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There’s something about a New York City summer weekend, especially on a holiday.
Most Manhattanites flee the city for the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore, turning the normally hectic metropolis into a more laid-back town where it’s easy to find affordable Manhattan hotels and book prime-time dinner reservations at popular restaurants.
In other words, summer weekends are the perfect time to visit NYC restaurants and attractions without worrying about long lines and reservations. This applies whether you’re planning a five-day New York itinerary or just a weekend visit like we did.
Don’t get us wrong. We love our home city of Philadelphia. But, after stepping out of our room at the Duane Street Hotel and looking at the buildings rising into the Manhattan sky, we realized how lucky we are to live just a couple hours from NYC.
With its endless skyline, dense neighborhoods, cornucopia of entertainment and ubiquitous dining, New York is the epitome of urban life around the world.
Though not the typical summer beach destination, New York City is a great place to visit for a weekend during the warm summer months. Whether you decide to take a food tour, browse through the city’s world-class museums or see a Broadway show, here are our some of our favorite fun things to do in NYC in the summer. Not surprisingly, most of these activities involve eating NYC food!
Lunch at Dominique Ansel Kitchen
After breezing up the turnpike through the almost nonexistent mid-weekend holiday traffic, we parked on the street (free and ample street parking is another advantage to New York holiday weekend travel), checked into our cosy Tribeca hotel room and immediately headed to our first stop – the newly opened Dominique Ansel Kitchen.
Some of our readers may recall our previous holiday visit to Dominique Ansel Bakery, a mecca for food-obsessed fans who lined up around the block for the ridiculously popular cronut last year. Since the spring opening of Dominique Ansel Kitchen, Chef Ansel has expanded his culinary portfolio to include savory items like tartines and grilled sandwiches.
The cafe, with its small amount of indoor tiered benches and outdoor seating, provides quick service for on-the-go city dwellers as well as for hungry travelers such as ourselves.
No exaggeration here – Ansell’s croque monsieur is the best that we’ve ever tasted, even in France. Thick, house-made bread provides a platform for savory country ham and funky gruyere cheese.
After a visit to the grill, juices from the cheese and meat liquefy the artisan bread slices, creating a melty, oozy wonder. Plus, the cheesy sandwich is more than big enough to share.
A visit to DA Kitchen would be incomplete without dessert.
We opted for the enormous Extra Fluff Mille Feuille. This dessert proved to be more spectacle than substance – a difficult to eat mess that somehow lacked the delicacy normally found in a great Napoleon.
Next time, we’ll share a DKA, Ansell’s take on a Koughin Amann or the 1:1 Lemon Yuzu Butter Tart. Or maybe we’ll try the burrata ice cream.
Dominique Ansel Kitchen is located at 137 7th Avenue S, New York, NY 10014, United States.
Dinner at Bâtard
Restaurateur Drew Nieporent’s Bâtard is classic New York dining at its finest, featuring meticulous dishes created by James Beard winner, Chef Markus Glocker. The cutting-edge food at Bâtard manages to maintain a comforting accessibility and affordability while showcasing the best flavors of both America and Glocker’s native country of Austria.
Situated in a trendy Tribeca spot formerly occupied by Nieporent’s previous restaurants Montrachet and Corton, the restaurant’s relaxed square dining room features monotone relief sculptured walls bathed in a subtle orange light that makes the dining experience feel special.
Dinner at Bâtard is a great value for a luxurious New York City dining experience. We shared a total of six courses between the two of us beginning with a thick, tender slice of pastrami spiced octopus and rich fennel tagliatelle dotted with delicate sturgeon caviar.
We’d be remiss not to mention the rare veal tenderloin wrapped in a butter pastry crust, the simple yet perfect roasted Amish chicken and the coffee and milk “kardinal” signature dessert. We enjoyed the meal with a food-friendly Beaujolais from Bâtard’s comprehensive, eclectic wine list.
As we exited Bâtard, Daryl couldn’t help but notice the shiny metal duck press stationed by the restaurant’s front door window. “It’s for decoration,” the manager standing at the door stated.
After our sensational meal, we couldn’t help but wonder whether this laser skilled kitchen couldn’t put the press to good use.
We missed the fireworks, but, with food like this, we didn’t mind. Also, we’ll be there with bells on if the restaurant ever starts using the duck press.
Bâtard is located at 239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013, United States.
National September 11 Memorial and Museum
Visiting this powerful museum during a holiday weekend allows a peek at the moving monument at the site of& the original twin towers without throngs of tourists.
The moving tribute to the victims of the September 11 attack features artifacts and testimonials from the tragic event, though we were particularly moved by viewing the long list of names at ground zero.
Breakfast at Russ & Daughters Cafe
Though we’re still bummed by the closure of the original Ess-A-Bagel shop, we’re encouraged by the opening of Russ & Daughters Cafe – a great development for bagel and lox lovers such as ourselves.
Russ & Daughters has long been a go-to location for the finest sliced lox, but making your own sandwiches can be cumbersome when you’re staying at a hotel. Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper solved this problem when they opened Russ & Daughters Cafe last year in the heart of the Lower East Side neighborhood.
The cafe doesn’t take reservations, but this is not an issue on a holiday weekend. (Note the trend here.) That being said, a wait isn’t such a bad thing when you can walk around the formerly poor, currently upscale neighborhood while you wait for a text that your table is ready.
We recommend that you commence your meal by sharing a nosh, the Super Heebster Bagel Toast – a toasted bagel slice topped with a generous amount of whitefish and salmon salad and garnished with wasabi-infused roe and horseradish dill.
Did we like the crunchy, toasted bagel half with a savory smoky mash of fish topped with tiny, spicy pearl of caviar? Yes we did – enough to order a second one in lieu of dessert.
We also shared The Classic, a board with Gaspé Nova Scotia smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion and capers. This dish brought back fond memories of our youth with lox sliced so thin you could see through it.
These bagel boards expand to feed larger crowds of diners as witnessed by the generous board filled with all varieties of smoked delicacies that fed a party of six seated across from us. Next time, we’re coming back with friends.
Russ & Daughters Cafe is located at 127 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, United States.
Late Lunch at Lolo’s Seafood Shack
For our last meal of the weekend, we headed uptown to Harlem for some lip-smacking Caribbean soul food. Lolo’s Seafood Shack is another new-ish restaurant in Manhattan that is bringing excitement to the dining scene.
Helmed by Raymond Mohan and Leticia (Skai) Young, this Harlem restaurant was the perfect place to end our New York City holiday weekend.
Located in a former Chinese takeaway restaurant, Lolo’s Seafood Shack looks small on the outside, but the restaurant sports a delightful backyard garden with picnic tables and funky decor. If you squint your eyes, you can almost imagine yourself transported to an island eatery.
At the end of the day, what makes Lolo’s Seafood Shack special is the food.
The flavors of the various dishes are spot-on from the fresh seafood pots to the island snacks. Chef Mohan grew up in Guyana, and he brings the tastes of his childhood to New York City.
Lolo’s Seafood Shack is located at 303 W 116th Street, New York, NY 10026, United States.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.