My love affair with The City began in 2004. It wasn’t my first visit, but it was the first time I truly experienced it with friends, and a lot of times, on my own. We had just graduated from college then, and that summer, I headed to the States for half a year to take up Graphic Design courses at Parsons and NYU, while my best bud Gin and cousin Rizza took up Design Management and Fashion courses at Parsons. We met up there with other friends who were going through that same transition from college to postgraduate studies or work. At 21, I loved the freedom, hanging out with friends, the night life. Until now, I think it’s safe to say that 2004 was still our “Best Summer Ever”.
The nenengs and totoys in 2004: Chit, Lisa, Rizza, me, JJ, Gin, Maiki, Anthony, Pepel.
I love how vegetarian and vegan options are every where (this is actually where I transitioned from pescatarian to vegetarian). I love how it’s so easy to get from one part of town to another. I love the museums, I love the street art. I love the food. I love the East Village, I love the West Village. I love my schools. I love walking. I love the shopping. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that I also dislike about the city, but obviously, the good outweighs the bad and I find myself coming back for more.
My Top 5 Restaurants in the City
Let’s begin with my all-time favorite vegan restaurant. This is the resto that sparked my dreams of having my OWN veggie resto. Pipino, please say ‘thank you’ to Zen Palate. Here, they serve Asian fusion food, and I particularly love the cafe side where they serve meals in bento boxes. I’ve taken non-vegetarians with me here and they all approve that the food is great!
Locations: 663 9th Ave (between 46th St & 45th St) and 115 E 18th St (between S Park Ave & Irving Pl)
This is arguably the most established vegan place in the city. I love their Nachos…corn tortillas, guacamole, tofu sour cream, and salsa. A bit pricey for vegan food (although everything in NYC is pricey anyways), but food is always well made and well thought of.
Location: 154 E 79th St
This joint has grown quite popular over the years. They even had a scene shot here in the movie Friends with Benefits (Juuuustin!!! :P). Our friends took us here years ago, and we’ve been going back for the corn. I’m sorry, i cannot even begin to describe the corn because it’s pure torture that I can’t have anything like it right now!!!
Location: 17 Prince St (between Elizabeth St & Mott St)
Every time I step into this place, I feel so overwhelmed! They’ve got EVERYTHING Italy has to offer. Mario Batali is a genius for coming up with this concept.
Location: 200 5th Ave (near Madison Square Park)
We used to hangout at this place after drinking with friends because it’s open til late. I love it here because they have a veggie hotdog available. Never fail to visit this at least once when I’m in the city! At night, the telephone booth inside the joint also opens up into P.D.T. (Please Don’t Tell), which is a not-so-secret lounge
Top 5 Touristy Things Still Worth Doing
2. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
3. Take the free Staten Island Ferry to catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty
4. Go to Columbus Circle (shop at Century21!), walk up Central Park West and Strawberry Fields. Have a halal food truck snack in the park.
5. Shop at the Organic Market in Union Square.
Can’t wait to go back to the city this year! 🙂