More about your oliver guide: Elizabeth Lamont Mendoza
TRip type: Adults Only
IDEAL TRIP Length: Long weekend (3-4 nights)
TO & FROM
Fly nonstop on Virgin America from SFO to either Newark or JFK, depending on what neighborhood we’re staying in.
EAT & DRINK
- Café Gitane - Quintessential Nolita, this buzzy French-Moroccan café is famous for its tagine couscous, avocado toast—and ultra-cool crowd (think supermodels and lots of tattoos).
- Pasquale Jones - From the geniuses behind Charlie Bird, this teeny new wood-fired spot doesn’t have a phone number so your best bet is to swing by and leave your name and they’ll text you when your table is ready. (Go around the corner to Public for a cocktail while you wait.) The littleneck clam and diavola pizzas are home runs.
- Café Habana - A tiny, hip Mexican-Cuban spot for spicy huevos and a frothy café con leche. Beloved by everyone from bike messengers to celebs, this spot is always bumping. Do not leave without ordering the Mexican street corn.
- Public - A library-like space with a killer brunch (order the Turkish eggs). We lived around the corner and enjoyed many, many meals at the bar—I even had my baby shower here.
- Frank - Always-packed East Village Italian with insanely addictive pizza and pasta. Its slow-simmered ragu is nothing short of legendary!
- Tartine - Cozy BYOB French café in the West Village with amazing mussels. We had our first date here! If you forget to bring wine, there’s a great shop nearby (on the corner of 8th Avenue and Jane Street) called Manley’s Wine & Spirits.
- Casa Mono - A tiny Mario Batali gem hidden just off Gramercy Park with killer tapas and sangria. It has an even tinier sister spot next door called Bar Jamon that’s great for a pre-dinner drink.
- Balthazar - Keith McNally’s crown jewel, this French brasserie is always bustling. Go for brunch (the croque madame and fries are downright addictive) or a dirty martini at the bar.
- Gramercy Tavern - The best spot for a late lunch or hot toddy at the bar when it’s cold or rainy outside. Gigantic, mesmerizing floral arrangements and a diverse crowd of old and young, uptown and down.
- Bond St - Dim-lit, sexy and always-packed, this late-night spot draws a crowd for its creative sushi and dangerously delicious saketinis.
- Lupa - Mario Batali's much-lauded homage to Rome. Go on a Sunday night for the bucatini all-amatriciana or the ricotta gnocchi and a nice bottle of red.
- Locanda Verde - The gorgeous Italian taverna in The Greenwich Street Hotel. (I can almost guarantee a celebrity sighting.) If you go for brunch, you must order the lemon ricotta pancakes.
- Jack’s Wife Freda – A rollicking brunch spot with homey Israeli/Med/South African food run by a husband and wife team who met working at Balthazar. The poached eggs with grilled tomatoes and halloumi are killer. (And they just might have the best fried onion-topped burger in the city, built along the lines of a perfect Shake Shack concoction.)
shop, shop, shop!
Warm (owned by my friend Winnie Beattie, a beauty PR powerhouse who turned her love of surfing into this shop); Steven Alan (we go for the cool men’s fashion); McNally Jackson (great independent bookstore with a cozy café); MOMA store (the best design-driven gifts); Gas Bijoux (the most delicate jewelry).
- The Apartment by The Line (a hip apartment in Soho where everything’s for sale from the furniture and art to the clothes in the closet); Kirna Zabete (cutting-edge high fashion in Soho); Dean & Deluca just browsing the gorgeous prepared foods and flowers is a treat).
- Edon Manor (accessory-lover alert: top designer shoes and handbags in a breathtakingly-designed space); Nili Lotan (white-washed walls and rare books set off this collection of stylized women’s basics); J. Crew Liquor Store (new and ultra-cool vintage men’s pieces in the space of the legendary Liquor Store Bar); Babesta (the coolest, modern baby items from clothing to strollers and furniture; think brands like 7AM Enfant and Prefresh); Ten Thousand Things (sophisticated, one-of-a-kind jewelry that will make you swoon; we must’ve put it in every issue when I was an editor at Lucky).
- We are members of Soho House, but most people are surprised to learn that you do not have to be a member to stay in one of their chic rooms or to book in to their cozy Cowshed Spa. The room rates are slightly higher for non-members, but not outlandish. Hotel guests have full access to the sixth floor bar and lounge, restaurant (brunch is amazing!), screening room, and the sceney rooftop pool. You can even invite friends to hang out with you there—just make a restaurant reservation and your guests can join you!
- We love the new car service called Juno. They operate just like Uber and Lyft, but their fleet of cars is new and more upscale with very professional drivers. And because they want to be competitive, they're offering a 30% discount right now, so they're cheaper than Uber too. Download the app!
Because I’m a native New Yorker, we skip most of the more touristy activities, like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and Rockefeller Center. Our agenda is always to recreate the weekends we had when we lived in the West Village, Tribeca and Nolita pre-kids: lots of shopping; meeting friends for cocktails and dinner at our favorite restaurants (or new spots we’ve been wanting to try); long, lazy brunches; and sleeping in!