Here are a few food and drink tips for anyone going to either city...
- Chappy's Tap Room & Grille. This is an oasis for beer lovers, and the food is dang good too.
- Veritas - this used to be a high end, white table cloth, expensive place with a spectacular wine selection. Wall Streeters were the primary clientele, along with perhaps couples splurging on for that big anniversary or special occassion. We were one of those couples a few years ago and enjoyed it. However, that incarnation died at the very moment the economy and Wall Street went in the tank back in 2008. Today, the restaurant is still in the same location, still called Veritas and still has a wonderful wine list. However, the decor, service and food selections are dialed down to a more casual and affordable level. It's still a nice place to be sure and the dinner I had was great. But, the whole affair is more approachable.
- Hi-Life - this is one of those joints that as an out-of-towner you would just walk right past and not really think much about. There are two Hi-Life's in NYC, and I was at the one on the Upper West Side. This little joint has a diverse menu (chicken pasta bowl over here, sushi plate over there, steak, salads, etc.), local beer on tap (I had the Blue Point Lager) and a nice setting. In warm weather you can sit outside and watch the NYC world go by. Casual, affordable and unpretentious.
- Wong - a new place in the west village with an inventive menu. Small, popular and tastey, this hit the spot for us as we'd been craving some good Asian fare. I had the Cha Ca La Vong.
- Dos Caminos - above average Mexican food at several locations around the city. We ate at the one in midtown. Just what we wanted after a morning of hoofing around the city.
- DaNico - ironically, one thing New York's Little Italy is not known for is great Italian food. However, DaNico's is pretty dang good. It's more the rustic Tuscan and Sicilian fare rather than high end Northern Italian. But, relax...not everything has to be "hot, hip and trendy." Have a good time and enjoy some hearty Italian food and plenty of good wine selections in Little Italy.
- Pravda Bar - an old favorite and still a happening joint in the later hours of the evening. It's literally underground and decked out in Russian decor, and all this makes sense as they specialize in vodka drinks. We tasted a few of the home made infused vodkas on offer.
- Jane - for our last meal in NYC before heading home, we had brunch at a place called Jane on Houston Street. Brunch is a big deal in NYC, and picking your place can be a hit and miss affair. This place had good reviews online, was within striking distance of our hotel via subway and...you can make reservations. This last thing was the clincher. Most places you cannot reserve, so you end up standing in line for an hour or two waiting. Not so here. And, turns out we made a good choice. A nice place, great food (several types of unique Bennedicts) and friendly service. Note: They don't serve any alcoholic beverages at brunch before 12 p.m.