My partner and I visit NYC once or twice a year and I always enjoy planning our trips (usually based on info I glean lurking on this site). However, we just decided to make a last minute trip to the city next week (Thursday) and only for the day, so I'm scrambling a bit to come up with an itinerary. Since everything is so last minute, I'm willing to play things by ear, but was hoping I could get some feedback on the general plan and help with a few questions.
About us: Late 20's grad students who only splurge when traveling (and read the word 'splurge' as a grad student might; we're not too hung up on a budget for this trip as it's our Christmas gift to each other, but were not talking Per Se here). We are both adventurous eaters, but I am a vegetarian, so that limits things a little. We both love cocktails as well, so that's going to figure into the plan.
Anyway, here's what I've come up with, which I'm calling "The Big Loop":
--Arrive at Penn Station 8:30 am
--Breakfast at Doughnut Plant in Chelsea--we have a soft spot for this place after a stay at the Hotel Chelsea a few years ago. I know the cake doughnuts are the way to go here and I love the blackout, but are there any recs for seasonal varieties? Panettone intrigues me.
--Meet up with friends mid-morning to walk the High Line. Maybe I wouldn't feel this way if I lived in the city, but I can't get enough of the High Line.
--Lunch at Babbo (Reserved). My top choice for lunch would have been EMP (where we have been a handful of times and loved it each time more than the last), but the all tasting, all the time concept takes it out of our price range. We've done the lunch deal at Del Posto and enjoyed it in the past (although it's a little stuffy), but I've never been to Babbo and wanted to check it out now that they are serving lunch. This leads me to several questions: 1) Is this place worth the praise? Or should I dump the res for The NoMad, which I also would like to try, but am afraid that it will just make me wish we could go to EMP? 2) Can someone who has had lunch at Babbo give me a guesstimate of how much time we should budget? 3) I've heard that a la carte is the way to go at Babbo and have seen lists of recommended dishes, but they all seem meat-y. Are there any veggie dishes that stand out?
--After lunch, we'll probably go window shopping in SoHo and then loop our way back up to the East Village.
--Looking to get a cocktail in EV. We've been to all the usual suspects and my favorites are Amor Y Amargo (for the intimate space, awesome staff, and bitters focus) and Death and Company (every drink I've had here has been a hit). I think I value uniqueness a little more than my partner who is a "classics well done" kind of guy, but even I can appreciate the Old Fashioned at Amor Y Amargo. Right now my plan is to hit Amor Y Amargo for a drink right when they open and then head to Booker and Dax afterwards for another cocktail and maybe some buns if we need a snack. I saw Dave Arnold give a talk about the techniques he's been using and I really want to see his ideas in action (in their natural setting). Any recs from the drink menu? Or alternative bar suggestions for something different? I was also considering wd-50, but cut it out because of timing/distance concerns, but if there is a strong consensus that some cocktails and a couple of plates at the bar is superior to Booker and Dax, I may change my tune.
--Stop by Union Square Holiday Market for snacks (Arancini Bros?) and goodies to take home (Stollen from Momfuku Milk Bar. I had it last year and it was awesome!) If there are any other can't miss items, please give a head's up!
--Pop in for a drink in the Library at The NoMad. How crowded should we expect it to be on a Thursday evening?
--Back to Penn Station to catch an evening train at 9.
If you've managed to make it this far, thank you! I appreciate any recommendations you may have and I promise to report back!