My first ever trip to New York City. We had an absolute blast. My best friend of 18 years flew in from Columbia, Missouri and met me in the Big Apple for four days. Then, my other BFF Kaleb flew in on my birthday and spent two more days with me there. We celebrated my 30th birthday and, duh, food was a highlight. 

Let’s first talk about the life change I experienced riding the subway system. I’ll go into more detail when your appetite is not involved but I now totally know why every New Yorker puts in ear buds, looks down, and doesn’t make eye contact with anyone. Blinders are a necessity. I actually read a Wikihow on how to ride the subway and it even said, “don’t look at anyone, don’t smile at anyone, and definitely don’t talk to anyone.” I’m here to say all of that is completely true. However, there is really no more efficient way to travel in NYC and we know I am all about efficiency. 

A few highlights from the trip: starring in the studio audience for a taping of Jimmy Fallon (see photo of my prominent feature), going to Madison Square Garden for a Knicks game (the Knicks are bad but MSG is cool), watching them put up the Rockefeller Christmas tree (EEE!), afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel, and watching Kris find her relatives who immigrated here through Ellis Island (very cool). We, of course, did all the other touristy things, but I’m not here to talk about those, am I? 

Let’s get to the food. 

Boba Guys—you guys know I love bubble tea. We specifically went to the Lower East Side to get ramen and boba. We tried the horchata and the house-made caramel black tea. Both were amazing but the caramel tea was a 10/10. They do an amazing job on branding and their social media is on point. Follow them on Insta at @bobaguys.

Ivan Ramen—Ivan Ramen is right next door to Boba Guys so if you do one, you have to do both. There was an hour wait at Ivan (only in NYC at 1:30 on a Sunday), so we got our boba and walked around the Lower East Side while we waited. We did see a trail of blood on the sidewalk which was fine and totally normal because I’ve been hardened by the streets of NYC. Anyway, the ramen was fantastic and it’s an extremely popular spot. However, shhhhhh, I think Goro in the Plaza is better. 

Tavern on the Green—T on the G. I made a reservation at the iconic Central Parkrestaurant on my birthday. Kris had left to fly home and Kaleb wasn’t going to be there until later that day, so I took a taxi and took myself on a breakfast date. It made me squirmy and nervous but I read the Wall Street Journal like a boss and it felt cool. Until they brought out a slice of funfetti cake and ice cream with a lit candle and the group at the table next to me exclaimed, “is it your birthday?!?!?” I then turned magenta and started sweating and wanted to crawl under the table. Instead I just smiled and said “yes it is!” and asked her to box my cake cause it was like 10 am. Really though I got smashed avocado on a toasted english muffin with poached eggs and it was the best breakfast I had all week. It was topped with a cilantro pesto which was delicious. Overall 10/10 for atmosphere and I took a solo walk in Central Park afterwards and felt only slightly unsafe. 

Tea at the Plaza—I’ve always loved the tradition of English tea. Lounging, drinking warm drinks, eating all the finger sandwiches and scones I can get my hands on. And the Plaza is just the epitome of class. Absolutely gorgeous flowers and greenery everywhere, natural light, classical piano music….sigh. This was a real departure from the absolute 24/7 motion and noise of NYC. I think that’s why I loved it so much. If you have little girl this would be especially fun as they have the Eloise tea which includes juice in a pink tea pot and cotton candy. We were literally tearing up seeing all these little girls light up as they got their tea and dreaming of bringing our girls back someday. 

Carmine’s Italian—Literally every person said we had to go to Carmine’s so that’s why I’m writing about it. We went to the Times Square location and it was one of the more underwhelming meals I had. But here’s why—I’m 30 now so loud restaurants aren’t my favorite. It was packed and extremely loud. Do not try to go here without a reservation or you will be sorry. The thing about this restaurant is that everything is served family-sized. So going with only two people just wasn’t as fun as going with a group because it only made sense for us to order one thing! And if you still don’t know this about me, VARIETY IS MY LIFE. The people at the table next to us did it right. They got a salad for the table, a huge platter of sliced steak, and a pasta dish. If I could have eaten off their table too I would have been thrilled. Our penne alla vodka with meatballs was great, don’t get me wrong. But more people in my party will be necessary for me to want to come back here. I get why people like it. I was super distracted the whole meal because a woman at the table behind us kept talking loudly about her allergy to celery (?!?!) and asking the waiter to ask the kitchen about any dishes which contained celery. I’m thinking “isn’t celery like fiber and water?” I am easily distracted. 

Craft—We went to this spot in the Flatiron district for my birthday dinner. I picked it after browsing open table for approximately 3.5 hours and reading reviews. They called me TWICE to confirm my reservation which made me nervous because either it’s that hot of a ticket or they were struggling to fill up tables. However, when we got there I knew it was the former. Phew. Our waiter was the most precious grandpa I’d ever seen. My menu had my name on it. Swoon. The food was absolutely perfect and came in these charming brass dishes that made me want to cry and call Ina Garten. Kaleb got the short rib and I got a butternut squash and mascarpone ravioli with browned butter and sage. For dessert we had the chocolate soufflé with earl grey ice cream and I got a less embarrassing birthday ice cream sandwich. The flavors were so on point and you could tell they focused on ingredients that were in season. Truly a very memorable meal which capped off my birthday perfectly. 

Sigh….if you’ve never been to NYC, schedule your trip. It was so special and I’m grateful for the departure from my slow Oklahoma life. I’m still catching up on sleep and cuddles with my babies. 

Other foods that were honorable mentions below:

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