Hi everyone! So glad to return after the long holiday! Time for more great summer plans!
Gilligan’s at Soho Grand: Gilligan’s Bar and Restaurant is one of my favorite summer spots in New York City. Located on the left side of the Soho Grand Hotel, Gilligan’s is the perfect hidden space to have dinner and drinks on a summer night. It’s all outdoors, so you must add this to your list while the weather is still nice and warm! You wouldn’t notice this spot from the street, but once you walk in, you enter into a giant bungalow oasis. I especially love the decor here because of the beach umbrellas, wicker furniture, and giant palm leaves. I went on the earlier side of the evening, around 6:30pm, and got seated right away. You can be seated at a table in the courtyard area or at one of their multiple bars. They even have intermittent mist cooling systems around the bar, which is ideal on hot, humid nights. You must get the frozen watermelon margaritas that come in a mason jar glass and topped with fresh watermelon garnish. They are sweet, refreshing, and really pretty. Make sure to Boomerang cheers and add those to your Instagram story ASAP. We were also pleasantly surprised by their tasty food. We had a variety of dishes including hummus, a pizza, and a kale salad, which were all great!
Chefs Clubs Counter: Chefs Club Counter is an indoor food market (about a 10 minute walk from Gilligan’s) that curates popular dishes from the world’s greatest chefs in one single location. Everything is served either grab-and-go or grab-and-stay style, and are pretty quickly. Dishes from each chef are available in a limited quantity for a limited time, so make sure to pay attention to their schedule! Right now, the latest Chefs Club Counter pop up is out and it’s a super fun one! Odd Fellows Ice Cream Co. has created a carnival themed ice cream store complete with jugglers, stilt walkers, and a tented room. This (of course) features some creative flavors including a cotton candy creamsicle (vanilla and tangerine soft serve cone wrapped in orange cotton candy) and caramel popcorn soft serve with salted caramel injection, topped with salted caramel popcorn and chocolate pearls. It’s been open since June, but runs through the summer at 62 Spring Street.
Juice & Java: Juice & Java is a restaurant that originates from Miami, Florida. I wanted to add this to your Summer Friday to-do list (even though it's open all week/weekend) because the breakfast and lunch specifically are my favorite meals here. Juice & Java’s mission is to use only the finest, freshest, healthiest, and most natural ingredients, bringing them to you in creations that are both nutritious and delicious! They have definitely followed through, as I always crave their organic acai bowl with fresh banana, organic granola, strawberries, and shredded coconut. I loved this place from the moment I walked in because of the food, the energy, and the very welcoming staff. At first, I couldn't decide what to order because the menu is so expansive and all sounds guilt-free. I will definitely be back soon to try something else!
St. Ives Pop Up Shop: St. Ives probably sounds familiar from your walks down the aisles of Duane Reade. Now, only in New York City (about an 11 minute walk from Juice & Java), you can create a St. Ives product that’s uniquely your own! Stop by and customize your very own face scrub or body lotion with their 100% natural exfoliants, extracts, and moisturizers. It’s really easy to get lost at the Mixing Bar with ingredients like juicy pink lychee, zingy ginger, and invigorating volcanic sand. This was a lot of fun to do, and with over 50 ingredient combinations, there were so many ways discover my favorites! I have never seen a beauty bar quite like this. It’s actually a pretty big space for a popup and the decor is bright and fun, inspired by St. Ives’ fresh and natural ingredients. All custom face scrubs and body lotions retail for $12 each and are really cool to make!
The Good Sort: The Good Sort is an Australian coffee shop (about a 15 minute walk from St. Ives). They are most well known for their vegan, health-conscious foods alongside colorful beverages that almost look fake when you scroll past them on your social media feeds. We came here on a weekday and it was filled, but not too crowded. I had to order the rainbow latte (duh!), which is a blend of Matcha, beet, and turmeric. It's sweet, but not overly sweet, and has a slight taste of almond and cashew. The concept is really unique and the ingredients are all plant based. Seating is limited, so be prepared to get your drink and go on to your next activity!
Park Avenue Summer: Park Avenue Summer is a restaurant that changes its menu (and name!) seasonally. Therefore, you may recognize the names Park Avenue Autumn, Winter, or Spring as well. The same restaurant group that manages other great spots around the city such as Quality Meats and Quality Italian also manage Park Avenue Summer. They have a great menu that features seasonal fish, fruit, and vegetables. However, this summer, we recommend doing the PARK AVENUE WINE DINNER. This includes any appetizer, entrée, and dessert on the menu with unlimited tastes of wine from the following bottles: Pasqua, Seeker, Guenoc, and Antinori. This deal is available every night, but your reservation must be at 8:30 pm or later. It’s $65 a person for all of the above and let's face it, copious amounts of wine with dinner is always in season!
Craft Jam: Pom poms are definitely the hottest summer trend! I see them everywhere from beach bags to sandals and even outdoor party decorations. Did you know you can easily perfect the art of creating your own pom pom? I didn’t think it was possible; and if you’re like me, (having limited crafting experience) you could be hesitant to sign up for a pom pom making class at the Craft Jam studio in Chelsea. However, the most talented JamMaster Marisa (who I recommend you sign up with!) makes it simple, easy, and SO much fun with techniques and tricks that you can use with any DIY craft! In the two-hour class (which is THIS Saturday 1-3pm), you will learn how to make perfect pom poms. She will teach you how to shape and trim them to perfection and then string and attach them to make accessories and decorations. You’ll also learn how to make designs on the pom poms and how to make tassels! This class is VERY beginner-friendly with no experience necessary at all. You’ll have access to all the materials you’ll need including loome tools, beads, and vibrant colored yarns. Best part? You will leave with your very own handmade pom pom accessory! I have gotten so many compliments on my hot pink pom pom keychain that I feel like a true Etsy designer. This class is also BYOB! So grab your friends, a bottle of wine, and get your creative juices flowing. Use code “JAMMASTERMARISA” for 15% off your ticket this weekend.
Coney Island Art Walls: Coney Art Walls is an outdoor museum of street art curated by Joseph Sitt and Jeffrey Deitch. Located at 3050 Stillwell Avenue near the beach and boardwalk in Coney Island, the public art wall project presents over 20 new pieces done by several of the leading painters in New York. In the heart of the Coney Island Amusement District, Coney Art Walls is adjacent to the original Nathan’s restaurant and within walking distance of other famous Coney Island attractions. Now that it stays light out at night, this would be a great activity to do before dinner. The walls are super colorful, interesting, and make for a great artsy backdrop for your upcoming Instagram photo.
Gargiulos: Gargiulos (About a 6 minute walk from the Art Walls) is a wonderful alternative to all the food vendors and food trucks in Coney Island. This restaurant is best known for its classic, old school Italian menu and ambiance. I really enjoyed the soft bread that’s served piping hot as well as the zucchini sticks shaped like crinkle fries. I would definitely order the pasta dishes and a side of roasted vegetables again. Also, with the new Q subway line, it’s easier than ever to go back and forth from Manhattan!
Momofuku Milk Bar Baking Class: Milk Bar (a dessert shop serving unique compost cookies, truffles and frozen yogurt) has multiple locations in New York, Toronto, Washington, and most recently Las Vegas. Milk Bar bakeshops are most well known for Christina Tosi’s iconic cakes with unfrosted sides, better known as “naked cakes”, a trend she established in 2007. The cakes (birthday cake flavor being the most famous) instantly became insanely popular and soon Christina launched her very own cookbook. Now, you can also bake the recipes with Milk Bar’s top notch baking team. Sign up for the two-hour class (which is taught by flavor – we did the mint chocolate cake and truffles) where they teach you everything you need to know to make your milk bar favorites (and even some newer recipes) at home! All ages and experience levels are welcome and definitely encouraged. The classes are $95/participant and you can register as an individual or in groups of up to 5 at a time. All New York classes take place in the Williamsburg Brooklyn classroom at 55 Hope Street. The friendly staff greets you with a giant bow headband when you walk over to your station. The classroom is fully equipped with stand mixers, ovens, and space to spread out while mastering some of their most exciting recipes. I loved the class for multiple reasons! First off, the cakes are so delicious and you get to take everything you make home- I had enough cake in my fridge for weeks! Secondly, Milk Bar enhances your baking experience with fun music, stories explaining history of Milk Bar, and lots of samples along the way. New class dates and times are released at the beginning of every month.
NOT WORTH THE HYPE:
Gelso & Grand: Gelso & Grand is a new Italian restaurant nested in the heart of Little Italy. I instantly added this to my list of places to go after seeing pictures of their unicorn cannoli. Since unicorn desserts are trending all over the city, we of course had to go check this one out. I have to note, to my surprise, the actual appetizers and dinner (which wasn’t why we picked this place) were our favorite part. They have a bunch of different bruschetta appetizers, delicious pasta dishes, and an artichoke pizza that we really enjoyed. Then, time to get dessert. We received the dessert menu and the cannoli was nowhere to be found. I have to admit I got a little nervous, but once we asked the waitress she let us know that it's not on the menu but can be done at any time. In my opinion, they need to add that on there! Anyways, $20 later a giant unicorn cannoli filled with chocolate macaroons, Funfetti cake, coconut, pink icing, rainbow sprinkles, graham cracker, and possibly some other treats we didn’t even realize we devoured arrived at the table. The cannoli did not taste bad, but the mix of everything wasn’t that amazing. We had higher hopes that we would be on a major sugar high afterwards but found it more disappointing than enjoyable.
As always, feedback on our plans is welcomed AND encouraged. If you have been to any of these places and agree, disagree, or just want to share please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear your opinions!