Oh Hello Jo — A Few Favourite Things: NYC

Words:
Jo Rosenthal

I get this question a lot: what is your favorite ______? For people visiting New York or for those looking to spice up their NYC lives, I figured I’d make a list of my favorite things to do and see and experience. If you’re like me and you don’t always have the budget, I’m including things of all price points because it’s just more realistic. I find that when websites do listicles, they forget that not everyone is a billionaire and not everyone has the ability to throw their wallets into the ocean. Anyways, here is a list of everything I think is fabulous.

EATING
I’m supposed to be gluten and dairy free, but sometimes I cheat and just hope that my digestive enzymes kick in. I’m also allergic to apples, but when apple cider donuts are in season, I can’t help but want to eat 16 and stay indoors while my face swells and I’m laughing the entire time. As you know, I live in Greenpoint, but for eating I either like to cook or venture out of my neighborhood to experience new spots…I like to keep the old ones near and dear though. Because of the cold weather, I’ve been thinking a lot about ramen, but I’m not afraid to eat ice cream, even if it’s snowing outside. Here is a short list of my go-to’s for when cooking at home just isn’t cutting it.
Peter Pan Donut– supposedly the highest rated bakery in Brooklyn, this spot opens up at 4:30am so you can go there after leaving the club. It stays open until 8pm, but I’d recommend going there early because the best flavors sell out the fastest.
Bubby’s – If you’re like me, you’re obsessed with everything pancake related. This spot always has a really long wait, but I promise it’s worth it. They have the best breakfast I’ve ever had and it’s close by soho to walk off the calories after.
Eataly – I can never get enough of italian food. When I’m really old and dying, I want spaghetti sauce put into an IV. Eataly is the supermarket of all supermarkets. It has everything from fresh pasta to fresh bread and pizza and the best fruits and veggies. Again, it’s a little pricey so I’d recommend going after payday or when you’re feeling special. Lifehack: they sell dollar oysters on Fridays.
Ramen Lab – I miss Japan everyday. I think about the food, the culture and how beautiful it is. Truly, it is one of the most special places I have ever been. Ramen Lab is as close as you can get to Japanese ramen because every month they bring a ramen shop from Japan over to this cute spot to do a pop-up. It’s also super authentic because there’s no seating and everyone has to stand really close together at the bar.

Takahashi Sushi 
– While eating sushi might not be the best thing to do right now because of the current state of the climate, I sometimes can’t resist. This sushi spot is top notch. On any night you can spot a celeb or some funky dressed locals. The wait staff also makes you feel super at home. My mom and I went here on X-Mas eve and we ate an entire sushi boat for two. It was fantastic. I love going here because they also have an amazing sake menu and you can draw on the bathroom walls. The prices are pretty good too.
Union Square Farmers Market – I love fresh produce and I love that New York has so many beautiful farms upstate. At this market (which is every Monday, Wednesday and Friday) you can shop through some of the freshest veggies, fruits and meats from local farms in the state. They also have multiple garden stands for fresh flowers, a compost bin for food waste and lots of free samples.
SHOPPING
Ever since I got myself out of credit card debt, I’ve been trying really hard to not get into trouble. It’s sort of working in my favor, but I can’t resist a good sale or tasteful window display. While online shopping is at an all time high, I still find pleasure in going into stores and touching garments and talking to the people who work there. Call me old fashioned, but I think it’s sometimes super fun.
Here are some favorite places I love to browse:
Bode – Emily Bode is hands down one of the most talented designers of our time. She regularly shows in Paris, but just opened the most beautiful store on Hester Street in Chinatown. Everything from clothing to the window displays to the architecture of the store is tender yet shoppable. I should note that it’s pretty pricey and mostly men’s clothing, but it’s one million percent worth seeing. It’s also around the corner from Scarr’s pizza, which is my favorite pizza joint.
Opening Ceremony – OC recently announced that they’d be closing their doors sometime in 2020. It’s super unfortunate because they had such a multitude of beautiful garments in there that I never left empty handed. I also appreciate how they have expensive things, but also things that are super affordable AND there’s always a great sale. The employees are pretty cute too. They haven’t announced exactly when they are closing for good, so I’d recommend going there to shop fabulous pieces before it’s too late.
10 Corso Como – Another extremely expensive shop with a fantastic store and great vibe. My dear friend Jeni works there so if you go in, tell her I said hi. When it’s their sale, prices are so incredible it’s hard not to walk away with something. This is also a great place to take parents because there are so many funky home objects to fall in love with. At this shop, there’s really something for everyone.
ART
When I was thinking about my favorite spots to see art, I originally planned on putting some ‘must see’ shows. Because shows come and go like rain in NYC, I’ve decided to put my favorite art institutions instead.
The Cloisters – generally it’s closed most of winter, but it’s hands down my favorite museum in New York. It’s a train and bus/walk to the museum, but it’s probably the most beautiful walk ever. They also have a giant garden filled with medieval plants and some of the most beautiful views New York has to offer. I’d recommend bringing a packed lunch because their cafe isn’t the best. It’s also a wonderful date spot.
David Zwiner – Every time I’ve seen a show here, I’ve been wowed. You have to check it out for yourself, just be warned that everyone who works there has a little bit of an attitude.
Karma – If you want to spot celebs and see an amazing collection of books and art, this spot is for you. The people there are super nice and there’s always something eye-catching.
Printed Matter – I am so grateful for Printed Matter because it’s the most beautiful and finely curated bookstore/hangout spot that New York has to offer. There are two locations, so it’s important that you check out both. Tell them I sent you and they might be able to uncover one of my early zines. Seriously, you could spend an entire day here. SIGHTSEEING These are all pretty self explanatory. Some of my favorite spots for beautiful views of the city. I know they might be tourist traps, but there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in your own city…or being a tourist in another city!
BEAUTY
2019 was the year of realizing how important self-care is. For instance, if we don’t wear sunscreen everyday, we are basically poisoning our skin. While at first I started with simple moisturizers and shampoos, I realized that my skin (just like everyone’s) is different and needs to be treated with a lot of care. There are thousands and thousands of products out there, so it’s important to find the right ones for you. While I tend to be very frugal, I think skin products are something that should be the best quality that they can be. I’ve tried tons of facial spots and hair salons and I’ve lowered it down to these four essential spots for when you need a pick me up.
Daphne Salon – their facials and body wraps are no joke. I felt like I sweat out years of toxins and I was so happy with my services that I even booked some for my mom. This spot is super pricey, but I promise it’s worth it. If you go, make sure you ask for Jade. The entire spa is super small, but they know how to take care of you. You’ll not only leave feeling super refreshed, but you’ll leave feeling lighter and if you’re lucky they might even give you some free Biologique samples.
Chillhouse – This spot not only makes the best matcha lattes, but everyone who works there is so friendly it’s as if they are family. This is my go-to spot for massages and manicures because their designs are amazing and their masseuses really know what they are doing. I rarely get gel manicures, but when I do I go to Chillhouse. It’s also extremely aesthetically pleasing in there and if you go, ask for Suzie, the social media coordinator. She’s a dear friend with probably the best skin and nails in NYC.
Shizen – During my almost eight years of living in New York, I’ve changed my hair color at least fifty times. Every time I need a refresh or a lifestyle change, I’ll go here and have them work their magic. Mai has been doing my hair for about four years now and she’s never done a bad job. They also play the best music in there and everyone who works there is an absolute style icon.
Sofie Pavitt – She’s the gal with a super long waitlist for facial services, but the most talented esthetician there is. She’s not only funny and absolutely stunning, but she can disect a person’s skin needs just by giving them a single glance. I loved talking to her and she made my skin feel as good as I’ve always wanted it to be.
MISCELLANEOUS

The things on this list are my go-to spots for fun, culture, parties and gin and tonics. I hope you like them because on your average night or day, you’ll find me at any of these spots.
Winnie’s Karaoke- this hidden gem in Chinatown has really great snacks and pretty much every song you could ever want to sing. All you have to do is buy a drink and you can sing all night long. Heads up- it’s cash only.
Sophies & Josie’s – $5 dollar drinks, shall I say more?
Transmitter Park – My favorite view of the city from Brooklyn Williamsburg Bridge- If you’re a good enough con, you can write your name somewhere on the bridge and no one will catch you.
Ice Skating – Bryant Park or Prospect Park, open until March. Washington Square Park- On a good day you can see this extremely talented guy playing a grand piano under the arch. The acoustics are fantastic.
East River Ferry – For beautiful views of the city, you’ll definitely want to take the ferry. It’s always on time and it cost the same as a subway ride.
Dymphna’s aka ‘hot guy bar’ – Very rarely do people ask me where one can see hotties. I recommend this bar. It’s filled with them.
Shopsins– There’s like a million things on their menu and the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten. They only do parties of four or less and they are a little grumpy, but I think it’s rather charming.
Mcnally Jackson– My favorite bookstore in NYC. Their ‘used books’ section is something that is definitely not to be missed.
Anyways…I really hope you like my NYC recommendations. I feel like a native New Yorker after living here for almost eight years, and so I’ve worked super hard to put together a list of spots that I promise you won’t hate. There are so many beautiful places to see and go to, all you have to do is open your door.