March 9, 2017



We all love this city, even if there are no cabs to be found in a rainy day or the drippings of AC's raised above confuses one for a rainy day. It's is a blessing and a curse to live in a city where there is so much to do, so many places to see and be in. Yet, sometimes standing in a street corner, one can find themselves frantically yelping for an appropriate place. In those times, there's always the risk of finding yourself in a place where you've imagined otherwise. Or, there's always the risk of going to the very same restaurant without knowing someplace amazing might be hiding around the corner. Every street is a mystery with hidden treasures to be discovered. This post has no theme other than places that are under mentioned -if mentioned at all- even if you find yourself buried in Pinterest boards. In this post there is no over arching theme, an element that binds them together other than the fact that they are very under the radar. Therefore, it needs to be on yours. 


Rustic Table 


Gorgeous and delicious. Yes, every neighborhood beholds amazing places yet to be discovered. Yet, there are some neighborhoods more favorable then others in regards to venturing out for searching. To be honest, Hell's Kitchen has been an area yet to be unveiled for me. Maybe perhaps pre second avenue subway had been brutal; or perhaps in wanting to avoid Times Square , I've been avoiding anything west of 6th ave on 40's altogether. Full disclosure, I love the lights of Times Square. In the midst of over-stimulation everything else in my mind shuts down for a while. Considering that the whispering inner voice manages to come back even in the last minutes of shavasana, having it shut up for a while due to gigantic flashing billboards, is simply an amazing sensation. Uncontrollable crowds; however, is another story. All of a sudden walking on Broadway turns into an advance calculation of how to avoid being touched by other walking intruders. Yet when there's a place starred on my google maps as a must see spot, there is little I can do to avoid it. Alas, Rustic Table tucked away in Hell's Kitchen, protected by Times Square. 


(Image via @savannahjslaton)


Just like the name implies, the place is full of raw rustic charm. It is extremely small with one communal table surrounded by bar seating. Make friends at your own peril. You can expect to see industrial decor where piping is used for tables to lighting fixtures. Oh, and the play between bleached and glossed wood creates an elegant, softened backdrop. Communal "farmer's table" is made out of reclaimed wood; conceptually adding up to this places charm.  Dark wooden cases as well as wired ones accentuate the industrial feel. 


The concept behind this spot is to provide 'farm fresh' food with a Mediterranean twist so fast paced urban dwellers like us can enjoy the food as a farmer would. You can grab a bite to go, or stay in and indulge yourself in a farmesque, well lit, cozy environment. The place opens up at 7.30 but fills up very quickly even on a weekday. I have gotten the Balkan Croissant which was a-mazing and have my eye on the Fisherman's breakfast next. This place is a reminiscent of simpler times when less screenshots were being sent and finding a great house for Memorial Day was not this nerve wracking. The sensation is abruptly calm after pushing through a sea of bodies just two avenues prior. 


Two Hands 

(Image via @moodoverfood)


Because everyone needs clouds above their heads. If all fails, pots hanging from the ceiling will do. There's a pun there about having pot and heading to clouds, if anyone can verbalize it properly and write it in comments below, I would love to use it as a future caption. Leaving the satirical commentary at the section above, you can be assured that every word typed here on is written in utmost seriousness. I think the decor changed from clouds to pots recently -in the Mott street location; and I for one, hope that this is a seasonal change. Pots because, you know, spring; and clouds because winter rains on everyone's parade. 


(Image via @tbouras15)


With two spots in the city, Two Hands needs to be your next brunch spot.  Both Mott And Church street locations are charming in their own right. While the Mott street spot has the pots as decorative elements -thus the entre- church street has cacti.  Both spots are small -hey it's Manhattan- and they do not take reservations so expect to wait a little.  


If I were to play favorites, I'd say TriBeCa location was my preferred one. Only because I had my coffee in a blue cup. And I'm a sucker for succulents; they just enhance the vibe of any place by a lot immediately. And people say you can't have simple pleasures in life. I did try both locations, one after the other and the food was unforgiving. Meaning, I will definitely have to go back and try their acai bowls. Side note, when you head towards the TriBeCa location, don't forget to look up because it's right across the Jenga tower. 



Mandarin Oriental

(Image via @tonych_inc)


Speaking of clouds, this is as close as one can get to them -literally- on this post. Glamorously standing over Columbus circle, from the bar of Mandarin Oriental you can have a glimpse of cabs going round and round as well as the stark division of man made nature and concrete jungle. There really is not much to say besides that there's a bar and a view so what else do you need to hear? 


This is where you get the juxtaposition of man made organic jungle and the concrete one. Central Park vs Midtown. As the first landscaped park in the United States, in 1850's Central Park's biggest advocates were merchants.  A park would not only provide space for carriage rides, but also would refute the idea of Americans materialistic nature held by Europeans in that era. How interesting it is that a public park was deemed as a solution in altering social stigma. As the green carpet of Manhattan; Central Park indeed is a refuge from buildings piercing the sky. 


One unfortunate factor is that there is no outdoor portion; meaning one is doomed by a reflection of the glass while memorializing the view. Let's put those editing skills to test. Vsco is the best. 


City Bakery

(Image via @nicolejzhou)


This is a bit out of ordinary because I don't necessarily recommend spots for their edibles only. Well, every once in a while the rebel in me awakens, whispering 'it's ok to do something unexpected'. In another lifetime it would've been getting another tattoo. For now, its recommending a drink that's 70% chocolate and 70% marshmallow. Because living to the fullest means exceeding 100%. Since the winter decided to show itself again this week, here is a perfect comfort drink. If dense chocolate doesn't cure any workday problems, what will? This will warm even the hearts of those that are from north of the wall. 


P.S. I had added coffee into my hot chocolate once at work and it was simply life changing. If you've been following me around the city, you know coffee is simply a necessity for my survival. Combined with chocolate and slowly melting marshmallow... there are no words. 


The New Allen Project

(Image taken by @clarisapunla)


Because if the world can be your oyster, streets can be your gallery. The new Allen is a project by Baby Brasa, where street artist transforms Allen street in the LES.  It almost feels like there are two faces to the LES. Working hours; where shutters are hidden; and off hours when shutters come down and a new; more colorful, playful facade comes out. 


Just like it's shutters, Lower East Side's history is colorful as well. Historically speaking, Lower East Side used to be where immigrants resided. Thus, the tenements. In fact, in early 1900's population per acre exceeded that of Bombay, India. Imagine that for a second. More crowded than Bombay. Expansion to upper Manhattan was not happening through Broadway but through Bowery. Today, with all the new construction, LES is in the midst of a face lift. Regardless, the street scape is as vibrant through street art; whether it's raised above the sidewalk on the roofscape, or hidden behind raised shutters. 


With its rawness, the neighborhood is a prime spot for street art. To my surprise, google search did not reveal much about this ongoing project which makes me want to interview the creators if possible. Would that be something you'd be interested in? So far the ones I've had the chance to memorialize are the works of Baron Von Fancy, Hektad, and Edward Granger. If you had read my Instagram guide, you know 'Don't Call Me Baby' mural by Baron Von Fancy had a significant impact in finding my Instagram style. On another side note, Baby Brasa, the curators of the new Allen project, shares the name of a Peruvian restaurant owned by a chef who used to be a male underwear model. Just think about the google wormhole I was in. 


As a closing remark, it's important to emphasize the short lived existence of street art when not protected and respected. They are often graffitied over. It is always wise to rush to the site before the charm is forever lost under stencils and unwarranted spray paint. 


Hope this post will make you go out and about, even to the neighborhoods you don't frequent often. Portion of this post was written at a diner while involuntarily listening to SVU; thus the dramatic tone. Not to mention, the physce of the author was significantly altered after finishing the Brave New World. Regardless of the drama, if you like what you're reading, don't forget to subscribe! The link above for the Brave New World is an affiliate link meaning I will be earning a percentage if you were to choose to purchase the book. 


(Image taken by @clarisapunla)





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