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Our recent trip to New York City was a long time coming. We planned and plotted throughout the entire summer and fall in order to make it happen within our very slim budget. Because of this, we decided to spend the bulk of our trip staying in an Airbnb where we could cook – just like we do at home. While those meals are not included in this post, we did have a pretty authentic experience at the Williamsburg Whole Foods trying to grocery shop for the week. Stay tuned for a blog post about budget travel coming soon!

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But we didn’t want to miss out on all of the delicious food that surrounded us in the city, and we were fortunate enough to be able to afford a few nights out on the town.

So here it is: What We Ate in New York City!

We arrived at our amazing hotel, the Arlo NoMad, around 8:00 PM on our first night in New York. So in true NYC fashion, we went to dinner at around 11. My best friend Hanna (who lives in New York) shares not only my name, but also my love of bomb food – so she took us straight to an amazing vegan Mexican restaurant in Manhattan called Jajaja

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The nachos from Jajaja

Jajaja is a restaurant we 100% recommend to anyone visiting (or living) in NYC. The restaurant itself is completely adorable. Featuring beaded curtains, plants-gone-wild, and a homey, comfortable vibe, Jajaja welcomed us with open arms. And it was the best kind of welcome too – the kind that came with generous portions of authentic, flavorful Mexican food. 

Coming from two Angelinos, that’s a pretty high praise. 

With Hanna’s help, we ordered some local favorites from the menu including: the Nachos, the Papusas, the Chipotle Sweet Potato Tacos, and the Buffalo Flower Tacos. Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried the shiitake “bacon” on those papusas. 

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Top left: The papusas, top right: chipotle sweet potato tacos, bottom: buffalo flower tacos.

We all sipped on some beautiful frozen drinks throughout dinner, and wrapped it up with some truly mouthwatering churros. Unfortunately, those are not pictured, but you’ll have to take our word for it – they were everything

The next day, we went out for brunch at Le Pain Quotidien

Incredibly, we just discovered that this place is a chain that also has locations in LA, so we just got way more excited about our food prospects here in California!

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Hannah’s prosciutto, ricotta, and fig tartine
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Ariana’s smoked salmon and avocado tartine

This place is not only super cute, but it also has a diverse menu full of breakfast and lunch options ideal for a quick bite with friends. We both ordered tartines: smoked salmon and avocado for Ariana and prosciutto, ricotta, and fig for me. Our rating? Another 10/10. 

Later that night, we headed over to the Arlo SoHo for dinner at Harold’s

After walking through a dreamy, blue-lit hallway, we were greeted by the smell of Harold’s indulgent and delicious menu. We sat down with the assistance of possibly the nicest server we have ever had, and started our meal with drinks, chicken wings, and some seriously good herb biscuits. Could it get any better than this? 

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Chicken wings and biscuits at Harold’s

It turns out, it could.

That Saturday night, we had the date night of our dreams at Harold’s. We both ordered based on our server’s recommendation, and we were not disappointed. I got the Pasta of the Day, which was lamb agnolotti smothered in tomato sauce, and Ariana ordered the Trofie with herb cream sauce and arugula. Two heaping plates of artfully crafted pasta later, we were stuffed… until our server brought out the cheesecake. 

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top left: lamb agnolotti, bottom right: trifle with herb cream and arugula

I think by now the trend is clear… the cheesecake was also bomb.

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Cheesecake from Harold’s
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Ariana with our mini ice creams. 

But that wasn’t the end! As we finished our drinks and put on our coats, our server brought over the cutest little tray of ice cream cones. With one mini cone for each of us, we ended our Saturday night in the sweetest way possible. 

Two days later, we had our second NYC Bagel. 

We actually had our first bagel from the Arlo NoMad’s 24/7 bodega (luckily, this was when we figured out what shmear meant). You can read more of our testimony in our post about our stay here!

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Bagels from the Arlo NoMad Bodega

The second bagel was a much more intense NYC experience, as they were bagel sandwiches from a shop a few blocks away from our Airbnb. I tried so hard to find this place, but Google is not being helpful. It does look a lot like this place though, so you get the idea. 

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Bagel from the mystery place down the street from our Airbnb

Honestly, I can’t be too hard on myself for not remembering the name of the place. It was a Monday morning, and I woke up to no coffee in the house. After 2 hours of work with no coffee, we finally ventured to get breakfast and caffeine, at which point I was a literal zombie. On the bright side, the bagels were really, really good. 

Fast forward to Ariana’s Birthday, we went out for a museum date and some much needed exploring.

However, the city had other plans. Between the wind and snow, we left the house late and arrived at the MET just in time for it to close. That’s when we stumbled into the warmth of Nectar Cafe two blocks away from Museum Mile. We shed our coats and warmed up with hot tea, apple crumb cake, and chocolate lava cake. While I was under the impression that we would share, it turned out that Ariana wanted her cake all to herself. She was the birthday girl after all!

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Top right: chocolate lava cake, bottom left: apple crumb cake

We braved the winds for more exploring, and headed into my favorite store in NYC. 

It may seem weird to anyone who hasn’t experienced the greatness of this store, but Flying Tiger is in fact the best store in NYC. At least, it is in my opinion. I know this isn’t a food-related place, but just humor me! If you go to NYC, go to Flying Tiger. I promise you won’t regret it. 

After some shopping, we headed back to Williamsburg…

…with the intention of going to The Saint Austere, a restaurant our friends Corey and Christian recommended to us. However, after climbing up the subway steps, we were slapped by an especially icy wind. So when I pointed out that we were walking by a pho place shortly after, Ariana practically leaped for the door!

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Beef pho from Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches

And so we had an amazing and spontaneous birthday dinner at Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches

And that is the end of our NYC food journey! Kind of. We did order Chinese takeout like any responsible New York visitor, and we did in fact eat it in bed. We also had a bad habit of ordering chocolate croissants anytime we stopped for a coffee. Our favorites were from The Croissanteria in the East Village.  

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Well, there you have it folks! That’s what we ate in New York City. If you’re a NYC local or visitor, let us know your favorite places in the comments!

Until Next Time,

Ariana & Hannah

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