Waxingandwayneing’s Weblog

July 13, 2011

Six Days In New York City

Filed under: Luxury,Travel — waxingandwayneing @ 8:02 pm

Six days in New York City! What a great city!  If you are planning a trip to New York City—and why wouldn’t you?—here are some suggestions for a short trip.

The Ride from JFK:  A cab ride to Manhattan from JFK is a flat rate of $40 plus tolls.  Instead of riding with the masses, arrange for a car service for a lower cost.  I use Dial 7 Car & Limousine Service, Inc. (www.dial7.com).  Their prices start at $40 total.  You can find $3-$5 coupons online that will make your fare even cheaper.  I have used Dial 7 four times now and have only had great experiences.

Hotels:  New York City is an expensive city for hotels.  However, there are very nice hotels for competitive prices.  We were looking for hotels on the Upper Westside to be somewhat close to our daughter who was living off-campus near Columbia.   I would recommend checking out hotels before you settle on a time to go.  We like to stay away from the large chains and stay instead at boutique hotels.  We originally stayed at the Park79 Hotel.  Forget this place, unless heat and hot water are not important to you.  We checked out after one night and moved to the 6 Columbus Hotel (http://www.sixcolumbus.com/index.php?page=6columbus), which is owned by the Thompson Hotel chain of boutique hotels.  It is in a great location, across the street from The Shops at Columbus Circle, close to so many great spots.  I would also highly recommend The Lucerne Hotel (201 West 79th Street, New York NY 10024, 212-875-1000, www.thelucernehotel.com).  Unfortunately, they were sold out one of the days of our trip.  We like to use Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.com) to get opinions of those who have already stayed at hotels we are considering.  Just remember, these are just the opinions of others.

Food:  New Yorkers love to eat out.  And there is no shortage of restaurants.  Here are some of the places we ate at:

  • Fatty Crab (2170 Broadway at 77th Street, (212) 496-2722, www.fattycrab.com):  This Malaysian restaurant came highly recommended by the New York Times.  The restaurant had a great vibe and some very tasty food.  We particularly liked the vegetarian steam buns, the whole Branzino (grilled in banana leaves), and the braised duck.
  • The Eatery (798 Ninth Avenue at 53rd Street, (212) 765-7080, http://www.eaterynyc.com):  This restaurant was recommended by the concierge (usually not a good way to get quality recommendations for food since most concierges get kickbacks from restaurants they send guests to) for a quick dinner before theater.  We have learned the hard war to avoid restaurants near the Theater District.  The Eatery was actually quite nice (in spite of a Zagat food score of just 19).  The Chicken Paillard with roasted vegetables, seared and crusted rare tuna, and the macaroni and cheese were very passable.
  • Bread Bar (11 Madison Avenue at 25thStreet, (212) 889-0667, http://www.tablany.com) How can you go wrong with a Danny Meyer restaurant?  This Indian restaurant is actually two restaurants in one:  Bread Bar, serving the more casual Indian street food menu and Tabla (upstairs), serving two prix fix menus.  Tabla/and Bread Bar are merging into a single menu at the end of October.  I have eaten three times at Bread Bar, and have never been disappointed.  The staff is very knowledgeable with the menu and is very happy to help you “design” your dinner.   They offer a variety of naan and chutneys that is a meal in itself.  We ordered a bunch of dishes and shared them family style.  I would highly recommend the halibut ceviche, green tomatoes, chicken tika, and black pepper shrimp.  They have a very extensive wine list, offering many wines by the glass.
  • Kefi (505 Columbus Avenue, between West 84th and 85th Streets, (212) 873-0200, http://www.kefirestaurant.com):  I ate at Kefi in September and had to return on this trip.  The restaurant seems a bit small when you first walk in.  However, if you eat downstairs, you will see just how large this Greek restaurant really is.  Both times, I have had such friendly servers who truly made it seem like we were eating at their house….their very large house!   What to eat? Start with the soup.  Their standard soup is a fresh vegetable soup is a clear broth.  The night we ate at Kefi they also had a fish soup, made with a stock from swordfish, and included fish balls made of the swordfish and rice.  Not in the mood for a full-on dinner, we ate on the lighter side, enjoying the Greek salad, chickpea/eggplant sandwich (think of a Greek-style falafel), and grilled sardines.  If you think of sardines from the cans, these are from a higher level.  Whole, fresh sardines are butterflied, seasoned, and grilled skin-side down.  The sardines take on a smoky flavor and are moist, without the typical oily taste of sardines.  Kefi offers a very nice selection of Greek wines.  The sauvignon blanc/Semillon blend was light, pairing nicely with our food.
  • Recipe (452 Amsterdam Avenue, between 81st and 82nd Streets, (212) 501-7755, http://recipenyc.com).  This tiny 25-seat restaurant in the Upper Westside has a sister restaurant next door called Land, serving Thai food.  Recipe offers a fairly safe fare, but does it very well.  For such a small place, the menu was rather wide.  For starters, we had tasty mussels served bouillabaisse style, grilled calamari on white beans, and vegan butternut squash soup.  The main courses were perfectly cooked, including the steak, duck, and whole dorade.
  • Levain Bakery (167 West 74th Street at Amsterdam Avenue, (212) 874-6080, http://www.levainbakery.com):   If you are looking for a mid-day sugar fix, Levain is a must-stop.  Go there for the freshly baked cookies, particularly the walnut chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and (my favorite) dark chocolate peanut butter.

Museums:  New York has so many great museums, many of which I have yet to visit.  On this trip, we went to the Museum of Modern Art (for the Money Water Lilies and the Ron Arad show), the Guggenheim Museum, the Jewish Museum, and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum.  Four museums in six days may sound a bit arduous, but we didn’t spend too much time at any museum, because art overload occurs very fast for me.  Other museums to check out are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum (where A Night at the Museum was filmed), the American Folk Art Museum, and the Frick (where you can see some frickin’ cool art—sorry!).

Getting Around:  For those of you who think “public transportation” is taking a taxi, try the subway in New York City.  OK, you have probably heard how barbaric and unsafe the subway is.  As long as you are smart about taking the subway (travel with someone else, avoid the subway after 11PM, and never go to anywhere sketchy), you will be fine.  My middle daughter gave me a primer on which trains to take (“Dad, you need the 2 Express, not the 3 Local, ok?”), and how to read the transit map.  If the weather permits, join the throng of other New Yorkers and tourists and just start walking.  New York is a great town to walk and is now even safe as the taxis have been taught that it is bad PR for the city to run over pedestrians.

Getting There:  From the Los Angeles area, there are numerous airlines that fly to any of the airports near New York City.  The most efficient airline is Jet Blue, which flies out of Long Beach to Kennedy.  Unfortunately, it is no longer the low price leader.  Recently, I have flown Virgin America, which sells one-way tickets out of Los Angeles to Kennedy for $109.

Overall:  Six days is about my maximum length for a visit to New York City, although I do think it would be fun to rent an apartment for a month or two and pretend I was a New Yorker.  The pace is frenetic, but the vibe is so alive, it might be worth it.  The markets are so well-equipped to accommodate the busy residents who want to eat great tasting, prepared foods.  Most restaurants deliver.  Even the street food is somewhat tasty, I am told.  Try it and let me know what you think!

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