BaoBurg – Multi-cultural Tapas in downtown Williamsburg

Brooklyn has become over the past few years a hotbed for foodie culture to where many New Yorkers no longer look to Manhattan when determining where to have a night out on the town.  One of the biggest reasons that this is happening is Williamsburg’s exploding with new and innovative restaurants that have attracted some of the worlds best new chefs.  With this influx of unique talent, it has been difficult for new restaurants in the area to really find an innovative foothold with food pairings that you are unlikely to see else.  Yet on occasion you will get lucky enough to stumble across a restaurant like Baoburg, that not only serves deliciously unique food but also with its atmosphere transports its customers to version of modern South Pacific restaurant that is unlike anything we have been to in the city.

Located in a very unassuming restaurant space sharing a door with a ramen noodle shop, Baoburg is as off the beaten path as it gets in North Williamsburg.  With no sign adorning the outside of the building and the only signage being a large sandwich board outside, Baoburg is easy to walk past without noticing which would be a huge mistake.  While it would seem that the handful of tables at this restaurant would seem small, this restaurant feels a lot larger than it looks from the outside due to its exposed brick walls and extremely high ceilings.  The easy going nature of this restaurant starts first with the fantastic staff who are both helpful and attentive and is only bolstered by the reggae tunes coming from the speakers.

Beyond just the fantastic service, the real reason to make a visit to Baoburg is the incredible cuisine.  It is really hard to define what they do here but the best way to explain it would be to call it a mixture of traditional French and southeast Asian cuisine.  Don’t let this unique blend of food fool you as they have many traditional food items like crispy brussels sprouts, black bean dumplings nachos, mussels, and croquettes.  What really lets Baoburg stand out is the food that you normally wouldn’t find at other eateries like their duck leg confit noodles, seared duck breast noodles, and bacalao fritters.  There really isn’t a wrong choice to make here other than ordering to few options.  Most of the dishes come in tapas form so you won’t feel all that bad about ordering a few to many.  For an added bonus, don’t forget to order there amazing sangria which is made with flavored beer instead of wine and gives a unique kick to a great drink.

If you are looking for a new place in Brooklyn that can successfully blend unique flavors with traditional dishes then Baoburg is a must visit.  With fantastic service and even better cuisine, Baoburg will become your new go to spot located conveniently close to the L train.

http://baoburgnyc.com/

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5 Best Bars on the River in NYC

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Even though it is located in the North East, New York City can have some oppressively hot days and nights  that can only be escaped by either retreating into the confines of a room with the A/C on full blast or by heading to the Hudson or East Rivers to bask in the rivers life sustaining breeze.  Most New Yorkers try to avoid staying indoors as we spend most of winter there hiding from the elements so the only real option is to head to the river.  New York City is full of hidden and mostly unknown riverside bars that are perfect for any hot summer day or night.  Below are 5 of the top bars that only the most seasoned New Yorkers know about and are sure to improve any summer day.

Boat Basin – West 79th St. New York, NY:

Located right underneath the West Side highway this bar is probably as low key a restaurant/bar you are going to find anywhere in the Upper West Side.  It resembles more of a Florida dock bar than Manhattan hot spot, serving up cold beers and margaritas in an all open air environment.  The food served here is simple, sticking to all the classic cookout foods like burgers, dogs, and sandwiches chicken served to you in mostly plastic patio furniture.  The laid back atmosphere, huge outdoor space, and relatively cheap drinks are all selling points but the top reason to visit might be the amazing view you get of the Hoboken skyline which makes sunset the absolutely perfect time to go visit Boat Basin.

http://www.boatbasincafe.com/

North River Lobster Company – Pier 81 W 41st St. New York, NY:

Another low key bar located on the banks of the Hudson that has beautiful views of the New Jersey shore but lacks the crowds that you normally see with similar locations like the Frying Pan.  The bar here is about the size of a ticket taking window and is easy to find as the walls around it are full of ocean buoys.   The seating here is rather unique as they dock floating in the water connected by a walking plank which gives you a perfect place to catch a sunset.  One of the unique aspects of this bar is that it also has a boat which casts off ever hour and a half whose main feature besides the free ride is amazing seafood like peel and eat shrimp, fried shrimp po’ boys, or lobster rolls.  So not only can you get a cold beer and soak up the last rays on sunshine on a perfect summer night but you can also get a tour of the hudson river on a boat while eating some delectable seafood.

http://northriverlobsterco.com/

Crows Nest at the Water Club – East River 30th Street New York, NY:

Located on the East River right in midtown, this is a small area within a fantastic restaurant.  Located on the upper deck of the Water Club, this outdoor location is a perfect spot to take in amazing views of the Manhattan and the Brooklyn/Queens coastlines while sipping on cool summer drinks.  Only open during the summer season, this bar features a casual outdoor menu which is in contrast to the more formal dining found below at the Water Club.  If you are looking for a casual yet classy place to grab a drink in midtown during the summer, than this is your perfect spot.

http://thewaterclub.com/the-crows-nest/

La Marina – 348 Dyckman St New York, NY:

The only location located in the upper end of Manhattan, this Washington Heights location has great views of the George Washington Bridge and the Pallisades Park in New Jersey.  There are several different areas at La Marina where you can catch river views and grab a drink to watch the sunset over the GW Bridge.  Day or night this is a great place to relax and enjoy some time next to the Hudson River and is far enough away from central Manhattan that most tourists won’t venture this far.  Also, with $5 happy hour drinks, it becomes an affordable place to grab a cocktail especially by New York standards.

http://www.lamarinanyc.com/

 Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill – 4-40 44th Dr, Long Island City, NY:

The closest thing you are going to find to a snack bar in all of New York City and couple this with the fact that this bar is off the beaten track but and has one of the more perfect views of the Manhattan skyline makes a trip here completely worth it.  Serving a very simple menu of items like burgers, hot dogs, and corn makes this location about as casual as you are going to find in the city.  The seating is basically simple picnic tables lining the Queens side of the East River but what this bar lacks in decor in more than makes up with a view.  Being able to look almost unobstructed of the Manhattan skyline while sipping on a cold beer makes this the perfect place for any summer night.

http://anablebasin.com/

Four and Twenty Blackbirds – Pie you never want to stop eating

There are desserts you regret, desserts you remember, and in the rarest of cases desserts that you can never forget.  The art of sugary confection is truly a polarizing art and even better at dividing the masses when it is consumed.  Deep in the heart of Brooklyn exists a cozy little pie shop that serves up deep slices of food coma inducing goodness that can leave even the pickiest of patrons wanting more.  Three and Twenty black birds is the kind of places that you will brag to your friends about and upload photos of to your Facebook page.  There really is nothing better than a good slice of pie and Blackbirds is one of the best.

Located deep in the heart of Park Slope, Four and Twenty Blackbirds is a place that is very hard to stumble across and therefore is frequented mostly by locals and people on a mission for a great piece of pie.  The pie selection changes seasonally here so no one trip is exactly like the other.  There are a few exceptions to this rule as the apple pie which is by far the most famous and most popular is almost always available and a choice that is never a mistake.  The only mistake you could make is to forgo the homemade whip cream which is created exclusively in house and is the perfect compliment to any flavor you decide to choose.  Four and Twenty Blackbirds ingredients are all locally sourced from as close as possible so you know the delicious fillings and toppings are as fresh as possible.  Just make sure that you go early enough because you could get unlucky and show up when all the pies have already sold out, so make sure not to make that mistake.

The inside at this pie shop reminds you more of a mom and pop store mixed with coffee shop than a place that is famous for its desserts.  A places where they want you to sit, enjoy yourself, and stay awhile than stand in long lines and escort you immediately out a back door. With long wooden tables made for communal sitting and deep grey wood floors, Blackbirds really gives off a charming atmosphere that is only made better with a full slice of pie in front of you.  Since the daily pie selection usually hoovers around 5-10, asking the staff their favorites is always a good idea but there really isn’t a bad choice you could make.

The Four and Twenty Blackbirds can also be found in many of the delicious desserts found in many iconic New York restaurants like Shake Shake, Luke’s Lobster, and many others.  While you can find these pies in and around the city, you would be doing yourself an injustice if you didn’t visit the home location for a slice and the ability to sit back and relax away from the craziness that is New York City.  The next time your sweet tooth starts hurting and you are looking for that next great dessert experience, head over to Four and Twenty Blackbirds and prepare to indulge on the perfect pie.

http://www.birdsblack.com/

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5 NEW YORK CITY ADVENTURES: WHERE YOU THINK YOU SHOULD GO AND WHERE YOU SHOULD GO INSTEAD

There are many unique adventures to be had in New York City which continue to gather large crowds of people looking to replicate these once in a lifetime experiences.  They are written down in guide books and talked about on blogs and done over and over again for very good reasons but there are also well known experiences that unfortunately have morphed into tourist traps with long lines.  While these places might be more well known, there are very similar experiences that can often be much more authentic and enjoyable.  Here I hope to show you 5 of some of the most iconic experiences that New York has to offer, where you think you should go to find these events and where you should go instead.

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New York City Skyline

Where you think you should go…

When you think of seeing the New York skyline the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic Empire State Building soaring upward above the other large New York buildings.  Due to this, many people think that going to the top of the ESB is the best place to view the city but sadly this is not the case because not only does the ESB have some of the longest lines you are likely to see anywhere in the city to visit the roof viewing deck but you will also be paying a good deal more than some of the other building roofs.  Top that off with the fact that no picture you take will have the ESB in it means that this is not your best choice for taking that iconic New York photo.

Where you should actually go…

If you are looking for that iconic view of Manhattan than there really isn’t a much better place than the Top of the Rock.  Not only do you get a beautiful view of most of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey but you also get these views combined with one of the best views of the Empire State Building around.  Couple this with the fact you are paying much less than if you went to the top of the ESB and this is a no brainer.  From the north side of the building you can also get a fantastic view of the park makes this a fantastic spot to take your pictures and brag to your friends with that awesome photo you just took.

Eat Some Fantastic Italian Food

Where you think you should go…

Your first instinct is going to be to go visit Little Italy in lower Manhattan, and why not it has Italy right there in the name.  While this neighborhood used to be full of authentic restaurants, shops, and bakeries these are sadly now few and far between.  You are more likely to find large groups of tourists and average pasta than that iconic New York Italian experience you were hoping for.  Yes there are a few amazing places still around here but Little Italy now has a store that sells Christmas items all year round which should tell you all you need to know about how much this neighborhood has changed.

Where you should go instead…

While slightly off the beaten path, Arthur Avenue up in the Bronx is everything you would look for in a Little Italy experience in New York.  This street gives off a 1960’s Bronx Tailneighborhood feel with small stout buildings with large store front windows.  Most of the restaurants here will not disappoint with home made pastas and brick oven pizzas that will impress even the pickiest eaters.  Try Zero Otto Nove for delicious pizzas or Roberto’s for home made pastas in an iconic Italian restaurant setting.  Really anywhere on Arthur Avenue won’t disappoint.  The charm of Arthur Avenue is not just in its restaurants but also in its many stores, markets, and bakeries.  Check out the Arthur Avenue retail market for amazing cheeses, hand rolled cigars, and the most amazing casual beer/wine hall you are likely to find in the five Burroughs.

Looking for a True Chinatown Experience

Where you think you should go…

Chinatown in Lower Manhattan is rich with history and culture but it unfortunately is dwindling with every passing year as this Chinatown gets smaller and smaller.  While there are still some restaurants with some amazing food (America’s Greatest Noodle Town is a personal favorite), these places are getting harder to come by as rising rents push out these once hubs of the community.  Still a great place to get inexpensive produce and fish in the right places, you often have to fight through large crowds of people to get there.

Where you should go instead…

Flushing Queens for the past few years been considered the real New York Chinatown and is the second fastest growing Chinese community outside of China.  Both the cultural and food scene have exploded over this time often being featured on shows like Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’.  Boasting some very large Chinese goods markets and restaurants like Xi’an Famous Foods, you will see why this is such an up and coming neighborhood.   Located only a short distance from Manhattan and easily accessible using the 7 train, Flushing is a fantastic place to soak in Chinese culture without having to take a 15 hours flight.

Looking for Some Amazing Cupcakes

Where you think you should go…

The TV show Sex and the City really made Magnolia Bakery a must visit for any tourist visiting the city.  It has gotten so popular that they have expanded beyond there original West Village location and can now be found all over the city.  While Magnolia does have one of the best banana puddings in the city, the cupcakes for which they are famous are definitely not worth the lines and the hype.  Those looking to fulfill some desire to relive the TV show will find good cupcakes but not ones you will be talking about for months to come.

Where you should go instead…

While there are many bakeries churning out fantastic bakery goodness, our recommendation is Two Little Red Hens in the upper east side.  A charming establishment which is filled with locals looking to satisfy their sweet tooth and not with tourists looking to relive an old TV show.  You can’t go wrong with any of the cupcake flavors here and they also come in two different sizes so if you can’t make a choice just get a bunch of the bite sized versions.  Eating a cupcake here is truly an experience worth having!

Looking for a Fun Time in Times Square

Where you think you should go…

The movies have made Times Square seem like a magical place but any New Yorker will tell you they avoid it like the plague.  Unless you enjoy getting harassed by grown men in costumes, need to get an overpriced caricature of yourself, or really need to eat at the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant you should really avoid it here at all costs.  Maybe worth going for a quick photo opportunity, most locals don’t understand the appeal of the bright lights and even bigger crowds.  Throw in large groups of tourists who have forgotten how to walk and you wonder why the Times Square subway stop give most New Yorkers nightmares.

Where you should go instead…

Literally anywhere else!  New York is full of rich history and culture that is hard to imagine why many flock here.  Go explore the Lower East Side or venture off into Brooklyn and make your own adventure!

New York Transit Museum – Over 100 Years of New York Transit

New York City is filled with museums showcasing the most amazing art and history that the world has to offer.  With the size of New York City and its age means that there are many unique aspects of the city that need to be highlighted along with these other museums.  The transit system in New York City is an often complained about and overlooked part of the city of which accounts for millions of riders each and every day and has been around for over 100 years.  Deep in the heart of Brooklyn Heights is a museum highlighting the years of history and what makes the transit system so special to the city of New York.

The New York Transit Museum is slightly different than most museums in the city starting first with its entrance, which is not some grand staircase upwards to giant doors but a stairway descending down into the city streets. The museum is located at a decommissioned Court Street subway stop in Brooklyn that has the museum built below the city streets.  Of course adding to this subway station theme has patrons entering and exiting the museum through subway turn styles and purchasing a ticket from an employee who is in an old subway station booth.

The most unique and interesting sections of this museum is absolutely the bottom floor which features subway cars from every period since the subway was opened over 100 years ago.  From subway cars with actual leather straps hanging from the ceiling to others whose seat coverings are made from what can only be described as wicker twine, being able to touch and walk through 100 years of history gives you a unique perspective on what it was like to commute so many years ago.  The subway cars also have period appropriate advertisements which can be equal parts funny and nostalgic.  The museum also has subway train parts that you can touch and pickup and really understand how large and powerful these machines really are.

The subway cars are not the only exhibits worth visiting here as the Transit Museum doesn’t just focus on the subway but also includes sections dedicated the New York bus system as well as all the electronics that make these massive infrastructures work.

If you are looking for something new and different to do while still getting to view a unique part of New York’s history than the Transit Museum is a must visit.  The museum is a truly immersive experience that not only lets you see history but also lets you interact with it.  All these things make the New York Transit Museum a must visit the next time you are in Brooklyn!

New Yorker Tip: Membership to the Transit Museum comes with some really interesting perks which include tours of the old City Hall subway stop as well as other historic transit and unique transit locations. Being a member is the only way to be able to tour these locations so it makes membership to this museum pretty special.

http://web.mta.info/mta/museum/

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The Commodore – Giving a Brooklyn spin to the dive bar

Brooklyn is often seen as the hipster capital of New York City with its uniquely styled restaurants and equally colorful drinking scene.  Often conflicting with the in image from the usually posh Manhattan food/drink scene by having a much more laid back nightlife.  Dive bars being the pounding heart and soul of this Brooklyn identity, perfectly complimenting the local crowd that frequents this neighborhood.  From bars that have arcade games from the 80’s or ones that have rows of skee ball machines, they might not be fancy but they definitely have character and excitement.

One such bar is the Commodore, which features dive bar decor, fantastic bar food, and mixes it up with some amazing frozen drinks that you would never expect from a hole in the wall Brooklyn bar.  When you first step into the Commodore, the decor looks as if the owners had spent about 5 minutes trying to create a ship themed ambience and then gave this up completely to finish the decorating with whatever was laying around.  You can see this in the 2 or 3 ship related decorations dotting the walls to the large hole in the canvas awning that looks like was cut to remove the previous bars name that was never patched up.  Don’t let the low key furnishings and lack of signage dissuade you from entering this Brooklyn hideaway as it is the ideal location to spend hours with friends catching up over cans of Miller High Life and shots of whiskey.  The inside has the look of a bar built and furnished in the late 1970’s with its dark leather booths and yet still retains the charm of the perfect New York dive bar with its laid back atmosphere and fantastic bar food.  The Commodore also hosts a rather large outdoor patio in the back which is great for when you are looking to escape the fast paced street lifestyle of the city with a drink in hand.

Unlike most dive bars, one of the unique features of the Commodore is its amazing drink selection complete with well crafted cocktails and some of the best frozen drinks in the entire city.  Yes, you read that correctly this unassuming dive bar creates out of this world mudslides, margaritas, and pina colada’s among other frozen concoctions that are the perfect decision on a hot summer day in New York.  What else would be more uniquely Brooklyn than a old school dive bar that specializes in frozen cocktails?  Beyond cocktails, the Commodore also serves up a great selection of whiskey and bourbon as well as great beers on tap that will satisfy any drinkers palate.  Complimenting a fine array of booze is a fantastic menu of delicious bar food.  From the burger (which might be the favorite on the menu), to the huge nacho platters, to even a great brunch selection, the Commodore serves up bar food that won’t disappoint.

If you are looking for a relaxed bar that you can spend hours hiding away from the cold or a place to grab a frozen drink and enjoy the sun then the Commodore is your ideal spot.  A mix of great food and a great atmosphere make this a must visit spot whenever you are looking for a casual night out in Brooklyn.  Like the sign says on the outside window, the Commodore is a great place to get boat drunk!

New Yorker Tip: If you are ever looking for an easy way to get a free drink, send the Commodore a post card from anywhere outside the surrounding area and the free drink will be yours!  They will also mount the postcard up above the bar so make sure its a good one!

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New York Historical Society – New York’s History Museum

Located directly across the street from the world renown National History Museum is the equally impressive but slightly less known New York Historical Society which is actually the oldest museum in the entire city.  The museum was founded in 1804 and after operating from a variety of different locations opened its current location on the west side of Central Park in 1908.  Giving New Yorkers a unique take on history for over 200 years, the NYHS is one of the most unique historical gems in the city.

While the city of New York might contain some of the most well known and famous museums in the world, very few of them actually focus on the city itself which is what helps the NYHS stand out.  While this museum does contain exhibits and collections from throughout the history of America, it does feature and highlight historical significant periods that are specific to New York.  Short term exhibits come through constantly at the NYHS like the one that highlighted the history of the Harlem Rens, the highly successful all black basketball team which played in Harlem starting in the 1920’s.  Exhibits are in constant rotation at the museum so that every visit you make will feel different than the last.

The NYHS also features a children’s museum which brings the same historical context of the main exhibits but is taught through the use of digital games, interactive exhibitions, and character based learning.  The children’s museum is geared towards children aged 8-13 and great for any family interested in a uniquely geared learning experience.  Like the main museum, the exhibits in the children’s museum focus on the history of New York but also features other areas of American history.  One of the main draws of the museum beyond its fascinating rotating exhibits are its permanent collections display located on the top floor of the museum.  This houses its extensive collection of artifacts and objects that at most museums would be in secluded storage but at the NYHS is available to view.  From stone mile markers that were used in the early 1800’s to a unique display of Tiffany lamps, there is a diverse array of historical objects to be viewed here.

While the New York Historical Society Museum isn’t the most well known museum that Manhattan has to offer, its wide array of exhibits and its unique interpretation of its historical objects make it a must visit.  Whether you are looking to become a little more knowledgable about New York or looking for a great place to bring your family on a rainy day, the NYHS has all you could want and more.

New Yorker Tip: The NYHS building also features a fantastic research library which is available to use with an appointment.  Books and manuscripts which are hundreds of years old are available during your visit.  Very few museums grant such unique access to materials and is a one of a kind place to visit for any history lover.

http://www.nyhistory.org/

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