Katie Van Buren tells you the best spots to hit up in NYC!
Coffee: El Beit. I’m a caffeine addict. Not in the sense that I drink coffee all day every day because then my skin would be the pits but I’m the type of girl who literally cannot string a thought or a sentence together before my morning cup of Joe. So if you’re like me, you’ll definitely want to hit up café El Beit on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. This place has the friendliest and cutest baristas, tastiest coffee and a great atmosphere. I find this to be a great destination when I need to focus and get some work done. In fact, I am there right now as I type this and the words have never flowed faster! I have also made some great pals here. People seem more open than in your average coffee shop and on for the chats! Their back garden has an excellent seating area so it’s a perfect place to kick back when it’s hot out and it’s shaded so you can still manage to see your computer screen. Oh another major plus – it has a bathroom! This may seem like a given but believe it or not a lot of coffee shops in NYC don’t have restroom. So if you’re planning on sitting in and being productive while getting a caffeine high, this is your place.
Dinner with the girls: Hu Kitchen on 14th Street & Park Ave. Their desserts are to die for and also somehow healthy. So if you do end up going here, my food recommendations would be the following: chicken breast with broccoli and sweet potato sides. Their cinnamon dusted roasted pineapple is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. If we’re talking dessert, go for the almond butter truffles or the crack bar. Finally, you have got to try their almond and banana smoothie.
A first date: Houston Hall. This place has an chill yet buzzing atmosphere. Actually, come to think of it, it reminds me a lot of Dakota on South William Street. It’s perfect if you get stuck on a date that you don’t want to be on. It’s loud so the ‘just nod and smile’ technique works a treat and there’s always a hot bar man in sight to keep you distracted. But if the date’s going well, you’ll buzz off the energy of the place and be the best version of yourself keeping that newfound object of your affection in awe. They have great food and drinks here also. They specialise in beers and have a giant pretzel thingy that is delicious!
Cocktails: The Tippler. This bar is located in Chelsea Markets in the Meatpacking District and I just love it! It has a cool almost throwback vibe where you feel like you’re walking into a ‘20s gatsby-esque speakeasy as you descend into the basement. Cocktail speaking – the Moscow Mules here are fab. A little sneaky tip: the Irish charm can get you a frozen Moscow Mule if you flutter your eyelids fast enough.
To workout: McCarren Park. After three years of living here I have come to saddening conclusion that New York does not have four seasons like Mother Nature may claim it has, it has two. So when it comes to working out you must bear this in mind. There is only a couple of months of the year where working out outside is doable without getting sun stroke or frost bite. Usually April-July and then October to December are your safe zones. For the rest of the year I would recommend joining a gym. Lots of them do month to month memberships so it’s super doable! During these outdoor exercise months my favorite destination is McCarren park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It’s great because it has an astro turf running track. There’s also great areas in the park to get all your strength exercises done too.
A walk: The Williamsburg Waterfront. This is such an incredible stroll to take day or night. You can get right up to the waterfront and see the glorious unrivalled Manhattan skyline right there in front of you. This is usually the only cure you need for any hangover induced ‘fear’. It fills you with the biggest dose of inspiration and suddenly, as is always the case in New York – anything is possible. Make sure you bring your camera but take a moment to soak up the scene in the old fashioned way too, without that lens in your face!
Outdoor adventure: Prospect Park and Central park. Both these parks are magical to just stroll around and get lost in. There’s forests and animals and lakes and, best of all, fresh clean air! They are a perfect location for a day of freckle catching or chilling on a sunny Sunday, especially if you’ve had a hectic week and need a mind vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you want more of a hands-on activity rather than a leisurely stroll try horse riding in Prospect Park or in Central Park. Get thee to a row boat and re-enact the scene from Disney’s Tangled. Not that I’ve done that.
Karaoke: Arlene’s Grocery. Arlene’s grocery is the first karaoke night I visited in NYC. It’s located on Stanton Street in the Lower East Side and has a live karaoke band. This is karaoke at its best and most thrilling if you ask me. It’s the adrenaline rush that you don’t forget. Visit Arlene’s on Monday night, pay $10 to get in, walk up to the stage, select your song and when your name is called take to that stage, face any fears and sing your heart out like no one’s watching. If in doubt, use the Irish accent to win the audience over a little at the start. Tried and true.
Shopping: Thrifting, thrifting and more thrifting. I could talk about this subject all day because I love nothing more than that old antiquey smell and the thrill of finding a diamond in the rough that was probably worn by five people before me. However, I’m going to make it easier on us all and simply list off the best NYC vintage haunts that, if you’re a vintage lover, I think you have to visit (with deep pockets) while in the city.
Pampering: Primp and Polish. This is the best place to go for nail TLC and a massage. It’s a little bit pricer than your average nail trip but 100% worth it because you know what? You’re worth it! It’s just a lovely place to meet a friend and catch up and you can even bring a bottle of wine to share all the while your hands get the makeover of their lives. They are also incredible at nail art here. Any design, they can do! Make sure you mention when you call to book that it’s detailed nail art that you’re looking for and they’ll schedule you in with their top technicians who create museum worthy art on your fingernails! I used to be obsessed with choosing designs and I’ve gotten everything from the Manhattan skyline to poetry to pop art painted on my nails. I go to the location on Bedford Avenue but they have four different locations all in Brooklyn.