About Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.
Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.
She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York...as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
Latest Posts by Jessica Tiare Bowen
How do you feel about kitschy restaurants? You know, like the Christmas ornament overload at Rolf’s or the hot pepper twinkle light craziness at Panna II? Yes, it’s completely over the top bordering on ridiculous, but I’m on the team that it’s completely fun, too.
It’s no surprise I was a huge fan of Tagine, a Moroccan restaurant skirting the neighborhoods of Times Square/The Garment District–two places locals usually try to avoid like the plague. But there really are some gems in the area–don’t let the tourists have all the fun. What I liked best about Tagine was that it felt like so much more than a typical dinner–it was an experience. If I tuned out the drunk Irish men at the bar (just examples of tourists having all that fun!), it was like being transported to Morocco for the night. Twenty blocks away from my apartment but a world away.
The service was so on point (my water glass never got less than half full), the food was delicious (get a tagine, obviously, as well as the Casablanca cous cous for your main, olive tapenade with their oven roasted bread to start, and baklava for dessert), the atmosphere was lively–thanks to the classic Moroccan music, comfy pillows you sit on, belly dancers, and post-dinner hookah and mint tea. Obviously, don’t go here expecting an intimate dining experience, but if you’re up for a bit of fun and something to break up your eating out routine, I’d say make yourself a reservation!
221 West 38th Street
New York, NY 10018
Is there anything cuter than baby alpacas? I feel like they’re one of those breeds that make you burst into the widest grin–so soft, so gentle, so ridiculously cute.
The hubby and I decided to take our little man upstate to visit an alpaca farm, and ended up making a fun weekend of it! Granted, he fell asleep right as the tour was beginning, so he didn’t get to delight in baby farm animals–but the grownups certainly enjoyed it. Such a fun and easy weekend away, I wanted to share the details in case any of you are looking for some getaway inspiration! Happy travels!
A Weekend In The Catskills
Where To Stay: The North Branch Inn
Seriously guys, this is the cutest little spot. The motto of the inn (which you may remember us adopting!) is “The Good Ole Days Are Now.” It’s a quaint inn with a vintage/industrial vibe, no TV’s in the rooms (loved this), an old fashioned bowling alley guests are encouraged to use, and the coziest little fireplace lounge area. We were smitten. Oh! And they have a farm-to-table restaurant in the inn, with a menu that changes weekly, sourcing food from all local spots, and a bar with all American liquors. It’s delicious. And the breakfast is included in the hotel package. Try the apple cider donut, probably the best I’ve ever had.
Where To Eat: The Arnold House
About a 15 minute drive from the North Branch Inn, this is another cool Catskills property with fantastic food and a super groovy vibe.
What To Do: Visit The Buck Brook Alpaca Farm
A tour is free, and actually super fun and informative. Plus, you get to pet the babies. And the mamas. And the dads. Too much cuteness for one day.
A Few Other Things to do in the Area
- Visit the many thrift/vintage shops/farmer’s markets (the innkeeper, Tess, will be more than happy to point you in the right direction!)
- Have a country spa day at The Arnold House spa.
- Grab a drink and listen to live music in the evenings.
- Pack a picnic and go on a hike (so many trails!)
- Go on a brewery tour–there’s 4 within a short drive of the inn!
- Soak in some culture at the Bethel Woods Center. While we were there an exhibition on Woodstock was taking place.
- Horseback ride through one of the many scenic trails in the area.
As you can see, there’s plenty to keep you busy for a weekend. But I have an inkling you’ll be just as content lounging by the fireplace with a book and an apple cider donut (or three).
What’s the best way to refuel in New York City? A delicious cup of Joe, of course! While you can certainly find a Starbucks on most every corner, these are the adorable mom-and-pop shops we visit on the regular. Not only can you grab a delicious coffee at each of them, but they also have seating provided for you to grab a book (or a date!) and stay awhile.
- Bibble & Sip (note: get the lavender latte.)
- Ralph’s Coffee Shop (note: this is located on the 2nd floor of the (you guessed it) Ralph Lauren store on 5th Avenue. it has plenty of seating, plugs for charging your devices, and is a great spot to refuel after an afternoon of Midtown shopping.)
- Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (note: grab your coffee and a used book off the shelves, and head upstairs for an afternoon wind down at one of the cute little tables. if you are digging the book, go ahead and purchase it, as all proceeds from the shop go to help local New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.)
- Culture Espresso (note: the chandelier and wallpaper give it a charming vibe in a neighborhood otherwise mostly known for chains. it may be seasonal, but if they have it, order the maple latte.)
- Kaffe 1668 (note: they brew each cup individually, making it truly a coffee art to behold. thus a regular cup of coffee here is really, really good.)
- Cafe Lalo (note: this is a spot to get a fancy coffee along with a fancy dessert, a true #treatyoself day. Would also make an excellent date spot. and in case you hadn’t heard, this is also where the cafe scene from “You Got Mail” was filmed.)
- Box Kite NYC (note: for true coffee connoisseurs, get the coffee flight. it’s one of those bucket list musts! and p.s. they have an AMAZING tasting menu available too–such a special night out!)
- Ground Central (note: a cute little book nook is in the back of this industrial-vibe spot in Midtown East, bring your laptop and stay awhile.)
- Kahve (note: for something a bit different, order the Turkish coffee.)
- Fika (note: minimalist Swedish coffeeshop, anyone? their little chocolate truffle candies are such a treat.)
I’ll be sure to update this list as I continue to explore more cute coffee shops in NYC (there are so many!)
And do tell…anywhere not on here that I should run out and try immediately? Where is your favorite place for a local cup of joe? Share below!
We are completely finished with the 1st quarter of 2016 and unlike me, it seems like everyone around me is sticking to their 2016 diet (kudos to you all). It’s super important to reward yourself for your hard work. Yes, that’s right. I am here to talk about the very important part of your diet: Cheat Day!
In March, Gabby and I attended the 9th annual Choice Eats event at the Metropolitan Pavilion, my fourth year of attending. The main distraction from the food was all the alcohol! With that being said, there was an unlimited amount of good beer. Not to mention all the 13 craft brewers that were present. I’m more of a wine drinker myself but Gabby suggested I give Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer a try and it was a total win. I’m embarrassed to say that this was my first time drinking a full glass of Stella; I was also very happy to take home my exclusive Stella Artois chalice.
With 65 restaurants present, it seems physically impossible to get around to each restaurant’s presentation table or to save enough room in your belly to enjoy all the food that was available to you. Choice Eats is most definitely a foodie’s dream come true. You get the best of both worlds: to relive some of your favorite dishes and to experience some new dishes all in the same place. Not to mention all the culture exposure all at once, too! What better way to be introduced to a new culture than through it’s food? My sweet tooth was on a break during the lent season but Gabby was my taste tester for all pastries (no worries, you can trust her instincts). Gabby and I were able to make it around to enough tables for plenty of Cheat Day options (before all the food started running out). Here’s a few of our faves:
Belle Reve’s fish tacos were one of a kind! We waited around for a second batch after our first taste.
Sweet Generation Bakery was one of the few tables whose food didn’t run out; how long do you think it took for them to prepare these amazing treats?
No. 7 Veggie offered their popular double layered broccoli taco that left me wanting more.
Cabalito Pupuseria offered chicken, chorizo and vegan pupusas.
Egg is an upscale all-day breakfast spot that offered us their homemade chicken sausage made from scratch.
Black Ant offered the BEST taco of the night. Everyone knows that the trick to good mussels is a good sauce and this taco was a score of deliciousness.
Food and drinks were the main attraction at Choice Eats but I have to say that the photo booths stole the night! We had too much fun at the Jarritos red carpet photo booth and we ended the night with silly photos at the Village Voice Choice Eats Photobooth sponsored by Herradura. It’s always awesome to take home some memories from a great event.
This was Gabby’s first Choice Eats event and she ended her night with a satisfied palate and a full belly. We are both super excited for Brunch Eats coming up on May 11th and will be taking full advantage of Cheat Day and visiting some new places thanks to Choice Eats. Let’s see if I can get back into the dieting scene for the rest of 2016 (or not). After all, life is only as good as you eat.
By: Denise Pina
The best way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city? Why, pausing for a proper afternoon tea, of course! Here’s our very favorite tea houses/services in Manhattan.
Fancy and Classic:
The Palm Court at The Plaza (note: they have an adorable tea service for children, too, so it’s a great place to take your favorite little one on a special date.)
The Pembroke Room at The Lowell (note: these guys were FANTASTIC with accommodating for both gluten-free and vegetarian services. it’s also much quieter than any of the other services I went to on this list, providing an intimate experience.)
Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon (note: nestled in a beautiful downtown townhouse complete with a fireplace, this truly gives you the experience of what a proper tea service must have looked like back in the day.)
BG at Bergdorf’s (note: go here for the full “ladies who lunch” experience.)
The Russian Tea Room (note: this is by far my least favorite on this list, as I didn’t find the staff to be very accommodating with my vegetarian diet nor were the treats very memorable…but since it’s such a NYC institution, I felt I had to add it to the list;-)
Fancy and Whimsical:
Laduree in SoHo (note: they don’t have the traditional tiered tea setting, but you can order separate desserts along with your tea. they also have a gorgeous back garden, enclosed during the cooler months.)
Kings’ Carriage House (note: nestled in a beautiful uptown townhouse, this is the UES version of Lady Mendl’s…only erring more British. i loved their mismatched china.)
Casual and Cute:
Alice’s Tea Cup (note: if you’re REALLY trying to make a meal out of afternoon tea, go here, and for $100 two people can have unlimited tea, scones, sandwiches, and sweets. you’ll also run into the most children at this place, so if it’s a grownup vibe you’re going for, this is probably not the best choice.)
Podunk (note: this place has the best food on the list, in my humble opinion. family owned and operated in the East Village, it’s truly adorable, but tiny –so make a rezzie–and has no bathroom.)
Tea & Sympathy (note: you WILL wait for this place, and rezzies aren’t accepted, but they have a great selection of British food, along with tea service, so it’s something fun to experience at least once!)
Best Place to While Away an Afternoon Alone With a Book:
Radiance Tea House & Books on 55th Street (note: I’ve literally gone in here and spent HOURS nursing one pot of tea, and they’re completely cool with that. they don’t have the traditional tiered setting, but have a huge selection of chinese and herbal teas that the other places don’t, as well as really good chinese food.)
I’ll be sure to update this list as I continue to explore more tea services in NYC (there are so many!)
And do tell…anywhere not on here that I should run out and try immediately? Where is your favorite place for a special tea service? Share below!
It comes as no surprise that New Yorkers are all about the mind sports…chess, bridge, poker, and board games, I’m talking to you! These can all be enjoyed from the comfort of our apartments, of course, but if you’re looking for a group of like-minded gamers to play (or learn) with, check out one of these places to get your game on in NYC—ranging from the iconic to under-the-radar.
Marshall’s Chess Club
Located in Greenwich Village in a beautiful brownstone, Grandmaster Frank J. Marshall founded this historic chess club in 1915. Many of the country’s top chess players are members, both adults and fast-rising young players. The club offers classes, private instruction, tournaments, and lectures by leading players.
Other popular places to join a game of chess in NYC are Washington Square Park, Bryant Park, Union Square, the Chess and Checkers House in Central Park, and The Village Chess Shop.
Honors Bridge Club
Coined as “Manhattan’s premier bridge club”, Honors was founded in 1993 by Gail Greenberg and for the second year in a row is the largest bridge club in the country. To put their size in perspective, Honors offers more games just for the developing player, than 95% of the other bridge clubs in the country have games. If you are looking to learn the game of bridge, their entry level Beginner 1 course is unique in that it is limited to six students per teacher, so you are guaranteed lots of one-on-one attention.
You can also learn/play the game of bridge at Aces, which pitches itself as NYC’s newest bridge club, or The Cavendis, which claims to be the friendliest bridge club in NYC.
New York City Poker Tour
While poker isn’t widely publicized in Manhattan, be assured that there are games happening daily. You are required to text an RSVP which will then give you the exact location of the games.
Board Games At Uncommons
You can pop into NYC’s only board game cafe for unlimited playing time of your favorite board games…ranging from the classics (Scrabble) to the trendy (Cards Against Humanity). All while sipping a latte and eating a wrap. If playing board games while sipping a cold one is more your scene, here’s a great roundup of NYC bars with board games.
Whether you choose chess, bridge, poker, or classic board games at any of New York’s game hotspots, you are sure to hone in on your ability to sharpen your mathematical calculations, as well as increase your social awareness. As leading poker professional and member of team PokerStars Daniel Negreanu, who’s on top of the all-time money list of poker players, said: “If I haven’t played with a player before and I don’t know anything about them, the more they tell me about themselves, the better I will be able to judge how they think and how they play.”
Just like any physical muscle, the brain benefits from being stretched from time to time. If you can find a way to do that in the company of like-minded people, also enjoying the social benefits, so much the better. The good news is that in New York, you really shouldn’t have to work that hard to make that happen. It is the mind sport capital of the world, after all.
I’m pretty picky when it comes to cocktails, hence my go-to drink of choice being a cracking cold white. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone into a NYC bar or restaurant with hopes to change this…ordering one of the fancy $14 cocktails off the menu, only to take a sip and be exceptionally disappointed. I’m setting the stage, you see. When I heard that the Upper East Side’s craft-cocktail bar, The Gilroy, was THE place to go for a cocktail, I was all “bring it on!” Fully expecting to take a sip, scrunch my nose up, slide it across the table for my husband to finish off, and order my boring but delicious Sauvignon Blanc.
But guys! That didn’t happen! I chatted with the waitress for a while about my liquor likes and dislikes, my preferred sweetness levels, cocktails I have enjoyed in the past, and she said she’d be back with the perfect drink. I was skeptical, until Captain Redbeard’s Punch arrived, filled with Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Velvet Falernum, EO Grenadine, Lime, Pineapple, and Nutmeg. Frothy, easy on the tastebuds, and beautifully presented, I not only finished the whole thing myself, but then went on to order another cocktail: the Irish Penicillin, concocted with Powers Irish Whiskey, Honey, Lemon, Ginger, and Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey. Forget Hot Toddy’s–I’m going right to the Irish Penicillin next time I come down with a cold. Unbelievably delicious.
If you don’t see what you’re craving on the cocktail menu, the bartenders are happy to create bespoke cocktails on the spot, using various liqueurs, infusions, tinctures, bitters, and syrups, customizing a unique drink to the mood and tastes of a customer at a particular moment in time. Gold stars all around, I truly can’t praise the bartenders of The Gilroy enough!
And what better to go with cocktails than a bit of noshing! My hubby went protein heavy with the Angus Sliders and Tuna Tartare, and I went carbs all the way with the Wild Mushroom Flatbread topped with plenty of goat cheese and truffle oil and the Irish and Vermont mac-n-cheese, finished off with Asiago. With its speakeasy vibe and 1940’s aesthetic, The Gilroy is the perfect UES spot to come for a romantic date, night out with the girls, or even alone for a treat yo’self Tuesday.
1561 Second Avenue
New York, NY
Hours of operation: Open everyday 5PM-4AM. Specials offered during happy hour (5PM-7PM) include discounts on beers and a selection of cocktails, including one special feature created each week. Weather permitting, there is al fresco seating for 28.
New York City is known as a melting pot, home to a wide mix of inhabitants, providing a culinary chasm. With so much diversity, it’s no wonder New York is one of the food capitals of the world. If you’re moving to the city and want to live near the areas with the best food, there are a few neighborhoods that offer a variety of foods from different cultures.
Here are three trending foodie neighborhoods to check out in New York City.
The East Village is best known as the birthplace of the bohemian artist movements, punk rock influence, boutique shops and remarkable restaurants. Extending north from East Houston Street to East 4th Street, and east from Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue to the East River, East Village is located close to New York University,specializing in budget friendly dining and ethnic diversity. Head to St. Mark’s for a large $1 slice of pizza, Mamoun’s for a $3.50 Falafel sandwich or dazzle your taste buds with a visit to SuCo, popular for unusual ice-cream flavors, such as Wasabi, Corn and Tiramisu. On sunny afternoons, visit one of the community gardens, like Tomkins Square Park, to enjoy a picnic with family and friends. Although the East Village has a reputation for being kinder on your wallet, it’s also home to renowned chefs and luxury dining.
The Lower Eastside offers a vibrant nightlife and blend of cultural diversity that influences the food scene. Located between Canal Street to Houston Street and the East River to Bowery, the Lower Eastside is close to Chinatown and Eldridge Street, providing tasty hybrid food selections, like Chinese-Italian and French-Asian fusion.Iconic eatery, Katz’s Delicatessen, is a must-see, famous for its hand-carved pastrami and corn beef sandwiches, and notable diner scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally. Russ & Daughters, Le Turtle and Lowlife, are among local favorites as well. When you’re done getting a taste of the Lower Eastside, head to the historic Eldridge Street synagogue, Tenement Museum or Sara D. Roosevelt Park, home to the annual dumpling eating contest.
The West Village is the epicenter of all things culinary, making it a trendy neighborhood for food lovers. Intimate restaurants encourage diners to enjoy the charming atmosphere, savor their meals and enjoy the company of friends and family. Walk along the winding cobblestone streets and indulge in some of the best Italian food in the city. Make sure to try the freshly made pasta and authentic gelato for traditional Italian fare. You also can’t go wrong with Murray’s Cheese Bar, Tartine, The Spotted Pig and L’Artusi. Beyond the wonderful selection of top restaurants, the West Village boasts stunning views of the Hudson River, excellent shopping on Bleecker Street and is located within close proximity to The Highline and Washington Square Park, allowing you to make an afternoon of your city food crawl.
Whether you’re looking to nosh on a budget or experience the fine food made by top chefs, New York’s food scene has it all. If you’re interested in living within close proximity to drool-worthy food, explore Manhattan real estate to find your next food excursion. Just make sure you have an empty stomach!
By: Miriam Bornstein