We recently spent a few days in New York City for some work and play. While we typically love getting to know a city, New York has rubbed us the wrong way multiple times and I was dreading the trip a bit.
Learning to like New York
But this trip helped us see that what we don't like is Manhattan, not the whole city. It's full of iconic romance and possibility, yes. I'm very attracted to the feeling of endless possibilities there. But quickly we get the feeling that others have been drawn there for those possibilities and, after realizing that pursuing those possibilities meant deep sacrifice, they began to loathe themselves and defer that loathing onto strangers and passersby. There's so much resentment and latent frustration everywhere in Manhattan.
We consider ourselves fairly travel savvy and try to observe and adapt to culture quickly. In addition, I grew up near Philadelphia and remember the cold, brisk nature of strangers, unlike the warmth found in the midwest. I shouldn't be surprised, but I usually am in Manhattan.
Here's what we learned though! Manhattan isn't the whole city! We stayed in Brooklyn and fell in love with that borough. From the charming and iconic brownstones on quiet, shady streets, to the bustle of a younger, more relaxed demographic, Brooklyn just "got us" way more. We had a ton of favorite places in Brooklyn, so if you're planning a visit, you've got to check them out!
Favorite Coffee in Brooklyn
Each morning, we strolled through town to get to "our coffee shop," Absolute Coffee. Their lattes were perfectly smooth and strong and I was often tempted to walk back throughout the day for a second...and third.
We have a saying in our house about my perspective when I really like something and it goes like this: "If one is good, five is better...right?" Not true, of course, but I'm definitely an indulgent person and, when I find something I like, DO NOT change plans. I have MY coffee shop and I'll legit ask you if it would be normal to get more than one latte. For reference, your duty to me is to say "no, Stephanie. One's fine." Okay? Get that down and I may be able to travel with you.
We also enjoyed Brooklyn Roasting Company-and right on the water, it's a fun location to grab an iced coffee and take a walk in DUMBO. I had the Maple Shay, iced and it was amazing!
Favorite Eats in Brooklyn
We also stopped in at Mile End Delicatessen for some Montreal style (gasp!) bagel sandwiches. They were delicious, of course! The meat was smoked in house, everything on the sandwich served in the steaming hot, hearty deli-style I remember growing up. And the bagels were interesting-thinner, chewier, and a touch sweeter than New York style bagels. I'd highly recommend stopping there if you're in Brooklyn.
Instead of going for New York Style pizza, we went classic Neopolitan. I have no regrets. After our jaunt through the botanical gardens, we found Keste Pizzeria in Williamsburg where the chef was from Naples and well known in the pizza world. We had some things we had fallen in love with while in Pompeii and Sorrento last fall, including the arancino, a fried ball of risotto usually packed with yesterday's leftover meats and herbs. One of my favorite snacks from Sorrento and such a fun thing to taste again!
Another favorite for us was the DeKalb Market Hall, a more approachable take on the famous Chelsea Market. I loved my Porchetta sandwich from Bread and Spread, and on another visit, I grabbed an amazing hazelnut and almond croissant from a french bakery. If nothing else, I loved strolling and seeing the fun options.
Favorite Sites and shops in Brooklyn
We stopped into the adorable garden store, GRDN after our breakfast at Mile End and, again, Stephen had to talk me out of buying every single terra cotta planter they had. I'm having a bit of a moment with aged terra cotta right now.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden is worth it-I think we walked 4.2 miles to get to the botanic garden, but it was so worth it. Because of Stephen, I have learned to adore gardens, and this one made for a lovely escape from the bustle of the city. It was actually super romantic-we got caught in the rain while strolling through the Japanese gardens and ducked into the Koi Pond pagoda for shelter until the rain slowed. We sat together on a bench and quietly listened to the rain fall on the blue-green koi pond and felt such a sense of romance and peacefulness. It was one of my favorite moments of our trip. Bonus points, I finally go to see the Brooklyn Boathouse! I was an ardent fan of the movie 27 Dresses about 10 years ago and have always wanted to see this particular spot.
We loved walking the shops and restaurants on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg and, my one moment of fangirling was wen I dragged Stephen to Momofuku Milk Bar. I love Master Chef and think Christina Tosi is a legend, so naturally I couldn't wait to show him the desserts. I have to say-I was underwhelmed. It was merely a drop off site and looked a lot like a convenience store display of cookies. We ended up leaving empty handed and a little disenchanted. Christina Tosi, you're still a legend though!
So our general consensus: You can have Manhattan. We have no desire to spend more time in that borough. But I'd definitely go back to Brooklyn. I have other places I'd go first (um, back to France, please??) but I know we'd have a great time, if we were back in Brooklyn and that makes me happy!