Due to a little illness and a recent surgery, I will be spending the holidays at home, on the couch, with an open fire, some hot cocoa, and lots of bad TV. If I did have the chance to go out for a day in the city, this is what I would do:
Start off in the late AM with brunch at AQ Kafe. For those of us who can’t be home for the holidays, Swedish pancakes and a kaffe latte at a Swedish cafe is the next bext thing. After that I’d head north in Central Park, where the “other” ice skating rink is located. Most people make their way to Wollman’s rink or skip Central Park for Rockefeller Center – as a result both rinks are absolutely over crowded, filled with tourists and obnoxious New Yorkers who think they own the rink. Lasker Rink, however, is located around 106th street in Central Park, which means you have to venture to the Harlem side and most people just won’t do it. Hence, I nice quieter skating rink where you can enjoy the beauty of the park surroundig you instead of worrying about who you’re skating in to.
After skating, I’m always hungry, so I’d head to Cafe Lalo on 83rd street and Amsterdam Avenue. Lalo was one of the original hangouts for my Swedish expat crew in New York. We’d meet there maybe once a month for lunch. Grab one of their delicious salads, or possibly just skip the main course and head straight for coffee and dessert. They have over 100 different cake types, each one more delicious than the next. Lalo was made famous in the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks tear-jerker “You’ve Got Mail,” but now that the move is 10+ years old, I think it’s just a tad easier to get seats at this European style cafe.
After lunch I’d head downtown for a stroll in Soho. With the infllux of mainstream stores that have pushed out many of the small boutiques and galleries that made Soho famous, it doesn’t quite have the same charm anymore. But I still enjoy walking down some of the side streets and watching tourists mingle with the natives walking their dogs. It’s a great opportunity to do some last minute gift shopping too. Broome Street, West Broadway, and Wooster are my favorite streets, especially for the home decor stores.
I’d end my day at Fanelli’s Cafe on Prince Street and Mercer.Fanelli’s is one of the original food joints in Soho, opened in the late 1800s. It’s survived the many face lifts of the neighborhood, mainly by staying true to serving no-nonsense bar food and cheap but strong drinks in a low-key bistro-type atmosphere. Don’t miss the jack-cheese burger and make sure to get a side salad plus fries – both are too good to miss.
Sit back, relax, grab a few drinks and trade stories of your day. Just keep the noise level down or the bartender will call you out. But that’s part of the familiar atmosphere of this joint.