Happy Labor Day Weekend, everyone! Sadly, this will be the last @yourweekendplans of the year featuring Summer Fridays! Don’t worry though! We will pack up your two-day weekends with creative and fun plans as always!
The Butcher’s Daughter: The Butcher’s Daughter is a plant-based restaurant, cafe, and juice bar located in the West Village. They also have a location on Kenmare Street in Nolita, where I first tried out their amazing dishes! I put this on the Friday portion of @yourweekendplans because it’s a small place that tends to get crowded due to the limited number of seats on the weekends. However, the staff is really nice and the service moves along well for how packed it gets! Their 100% vegetarian and mostly vegan and gluten-free menu changes daily. All of their juices are amazing, but I suggest the Honey Bee, made from honey, ginger, turmeric, and grapefruit. The atmosphere is super cozy with buckets of fruit, houseplants, and cacti succulents spread all over the countertops. A huge plus is the complimentary water AND seltzer with mint leaves brought to your table (little details like this always enhance my experience and any restaurant with free seltzer is a restaurant for us!). The top favorite menu items amongst our group were the Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad, any of the toasts, and the Coconut Yogurt Parfait (which reminded me a lot of an acai bowl). There is also outdoor seating here (you can’t miss their signature bright yellow furniture), so make sure to take advantage of your last Summer Friday outdoors!
Milk & Cookies Bakery: Milk & Cookies Bakery (about a 9 minute walk directly down Hudson Street) is one of my favorite bakeries in all of New York City! I probably say A LOT of places are my favorite, but this one holds a special place in my heart. My mom first discovered this cozy cookie shop when planning a tour of the West Village for my 16th birthday (now you see how @yourweekendplans is basically in my blood!), so I’ve been coming here for a pretty long time! These cookies and other tasty treats also make great gifts. I always smell the cookies baking as soon as I walk down the block because they are made fresh here everyday! My go-to is usually the M&M sugar cookie or a regular chocolate chip cookie. They are even better with ice cream in the middle, so be sure to ask for an ice cream sandwich made with any of their delicious cookie flavors! My most recent experience at Milk & Cookies was for a cookie decorating party! 8 of my friends and I took over the shop (at 8pm, near closing), pushed all of the tables together, and got to mix in an array of toppings into their famous plain Milk & Cookies dough! There were a ton of options to decorate with including mini marshmallows, graham crackers, cereals, all different kinds of chocolate, and peanut butter chips! There was also an assortment of cookie cutters in fun shapes! For $30, we got to take home a dozen of our (huge!!) custom flavored cookies, have a glass of coffee or tea, and had the experience of decorating together for as long as we wanted. There was music playing, the staff was so nice, even offering us samples of other bakery items, the cookies were amazing, and we got to experiment with different mix-ins, all whilst while catching up!
Black Seed Bagels: New York City has plenty of bagel shops, so it’s always hard to determine which are the best ones! For me, Black Seed quickly became one of the best bagels in town. The dough of these bagels has a great consistency and I think it’s actually more flavorful than others! Also, I should note that every time I take some home, they are still just as good a day or two after, which rarely happens for me! Anytime I stop by, bagels are always being made in their wood-burning oven which makes the chances of a warm bagel super high, even if it's not bright & early in the morning! These bagels are hand-rolled and on the smaller size, but they are just as satisfying. Bagels are so filling and heavy as it is, so I like that I don’t feel stuffed when I leave here! So far, my favorite order is an everything bagel with horseradish cream cheese, cucumbers, watermelon radish, and their famous house-made beet-cured lox!
Loopy Doopy Rooftop: Loopy Doopy Rooftop (about a 5 minute walk from Black Seed Bagels-Hudson Eat's location) is a rooftop bar at the Conrad Hotel that gives you perfect views of the Hudson River, Hoboken, and the Statue of Liberty! The main reason I came here was for the Instagram worthy drinks. I knew I had to order the Loopy Pop (based on the endless amount of photos on my social media feeds). Loopy Doopy uses ice popsicles specially made for them by People’s Pops with flavors like raspberry basil smash (made with fresh raspberries, basil, white rum, organic sugar, and filtered water) that melt into a glass of either Prosecco or wine to improve the flavor and help you get loopy! I chose Prosecco with a strawberry rose gin People’s Pop. It was very tasty, and wasn’t too strong (which I happen to really like!!). This drink is very pricey, so this isn’t a place I would go to have multiple rounds; you really are venturing here to get a quality Instagram picture with a gorgeous view and cool drink. Make sure to get your picture quickly because the ice pops melt fast! I would also recommend making a reservation, because it can get pretty busy! It’s definitely a great place to visit at least once this summer!
Bodega Negra: Bodega Negra is an upscale Mexican restaurant located inside the Dream Hotel Downtown. The ambiance inside is very romantic, with intimate candle lit decorations and cozy round booth seating. They do take reservations, which is always a bonus in our book and I have been seated immediately both times I’ve visited. Some highlights on the menu are the corn on the cob, which has chipotle aioli, queso cotija, and cilantro, the fried plantains, and veggie loaded tacos. The food was great, but it did remind me of any (really good) Mexican restaurant/menu. My recommendation would be to come here for a special occasion or celebration because dessert is definitely the best part. Make sure you order the mesmerizing Don Huevo, their signature treat. The name means Mr. Egg in Spanish, which explains the white chocolate dome's egg shape and the chocolate mustaches that are on both sides of it. As soon as it's put on the table, everyone immediately lifts their phones to get the perfect video of their server pouring hot caramel sauce over the chocolate dome, melting it so that it breaks opens beautifully like a flower. What's left when the dome opens up is a warm molten chocolate cake topped with horchata ice cream, surrounded by a melted sea of delicious white chocolate! It’s a dessert you’ll be talking about for a long time!
Gallow Green: Gallow Green, another rooftop bar (about a 16 minute walk from Bodega Negra) is another spot that I wanted to add to @yourweekendplans before the temperature drops! Gallow Green is situated on the roof of the McKittrick Hotel, and it’s a fantastic location to grab a post dinner drink! I basically just love the casual setting here since the whole roof is filled with benches, flower trellises, blossoming pots, and lit up trees every which way you look!
Friedman’s: Friedman’s is located on W 31st street, right by Herald Square, which is not the most desirable area in New York City! A few blocks from Penn Station and Port Authority, you’re probably thinking why on earth am I sending you here? First, it’s a great place to know if you are meeting friends that need to catch a train or bus. Also, the food is just really good! The menu has classic American breakfast, lunch, and dinner options that are all healthy, fresh, and tasty. They also have other locations, so if you ever see a Friedman’s near you, know it’s a solid place to go to! Lastly, we do want you to try this location for brunch because of the activities following. We promise you won’t be disappointed by their blueberry pancakes, egg white scramble with avocado and potato hash, or any of their sandwiches, which always come with these amazing caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms on top!
Besfren: Besfren is a modern version of a traditional Korean pastry shop (about a 6 minute walk from the Herald Square Friedman’s). As soon as they opened, they gave Levain a run for their money by creating the “chippiest” chocolate chip cookie in all of New York City! I mean, the best kind of chocolate chip cookies are the ones bursting with chocolate chips, and here they take this theory to the next level! The cookie is definitely bigger than the average cookie you’d fine at your local bakery, and is completely covered with chocolate chips! It has a soft consistency and the chocolate chips are more like thick chocolate chunks, so if you’re a chocolate lover like myself, it’s basically heaven! They also have a lot of other desserts to try including their original roll cakes in flavors such as earl grey and green tea. However, the cookie completely stole the show!
Besfren Beauty: Located RIGHT next door to Besfren, is Besfren Beauty. I discovered this place by accident, and I was so glad I did! I walked in here in search of the Besfren chocolate chip cookie and instead walked into a clean shiny mecca of skin creams, moisturizers, and a whole wall of facemasks! We are divulging one of our best-kept secrets (just for our fans!) by sharing that right to left hand side of this store are all $1 face sheet masks! Facemasks are all the rage right now since they smell and feel amazing, plus include moisturizing, highlighting, and brightening results for super cheap! The selection here changes daily, but my favorites are the “Skin Food” coconut, green tea, or lemon flavored masks! My bathroom is overflowing with facemasks considering I can get 10 of them for the price that 1 would cost anywhere else! They also have some more expensive masks and products ranging from $3 to $50, but if you tell the staff what you are looking for, they will point you in the right direction! I always try to make a point of coming back here for more when I’m in the area because when you buy a certain amount they usually give you some new products to try out for free! If you are super into skin care and looking for a new routine, come here to try some products that won’t be too bad for your credit card bill! Grab your “besfren” and enjoy your cookie and facemasks!
In The Know:
Are you the person in your friend group that’s always in the know? You can always rely on @yourweekendplans to keep you up to speed on the newest trends and openings in NYC!
Kokus Frozen Yogurt: Recently, Sweetgreen locations throughout NYC have been offering free bowls of its new and healthy dessert! Kokus soft serve is made with coconut cream and raw honey (it has less than 8 ingredients total!) and is topped with healthy treats like coconut flakes, blueberries, granola, and even edible flowers! A brick and mortar shop is on the way in 2018 and you can also find the soft serve bowls at Smorgasburg on Saturdays and Sundays!
Dominique Ansel UP: Dominique Ansel, famous for his bakery and now restaurant, is always serving up a new, trendy, and beautiful looking dessert for us to try! His new concept “UP”, short for “Unlimited Possibilities”, is his version of an after-hours dessert-only tasting experience by Chef Dominique Ansel personally along with his team. At night, a table descends down from the ceiling into the center of the production kitchen for an intimate 12-person seating, where they serve an all-dessert menu centered on a specific theme. The menu changes every 6 months, this past theme being a dessert barbeque starting in March of 2017. This means that September, which is right around the corner, will have their newest phenomenon! Be sure to check their website and Instagram to grab tickets as soon as they go on sale! I did one of the first tastings, which was the theme of “firsts” and it was probably one of the most unique and special New York experiences to date! Being hosted by the Dominique Ansel pastry team in general was such a treat, but each dessert presentation was more spectacular than the next. I hope this isn’t a spoiler for one of the bakery’s future ideas, but one of our desserts was a giant chocolate sunflower which represented “first heartbreak”; all the petals slowly lit on fire before we could dig into the middle of the chocolate ganache. I am marking my calendar to do this again and wanted to make sure you did too!