Well, in this week of packing and taping and driving and unloading, I've progressed quite nicely from feeling nostalgic about leaving our current neighborhood to being just plain antsy to settle into the new one. Still, it feels like the right time to compile a little list of neighborhood favorites. While it's still fresh, and all.
1. Toast on Broadway and 125th. This bar and restaurant also has a location "downtown" on Broadway and 105th, but if, like me, you enjoy eavesdropping on Columbia students' dates, then the original is your best bet. This is a wonderful Friday night cheap date spot for big burgers and a slew of fun beers to try. The blue cheese stuffed burger is particularly good.
2. Voza on Columbus and 106th. When I first came to New York, I had the crazy idea to walk home from Rockefeller Center. It took over an hour, and I never did it again, but it was a great way to see a lot of the neighborhood. I passed by Voza on this walk, and it looked so charming that Peter and I went there for dinner the very next night. It's not life-altering food, but is that what you really want from your neighborhood spot? It is cute and the service is good and (if you're lucky!) they'll bring you a free little appetizer while you're waiting for your food.
3. El Malecon Restaurant II at Amsterdam and 97th. Really, really great rotisserie chicken and fried plantains for really, really cheap.
4. Thai Market at Amsterdam and 108th. I suppose most people have a favorite Thai place in the city, and this is certainly mine. It's clean and quick and the Pad Thai is consistently delicious. It's also a great place to take guests for a fun New Yorker-ish experience without being very expensive. Peter and I have both taken our families and friends, and it's always been a hit.
5. Absolute Bagels at Broadway and 108th. Arguably the best bagel in the city. The everything bagel with fresh herb cream cheese, the sesame bagel with cheddar and bacon cream cheese, the plain bagel with garlic and chive cream cheese. I could go on, but you should really just hop on the 1 train and experience it's awesome-ness for yourself.
6. La Negrita at Columbus and 109th. A great neighborhood bar for going out to when you don't feel like going out (I can't be the only one who feels this way with some regularity...). They have comfy couches and live music and trivia. And, of course, fun drinks.
7. Max Soha at Amsterdam and 122nd. A wonderful pasta place. Also a fantastic spot for spying on those precious Columbia students. The service can be slightly spotty, but when you're bill is so inexpensive and the pasta is so good, all is forgiven.
8. Taqueria y Fonda la Mexicana at Amsterdam and 108th. Delicious, gigantic burritos. Peter requested this be our last meal here. That's probably as good an endorsement as any.