Well, it's summertime, and most of the sommeliers I know are chillaxin' a bit with the 3 Rs: Riesling, Rosato, and Romorantin. But this is also the time of year when all those people from towns without a Spotted Pig show up for a visit. These people usually want a friendly recommendation or two about how to best enjoy their time in the Big Momofuku City. Recommendations take time. Drinking rose at the summer share takes time. How to manage this balancing act? Well, don't stress! Old Uncle Levi with an i is here for you with some timely recommendations about what to do in New York City. Feel free to pass them along as if they were yours.
Order a Caffe Latte at Abraco in the East Village. This must be accompanied by an olive oil cracker (not the olive oil cake, but rather, the cracker).
Have a Tres Leche cake doughnut from the Doughnut Plant in the LES. I recommend purchasing two doughnuts. You are there, after all.
A Super Heebster sandwich at Russ & Daughters in the LES. Accept no substitutes. Ordering the "Super" version, with the wasabi flying fish roe, is the thing to do.
The tea service at Lady Mendl's, on Irving Place. Come early for your reservation (you have to make a reservation) and sit in the waiting room for awhile. So lovely.
Many good options exist for Neapolitan style pizza, even now that Una Pizza has left to SF. I personally end up at Motorino now and again, but there are lots of potentials. Lucali is popular with the byob set.
Prune is a treasure, and specifically at lunch time, when it is possible to walk in without a wait and have a delicious meal. I highly recommend the lamb burger on toasted Enligh muffin. East Village.
An order of pork buns at a Momofuku. In the East Village.
The grilled corn at the take out side of Cafe Habana in Nolita.
Composed dishes (more than the sushi) at Soto. West Village.
Go to Milos Estiatorio. Select your own fish from the wall of fish. I usually get the Turbot, if it is available, and I am prepared to wait extra for it. Have it simply grilled whole. Have a nice bottle of greek white wine. Share with someone whose company you enjoy. Best to make a reservation in advance, so as not to get stuck at the bar tables. Midtown West.
Second City Dog at Shake Shack. Lots of locations now.
The Greenmarket days at Union Square are fun to be at.
The beer room at the Whole Foods Bowery has a nice selection of imported beers. I think it is a good option for grabbing a few bottles of brew.
The best grocery shopping for the best price, all things considered, is probably to be found at Fairway Market on Broadway.
The cocktails at Vandaag are great. And the staff is nice. Really worth a stop. East Village.
A very good porchetta sandwich can be had at Porchetta, although sometimes they are a touch dry these days. A bit of evoo would help with that. Make sure to sprinkle on some of the flavoring from the little tin can by the cash register. East Village.
An evening at the NY Philharmonic in Lincoln Center. The Summer Series is very deftly handled. Arrive early on a sunny day and sit on the grass above Lincoln.
Aburiya Kinnosuke for the Yellowtail collar special, if available, and a fresh squeezed juice cocktail. They give each patron their own juicer. That's fresh. Near Grand Central.
The Ten Bells. Of course.
A visit to The Cloisters museum for a walkaround followed by a picnic on the grass overlooking the Hudson. Waaay uptown.
Finding a great wine with age on it for a more than reasonable price is easy enough at Tribeca Grill, as you can see here: http://www.myriadrestaurantgroup.com/tribecagrill/TribecaGrill_WineList.pdf
The housemade non-alcoholic sodas at Perry Street are delicious. Sit on one of the couch like things in the lounge and look out the window at the river. West Village.
The tea smoked duck entree at Grand Sichuan on 55th and 2nd Ave. They allow corkage here.
The Kreuz Market sausages available at Hill Country make it worthy of a stop in.
If you are willing to pay up, the various locations of Grom have delicious gelato.
I enjoy to go to Dinosaur BBQ, up by Columbia. I won't say that it is great, great BBQ. But I will say that I enjoy to go there.
July is good timing to catch something at Summer Stage in Central Park. The shows are usually very good, and also free. An easy walk from the Whitney Museum, if you want to double up on the day.
A frisbee toss on Roosevelt Island can be nice on a summer day, as long as the wind isn't too strong. Roosevelt Island's grassy spaces are less populated than Central Park's, and so lend themselves a bit more to frisbee adventures. Take the Tram out there. Pack a lunch.
Grandaisy Bakery on Sullivan Street in Soho. This used to be the original Sullivan Street bakery. Still a favorite destination for me. Get a pizza square. The funghi is my favorite.
A visit to The Paris Theatre for a viewing of what is current amongst French Cinema. 58th St. near 5th Ave.
People have their favorite steakhouses. But one they usually forget to mention is Le Relais de Venise l'Entrecote, which admittedly is more about the sauce than the steak. But what sauce!! Just the best steak frites idea imagineable. Midtown East.
Most people think of the same 4 or so places to have a good bagel, but my favorite remains unheralded: Bagel Works on 1st Ave., between 66th and 67th Sts. Arrive at 5:30am or so for a fresh from the oven, totally terrific warm bagel.
Terramare Cafe on East 65th St. has delicious bombolone. Don't get anything else. Just get a bombolone and promptly leave, walking over to Central park to sit and eat.
Lunch at Ippudo offers what is probably the best ramen currently available in NYC. It is best to go as a singleton to have any hope of getting a seat within a reasonable amount of time.
The Morgan Library and Museum has this glass elevator that I just love. You feel like you are riding up to the very sky. Midtown East.
Di Palo's on Grand Street is a must visit for fresh mozzarella. Be prepared to wait.
It is a good idea to have oysters at (the original) Blue Ribbon. Also the bone marrow. But especially the oysters. Soho.
It is worth it to go to the Time Warner Center just for the Nutter Butter cookies at Keller's Bouchon Bakery.
Banh Mi Saigon in Little Italy is good if you want a delicious sandwich (skip the other options) on the cheap.
Despana on Broome Street is a good market to go to when looking for gourmet items from Spain.
Of course for wine there is Chambers Street, Crush, Astor, and Uva.
Recommended bars that could be referred to as dives: Milano's (LES), International Bar (East Village), McSorley's (East Village), Dubliner House (UWS)
Franny's in Brooklyn's Park Slope is a favorite. Be prepared to wait for a table.
If you haven't strolled through the great hall of Grand Central Terminal before, you really need to do that at least once. There is a Murray's Cheese and a Joe coffee shop in there, too.
A stop into the Gramercy Tavern bar room for a glass of wine. 20th off of Park Ave. South. Also to mention, Chef Michael Anthony is right now turning out some of the finest food in the history of the Tavern.
Watch the locals model the latest summer fashions in the Sheep Meadow, in Central Park.
A stop into Bar Jamon for a glass of Ameztoi "Rubentis". Just perfect about this time of year. And the 2010 is back on form for this wine.
I have yet to have a spellbinding Kaiseki meal in NYC, but the closest I have come to that ideal was at Rosanjin in Tribeca, which is a place that I would like to return to some time soon.
A trip out to the Brooklyn Botantical Gardens for a stroll amongst the cherry blossoms.
A visit to the Met Museum on 82nd for a walk around - there is a newish American wing, btw - to be followed by taking in the view from the roof. Eat and drink before you arrive, though. Options inside have often have long lines. Of course, Central Park and it's lake with all the small boats is just right around the corner.
A pastrami sandwich on light rye from counter service at Katz's Delicatessen. Accompany with a Dr. Brown's soda. LES.
Stuffed Grape Leaves at Bereket. LES.
Dinner at the hidden Japanese restaurant Tsukushi, on Tudor City Place, where the only chef is the owner, and the clientele are mostly Japanese folks working at the U.N. There is no a la carte menu here. It is a set menu, and it is full of little, special treats. Sometimes they allow corkage, but it is best to ask ahead.
A visit to the hidden back drawing room at Gilt, which is amazing little spot to have a glass of wine. Or get the couch by the fireplace in the vestibule. A highly coveted perch, in my opinion. One of the great secrets to drinking in the city.
An order of amaro at Lupa. I dig on Caffo del Capo a lot, myself. Soho.
A late night run to Sake Bar Hagi, in midtown near Times Square. 49th St. Have some Kubota sake and order several many skewers. Delicious and cheap. Avoid the larger entree offerings.
A beer or scotch at the original PJ Clarke's on 3rd Ave. Open till 4am every day.
The only street food I return to with regularity is the Lamb Sandwich on Pita at the Halal Guys food cart, 53rd and 6th Ave. Look for the guys in the yellow sweatshirts.
An afternoon trip to Bryant Park, and perhaps a stroll through the main Library Building as well. One way to take in Bryant Park that not a lot of people realize is to go up to the second floor cafe of the Japanese bookstore across the street and take a stool at the window seats.
Late night Bi Bim Bap at Kun Jip in Koreatown. Get a beer to accompany. Don't overorder, they are going to lay out a lot of food for you.
A stop into the Essex Street Market (LES) for a cheese discovery at Formaggio Essex.
A Lure Burger at Lure Fishbar in Soho.
Brunch in Chelsea Market. Why Chelsea Market? Because you have tons of options to mix and match your meal from the different vendors there, there is open seating, and best of all, no huge lines. Brunch in NYC usually involves huge lines. This is a get around of that phenomenon. I especially recommend the Grilled Cheese sandwich from Amy's Bread or the meatloaf sandwich from Dickson's Farmstead Meats. The Highline is nearby.
Pegu Club for a Gin-Gin Mule. Still one of the best cocktails on offer in NYC. Soho.
Super Taste in Chinatown for hand pulled Chinese noodles with beef, in broth. Get a side of the greens (in the packet) to add in, and do not miss an order of dumplings, which are delicious.
Take in a picture at the Film Forum.
Stop in to Argosy Books on 59th St. to check out the selection of out of print wine books (downstairs). This is a special place in Manhattan.
A visit to the Peking Duck House for, what else, Peking Duck. I like a side of Chinese Broccoli, myself. Corkage allowed.
Dinner at Soba Koh for cold Inaka Soba, and an appetizer from the specials list. Sapporo on draft. East Village.
The soup dumplings at Restaurant 456 in Chinatown are the best that I know of around here.
A visit to Cocktail Kingdom/Mud Puddle Books on West 21 St. for a look at vintage cocktail book reproductions and high quality barware accessories.
The original Wondee Siam in Hell's Kitchen for Thai. Bring your own beverage. The experience is increased ten fold if you happen to bring someone who is Thai with you. Somehow the food becomes much better.
Happy summer ya'll!!