nyc food

NYC Bucket List

No need to do a double take. I’m not leaving NYC. I’m never leaving NYC–you should know that by now! But my best friend is. She’s also a born and bred New Yorker, but she’s moving to London at the end of the summer. For good. She swears she won’t adopt a British accent, but I’m not so sure about that. 😉

During our past few hobby nights*, we’ve been talking about her NYC bucket list–and crossing off a few items. Yesterday we had drinks and a fabulous dinner at Gramercy Tavern. The Tuesday before, we got cocktails at PDT. Not surprisingly, most of her bucket list items revolve around food. As a kid growing up in NYC, as she put it, she did most of the touristy stuff and saw more Broadway shows than she can remember. So her list consists of restaurants she still wants to try, as well as other random activities. Among them: an afternoon at Smorgasburg;В dinners at Peter Luger, Minetta Tavern, the 21 Club; a ride on the Roosevelt Island tram–and as many brunches and final trips to favorite bars and restaurants as she can squeeze in.

Talking to her about her bucket list made me wonder what I’d put on mine, if I were also leaving NYC. Like her, I’ve done tons of classic NYC stuff over the course of my life: went to the top of the Empire State Building;В saw the Macy’s July 4 fireworks live (they were in Battery Park City, at the time); circumnavigated Manhattan on the Circle Line;В walked over the Brooklyn Bridge; had my bones rattled on the Cyclone; saw the Mets at Shea Stadium and Citi Field; watched the Knicks at MSG; walked the High Line; rode the Staten Island Ferry; took in City Ballet at Lincoln Center (not to mention attended other dance shows at BAM, the Joyce and smaller venues); attended outdoor concerts and movies; visited all the big museums, parks, beaches, botanical gardens, zoos and the aquarium.

And, of course, I’ve eaten at more restaurants than I could list in one post.

When I think about the typical NYC things I still haven’t done, I’m not exactly dying to experience them. I’ve never gone to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island. I used to run by lines of tourists waiting to board boats to take them there–and that didn’t motivate me to join them!

But I was able to scrounge up a few items to create a small NYC bucket list:

But since I have no plans to leave NYC, I might as well get on this, no?

What would be on your NYC bucket list? Or your list of must-dos if you just had a limited time in NYC?

(Photo via Streets of London)

*Hobby night = Tuesday happy hour

On Dining Out Solo

A few weeks ago, Grub Street ran a great post on the benefits of eating alone at restaurants. Krista Simmons, the writer, broke down the stereotype that solo diners are “sad, lonely people with no friends” and gave a number of reasons why eating alone is actually kind of awesome. Chief among them: You can really focus on the food and make friends with the restaurant staff–which could lead to VIP service. As Will Guidara, general manager and co-owner of Eleven Madison Park and NoMad, confirms:

I don’t think there’s anything more flattering than someone sitting and having dinner in the dining room alone…With a single diner, we really get the opportunity to interact with curious eaters. You know they’re really there for the food.

I found Grub Street’s post very timely because I recently decided to dine solo more often. For all of my adult life, I’ve never had a problem doing things on my own: taking dance classes, traveling, going to concerts. I attribute my comfort in doing so to the traveling I did in college and my early 20s. Whether I was going solo to an all-day music festival in Sydney or seeking out amazing dim sum in Hong Kong, I quickly learned that not having someone to join you isn’t a reason to forgo an experience. You really can have a good time on your own terms.

I do a lot of activities alone in NYC, but I realized I’m way more apt to dine solo when I’m in any other city than my own.В I never hesitate to get a table for one when traveling. But that thought rarely crosses my mind in day-to-day life. I should be just as motivated to take advantage of great food in my hometown (which happens to be one of the world’s premier culinary destinations), as much as I do when I’m in a place where my time is fleeting.

Another motivating factor:В I live way uptown in Washington Heights, but recently joined a gym in NoHo. I work out there just once a week (on a non-ballet day, of course) and love having an excuse to be in the area–there are so many restaurants and new ones open all the time. I feel like I should take advantage of the eating opportunities, whether or not a friend can meet for a late dinner.

So a few weeks ago, when I didn’t have post-gym plans, I took myself out to dinner. I was craving a good cocktail and pork buns (I know, my four miles on the treadmill undone right there). So I went to Booker and Dax, the David Chang/Dave Arnold cocktail bar. I got a seat at the bar and chatted with the bartender and the guy next to me, who was also by himself. My “Son of a Peach” tequila drink and pork buns were phenomenal (as anyone who’s been to Momofuku knows). And I happily tucked into them, savoring the flavors and not missing a dinner companion one bit.

Do you ever dine out alone? What’s been your experience?