So many of you have been asking for this guide and it is FINALLY here! Whenever I go on trips, even just for a long weekend, it always takes me a bit to get the energy to sit down and recap it all (case in point: this post took over 6 hours to put together). My travel excurscions aren’t as relaxed as one might think as I love to see and do as much as I can in the amount of given time. For this trip, I was in NYC from Thursday afternoon to Monday evening so about 4 whole days. The first three days, my intern, Sam, came along with me for the ride (which I was so excited for) and the last night and day I had to myself. It all worked out as I ended up getting sick with a nasty cold half way through the trip but I tried to make the most of it – and that I did!
Before I begin telling you guys all of my favorite restaurants, neighborhoods, beverages and stories… I’ve got to say how traveling these past few weeks and continuing months has made me feel extremely grateful. I say this a ton but when I started my blog 3 years ago in my aunt and uncle’s dining room, I never thought I’d be traveling for MY BLOG and for that matter going on a trip with my INTERN. What!? It’s truly a dream come true and it gets better every day.
Sam and I planned out our itinerary a few weeks beforehand so we could coordinate what restaurants we would be posting for, who we would have meetings with and what workouts we would doing. I’ve got to say, before you plan any trip (even if it is solo or with one other person), make an excel spreadsheet of every thing you want to do! We separated ours into days and by breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, dessert, neighborhood and workouts. Extensive? Yes. Extra? Absolutely. Worth it, though!
Now to the bulk of the post and to all of the places I highly recommend/what to get/where to stay and what NOT to get 😉
When we first arrived around 11am, our Lyft took forever and a day to get to our hotel but we dropped off our bags so we could head immediately to get an extremely late breakfast. After looking through where to stay between a hotel and an AirBnB, I decided that I’m a hotel > AirBnB person when it comes to big cities like New York. Through numerous searches, here’s what I picked:
I’m a sucker for boutique hotels. My mom always taught me that staying at a nice hotel is worth it, even if you’re not there all day long, you want to be comfortable and know you have a cozy place to come back to. It was a bit far from SoHo (20 minutes thanks to traffic) but about a 20 minute walk to some of my favorite restaurants and workouts.
Our room was super tiny when we walked in – as in there wasn’t really a separate bathroom but more so just a sliding glass door to the right when you walked in that was apart of the shower – which we kept joking about the whole weekend. Despite the fact there was about 6 inches from the end of the bed to where the tv on the wall was (lol), the room was bright, opening and the window gave us a pretty view. Also an unexpected bonus: every day when we returned our messy clothes on the floor had been laid out and folded by the maids. The sweetest!
Arlo NoMad also has an amazing restaurant on their second floor with string lights on the ceiling, an extra bar and a rooftop bar called “The Heights” which has one of the most insane views – you can see the Empire State Building right in front of you pretty much.
For those who are interested in Arlo but NoMad isn’t what you’re looking for – they have a second location in SoHo, which I’ve heard equally amazing reviews about.
Now for the food and workouts…
Our first meal in NYC! I have seen so many friends of mine from New York recommend this and I knew their bowls were something I just couldn’t miss. The restaurant is decently small and their pastel branding with earth tones and plant-based eats instantly drew me in. Their menu includes breakfast, lunch, late afternoon plates, dinner and drinks. A few staples on their menu include a carrot, cinnamon and ginger soda, beets with fermented cabbage and yogurt (dinner) and vegan nachos with cashew queso (brb while I swoon).
Sam and I ordered the Tiger Bowl with coconut grains, house-cured salmon, avocado, hijiki, black sesame and a coconut milk sauce (they call it “leche de tigre”) and the Autumn Dragon Bowl with coconut grains, a turmeric-poached egg, autumn veggies, heirloom beans and tarragon tahini.
The food came super quick + we also ate it within 5 minutes as we were both starving from our plane ride but I loved how fresh the bowls were. They both tasted like something we would make homemade! I definitely would recommend although don’t expect to get a good photo out of it as their lighting is dim and tables are black… yikes 😉
Cha Cha Matcha
Right after our late breakfast, we ventured to Cha Cha Matcha which was just a few blocks west of De Maria in SoHo. This was one spot on my list that I thought would probably be overrated and not good at all… I expected the matcha to be sub-par and extremely sweet (the absolute worst) but to my surprise, I was SUCH a fan of it. Seriously guys, the decor with the drinks… this place is goals. They have a matcha soft serve ice cream machine, fresh pastries, coconut yogurt, chia puddings and tons of dairy-free milk alternatives like hemp, macadamia nut and almond.
Sam and I both ordered their ginger turmeric latte – I had it hot with macadamai nut milk and hers was iced with hemp milk (could we be any more millennial/basic?). I loved how you could actually taste the ginger in the latte and it wasn’t overly sweet or overpowering! The best part was that if you ordered it hot, they put a stencil over top of your cup and sprinkled extra matcha on top. My stencil was a palm tree. Like okay, how FREAKING cute!?
I was most excited to head to Springbone for lunch because their whole menu is paleo which I am such a fan of. Their motto is “real ingredients taste better” – can I get an amen for that? Their storefront is pretty tiny and the three times (yes, three) Sam and I visited they were absolutely packed. From bone broth to homemade soft serve (in the summer only but they had it for one day when we were there) that’s made from coconut milk, I basically wanted everything.
We ended up going three times total the whole weekend especially after Saturday when I came down with the worst cold ever. I ordered their chicken bone broth and added zucchini noodles to it — like zucchini noodle soup! Best meal ever.
Top picks: Liquid Gold “Drinking Broth” – classic chicken broth, organic coconut milk & turmeric and their side of carrot fries roasted in grass-fed beef tallow. In-saaaane.
This was our first workout in the city and Sam’s first time to Y7. She’s a huge yogi so I had a feeling she’d love Y7 and of course she did. If you haven’t been to a heated yoga class prior, I’d say you might find Y7 a bit intense. The room is completely pitch black besides a few candles in the front and there’s no mirror… just a whole lot of heat and a ton of hip-hop music.
We ventured to the SoHo studio (there are numerous ones around the city including Brooklyn and Union Square) to take an evening class and we were both drenched by the end. My favorite part about Y7 is that the class starts slow but once your instructor guides you into the vinyasa flows (the class is essentially a power vinyasa flow), the music changes from slow and soothing to upbeat, loud and makes you want to MOVE.
After we came back from Y7, we headed a mile away (our hotel was within a mile of this place) to Hu Kitchen. I think hands down if I could I would eat every single meal here for the rest of my life. For those of you who are unfamilair with Hu, it’s like if Whole Foods and Erewhon Market (an organic foods grocer in Los Angeles) were to have a child. It’s all paleo food, free of gluten, grains, soy, emulsifiers and the brand’s entire mission statement is going “back to human” aka the way cavemen ate/paleolithic.
Sam had never been before so it was a dream for her. Both of us had the hardest time deciding what to get so we ended up getting the entree plates and picking our own protein and sides. The root vegetable mash and fish sticks were my absolute favorite. If you have to get one thing at Hu – please get the stuffed acorn squash OR the fish sticks! You won’t regret it.
They also sell tons of breakfast goodies and when I went a few days later to grab breakfast before I headed out on my flight home, I had their breakfast entree of scrambled eggs, sweet potato hash browns, chicken sausage and their paleo biscuit. For someone who works for a gluten-free baking mix company, I can tell you this biscuit was absolutely INSANE. So good.
Although we were absolutely exhausted by Thursday night, we woke up bright and early for a hot power vinyasa flow at a yoga studio I had heard nothing but good things about – Modo Yoga. This studio reminded me of my yoga studio in my hometown of Cleveland (Cleveland Yoga) that made me fall in love with yoga a few years ago. It was hot but not too hot to the point we felt like we were going to pass out, especially for a 6am class not having had breakfast yet.
What I love about Modo is that they offer tons of different class levels ranging from classes with no music and at a slower-paced to ones with music and a bit faster for those who are looking for more of a yoga workout. Besides, it didn’t hurt that we literally did yoga as the sun rose with us. Always the best!
Along with Hu Kitchen, Dr. Smood was probably another one of my favorite spots that Sam and I visited in New York. We went here after grabbing breakfast on Friday so we didn’t grab any of their food items or their organic health shakes made with the craziest ingredients (from cashews and homemade almond milk to adaptogens) but we did grab turmeric lattes which were perfectly spicy and not too sweet. If I go back, I’m definitely trying their Raw Pancakes & Super Berry Spread.
Seriously though… these shakes. I may be dying.
Irving Farm Coffee
Between our yoga and breakfast on Friday, Sam and I met our friend, Minna, at the Washington Square Park location of Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. This place was absolutely the cutest, tucked away on the corner of W 3rd Street and of course Minna brought us there as she knew my love for oat milk lattes and cappuccinos is very strong. Not only do they offer milk alternatives but delicious espresso and a whole food menu including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options like overnight oats soaked in coconut and oat milk or poached eggs with “sweet potato toasts”. Yes, they’re that good.
One of my favorite breakfasts by far was at Banter. We came here for a later brunch and I was so happy with their menu. Sometimes all you really need is one item on a menu that really kills it to enjoy the restaurant and that’s how it was for me at Banter. The restaurant was very accommodating for gluten-free and dairy-free as Sam and I ordered their golden folded eggs with herb smashed peas (absolutely incredible), prosciutto, avocado and an option to swap the prosciutto for smoked salmon. Sam and I both got poached eggs instead of the golden folded eggs and were not let down.
We also ordered their house made gluten-free banana bread that we had butter with… wish it would’ve been almond or peanut butter because that would’ve been incredible but it still was delicious.
I headed to Café Clover for lunch on Friday with my friend, Nikki, who happens to own PS Snacks (a company that creates vegan and gluten-free chickpea “cookie dough”) and we split the kale prosciutto soccer pizzette (a crisp flatbread made out of chickpea flour!) – only fitting for the two girls who own chickpea themed businesses 😉 It was actually maybe the best “pizza” I’ve had in my entire life. It had the texture of a thin cracker and was perfect split between the two of us.
We also shared the rye berry bowl with butternut squash and pesto. While both of the dishes were super tasty, I would 10/10 recommend going here for dinner instead of lunch. The dinner menu was absolutely to die for when I visited in 2016. Let’s just say their menu now has chickpea flour hushpuppies and maple glazed brussels… oh man!
Chalk Point Kitchen
I first visited Chalk Point in 2016 for dinner and was not let down. Their menu has a “market to table” influence uses multicultural flavors and local, sustainable and organic produce when possible. The last time I visited I remember having the most phenomenal kale martini (I had just turned 21!) and fish entree. This time around I knew I had to bring Sam here as she loves farm to table spots just as much as I do and it’s one thing I always try to focus on when dining out in other cities as you know the food is as fresh as it can be.
If Sam’s face doesn’t say it all.. the menu literally made our jaws drop. They offer brunch, dinner and dessert but we opted for Friday night dinner with a $40 rack of lamb (split between us both), their appetizer of roasted carrots in truffle oil and the most incredible cauliflower flatbread made with a cashew milk “cheese” and a vegan truffle aioli. Just looking at the photo makes me wish I had one right in front of me right now to devour.
The next time I go back, I must try their toasted coconut quinoa waffles (also gluten-free) or the duck breakfast wrap (made with duck confit). Seriously guys – this place is a must!
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
If you guys know me, you’ll know ice cream is my favorite dessert in this world so when I heard that Van Leeuwen was basically the best in New York – AND they had vegan flavors, I knew I had to have it. What’s great about Van Leeuwen is that they’re always switching up their flavors, using some of the highest quality ingredients (even their vegan ice cream is a base of coconut cream, cashews and coconut oil). On Friday night, as we were shooting photos with my friend, Sophie, we found their ice cream truck (a dream come true) and I tried their vegan mint chip which has ORGANIC peppermint extract and organic carob bean. It was so thick, so creamy and I’m not exaggerating when I say the best vegan ice cream I’ve had. They have a storefront in NYC as well and a location in LA if you’re curious about it.
Sunday in Brooklyn
If you’re looking for a comfy cozy weekend brunch spot, Sunday in Brooklyn is for you. Naturally, Sam and I went here on a Saturday but we met up with Minna again and wanted to spend Saturday in Brooklyn so it just worked out 🙂 I was not let down at all by my bowl. It was a bit hard to find an option that was accommodating to dietary restrictions but grain bowl with an addition of smoked salmon and extra avocado was the way to go. It was so so tasty and what made it even better was Sunday in Brooklyn’s adorable little roof top space where we ate. It was super tiny but the weather was gorgeous and it was covered in string lights.
Right when we left, Minna and I noticed they had a little walk-up booth in the front of the entrance that had soft-serve ice cream… including this magical DARK CHOCOLATE DAIRY-FREE SOFT SERVE made with OAT MILK. Yep. I said it. It was so creamy and decadent that just the little tiny sample we got was satisfying enough (I’m not a huge chocolate fan either) but I’m so happy we tried it! If you go, you’ll have to try it.
Let me introduce you to the most beautiful coffee shop in all of Brooklyn. Thank you for introducing it to me, Minna! This small little space is both an espresso bar (featuring Intelligentsia Coffee) and a bake shop, offering everything from a turmeric & ginger latte to a gluten-free sticky date muffin made with almond flour and apricot bergamot jam. They do it all!
We popped in for oat milk cappuccinos and Sam grabbed a iced mint matcha with coconut milk that tasted like melted peppermint ice cream. Heavenly.
Eat Chic Chocolates
This Brooklyn-based chocolate c company was founded by Lotta Andonian who started selling peanut butter cups as a side hustle and turned it into a full-time biz that now sells out of tons of little coffee shops, cafés and even Dean + Deluca (a huge grocer in NYC) in New York. All of the chocolates are gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, palm oil-free and many of the flavors are used with local ingredients from Raaka Chocolate to Stagg Jam. On Saturday after brunch, Lotta met up with Sam and I to chat all things chocolates with us and gave us a little goodie bag of assorted chocolates. We literally sampled all of them in our hotel room that night and the matcha cashew butter white chocolate cups were absolutely to die for.
Birch Coffee and Sweatshop Coffee
Two of the coffee shops I visited on Saturday where I grabbed iced oat milk cappuccinos. Birch Coffee was in Murray Hill and a ton of my friends had recommended it to me for being one of the first cafés to serve oat milk. Sweatshop was tucked away in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and was a photo op from the moment I walked in. They have a huge mural that says “Don’t Look For Love, Look For Coffee” and a ton of adorable merchandise that says “Cool Beans” all over it.
SoulCycle (19th St and Union Square)
If you guys don’t know by now, I am truly obsessed with SoulCycle. I’ve been a frequent rider since February and have taken at least 2 classes a week since. Because it started in New York City and I had heard so many good things about the instructors there, I knew I had to ride – and ride with Sam! We rode on Saturday morning at 19th Street with Jera and then I rode the following Monday with my friend Chelsea (who I’ve known via Instagram for 2 years!) at Union Square. The 19th street location is absolutely ginormous compared to any Chicago studio but the ride was better in my opinion at Union Square. The best thing about New York City is that there is pretty much a Soul on every single corner and both of these locations were extremely close to our hotel.
Koku’s Ice Cream at Smorgasburg
The best thing ever about finding small spots like Kokus is that when they’re female owned and operated AND the owner is the sweetest soul, my heart literally sets on fire. Koku’s is run by Karli Blum, who decided to create a plant-based dairy-free soft serve made from coconut cream. The coconut ice cream is served in actual coconuts and includes some of the most exciting toppings from spiced turmeric honey, bee pollen and coconut chips to CBD cacao mousse (tasted like a brownie!) and pink dragon fruit dust. We stopped by their booth at Smorgasborg (the large outdoor market in Brooklyn that runs all summer long until the end of October) to grab two bowls to try. It was so decadent but so refreshing and light at the same time.
Since tacos are pretty much my favorite meal, I was on a mission to find some good ones while I was in New York. Sam and I visited Jajaja on Saturday night and despite the extremely slow service, our tacos and drinks were some of the best. Right when you walk in, Jajaja has the cutest interior. It’s a small space but brought to life with a ton of cute pastel pops of color. Their whole menu is plant-based but not in the sense that fake meat is used but more so, each dish contains an abundance of plants and tons of both dairy and gluten-free options – clearly labeled. We ordered the “Chayote Fish Taco” which was hemp and flax seed battered chayote squash with a chipotle almond butter sauce and the “Mescal Mushroom” which had a tomato & beet tortilla, a cashew sauce and portobello mushrooms. The drink above that I just loved was the “Matcha y Coconut” which was pretty much just vodka and matcha. I definitely would have gone here in the daylight for better photos and for their brunch menu which has mango kale pancakes. No joke.
Seed + Mill at the Chelsea Market
On my last trip to New York, I visited the Chelsea Market – a huge warehouse style building with tons of little markets and shops from an all vegan sushi shop to Seed + Mill, a company that creates halva, sesame seed butter and goat milk ice cream. This place is a Chickpea’s dream come true. While I’m not a huge fan of halva (ground sesame seeds, sugar and unique flavorings), their goat milk soft serve was hands down of the best ice creams I’ve ever tasted. You can get them in an array of unique cones AND they even had a gluten-free waffle cone… I’m sorry, what!? How freaking cool! If you haven’t tried goat milk before, it has a unique and creamy texture and is also easier to digest (so I’ve heard) than regular cow dairy. It was so worth it (even at 10am on a Sunday).
A café that focuses all on relaxation and mindfulness, while also including a salon in the back.. that’s what we found at Chillhouse. When you walk in, they have a small menu set up where you can order an array of different elixirs like the “Give Me Life” (cacao, ginger, honey, cayenne) or the “Get Me Golden Turmeric Latte” (what I ordered) and they also have raw bliss balls, cheesecake brownies and vegan parfait bowls made with coconut yogurt. When you step in the back, they have a nail salon that’s pretty much always on a wait list so definitely sign up before you arrive! They have an entire booklet of funky designs for you to choose from, ranging from a $25 simple manicure to an $80 gel with designs. If you want something more, they offer massages (even deep tissue ones!) as well. I definitely would come back just for the salon services and not the drinks/food but it definitely is somewhere you come for the vibe/look over the product itself.
A staple any time I’m in New York, I visited Juice Press pretty much every day of my trip. On Saturday night I came down with the worst cold ever and immediately picked up every “wellness shot” they had. There was a location located relatively close to our hotel so we could walk there in less than 10 minutes. I grabbed their “rehab shot” (ginger, lemon and cayenne) which was so potent I literally had to dilute it with water and their “ginger fireball” (orange, ginger, lemon, cayenne, and oil of oregano) which was my favorite. On Monday before Soulcycle as I needed some energy, I tried one of their smoothies – The Harvey Wallbanger with The Works (coffee, almond milk, banana, cacao and vanilla). Definitely recommend!
Aside from juices and smoothies, they have a small selection of raw foods including granola, energy bars and kale chips. Oh and the best kelp noodles with pesto I’ve ever tried.
In addition to all of the above places I mentioned, I also stopped by The Butcher’s Daughter, Pressed Juicery, By Chloe, and The Broken Coconut but wasn’t completely blown away by them. In addition, these are a few spots I wish I could have gone to but definitely want to try at some point in the near future:
- Two Hands
- Egg Shop
- Café Henrie
- The Little Beet (We have one in Chicago and it’s delicious!)
- Dig Inn
- Matcha Bar (They have one in SoHo that has a kombucha matcha!)
- The End Brooklyn and The Good Sort (They both have “rainbow lattes”)
- Skyting Yoga
- MNDFL Meditation
- Inscape (Meditation)
- Blue Bottle Coffee (I go here in LA and it’s my favorite coffee ever)
- Soul Annex
- Rumble Boxing
- Box and Flow
- SLT (Megareformer pilates!)
After all of the many places I stopped in, walked by and adventured to – I’ve got to say New York City is quite the magical place. It was my third time there and it definitely won’t be my last. I hope everyone who visits after this post has an amazing experience! Let me know if you try any of the spots I went to, if you grab a dish or an #oatmilklatte at one of the coffee shops I dipped into and tag me — #chickpeasguidetonyc.
I hope you enjoyed this and enjoy your next travel adventure even more! Happy traveling.
This post was not sponsored, however some of the restaurants I spoke of and dined at offered me free meals as a common courtesy for trying and promoting their space. All thoughts, opinions and content is my own. Thank you for supporting this little chickpea! All the love.