I have to admit, this has been a challenging post to put together! There are so many places I love in the city and want to share with you, that it's pretty impossible to narrow things down. Not to mention the fact that there are undoubtedly a ton of places I'm omitting because I haven't experienced them or even heard of them! Cool places are always popping up and disappearing.
If you're headed to the city anytime soon, check out some of my all-time favorite places....
restaurants + bars
Joe's - For classic, thin and saucy New York pizza. The sauce is sweet and amazing!
Artichoke - Highly recommend the namesake artichoke pizza (it's like artichoke dip but pizza) or the margherita.
Roberta's - Known for being some of the best pizza in the world, these slices are blackened and a little spicy.
Martha's Country Bakery - You can get pretty much any dessert you want here and everything is delicious.
Levain - They make the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. They're big and gooey and perfect.
Almondine - A cute little spot in DUMBO where you can get beautiful pastries as well as a French bakery lunch to take to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Dos Caminos - Great place for margaritas, chips and guac, and queso. It's kind of hard to find queso in the city, so this is the spot!
Dos Toros - My favorite tacos in the city. I'd probably eat them once everyday if I could.
Sophie's Cuban Cuisine - Try the fried plantains, veggie empanadas, and the white bean avocado salad.
Han Dynasty - They make the most delicious lo mein! I'm partial to the location in the basement food hall of City Point in Brooklyn.
Momofuku Noodle Bar - The go-to ramen spot.
Nanatori - My best friend and I found this little spot in downtown Brooklyn late one night right before closing and it was the most relaxing experience. Plus, the service is wonderful and they give you a palate cleanser with your bill.
Sweethaus - My favorite little cafe in Williamsburg! They have really good food (try the grilled cheese and tomato soup), yummy desserts, and it is really cute. They have a wall of candy and a 'frosting room'!
Toby's Estate - Toby's Estate is my favorite coffee place to meet with friends or to have a chai and kill time. There are several locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but the beautiful Williamsburg location is my favorite.
Maman - Incredible food and the cutest ambiance. Their SoHo location has an adorable market next door, too!
Blossom - I had the best meal of my life here: seitan scallopini with pomme puree and sauteed kale followed by a flight of vegan sorbet. If you are plant-based (and even if you're not), you must eat here. I also love that it has a very classic, laid-back vibe.
Candle 79 - For a higher end vegan meal, I highly recommend Candle 79. They serve the most beautiful, organic and plant-based food at their restaurant. I vividly remember loving the fact that they serve the food at room temperature, which makes it so much better.
The Butcher's Daughter - This is a great spot for a quick juice or a casual breakfast.
Swift's - I love this cozy bar in NoHo. It kind of has an elevated Harry Potter vibe even though it is Jonathan Swift themed. Really great for people who like books and cozy things!
The Clocktower - Located inside the gorgeous New York Edition hotel. The bar is housed in what used to be the old MetLife offices, so it is very elegant with a great old world vibe.
Dig Inn - I love Dig Inn for a a healthy lunch during the work day. They have a build-your-own market bowl setup with really good warm food options like coconut roasted carrots and Jasper Hill mac + cheese.
Le Pain Quotidien - Le Pain is kind of like a fancier Panera, a sort-of upgraded fast casual. The food is really good and there are lots of locations across the city.
Taz Cafe - I order my lunch from here quite a bit when I'm working in FiDi simply because they have one of the biggest menus I've ever seen. You can pretty much get whatever you desire from this one place.
Veselka - This Ukrainian spot is my favorite in the city and is open 24-hours a day. I can't tell you how many times I've been here at all hours of the day and night eating pierogies, drinking egg creams, and making memories.
Bluestone Lane - I adore this healthy, Australian spot that has a couple of different locations. My favorite locations is in the West Village on the corner. I've tried nearly everything on the menu and it's all good, but definitely try the gluten-free banana bread.
The Strand - It's not just my favorite bookstore, it's also an iconic New York spot where you can explore eighteen miles of discounted books. There's also a ton of cute, kitschy things like keychains, candles, and notebooks.
Housing Works - This used bookstore in SoHo has a rustic, magical vibe like what I imagine Flourish & Blotts would look like. It is entirely run by volunteers and proceeds go to the causes of AIDS and homelessness.
Rizzoli - This book publisher has an absolutely beautiful store near Flatiron. Definitely check it out for coffee table books and gorgeous vibes.
ABC Carpet & Home - This is the mothership for anyone who loves home decor and design. It's like a huge, well-curated and high-end flea market with everything from gorgeous rugs to door knobs and pillows.
Roman & Williams - You all know I love R&W. I always say you can just feel how luxurious their products are by being in their presence. From big furniture to accessories and flatware, this is where you should go to splurge.
Anthropologie at Chelsea Market - This is my favorite Anthropologie store in general because it is huge and very well merchandised, but they have an especially good home section here.
The Oculus - No matter your style, you'll find several stores in the Oculus that you'll love. My favorites are Cos, &Other Stories, and Reiss.
Nolita - Some of the best boutiques and brand exclusive stores are in this area near SoHo, away from the frustrating bustle of Soho itself. You'll find Everlane, Brandy Melville, Kith, and the boutique Warm.
Saks 5th Avenue - You could also go to Bergdorf's or Barney's but I'm kind of partial to the magical feeling they create at Saks 5th Avenue, especially around the holidays.
Credo Beauty - All natural, ethical, and cruelty free beauty products. I love shopping here because I know that anything I buy will meet a rigorous set of standards.
Sephora Union Square - This is my favorite Sephora in the city. It isn't huge, but it's never too crowded and has really good lighting.
SpaceNK Apothecary - A cute little store in Williamsburg for a curated selection of luxury beauty like Byredo and Tata Harper.
The High Line - No matter how touristy it has become, the High Line will always be one of my favorite outdoor spots in the city. I love getting an ice-cream from Bubby's and walking along the whole High Line.
Brooklyn Bridge Park - I love this area in Dumbo, both Brooklyn Bridge Park and Main Street Park. It's right on the water with a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline. You can check out Jane's Carousel, the West Elm headquarters, and the cute little rocky beach.
Jefferson Market Garden - This is actually the garden outside my library and it is the most magical little spot. It's tiny, but filled with beautiful flowers and trickling fountains.
Central Park - Specifically around Bow Bridge, Gapstow Bridge, the Ramble, Belvedere Castle, and the model sailboat pond.
Williamsburg Cinemas - My go-to theater because it's near my neighborhood and it is super cheap, especially for a new releases theater in the city. You only pay like $11 for a ticket as opposed to $17+ anywhere in Manhattan.
Alamo Drafthouse - I love, love, love treating myself to a film at Alamo Drafthouse. They serve a full menu of food and play cute vintage films before the movie.
The Angelika - This theater is really nostalgic for me because it's where I would go to see films when I was interning in the city. I saw some of my all-time favorite movies for the first time here. You can sometimes feel the subway beneath your feet in the theater which is really charming.
Marie's Crisis - This is the most fun place in the city. You go and drink beers and sing Broadway songs with a live pianist. It is the tiniest, most dive-y place ever but it is so much fun.
House of Yes - My favorite 'club' in the city because they host elaborate theme parties with crazy live entertainment. Plus, you never get that creepy, aggressive vibe that I always experience at other clubs. They're very deliberate about creating an inclusive, safe environment.