders for the soul. You can lose a day here pretty quickly but it’s well worth the investment. Bring a blanket and save me a seat!
We first discovered this restaurant when a couple from our bible study invited us out to dinner last year and I’ve dreamed about it ever since. When my mom was in town recently I finally had an excuse to go back. Kubeh is a middle eastern restaurant in Greenwich Village that serves traditional middle eastern food in an ambiance that is somehow both quaint an exotic. The hummus is unreal ($8), the veggie kubeh in hamusta broth is my favorite ($17), and every single dessert is worth every single calorie.
464 6th Ave. Greenwich.
Top of the Rock
Having our friends in town this weekend reminded me of all our favorite “touristy” places. One of those, is the bar at the top of the Rockefeller center. The drinks are stupidly priced (~$25 each) but the view is unmatched in Manhattan. It’s the perfect place to indulge on a weekend trip to the city or a great spot to celebrate something special. This picture was from my first trip to visit Steven in NYC. I was starry eyed, sticker shocked, and a litttttle too blonde but a happy memory nonetheless.
30 Rockefeller Plaza. Midtown.
The Water Tower Bar
One of the more Brooklyn-y things I’ve done as of late is grab drinks at the used-to-be-a-water-tower bar on top of the Williamsburg Hotel. Like any Williamsburg bar with a good view, the drinks are overpriced (like, $20 for a cocktail in a plastic cup). But the space is super cool, the vibe is super fun, and the view is pretty hard to beat. Definitely worth the splurge every once and a while.
96 Wythe Ave. Williamsburg.
Bluestone Lane – UES
I’ve probably mentioned Bluestone Lane before, but the Upper East Side location deserves its own week. Located in the middle of Museum Mile and right off Central Park East, this is the perfect coffee / brunch spot while you’re out and about on a spring afternoon. Built into an old chapel adjacent to the Church of Heavenly Rest, the aesthetic and overall feeling of this location is unmatched by *most* other coffee shops in the city. (I can’t speak in absolutes when it comes to coffee. It’s too hard.)
The River Cafe
The River Cafe has been on my NYC bucket list for quite some time. It’s the dreamiest little river boat turned restaurant that sits just under the Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo. It is most certainly a special occasions only type of place as the prefix menu pricing is a little hard to swallow. But to celebrate our second wedding anniversary it was worth every penny. Expect gorgeous skyline views, servers in white dinner jackets, elegant details and decor, and a chocolate recreation of the Brooklyn Bridge if you’re lucky.
1 Water Street, Dumbo
The Black Derby
West Village might be my favorite part of the city and The Black Derby might be my favorite restaurant in it. Tucked away on one of those dreamy little streets West Village is known for, the semi-underground space is small but elegant in an unassuming way. The cocktails are incredible, the food is unique and fun, and the wait is long so get a reservation. My go-to’s are the grain salad bowl ($15), the brussels sprouts to share ($11), and, of course, a gin martini ($15).
310 West 4th Street, West Village
Black Seed Bagel
You know what’s worth every calorie every time? New York bagels. Believe the hype. They are different. And they are better. I’ve heard its something about the water. But I think it might just have a little something to do with the atmosphere, too. Like at Black Seed Bagel in Nolita. The old-timey decor, the freshly brewed Stumptown coffee, the wood-fired oven baking bagels in the back, all of it. Worth the calories and the line you’ll likely have to wait in. I’m an everything bagel with tofu cream cheese kind of girl, but their specials are unreal. Pls save me a spot in line.
170 Elizabeth Street. Nolita.
Catbird is one of those “I don’t think I’m cool enough to be here but I’m going to stay anyway” kind of places. This Williamsburg jeweler has captured my (and so many others’) hearts with their insanely pretty pieces that somehow look both ornate and minimal at the same time. They ship throughout the U.S. too so it’s the perfect place to find that last minute Valentine’s Day gift (to yourself).
219 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
Air’s Champagne Parlor
I’m not sure what designates a champagne “parlor” from a champagne bar but it might have something to do with Air’sBreakfast at Tiffany’s themed decor or the “this place feels like a secret” vibe you get when walking in. Plenty of fancy options like caviar and oysters, but we opted for a bowl of popcorn ($4) and a bottle of “your best inexpensive champagne” ($50) because we’re new to the champagne game. Perfect for a girls night out or a post-dinner date spot.
127 Macdougal Street, Greenwich Village
Financier has locations sprinkled throughout the city and easy to spot with their dreamy blue and green facades and French designs. The one on Stone street is perfectly quaint and quiet and has become a Sunday morning tradition at the Laake home. Their original croissant ($3.25) was voted best in NYC, but I’m partial to the almond croissant ($3.95) and Steven to the American Breakfast sandwich ($6.50). Grab a book or your best friend and order it to stay. Calories don’t count on the weekends anyway.
62 Stone Street. FiDi.
Steven took me to Westlight as part of my birthday weekend surprise(s), and I immediately added it to my list of go-to recommendations for friends coming to the city. Hidden on top of The William Vale in Williamsburg, this rooftop bar has such a breathtaking view of Manhattan you’re momentarily willing to forgive the sticker shock of the menu. My advice: get a reservation, bring a camera, and order the False Start cocktail ($18) with the Beetroot Hummus ($14). If nothing else, do it for the ‘gram.
111 N 12th Street. Williamsburg.
Fleur Noire Tattoo Parlor
This dreamy little tattoo parlor in Brooklyn is everything a tattoo parlor in Brooklyn ought to be. My very trendy, perfectly tattooed friend Sarah recommended it to me last year when I wanted to expand my tree tattoo. I left with this string of tiny birds and only good things to say about the entire experience. Call me if you go. I’ll come with.
439 Metropolitan Ave. Williamsburg.
Everyone stop what you’re doing right now and book a plane ticket or train ticket to New York so we can go to Celestine. I’ll make the reservations. Steven took me here for birthday brunch and I was genuinely overwhelmed. The inside is small and sunlit and perfectly airy with windows for walls and an unreal view of the water and the Manhattan bridge. The hummus changed me ($9), the rose was light but strong ($15), and the French toast casserole looked like heaven on a plate ($12). Seriously, what’s your ETA?
1 John Street. DUMBO.
Strand Book Store
If you look up a list of things to do in NYC, Strand Book Storewill probably make the cut. But what it may have lost in tourist trapyness, it more than makes up for with all the elegance and wonder old bookstores hold. Be sure to visit the rare book room and take home one of the branded tote bags – a staple of commuters and eco-friendly grocery shoppers in the city.
828 Broadway. Union Square.
Two of our favorite friends were in town this weekend and, per usual, we struggled to narrow down where to take them. Finally, we landed on Shuka and, per usual, I’m so glad we did. This quaint little mediterranean spot in West Village is perfect for cocktails, small plates, and long dinners with months of life to catch up on. The tahini ($6) and crispy chickpeas ($4) are our favorites to share and the fall salad ($15) is my go-to entrée every time.
38 MacDougal Street. West Village.
The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center
If you follow my personal Instagram (@baileylaake) you would’ve seen that we went to see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center on Friday night. This has been on my NYC bucket list since the day we moved here and it did not disappoint. The theatre was elegant and ornate, the orchestra was incredible, and the performance itself let all my childhood Christmas wonder flood right back into my soul. If you’re going to do Christmas in New York, this is a non-negotiable.
20 Lincoln Center Plaza. Upper West Side.
New York Stock Exchange Christmas Tree
Steven and I walked past the Stock Exchange last weekend on our way to the movies. We walk that route fairly frequently but not often at night and rarely together, and as we walked by that evening we were both pretty overwhelmed by this year’s Christmas tree. (Ok, me more than him but still.) It’s sheer size, fully draped in colorful lights and to-scale ornaments, is about as magical as it gets. The iconic backdrop doesn’t hurt either. Definitely add it to your Christmas in New York to-do list.
11 Wall Street. FiDi.
Bryant Park Winter Village
The Bryant Park Winter Village is right up there with Rockefeller center when it comes to Christmas in New York. The ice skating rink is small but splendid. The Christmas tree is massive and merry. The shops are quaint, the patrons are cheery, and the Max Brenner hot chocolate will change you in the most profound of ways. If your Grinch heart is a bit too small this year, this is the place to be.
Bryant Park. Midtown.
Pier 17 Winter Village
Pier 17 opened this year as a first-floor bar and restaurant and a rooftop concert venue. With perfect views of the Brooklyn Bridge and all those hopeful Hudson feels, it was the perfect summer spot. This winter, they’re turning it into a holiday village and creating the city’s first rooftop ice skating rink. (Not open quite yet so forgive the renderings). Christmas in New York has always been hard to beat, this just sealed the deal.
89 South Street. FiDi.
This was one of our first date spots in the city thanks to the recommendation (and gift card) of a good friend.
Tucked in the back of one of the few alleys in the city, the string lights and plant-lined facade speak to just how quaint and cozy the entire experience will be.
Go with a group, split a bottle of wine and the mushroom donuts ($12), and stay awhile.
Freeman Alley. Lower East Side.
Steven and I swore we would never have “a spot” in NYC because there are so many amazing restaurants to try. Then we found Bubby’s.
Think southern comfort food with TriBeCa vibes at we-could-never-live-in-TriBeCa prices. What more could you want? (Their homemade jam recipe, that’s what.)
I get the vegan grain bowl ($20) and he gets the bacon-wrapped meatloaf ($19), every single time. Make sure to grab their homemade biscuit mix on your way out. We’ll probably see you there.
120 Hudson Street. TriBeCa.
The Lovelace Cocktail & Gin Bar
I’m a sucker for a dirty gin martini just about anywhere, but throw in patio seating, Hudson views, and live jazz music and you can just have all of my money.
Personal favorites are the classic martini ($15 – get three olives) and the Bees Knees ($14). Also the onion rings if you’re feeling indulgent.
I may or may not be writing this while sitting on their patio (see picture above). And I may or may not live right next door so be sure to save me a seat when you get there.
66 Pearl Street. FiDi.
Sofar hosts these incredibly intimate pop-up concerts in delicate venues like loft apartments or antique shops. You sit on the floor, surrounded by strangers and hear a handful of songs by a handful of artists you may not know but are glad you do now. It feels small and sacred. Communal and yet deeply personal. Like art (and life) is supposed to.
Black Fox Cafe
I get the almond croissant ($4) and an oat milk latte ($6). Extra points for the moody decor and “laptop free” table hours. Perfect for a slow Saturday morning with this week’s New Yorker or brunch with your mom.
70 Pine Street. FiDi.