I recently visited New York City for the first time, and being the (obsessive) planner that I am and being on a tight timeline, I wanted to see and do as much as we could during our trip.
It is safe to say that I had stars in my eyes the whole time, eagerly devouring all the food, beer, and comedy NYC has to offer. Below are some of the highlights from our trip, along with a link to my full Google Map for other Type A’ers like me.
New York’s comedy scene is legendary for a reason. There is a show to see every night of the week, each venue offering a unique experience. There were three comedians I knew I wanted to see going into this trip: Krystyna Hutchinson, Corinne Fisher, and Rosebud Baker. Much to my delight, I got to see all three of these hilarious ladies and so many more outstanding comedians. Here were my three favorite comedy clubs:
The Stand (116 E 16th St, New York, NY 10003)
Located in Gramercy Park, Manhattan, The Stand was the smallest comedy venue we went to. As I said, I had three comedians that I knew I wanted to see going into this trip. On Friday night as we were enjoying beers at Threes Brewing, I was feeling bummed about the fact that I only had tickets lined up to see one of them. However, I was swiping through Instagram (as we do) and I stumbled across a posting for a show happening at The Stand in 30 minutes called Podcast Queens! And what do you know! ALL THREE of the comedians I came to see were on the lineup, plus Hannah Berner and Nikki Glaser.
The show was way under attended for the lineup (as the comedians said throughout the night, I guess this is what you get when you do a lineup of women??), and the show was amazing. The comedians were as funny as I had hoped, and The Stand was a great venue. The show was on their downstairs stage, where seating is filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Don’t worry about needing to order a drink at the bar before you are seated; The Stand offers an impressive menu of food and drinks available to order throughout the show.
Zinc Bar (82 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10012)
This was the show we had tickets to going into the trip—Krystyna Hutchinson and Wendi Starling co-host Glamourpuss every Saturday at Zinc Bar in the West Village, and I knew I wanted to go while we were in town. Zinc Bar is a cozy, underground spot tucked away on a quieter street in Manhattan. The space does “old school jazz bar” perfectly, with heavy red velvet curtains separating the bar and the stage.
Make sure to get there early as seating is first-come, first-serve, and it fills up quickly. There is an $8 to $10 cover for shows at Zinc Bar, and cocktail servers encourage a two-drink minimum in the stage area. They serve you throughout the show, making the minimum easy to hit. Krystyna and Wendi guarantee this show to always be a good time, with a rotating lineup of comedians joining them every weekend.
Comedy Cellar (117 Macdougal St #1267, New York, NY 10012)
What is a trip to New York City without a stop at the Comedy Cellar? I highly encourage reserving tickets early for shows here as they go quick, and the standby line is long with no guarantee of getting in. We had tickets to the 10:30 pm show on Sunday, and we got there early to grab a spot at the Olive Tree Cafe upstairs while we waited for the doors to open. Luckily, we could see the bouncer from our spot in the cafe, and we were able to check-in with him as soon as he started accepting those with reservations, giving us a table front and center.
All of the comedians in the lineup were hilarious, but the absolute highlight of the night (and our whole trip) was Dave Chappelle who showed up at 11:30 and proceeded to do over two hours of stand-up. That is the magic of the Comedy Cellar—you never know who is going to show up!
It was extremely hard to narrow down (see my Google Map for the full list), but the meals I ate at these restaurants stuck with me and I’m still dreaming about them:
Fish Cheeks – Reservations Recommended (55 Bond St, New York, NY 10012)
I learned about Fish Cheeks through Chrissy Teigen’s newsletter, and I knew a recommendation from Chrissy would not disappoint. An adorably colorful spot tucked along Bond St. in NOHO, Manhattan, Fish Cheeks declares themselves a “No Pad Thai Zone,” offering diners an authentic Thai Seafood experience.
We met up with friends for this meal and ate family style. From the snacking side of the menu, we ordered the Market Oysters, which are served with fried shallot & nam jim seafood sauce, and the Grilled Pork Cheeks, which were Compart Duroc pork cheeks marinated in fish sauce. For our main dishes, we shared the Crab Aob Woonsen, with baked crab meat, thinly sliced pork belly, glass noodles, cilantro root, and celery leaves, as well as the Tiger Prawn Karee, stir fried with curry powder, scrambled egg, scallion, onion, micro celery, and roasted chili jam. Everything was super flavorful and showed me a side of Thai cuisine that I had been missing out on.
Close to Madison Square Garden, I recommend you do as we did and have an early dinner at Fish Cheeks, followed by a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden (then head to Prince St. Pizza after the game for some late-night goodness).
Sofreh – Reservations Recommended (75 St Marks Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217)
I knew I wanted to go to Sofreh after reading the New York Times’ feature on the restaurant. Opened by a husband and wife duo with no experience in the restaurant world, Sofreh offers home cooked Persian food in the heart of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Cognizant of the fact that most families don’t have large indoor grills at home, guests will not see items they may be used to seeing on a Persian restaurant menu, rather they will see dishes that owner Nasim Alikhani would make when company comes over.
There isn’t a bad dish on the menu. We thoroughly enjoyed everything we shared. We started with the Herb Kofteh, a meatball made with beef, rice, split peas and assorted herbs, stuffed with prunes and walnuts and served in saffron verjus broth, topped with crispy onions and garlic chips. We followed that with an order of Saffron Rice, steamed basmati rice topped with saffron rice, and the Lamb Shank, braised lamb, onion and turmeric broth, crispy onions, fava beans, and roasted garlic. For dessert, we had the Traditional Persian Ice Cream Sandwich, with saffron, rosewater, and pistachio ice cream, as well as the Persian Rosewater Sorbet with frozen vermicelli rice noodles in a sweet lime juice.
Lhasa Fast Food (37-50 74th Street, Jackson Heights, NY 11372)
I first heard about Lhasa Fast Food while watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown focused on Queens. Getting to the restaurant is an adventure in itself, with the small space tucked behind a cell phone store off of 74th street in Jackson Heights. You may feel like you are lost as you search for the compact dining room tucked away in the small strip mall, but the journey to Lhasa is one of the reasons it feels like a true hidden gem. The other reason is the flavorful, home-cooked Tibetan food that I wish I could have on cold, rainy Seattle winter days.
We lucked out on our visit and scored the last available seats in the dining room, but I would go to Lhasa expecting to wait for a table. Don’t let the term “fast food” lead you to believe that Lhasa is serving up greasy, questionable dishes. Rather, they keep the piping hot Momos and Thenthuk Soup coming, offering diners a quick and satisfying meal.
There is no shortage of breweries in the Big Apple. We visited 12 in total. While I found something I liked at each of them, these three were my favorite:
Grimm Artisanal Ales (990 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211)
What’s a Brooklyn brewery without artisanal in the name, really? Grimm specializes in experimental beers, highlighting the fermentation process in all of their ales. Sour lovers rejoice at this brewery, with ample funky and wild ales on the menu. Beyond sours, they offer a wide variety of IPAs, Stouts, Pale Ales, and more. Tucked off of Metropolitan Ave in East Williamsburg, their space offers guests a view of their brewhouse and fermentors, with ample natural light giving life to tropical plants throughout the taproom—including the healthiest indoor fig tree I have ever seen! Food is available from their friends at Samesa, a from-scratch counter-service restaurant that serves healthy dips, zucchini fritters, and chicken shawarma.
Evil Twin Brewing NYC (1616 George St, Ridgewood, NY 11385)
Experimentation and collaboration are at the heart of this Queens brewery. Evil Twin has been nomadically creating beers since 2010, but in 2018 they opened this taproom to expand upon their traditions of innovation with the intimacy of a local neighborhood microbrewery.
We sampled so many beers here because it is impossible to pick just one, and all I can remember is loving one juicy, hazy IPA after another. Unlike the West Coast, double dry hopped IPAs are very popular in NY, and Evil Twin does them well. But the beer is (arguably) not even the best part about Evil Twin; the space is meant to be enjoyed in the summer as it is essentially one large greenhouse, but even in the winter it offers a warm escape from the cold outside.
The Bronx Brewery (856 E 136th St, The Bronx, NY 10454)
This brewery popped up on our radar when Desus and Mero (two comedians with a podcast and a string of TV shows, currently they have a show on Showtime), released a collaboration beer with them. Community and approachability are at the heart of beers brewed at the Bronx Brewery, and while their tap list may be a bit shorter and more straightforward, it allows visitors to find a creative twist on a brew they are familiar with. Another popular style of beer that you can find in NYC but not usually in Seattle, is a sour IPA, and the Bronx Brewery makes one of the best. The atmosphere is inviting, the playlist keeps the hits coming, and the beer does not disappoint. I recommend this stop on your NYC brewery tour!
As promised, I have a ton more restaurants, activities, and breweries I either visited or hope to visit on a future trip to NYC, and you can see them all here.
Go beyond the spots every tourist knows about and see a more local side to New York City with these recommendations!