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Five Great Places to Eat in New York’s Theatre District | BEDA Day 9

I see a lot of theatre, and as such, spend a lot of time in New York’s Theatre District. The West 40s are littered with restaurants, bars, and cafes catering to the millions of theatre-goers passing through the area each year. And I’ve been to…a lot of them.

Almost any type of cuisine you can think of is available just minutes from Times Square, and the amount of choices can be pretty overwhelming. It’s easy to just say “screw it” and end up at an overpriced chain restaurant right across the street from your theatre. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with convenience – I used to frequent happy hour at Jekyll & Hyde before it closed (RIP, old friend) – but there are some great places just a few blocks away from the main drag. The next time you’re in town for a show, check out some of these spots for a bite.

For Pre-Matinee Brunch: Pigalle 

This cute French bistro at 48th Street & 8th Avenue is popular with both tourists and the theatre community, and for good reason. Pigalle’s brunch menu features classic French dishes like croque monsieur and breakfast staples like challah french toast. I recently came here before a matinee of School of Rock and enjoyed a light, fluffy waffle and way too much coffee. I also enjoyed pretending I was in Smash for an hour, as the infamous NBC musical drama shot several scenes here. For the record, I’m Team Ivy.

For When Your Parents Are in Town: Esca

This restaurant, a joint venture from Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lydia Bastianich, and David Pasternack, has become a family favorite in recent months. Esca specializes in Southern Italian seafood, particularly of the raw variety. Their crudo, or raw fish, is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. If you’re not feeling too adventurous, Esca also offers plenty of classic pasta dishes. They also have plenty of options for the gluten-free crowd. Naturally, this place is a little pricey, so it’s definitely a  good place to bring your folks for dinner if they’re feeling generous.

For a Cold Winter’s Night: Obao

I am kind of obsessed with this Thai and Vietnamese spot in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. Plenty of New York eateries have trendy interiors, but can’t quite deliver on the culinary aspect. Obao’s trendy ambiance is almost as spectacular as it’s menu of noodles, barbecue, and cocktails. Their Pho Bo is guaranteed to warm you up after a day of standing in the rain trying to get Hamilton tickets. Best of all, everything is really reasonably priced. Their lunch special (appetizer and entree for $9) is one of the best deals in the city, at least in my mind.

For Post-Show Cocktails: Bea

There must be something about the corner of 43rd Street & 9th Avenue, seeing as two spots on my list are located there. Bea, unlike Esca, is a little more casual and known for their menu of creative cocktails and bar bites. It’s not quite as rowdy as some of the other bars in the area, which makes it great for post-show discussions over a “Tottenville Tea” or “Lavender Monk.” Their flatbreads are also fantastic if you’re feeling a bit peckish after four hours of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

For Something Sweet: Schmackary’s

Schmackary’s, home to some of the best cookies in New York, quickly became a big part of my theatre-going routine after I moved here last year. After a show, if it’s not completely freezing out, you’ll usually find me waiting in line here for a Classic Chocolate Chip cookie and a decaf tea. Schmackary’s cookies are always fresh and never overly-sweet. Their cookies come in a huge range of flavors (including gluten and nut-free options), so you’ll definitely find something to tempt your tastebuds.

Hopefully, you’re feeling a little more equipped to handle the culinary jungle that is the Theatre District and Hell’s Kitchen. New Yorkers, let me know your favorite places to eat in the area. I’m always looking for new places to check out!

Five Amazing Spots in NYC

According to Timehop, one year ago I was preparing to move to New York to start yet another round of internships. At the time I was excited, but pretty apprehensive. Everything seemed so temporary: I was living in a privately-owned dorm with mostly college kids, my internships ended in December, and I had four months to find a “real job” or move back home. In hindsight, I was putting way too much pressure on myself (as I am wont to do).

I guess it worked out, though. Here I am, a year later with a full-time job in the entertainment industry, a big-girl apartment, and some semblance of a life and routine.

Now that I’m not constantly freaking out about my future (the operative word here being “constantly”), I’ve had some more time to explore the city. Here are five of the best spots I’ve found over the past year.

1. Perk Kafe

perk kafe

There are tons of cute, bespoke coffee joints in New York, but most of them aren’t in Midtown. Luckily, Perk Kafe fills that void in Murray Hill in a decidedly unpretentious way. They offer awesome coffee in a very aesthetically-pleasing (albeit small) environment. And they don’t balk when I order decaf! It’s a nice alternative to grabbing Starbucks for the 10th time in one week.

2. The Bell House

the bell house

Confession: I don’t love going to Brooklyn. It’s a long train ride, I don’t know the neighborhood that well, and I never feel cool enough to be there. However, I will gladly endure the G train for a show at The Bell House in Gowanus. Their calendar is filled to the brim with comedy shows, live podcasts, concerts, dance parties, and more. Once a warehouse, the space has an old-timey feel to it, and almost reminds me of the rec hall at my summer camp (in the best possible way). A few months ago, my friends and I attended Shipwreck, a night of erotic fan fiction from some of today’s best writers. That night’s theme was Moby Dick, and featured Cecil Baldwin of Welcome to Nightvale as the designated reader. Although I’m not super-familiar with the book, I still laughed my ass off.

3. Strand Bookstore

Strand

Yeah, yeah, everyone loves the Strand Bookstore, with its miles of books and fun tote bags. There’s lots of hype around this Union Square institution, but for good reason. If you have a favorite literary niche, they have the books you want to read. I usually find myself in their (extensive) drama section, checking out new plays and the classics I haven’t gotten around to reading quite yet. You can also trade in your books, CDs, and DVDs for cash or store credit. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.

4. Sheep Meadow, Central Park

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If the last place on my list didn’t make me sound basic, this one totally will. The Sheep Meadow may be one of the most visited spots in Central Park, but it’s so vast that I’ve never had trouble finding a spot in which to read and soak up some Vitamin D. The open space also allows you to see how nature meets metropolis as the trees give way to fancy apartment buildings for gazillionaires. It’s a great spot to vedge out on a Sunday. Just remember to bring your own water.

5. Fat Cat

fat cat

I fell in love with Fat Cat after stopping by for a round of pool on my friend’s birthday. Located in the heart of the West Village, Fat Cat is a jazz bar/gaming center with a little something for everyone. Grab a soju cocktail, listen to some great tunes, and challenge your friends to a game of pool, ping pong, or even checkers. That night I remembered that I’m pretty terrible at pool, so next time I think I’ll opt for Scrabble. The prices are reasonable and the vibe is awesome, so I’ll definitely be back.

Fellow New Yorkers, tell me some of the best spots you’ve found in your adventures around town. My goal for year 2 is to explore as much as possible, and I’m always looking for new recommendations. Cheers to another year of fun!

Home

Things I Like About Being Home:

  1. Food, for the most part. Mom’s been on another health kick lately, so the refrigerator is full of almond milk and old oatmeal. This is a good thing, since my diet at school consists mostly of microwavable meals from Trader Joe’s (nom) and spaghetti. Being home also usually means that I’m going to visit family in the near future, which means I get to gorge myself on whatever that family member or the restaurant we decide to go to is serving. And that is usually quite good.
  2. Being able to see the stars at night. I think I kind of took advantage of that privilege when I was in high school. I never really noticed how amazing a clear night can be until I moved to the city where the night sky is constantly blank.
  3. My dog, Teddy. He’s kind of the best. If you ever have the opportunity to adopt a cockapoo (cocker spaniel and poodle mix), take it.
  4. Tea. And lots of it.
  5. My car. I really enjoy the freedom of being able to drive wherever I want. I love public transportation, but it’s very limited in Philly. Having the freedom to drive to the mall without worrying about walking through a sketchy neighborhood or getting dropped off five miles from your final destination is the best.
  6. Coffee shops galore! Sure, there are hundreds in Philly, some just a few blocks from campus, but again, they’re a hassle to get to. The ones in my hometown are easy to get to and I feel super comfortable working in them. Milkboy Coffee and the Gryphon Cafe are my two homes not so far from home.
  7. Netflix on my Wii. I don’t often watch Doctor Who on an actual television, but when I do, it is glorious.
  8. High school friends.
  9. My parents.
  10. My baby grand piano. I only really play it when I’m alone in the house (self-consciousness for the win), but I really love it. It looks beautiful, sounds beautiful, and is beautiful.