Ah, Presidents’ Day. The patriotic holiday when almost everyone in the States has the third Monday of February off to commemorate the holiday. Some Americans spend the day taking advantage of the Presidents’ Day sales and go shopping, some get a jump start on their spring cleaning, and some take the long weekend and go on a trip. My brother Alex, sister Sydney, and I decided to set out for The Big Apple, NYC! Because we live in northeastern Massachusetts, it’s a relatively short 4-5 hour drive to the city. But there are plenty of buses and trains that leave from major New England cities and bring you right into the city. My siblings and I are all in our 20’s, so we don’t have 6 figure salaries to help fund our trips. We also aren’t trust fund babies, believe me we’ve complained plenty to our parents about their lack of shared DNA with the Rockefellers. Due to our fiscally average family lineage, we have to save and find those deals. I’m going to walk you through our 3 days in the Empire state and share where we were able to save those $$$.
My siblings and I started our day at Zabar’s, a popular Jewish deli in the Upper West Side on 2245 Broadway and 80th street. This traditional deli has an extensive menu, consisting of breakfast sandwiches, bagels, and baked goods. Alex ordered a bagel with cream cheese and lox, about $10 and it came with an orange juice and a coffee, and Sydney ordered a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, for $1.75. I, myself, chose the B4, an English muffin with scrambled eggs, cheese, and ham, for just $6 and it came with orange juice. Everything was so delicious that we HAD to get a black and white cookie, for $2, to go. (We had to, it was an obligation, in case we needed sugary sustaniness). Next to the deli is Zabar’s deli and cookware market. It was the perfect place to walk off the breakfast we had just engorged ourselves with. I did, of course, search fervorously for Sara Ramirez to see if she was keeping up with the ‘Cash Only’ line standard.
The three of us never stop thinking about food so naturally, we already knew where we were going to have lunch. We decided to go to Chelsea Market and because it was a nice day out we made the choice to avoid paying for a subway ride and walk the 3.3 miles. It gave us a chance to walk off the rest of our breakfast (and obligatory cookie) and take in all of the towering skyscrapers. Our lunch choice was, Very Fresh Noodles in Chelsea Market on 425 W 15th St in the Meatpacking District, a fresh and authentic Taiwanese noodle place. On the sides of their stand, there are windows that allow you look into the kitchen where the artist-like cooks are stretching out each set of noodles for each dish, it’s hypnotic. Mysister and I ordered the La Mei Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup, slow braised beef shank, (I ordered mine spicy) and Alex ordered the Tingly Cumin Lamb Noodle Bowl. We had to wait about an hour for our order but it gave us a chance to walk around and explore a little bit of Chelsea Market. The market area has almost 60 shops and food stands so, there’s plenty to see. An hour later we were elbow deep in unbelievable broth and noodles. Each bowl was about $10-12 and there was plenty to spare, the portions are very generous.
After lunch we couldn’t help ourselves, the chocolate covered s’mores at Li Lac Chocolates were calling our names, Monika, Alex, Sydney, Monika, Alex, Sydneyyyy. We shared one of the milk chocolate s’mores (we have all of the same gross germs anyway) and bought three small chocolate covered caramels for about $8.00.
Later that evening we switched gears from food to comedy. Through Groupon we bought $5 tickets, with a two drink minimum, drinks being about $11 each, to a comedy show at the Dark Horse. The lineup for the night showcased various comedians of all different styles. After the show, we headed back to our Airbnb in Harlem to rest up for day two of our sibling weekend.
Total for Day 1: $60.50 (including 2 subway tickets, $2.75 each)
As you can probably guess by now, day two began with food. The three of us drove over to Brooklyn to eat at the oh-so quaint Pies N’ Thighs on 166 S 4th St. The Brooklyn restaurant is known for their fried chicken and pie. The wait was 45 minutes so we put our name in and crossed the street over to Sun and Air on 788 Driggs Ave for coffee/tea. 45 minutes later we were seated in the back-dining area of Pies N’ Thighs, ready to indulge in some southern comfort. I ordered the fried chicken and biscuit, which was complimented very well by honey butter and hot sauce. Alex and Sydney both got the fried chicken and waffles. Alex ordered it the standard way, with cinnamon butter, maple syrup, and cranberries. My sister being the rebel she is, asked for her meal with her own little twist. Instead of cinnamon butter and cranberries, honey butter and hot sauce. My meal was about $8 and Alex and Sydney’s were about $13. For the chocolate lovers out there, my brother indulged and ordered the hot chocolate (with homemade marshmallows). After stealing a sip, I can confirm that it was heavenly rich! To top off our homestyle brunch, we shared their lemon poppy seed cake donut, $3. It was sweet, tart, and soft all in one; with a great little crunch when bit into!
That evening we returned to our Airbnb and got ready for our night at the theatre! We were able to get $47 tickets (row B) to Avenue Q through Groupon for the New World Stages theatre located between 49th and 50th street in Hell’s Kitchen. The New World Stages was previously a movie theatre until it was converted into a five-theatre performing center in 2004. For those who have always dreamed of going to Times Square, you’re in luck because the New World Stages is a short 6 minute walk. Normally Times Square is a little hectic for me but because we were so close by we said, “why not!?” and walked over. You gotta let go and be touristy once in a while. For dinner, we went to Havana’s Central Time Square, an upbeat, vibrant Cuban restaurant dressed in cheerful colors and a lot of heart.
Total for Day 2: $77.45 (including 2 subway tickets)
How else could one properly end a New York weekend but with more donuts!? After checking out of our Airbnb, Alex, Sydney, and I drove back to Chelsea for some top-notch doughnuts at Doughnut Plant, on 220 W 23rd St. The shop is known for their well-crafted flavors and square yeast donuts. The square shape gets more filling into the donut, so I had to try the famous, unorthodox donut. I bought a vanilla bean and blackberry jam filled donut. First bite? Yes, Doughnut Plant came through and it was all filling. Alex got the coffee cream filled cake donut and a cinnamon roll for the ride home. Oh! AND another glazed donut for when we got home 😉 My sister, bought the rest of these lovely donuts: passion fruit glazed rose donut, chocolate vegan yeast donut, jam filled donuts, etc. The donuts range from $3.65 – 5.80. I know, I know, I know! You’re gonna ask me, “Monika, do they take credit cards? Because there’s no such thing as an expensive donut, they cost what they cost and we accept that.” Yes, you’re in luck, they do accept credit cards so just CHARGE IT! *80’s Valley girl accent*
Total of Day 3: $3.65 (my siblings went ham and bought a ton of donuts but I controlled myself and only bought one)
Total for the weekend: $141.60 This is including all of my food, subway rides, a comedy show, Avenue Q, and sooooo many donuts
With our bellies filled with mountains of donuts, we made our way back to Massachusetts. With some planning mixed with some spontaneity our weekend consisted of samplings of all of the best parts of New York City.