Editor’s Note — if you’re looking for additional New York City recommendations, here are some other posts to check out:
- Life Lately December 2022
- Life Lately October 2022
- Life Lately August 2022
- A Girls’ Weekend in New York City
- A Bachelorette Party in New York City
- My President’s Day Weekend in New York City
- New York City Travel Guide
- New York City at Christmastime
- Champagne at Bergdorf Goodman
- How I Spent a Very Rainy Friday in New York City
I capped off a great year of 2023 travel with a trip to New York City for New Year’s Eve! To ring in 2022, Emma and I went down to Charleston, South Carolina for several days and had the best time, so when she invited me to join her and her cute dog, Jackson, to NYC to ring in 2023, it was a no brainer. I traveled up on the 29th of December, and came home on New Year’s Day, and it was the perfect amount of time to enjoy the city at the end of the holiday season.
Since I spend a lot of time in New York City — both for work and for personal reasons — I keep a running list of restaurants I want to try and bars I want to go to. Emma, being the great friend that she is, took my NYC bucket list and put together an amazing itinerary for my trip. We pretty much ate and drank our way through the city, and then spent time back at Emma’s apartment enjoying the classic sitcom Golden Girls and getting ready for the amazing New Year’s Eve party she hosted. It was such a fun trip, and I am excited to share where we dined with you today!
RIDING IN STYLE ON AMTRAK FIRST CLASS —
With my Amtrak status, they drop coupons into my account from time to time, and I was lucky enough to have one to use to upgrade my business class Acela seat to first class.
If you’ve never taken Acela first class, it is one of my favorite ways to travel. The second you board, the Amtrak staff is so attentive — they bring you a beverage before the train leaves the station and are great at monitoring refills throughout the trip. They also have a great menu of both hot and cold foods — I have opted for the cheeseboard both times I’ve taken first class and have never been disappointed. Food and beverage is complimentary with your ticket, so for me, it’s a very valuable coupon. (You can also buy Acela First Class tickets outright, but I have never splurged for one — I’ve only upgraded via coupon.)
When I arrived at Moynihan Train Hall, I hopped on the subway up to Emma’s apartment, and we enjoyed a little happy hour together before heading out for dinner.
DINNER AT BALTHAZAR —
Balthazar is a New York classic, and I have long wanted to go to the SoHo brasserie serving up French fare. If you love Le Diplomate in DC, you’ll love Balthazar — the atmosphere and food at both establishments are very comparable.
Emma and I started with some delicious baked cheese poppers as an amuse-bouche and then I did the steak frites as my entree. I also tried their Le Balthazar cocktail, which features Grey Goose, Grand Mariner, lime, and a splash of champagne, served with a lemon twist. I am not usually a big cocktail girl, but this one was fantastic.
A NIGHT CAP AT MANHATTA —
We had dinner on the earlier side, so we popped down to Manhatta in the Financial District — next time you’re in NYC, make sure this place is on your list! I loved it and would go back any day of the week. It’s located on the 60th floor and has amazing views of New York City — the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more.
We arrived around 7pm without a reservation and were seated in the bar area after about a 15 minute wait. It definitely is a popular spot, so we were lucky to be able to walk-in — as such, I would definitely recommend a reservation, especially if you’re looking to eat a meal there. (I’ve heard the food is equally as amazing as our night cap experience!)
Manhatta has an extensive cocktail list — I did the “bae room” and it featured Ketel One Citroen, Cointreau, millet rose, white cranberry, rosé, white tea, ginger, and a lime leaf. It might be one of the best drinks I’ve ever had!
When you go – definitely make sure you grab some matchbooks from the host stand; they are some of the more unique ones I have ever seen.
BRUNCH AT SADELLE’S —
The following morning, we went to Sadelle’s in SoHo for brunch, which I would highly recommend! They specialize in brunch and aren’t even open for dinner — and I think their singular focus allows them to do brunch really, really well.
They are known for their bagel towers that come with your choice of smoked fish and accoutrements. I am not a huge smoked fish fan, but the restaurant smelled so amazing because of the bagels, so I ordered one on the side to enjoy with my Cobb Salad. The food was all so good, but that bagel was especially delicious — and fresh out of the oven! They served it with both plain and chive cream cheese, both of which were great.
A MID-AFTERNOON COCKTAIL AT DANTE —
After brunch, we walked around for a while — it was an unseasonably warm day and it was nice to get moving after an indulgent meal. We ended our walk at Dante, a New York City landmark which first opened its doors in 1915. Because it was such a nice day, we were able to enjoy their beautiful “streatery” while enjoying some cocktails. I went for the Cosmo Spritz, which featured St. George Citrus Vodka, Lillet, Cointreau, and Sparking Wine.
It was the perfect afternoon pick-me-up, and I would love to go back to Dante for a proper meal!
DRINKS AT THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL —
Later that evening, we headed over to the Mandarin Oriental for a little happy hour. Their bar, The Mo Lounge, offered an amazing view of Central Park and we were lucky enough to catch the last few minutes of the sunset. We just stayed for one drink, but we really enjoyed it — it would be a great place for a pre- or post-dinner drink if you’re in the Columbus Circle neighborhood.
DRINKS AT THE BACCARAT HOTEL —
Following the Mandarin Oriental, we were trying to hotel hop and grab a drink at The Plaza, but they were only serving hotel patrons. As such, we decided to head to the Baccarat Hotel and I am so glad we did. We ended up up at The Bar and I am already dying to go back. With red mood lighting and upbeat music, it felt very Parisian. The service was excellent — as was the people watching.
I enjoyed a great Cosmopolitan — I was on a huge cocktail kick this trip! (And clearly channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw.) They also provided us a great bar mix of nuts to go along with our drinks.
DINNER AT MONKEY BAR —
For dinner, we went to Monkey Bar in Midtown Manhattan — it originally opened in 1936, was closed during the pandemic, and recently reopened! It offers an iconic, cozy vibe and timeless fare and is definitely one of my favorite meals that I have had in NYC. Emma and I did the vodka rigatoni, a burger, and the mashed potatoes. Everything was delicious. This would be a great place to visit with a group because there were so many things on the menu I wanted to try.
BRUNCH AT UPLAND —
On New Year’s Day, Emma and I met up with Monica for brunch at Upland, a California-inspired eatery done by Stephen Starr. I didn’t take a single picture of our food because we were so busy catching up on life — the sign of a great meal! I did a classic two egg breakfast combo with breakfast sausage and toast, and it was delicious. I’ve heard great things about the burger at Upland, but since I just had one for dinner the night before, I wanted to mix it up.
This was my first time spending New Year’s Eve in New York City — and I, for one, am glad that I didn’t come anywhere near Times Square this entire trip, hah! Other than DC, NYC is the city I’ve spent the most time in as an adult, and I am so thankful for all the memories it has provided me with over the years. To even more NYC trips in 2023! x