New York City Three Ways: Food Tour, Top of the Rock and Broadway Show

Trip Two:  24 Hours in NYC
Food Tour, Top of the Rock, and Broadway Show

In part two of our series on 24 hours in New York City Three Ways (read, Couple’s Getaway, our first in the series), we’ll cover a popular itinerary which includes a Broadway Show, a local food tour and a trip to the Top of the Rock. 

My brother and I travel a few times a year to the city for lunch and a Broadway Show.  We decided to spend the night and experience the city from the tourist point of view, taking in as many of the sights as we could in a 24 hour period.

11:00 am arrival to Grand Central via Metro North.  Five block walk to our hotel,  Millenium Hilton New York, One UN Plaza

12:00 pm Walked back to Grand Central to pick up the Metro. Grand Central to Bleeker St on the Green Line.   We were meeting up with a pre-scheduled food tour.  The tour was free (you tip what you feel is fair) and pay for the items you choose to taste.  A few of the locations were walk by only, but once the tour is over, if you want to return to any location, you are free to do so.

12:30 pm Arrival in East Village.

The Lower East Side was predominantly the Jewish section of New York during the late 19th and early 20th Century. It’s commonly known to house the city’s most recent influx of immigrants. And, while there are still plenty of Jewish owned delicatessens and synagogues, there are also Halal grocery stores, Indian delis, and Latin American restaurants.

 

12:40 pm. We were starving and early for our tour, so we decided to begin our tasting.  We had a cherry Blintze, a potato and spinach knish and an Eggcream at Yonah Shimmel’s Knishery. This little Lower East Side business has been selling Knishes since 1890.  There are a few small tables and a counter for to-go purchases.  *If you choose to sit in the restaurant to eat, the cost of the menu items increase, which they refer to as a “table tax”.  If you aren’t familiar with these types of Jewish and New York cuisines, I have included a link: Blintzes, Knishes  and Eggcreams.

1:00 pm. Tours by the Foot Food Tour of Lower East Side.  Dan was our tour guide.  He described himself as a local, who grew up on the Lower East Side.  He gave us some great insight on growing up in NYC, the changing socio-economic landscape of the Lower East Side, and the current gentrification of the area.

This is a list of the restaurants we stopped by.  I have also marked which ones a tasting was available for.

 

Yonah Shimmel’s Knishery, East Houston Ave  *potato knish

Russ and Daughter’s Appetizers, 179 E Houston St (they also have a location on Orchard St)

Katz’s Deli 205 E Houston St

Punjabi Grocery and Deli  114 E 1st St  *Vegetarian Samosa

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery  123 Rivington  *Free to enter the shop and buy on your own. * Known for their cupcakes and pudding shots

Economy Candy  108 Rivington St   *Free to enter the shop and buy on your own

Kossar’s Bagels & Bialys 367 Grand St  Have you ever heard of a Bialy?  *Free to enter the shop and buy on your own

Doughnut Plant  379 Grand St       *Free to enter the shop and buy on your own

The Pickle Guys  357 Grand St      *Free to enter the shop and buy on your own

North Dumpling  27a  Essex St     *Vegetarian and/or pork dumplings

3:00 pm.  Metro Station to the Brooklyn Highline. Delancey St Station to the Orange line, transfer at West 4 St, Washington Square to the Blue line, off at 14th St/8th Ave. Enter the Highline at Gansevoort St Entrance.

The Highline is a 1.45 mile linear park, that follows an old railroad line, high above Brooklyn. It is a beautiful way to take in the city, and feel a little like a local. There are several ways to exit, several restaurants along the way, art exhibits and gardens to enjoy (in season). If you walk the length of the park, you will find yourself at 34th and 11th Avenue, Uber/taxi back to Midtown, or find 34th St/Hudson Station and head Uptown on the Purple 7 to Grand Central.

5:00 pm   Metro to Grand Central to check in to our hotel.  We hit the jackpot of Hilton upgrades–a two bedroom, two bath suite with amazing views of the NYC skyline, all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge!

6:00 pm. Walk to Rockefeller Center, between 48th and 51st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, for the Top of the Rock Tour.  Even though we really did not want to leave our hotel room view, the VIP tour experience was so worth it.

*Tickets for Top of the Rock can be purchased online or in person. Children under 6 are free.  Be aware tickets are timed and may not be available when you arrive.  I would recommend buying in advance for your specific time frame, or buying VIP. We bought advance VIP tickets online and they were completely worth it. When purchasing tickets online, you can choose a ticket that allows both a daytime tour and an evening tour. You do not have to stick to a time. You show up on the day, when you are ready. When we arrived, they immediately advanced us to the front of the line (still have to go through the metal detectors and bag checks) and whisked us up the elevators to the Top!  We were the envy of everyone waiting, and it was a long line!

If you have been to the Empire State Building, in my opinion, this was a much more enjoyable tour. Rockefeller is not as tall, but the views are just as spectacular and the scenery is unobstructed by wire. You get a view of the Empire State Building as well.

*When entering the viewing platform, go left around the corner, and look left for a small staircase.  There is another level and viewing platform most don’t realize is there.  Take the staircase and take in the views, uninterrupted by crowds and selfie sticks.

 

7:45 pm. Walk to Broadway for our 8:00 pm Broadway Show at the Cort Theater, 138 W 48th St.

It never gets old for me walking through New York City’s Theater District. I get giddy seeing all the lights and patrons, long lines of guests waiting to enter, and hope for the possibility of a celebrity sighting or two (it has happened more than once!) No two theaters are alike, and I truly enjoy the experience of seeing the heavy red velvet curtains, the ornate, dimly lit theatre boxes, the Playbills, the concessions bar, the rich gold leafed ceiling medallions and winding staircases. Each performance is a new experience, as that is the draw of live theater.

*If you haven’t planned for a show, or are not picky about what you would like to see, visit the TKTS Booth in Times Square. Tickets are available at a discount (up to 50% off) the morning of the evening show and matinee tickets are available the day before.  You can also download the TKTS app on your phone and decide if there is something you are interested in seeing prior to making the trip to Times Square, and then waiting in a potentially long line.

*Tickets can be purchased in advance through Ticketmaster.com, Telecharge.com or Broadway.com.  You can also push your luck and show up at the theater to see if tickets are available the day of the show.  I subscribe to theatermania.com and receive discounts for upcoming shows.

10:00 pmYama Ramen, 60 W 48th St (very close to Rockefeller Center)  to discuss the show and indulge in incredible soup and shumai.

11:00 pm post dinner drink at the Pig and Whistle, 58 W 48th St (downstairs from Yama Ramen)

Next Day 10:00 am. Walk back to Rockefeller Plaza to visit Blue Bottle for the most expensive coffee EVER!   My brother listened to a podcast that referred to a coffee bean selling for $200.00 a pound, and a cup of coffee was available at Blue Bottle for $16.00 a cup. It was a bust; the coffee was sold out and no longer available, but we visited the street artists and sipped on $5.00 coffee instead. Had I done a little more research, I could have taken him to Brooklyn to Extraction Lab Cafe, on 51 35th Street. They apparently give you the ultimate coffee experience for only $18.00.

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