Once we got home from St. Thomas (a week ago now,) our vacation turned into a staycation and the fun continued. We got in a bunch of cuddle time with Webster, caught up on tv, and spent three straight days walking and eating. On Friday we walked 6+ miles around the Upper West Side in one afternoon. I know this post is running late, but that is because it is GIANT. By sharing everything, leaving lots of leftovers, and through sheer force of will, Adam and I managed to try a ton of the restaurants on our “to-eat” list during our last days spring vacation. I know I say that 8 different things in this post are “the best,” but I’m not exaggerating, these spots were all really outstanding.
Baohaus serves some of the most inventive buns in the city. We’ve gotten the Coffin Bao with fried chicken and chili sweetened condensed milk in the past and it was on point. This trip we stuck with the Birdhaus – All natural fried chicken brined 24 hours, served with Haus Seasoning Salt, lemon-garlic aioli, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, and cilantro.
Plus tea from the shop next door.
My milk tea had boba, grass jelly, and pudding.
Bibble & Sip
B&S is an adorable little llama-adorned coffee shop on 8th ave just south of the park. The baked goods looked great but we honed in on the lavender latte. The floral flavor was perfectly balanced by the (skim)milk, though I wish we had gotten iced.
Chuko is a modern-looking ramen spot in Prospect Heights. This was actually our first official ramen experience, but I’m still feeling pretty confident in saying that this is the best in Brooklyn.
Every dish had such umami. We started with a shrimp bun with garlic tartar sauce.
And crispy Brussels sprouts with fish sauce, peanuts, and pickled jalopeños. The crunchy leaves were to die for.
I got the veggie miso ramen with chicken, though they had the option to go full vegetarian.
It was ridiculous. The noodles were chewy, the broth was robust (and vegetarian!), and the poached chicken was unbelievable soft. It came topped with sweet corn, greens in truffle oil, mushrooms, a soft-boiled egg, and chili oil. This bowl was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted so it tells you a lot about the generous portion size that I couldn’t finish it.
Corner of Vermont
Corner of Vermont is a little shop on 5th in Park Slope that is Buddy the Elf’s dream – everything they sell is laced with maple syrup. Black Bear Sugarworks‘ divinely smoky and complex maple syrup. We were swooning over everything we tried, even the little cups of straight syrup they hand you at the door. Adam got an amazing maple soft-serve and I got a maple soda.
Plus we had a maple bear, the single best piece of maple sugar candy I’ve ever tasted. The fantastic syrup gave it a great start, but also because the candy was so fresh the mouthfeel was perfect – the candy held up to the bite and then melted in your mouth.
These doughnuts are ubiquitous at this point – they sell them at Whole Foods and my hospital’s tiny coffee counter – but they are worth the treck to Fort Greene because they are a trillion times tastier straight from the source. The dough is slightly sweet and not too dense and the glaze on my salted caramel chocolate was ridiculously chewy and deeply dark chocolate-y.
Grand Central Station
Café Grumpy makes us anything but grumpy, they have one of our all-time favorite expressos. My skim macchiato was great.
And the giant salted caramel macaron I paired with it also put a smile on my face.
Hibino is a gorgeous sushi spot in Cobble Hill with a great selection of (many local varieties of) seafood and tofu that they make in-house. I got an iced roasted barley tea which was unsweetened and very refreshing.
We got seaweed salad which came with wakame and red and green seaweed. Adam loved it but I could not do the unseasoned seaweed; there are very few vegetables I don’t like but red seaweed now tops the list.
Of course we tried the the cold house-made tofu, which came with scallions, ginger, and dashi (a kombu, or kelp, broth). The tofu was strangely flavorless and very creamy.
And I went with the vegetable roll for dinner.
The orange piece on the left was me being brave and trying uni – raw sea urchin! It was good, very velvety.
Nunu Chocolates Café & Tap Room
Nunu is a Brooklyn-based chocolate company that makes a caramel bar I’ve been obsessed with for years. Their newest location is Park Slope serves homemade chocolates, Blue Bottle coffee, and a pretty decent selection of draft beers.
They also offer a chocolate and beer pairing, which is what we came in for.
I am sad that I didn’t take notes because we loved every bite and sip but at this point I can’t remember what anything was. Surprisingly, our favorite thing was a spicy beer that Nunu collaborated on with a local brewery.
Pure Thai Cookhouse
PTC is a Hell’s Kitchen spot with delicious, authentic Thai food. Serious Eats raved about it and it’s been my Thai go-to since trip one. The space is tiny but the vibe is casual and the service is crazy quick. Their noodles are great, but I went with a rice-based special, Kao Ob Talay.
Steamed jasmine rice with crabmeat, jumbo shrimp, taro root, shitake mushroom, onion, scallion, cilantro, ginger, and garlic soy sauce.
The bites with sweet crabmeat and chewy shitake were take-your-breath-away good.
Schmackary’s is a cookie bakery and coffee shop in the Theatre District. Their menu changes daily/seasonally and includes spectacular things like s’mores, sweet corn and bacon, and blueberry cobbler. We got a butter pecan that was legit the best purchased cookie I’ve ever tasted – browned butter / toasted pecans / butterscotch.