Columbus discovered America but we discovered Columbus Circle.
The other day D and I set out to explore Columbus Circle. We came across another amazing kosher ice cream place: 16HandlesxMochiDoki! ( hashgacha under Rabbi Mehlmen) It is a little food vendor part of TurnStyle, an underground market, located beneath 8th ave between 57th and 58th St at the Southern tip of the Columbus Circle subway station, no metrocard necessary to enter. The place sells various flavors consistent with other 16 handles locations but what is unique is the rainbow display of mochi! Mochi is a ball of ice cream wrapped in a Japanese rice dough. This treat is popular in Japan and the U.S and this is the first kosher place I know to sell Mochi! It is a soft delicious treat that I will most definitely have me returning to TurnStyle!
As I said we were exploring the area of Columbus Circle, and it is so fun! During the day it is a beautiful point to enter Central Park and have a walk. The nearby Museum of Art and Design offers free admission Thursday nights and often has hands on exhibits. But one of my favorite spots is the Ascent Lounge, this is a quiet lounge on the 4th floor in the shopping mall and has beautiful view of the fountains below! There are a couple of bars and lounges in the area but this one was my favorite. You can use the escalators to climb all the way up and make a pit stop in the new Amazon book store.
We finished off the night getting dinner at Cafe Classico on 57th st although we did have a hard time choosing between that and the Great American Health Bar just downstairs. (under OK hasgacha)
Other Lounges in the area:
Library Bar at Hudson and Rooftop terrace: a cozy bar in the Hudson Hotel with leather sofas, an antique pool table and lots of books that continues onto a rooftop deck with lots of seating. The Hudson hotel is located on 58th and has a very easy to miss entrance. Its located on the left side of the block coming from 8th ave and one flight up the swanky yellow escalators.
The Empire Rooftop & Lounge: (for fans of Chuck Bass) a swanky sports bar with a retractable roof for all weather lounging. The Empire Hotel is one of NYC’s most iconic located on 63rd
Lobby Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental: the name can be deceiving because this lounge is located on the 35th floor but it has a wonderful view of the area. It often gets full and is best to make a reservation.
Dizzy’s Club Coco-Cola: a Jazz Club that offers cheap and discounted tickets to some of the best music in NYC it is located on the 60th entrance to the shops at columbus. There is $10 minimum for drinks. I recommend getting a table seating because often the bar seating is just a chair against the wall. However you will most likely share your table with other groups.
I know I am writing this a bit late but truthfully, it is never to late to discover the Arlo Hotels of NYC. There are two hotels, one in Soho and one in Nomad and both are worth a visit. We first visited the Arlo Soho Hotel on a cold February night because we read about their winter tents but we stayed because of the cool lobby ambiance. Don’t get me wrong, the tents located in the back garden of the main level are very hip and fully furnished in camping vibe rocking chairs and wool throws. The tents are so hip that they were all occupied with the front zipper down for privacy ( which didn’t stop me from knocking on the canvas to sneak a peak inside).
There are two more tents located on the roof but sadly those did not have heaters and as I mentioned above it was a cold night. Even with the tents all taken we ended up staying at the Arlo for hours in a lounge on the second floor with some games we found in the lobby shelves.
The public area includes a bar just beyond the entrance the garden with “camp Arlo” open all year, a lobby with many seating options and some games and books along the shelves and second floor lounge with a sort of office meeting chill vibe. Just to the left beyond the entrance is a posh 24 hr bodega that carries some packaged kosher snacks and drinks.
Although I visited in the winter this place is worth a visit any season. In fact, Camp Arlo Spring Fest starts April 21. If you need more convincing, in the warmer weather the rooftop bar would actually be a viable option and offer great views of downtown.
If however you want views of midtown (specifically the empire state building ) head to The Heights rooftop bar in Arlo NoMad. The rooftop has comfortable seating and is a great place to hang out, talk and grab a drink. There is even a glass bottom floor!! We loved the view and guessing why the Empire state building was all pink! The NoMad location also has some swanky urban indoor lounge areas including the Barlo, an inviting space on the 2nd floor featuring cozy seating and a full bar.
Both locations feature live music, movie nights and game nights check the Affairs tab on the website arlohotels.com.
Ok so I may be a bit bias because I work on Roosevelt Island but I think it is a great place to come explore and I keep telling people to visit (and bring food because the Island is lacking in the food department). Roosevelt Island is reachable by car from Queens and by the F subway train or Ferry from Queens or Manhattan. However, the tram from Manhattan is the best way to visit if you’re in it for the experience. The Roosevelt Island tram leaves from 2nd ave and 59th – one block away from Bloomingdales one of my favorite NYC landmarks!! The riding the tram is basically like on a ferris wheel in an amusement park, except NYC is the amusement park!
The southern park is closest to the tram station, just exit the tram and make a left when you are facing the Manhattan skyline. You will walk underneath the Queensborough bridge [ FYI, interesting fact, the bridge use to have a car elevator as transportation to the island before the welfare bridge, tram or train]. The buildings you will pass on the left are part of the new Cornell Tech campus that was just featured on the cover of Architectural Digest and catches beautiful reflections of sunset. The Cornell Tech Café in the Bloomberg building is open to visitors and has some Cornell Ithaca made kosher ice cream!
Continuing past Cornell Tech along the water you will get to the entrance of Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. The park contains the creepy remnants of the small pox hospital as well as a dedication to President Roosevelt and his speech about the Four Freedoms. The park offers great views of both Manhattan and Queens. I love coming to this park on my lunch breaks, it almost feels like my own secret garden with only a handful of tourist and the occasional school trips. Starting April 21st the park is hosting the Cheery Blossom Festival of 2018 and I think there is no better time to come visit! ( I mean look at these beautiful trees!!)
As I mentioned before, food is not Roosevelt Islands strong point. Just one block north of the tram station along the water is Starbucks and Duane Reade – my two main sources of nourishment when I forget my lunch at home. Also note, because Roosevelt Island has become mainly residential Starbucks may close earlier than other NYC locations so check times before your visit.
A little known fact, the Island has its own transportation that happens to be free! The red bus with the logo RIOC loops around the Island and is the easiest way to get from the tram to the north park and the old lunatic asylum. In my opinion the north park is not as fantastic as its southern counterpart. The north park does have a 50 foot stone lighthouse that stands at the northern most tip of the island hence, it is often called the Lighthouse park. If you want to avoid the tourists visit the Lighthouse park, but if honestly the Four Freedoms Park should not be missed.
Feel free to venture down main street in these absurdly quaint NYC neighborhood and then come visit me at work! I hope you enjoy!