Apologies for being late with this travel blog post. I took a long break from the blog because I was on holiday and I still want to share memories and photos from my trip. Better late than never, right?
First, let’s talk about the amazing food my husband and I had in New York. We spent a couple days before the cruise in the city and a couple days after the cruise in the city and got plenty of opportunities to try a bunch of different restaurants. Since my parents and my brother are not vegetarians, my husband and I decided to go on our own and go where we wanted to go, but my family did join for a couple of meals and what they had, they enjoyed. Overall, I was really impressed with the food, but the prices are high. I mean, it is New York and restaurants gotta pay rent and overhead somehow, right?
If you want to save money, take advantage of the breakfasts at the hotel. The Hyatt Place has a really nice breakfast with non-dairy milk and some hot foods. Because of free breakfasts, we’d usually only eat one big meal out and that was it.
For those who are new to my travel blogs or don’t know much about me, I am a longtime vegetarian and have been vegan since the beginning of 2017. My husband has been a vegetarian since the beginning of 2018. Since where we live there aren’t a lot of vegan friendly places to eat (there are no 100% vegetarian restaurants where we are), we really take advantage whenever we travel and I really appreciate the fact that I don’t have to stick to just one menu item. The reasons I dine at purely vegetarian/vegan places is because I like to travel worry free – no worries about order mix ups or cross contamination – and I like to support businesses with good ethics. Although the initial reason I went vegetarian (and later vegan) was for my health, I still care about animals and I morally disagree with consuming animal products.
Veganuary may be over, but let’s call this month Free From February. Free from what? Free from meat, dairy, and eggs! 😃🐮🐓🐷🐟🌱
Like all of my travel reviews so far, nothing is sponsored. These are all my honest opinions. I’m not famous enough (yet!) to get sponsored by any restaurants or hotels or tourist destinations.
Meal 1: By Chloe delivery
By Chloe is a great go-to vegan place that is relatively affordable in New York City. I usually eat here more than once when I go to New York because there are many locations and the price is a lot better than other places.
Because our flight arrived late and we were hungry and tired, we decided to order delivery. There was a Chipotle nearby, but who travels all the way to New York just to go to Chipotle? I travel so I can do things that I can’t do at home.
My husband and I relaxed in the hotel room and got our food delivered. What did we order? Burgers, bacon mac & cheese, and bacon cheese chips. The best parts of the meal were the chipotle mayo and the mac & cheese. This definitely reminds me of times we went to Lord of the Fries in Australia, but I think By Chloe has more frills.
Meal 2: Beyond Sushi with the parents
We spent the whole day moving from one hotel to the other. My dad is a bargain hunter and when he travels, he likes to take advantage of free hotel nights that he earns through credit card points, so we had to move from one hotel from one side of the city to the other.
After that, we tried to take the subway to Central Park, but because of misleading signs we went in the completely wrong direction and had to take a detour by bus. Thankfully, some locals and public transport staff were incredibly helpful and got us there, although really late. We walked around and went to Strawberry Fields and Sheeps Meadow. So beautiful!
Afterwards, we went to Beyond Sushi since it was walking distance from Central Park. As the name implies, there’s more than just sushi there. My husband got sliders and they have really nice desserts. It’s a bit pricey, but the food is excellent and I love the presentation.
Later that day, we went to Times Square and saw some Christmas lights:
Meal 3: Champs Diner
The weather was nasty, but we had no choice but to do the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour that day because my dad pre booked for that day not knowing what the weather was going to be like. Ferries to the Statue of Liberty leave out of Battery Park. Make sure to buy from Statue Cruises because that’s the only provider and it’s the best price. Other cruises don’t stop at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island itself. Only Statue Cruises can stop at Liberty and Ellis Islands. The other cruises only let you take a look and that’s it. Technically, there are no fees for the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, so what you’re essentially paying for is the transport.
Now the scam doesn’t just stop online. There are hustlers who will stop unsuspecting tourists exiting the nearby subway station and they are really good at scamming. They look official with jackets that say something like security or have a picture of the Statue of Liberty on them with fake badges and will claim that your pre-booked Statue of Liberty cruise is cancelled or has a long wait and to take their $40 cruise instead with no wait. This is all a lie. Be assertive. Do not engage with them. Walk away. If you pre-booked with Statue Cruises, you’re good.
Sadly, we couldn’t get the Pedestal or Crown ticket since those were all booked out, but even if you just get the ticket to see the grounds, it’s nice. Wouldn’t have been worth it to go up the Statue of Liberty just for the view anyway because it was raining a lot.
If you’re on a budget and want to take a ferry to get a view of the city, you can take the Staten Island Ferry that leaves out of Whitehall Terminal for free. Like with the Statue of Liberty ferry, there are aggressive scammers who will stand near the terminal trying to sell you tickets. Don’t listen to them. Walk away.
As for the food, I went to Champs Diner the last time I was in New York. I absolutely loved it and when I found out we were going to be going to New York again, I had to suggest it to my husband. My husband and I are both suckers for vegan junk food and since it’s not me going there by myself, I can order an appetiser and not feel like as much of a glutton. I got a vegan chicken patty as my entree, my husband got a veggie cheeseburger, and we got a mix of vegan buffalo and BBQ wings as the starter and of course we both got milkshakes. Portions are a decent size, but since the food is comfort food, to a fault, I felt like I was going to get a heart attack. I tend to eat with my eyes and that is always a problem for me. Good food, a bit pricey, but I think if I were to go back I’d get the vegan Philly Cheesesteak. This one is often suggested to people and that was what I had the first time and I liked it better than the vegan chicken burger.
Meal 4: Jajaja
This was leg two of the NYC trip. We just got back from the cruise and we were trying to adjust to the cold and take advantage of what the city has to offer. While on the cruise, I saw on social media that a Beatles pop up shop opened in Soho and I had to visit of course! There were lots of great photo opportunities in there. Unfortunately, I didn’t get anything because band merch is always super expensive in these places. If you’re on a budget, check secondhand shops and look out for sales at places like Hot Topic for cheap band shirts. While there, we were filmed for a news segment on a Japanese news station. Cool!
Other than that, my husband and I walked around Greenwich Village and went to The Strand (which is an absolute must see if you love books) before meeting up at the MoMA because on Fridays they have free admission so we took advantage of that. If you get there early, Uniqlo employees hand out coupons for you to take to the shop with your free ticket so you can get a free souvenir shirt at Uniqlo. The shirts are very good quality and who doesn’t like free?
Some pictures from our walk around Greenwich Village
Highlights from the MoMA: Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and more.
If I had to pick a favourite meal of the trip, I’d pick 100% vegan Mexican restaurant Jajaja. My brother did a lot of research before the trip and picked this restaurant out because of its convenient location near The Beatles pop up shop and excellent reviews. The restaurant blew us away with its excellent service, fair prices, atmosphere, and delicious food. Since it was our first time at the restaurant and the menu had a lot of different choices, the server gave us a sample plate full of all the different taco fillings and explained the different options so you could make the best choice. We ordered family style so we could all try a bunch of different things. You can’t go wrong no matter what you pick! Even my meat loving family loved this place. Don’t forget to try the various sauces. My personal favourite was the mild charcoal one. Mild, but has a lot of flavour. Just make sure to check the mirror and wash your hands and face before you leave.
If you love Mexican food and you’re going to be in New York City, check out Jajaja, you won’t regret it.
Meal 5: Street food: Momos
Later that day, we went to the MoMA and we got out late and we had to pick up our bags from the luggage storage place because they were going to be closing soon so we didn’t have time to get dinner afterwards. Outside the luggage storage place there was a food truck selling Momos, which are a dumpling with origins from Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal. It was cold and rainy. I was hungry and these were the perfect thing to warm me up.
I found them similar to gyozas or baozi. We got a bunch of them for about $6 or $7 and they had vegan ones too. What I really liked was the spicy sauce served with them. This spicy sauce didn’t come to play either. Really appreciated that because in Ireland, when I try the “spicy” sauces they’re usually not that spicy.
That day it was pouring like crazy. Poured so much that our luggage got wet and we took an uber to our accommodation. Getting an uber was difficult because of the weather. It took multiple tries to find a driver that would pick us up. Multiple times they would go in the opposite direction, not communicate at all, and would eventually flake out.
My brother actually suggested walking, but I think he’s glad in hindsight that we didn’t walk. When we got to our airbnb we couldn’t find the key to get in and we were all cold and wet and the owners heard us moaning outside and let us in and gave us the keys. The host was very nice and even let my brother and my husband keep their stuff there after check out since their flights were leaving late.
Meal 6: Red Bamboo
My husband and I wanted to explore Greenwich Village some more and my parents wanted to go somewhere else. While we were there, we decided to get lunch at Red Bamboo. Red Bamboo, like Champs, has a lot of comfort food, but I found that the menu had a lot more variety and the price was cheaper. I also didn’t feel so weighted down because of the food. What was really cool about the wings at Red Bamboo is that there’s a bamboo stick in them that’s a mock “bone”. I ordered some sweet and sour “chicken” dish served in a mango and my husband got a Philly “cheesesteak”.
Afterwards, we went to the Guggenheim because they had free admission in the evening. I personally preferred the MoMA to this, but the inside of the museum is beautiful! Look up when the free museum days are in New York and you can save a lot of money. Instead of spending it on museum admissions, spend it on a nice meal or a show.
Meal 7: Seasoned Vegan
This was a restaurant that my brother and I really wanted to try after seeing so much hype for it and we weren’t too far away, so we thought we would go, and oh boy was it a letdown – biggest letdown food wise. First, the service was so bad. The server was inattentive, unfriendly, and insincere, taking forever to take our order and get us water.
Then, the kitchen was so backed up because of deliveries and takeaways and it was so crowded in the restaurant. Really disorganised. The server didn’t give us any updates or an apology and we were so close to walking out. We were waiting nearly an hour for the food. If they had given us say some tea or cookies while we waited or comped one of the entrees, that would have made up for it.
The food wasn’t that hot and the portions were so stingy for the price. Even my grandma, who eats like a bird could have finished an entree with two sides. At those prices, I was expecting larger portions. The only saving grace was that the food was excellent and had flavour. The mac & cheese was good, the sweet potato souffle was amazing, and I liked the BBQ crawfish.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend Seasoned Vegan. As good as the food is, it’s not worth travelling for and the service left a bad taste in my mouth. It takes a lot for my dad to leave a bad tip and in the end, he only tipped $2. Even if the service isn’t that great, he’ll tip 15%, or at least 10%.
Before the David Byrne concert, we went to The Met. Of all the museums we went to on this trip, this was my absolute favourite. It was so cool to see vintage clothes and art from all over the world:
Shoutout to my friends Patrick and Matt for supporting the blog.
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