New York City - The Worth it Splurges
We think that money is meant to be used for experiences - whether it’s your favorite cup of coffee before a long day, a big trip, or a fabulous three hour meal. But we also believe those splurges should be thought out. After years in the Big Apple I have found some real duds, but also many gems, that provide not only top notch service and product, but also an experience worth paying for many times over. If you think like me, maybe don’t take a trip to Tao and drop hundreds on a place just to be seen doing it, but find a chef’s tasting menu or a whiskey bar that’ll give you a more unique and inarguably more enjoyable night. Here, I’ve rounded up my favorite smart splurges into a wonderfully wallet-emptying day ;)
10:00 - As anyone will tell you, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Do it right at Balthazar’s or Jack’s Wife Freda. The former is a city institution for Frenchy fare in SoHo, the latter, a now well established, trendy brunch destination. Both boasting decadent fare, Balthazar’s will cater more to culinary Francophiles, while Jack’s Wife is known more for the millenial friendly Avo-on-toast and ‘Rosewater Waffles’.
Suggestions: Balthazar - Egg’s Benedict, Jack’s Wife Freda - Waffles
Price - about $40pp (with tip) for a meal and mimosa because, obviously, we’re drinking.
11:30 - Make your way downtown to the city’s tallest structure, One World Trade. As someone not usually in awe of American tribute, the ground zero fountain and observation deck is totally worth it. We spent hours running around the 360 degree panorama room, watching every NYC neighborhood change with the light as Gotham rose from the city as the sun set, but seeing this during the day is just as impressive. The fastest elevator in the hemisphere takes you on a journey through the city’s history leaving you with nothing less than one of the best views in the world when you arrive 102 floors later.
Price - Tickets start at $34, drinks and meal service available up yet one more floor for a premium
2:00 - Lunch awaits at Cafe China. I cannot rave enough about place, and Jackson demands we go every time he visits the city. Every. Single. Time. The menu has pages upon pages of traditional Chinese goodies alongside a quality cocktail list. Oh, and it’s Michelin starred, and has been since 2013. Unless you’re going with a group, there’s no reservations so be prepared to wait, but it is worth it 130% and you can pop into Fine and Rare next door for an apertif.
Suggestions: Fried rice with shredded duck, Pork Dumplings in Chili Oil
Price - $35pp will fill you up, but you can go balls-to-the-wall with drinks under $60
3:30 - Visit a new concept from New York’s most iconic brand, Tiffany’s. Make sure to reserve ahead for high tea at The Blue Box Cafe. The brand new Tiffany blue cafe on the 4th floor of the brand’s flagship store offers a set menu for each meal and they aren’t cheap, but the sheer beauty and being able to say you had breakfast at Tiffany’s (or a mid-afternoon snack) is worth it alone.
Price - $49pp for Afternoon Tea
5:00 - Retire to your suite for a disco nap and a spruce, like all indulgent days call for. Maybe do a couple of laps to make some room in your stomach.
6:00 - Grab a pre-dinner drink at the Brandy Library. An old-school establishment, this place offers nearly every brown liquor you can think of, in a setting where bookshelves serve as liquor cabinets. Enjoy a single malt among Wall Street’s finest suits or sample one of their many flights among the many more big names that pass through this joint.
Price - varies wildly; cocktails starting at $16, flights range from $28-592
8:00 - Dinner calls at Traif. Meaning unkosher, this place is thankfully so. I cannot sing their praises loudly enough. For only $90, you will have one of the better meals of your life, a prix fixe with a wine pairing for each mouthwatering course. They’re even nice enough to let you request your favorite a la carte items to be included.
Suggested requests: Sweetbreads, duck, or tuna crudo
Price - $90pp for food and drink, which is a damn steal for what you get
10:00 - Make your way back into Manhattan post food coma to see theater’s latest smash hit, Springsteen on Broadway, an intimate experience with the Boss himself playing through his personal history. These tickets are hard to come by so start looking now to avoid anything too pricey. If you’re lucky, though, there’s a lottery of limited tickets each show for a budget deal (because we’re always looking out for you there).
Price - Retail tickets start at $200, lottery tickets are $75
Hi Collar (East Village) - an intimate, fairly authentic Japanese coffee and drinks bar. Everything, including snacks are delicious, and the staff is friendly.
Attaboy (LES) - a not-so-secret speakeasy, this no-menu bar offers every cocktail at $16 with each recipe designed by barmaster and top-ranked mixologist Sam Ross
Bar Hugo (westside) - filled with the sought after Chelsea views and a snazzy cocktail list, this is a great spot to unwind.
Prune for brunch (Soho) - This entirely woman run and owned spot is great for a robust brunch. Try the sausage -- sounds like a joke, but it’s not.
Tamarind (Tribeca) - Michelin starred Indian, anyone? We didn’t think Indian could have a better interpretation than the standard, until this place. Also, get the pepper martini.
Maison Premiere (Williamsburg) - MY LOVE! This should go on the food AND drinks list. With a half-price happy hour and the best oysters in town, hands down, every bite on this menu is perfect. The drinks are fabulous, and the absinthe bar is something you won’t remember.
Suggestions: Oysters raw, Oysters Rockefeller, Octopus, and the Old Raj Martini (I know, but it is absolutely divine, and you get a story free with purchase).