New York City – Day 2: Strong Drinks, Greasy Burgers and Not The Comedy Cellar
With no hangover in sight, at least for me, our 2nd day in NYC started with a ride on the subway to the Upper West Side to meet up with our friends. We met up with "E" in anticipation of some delicious, delicious burgers from Shake Shack, but before we could continue on our quest to a heart attack we had to drop off some old towels and stuff at Good Will. I was amazed to see just how many people in New York City decide that large dogs love living in tiny apartments. I mean, I understand if you get a small dog, or one that doesn't require a lot of room to run around, but when you've got a mastiff sleeping with you in your 500 square foot, $2000 a month studio apartment in the city, you need to rethink your decision. Whether you don't have a problem with the space constraints or not, it's not fair to the dog... I'm just saying.
The trip to Good Will was a success, someone less fortunate will have some gently used towels in their future thanks to "E". With our good deed done, we decided to take the long way around to Shake Shack as we waited for another friend to make her way over from Brooklyn. The only thing of note on what felt like a 20 mile hike, was the death place of John Lennon. I always feel weird taking pictures of a place where someone died, which is also why I felt really weird taking "happy" pictures at the 9/11 Memorial, so I didn't take any pictures of the building. It's eerie to think that someone was gunned down in the exact same spot that you're standing, even if it was 30 years ago. The front of the building was roped off so that interested parties couldn't venture their way past the gates. I honestly wouldn't have even known anything happened there if it wasn't pointed out to us... I was still focused on these Shake Shack burgers we were on our way to destroy.
Upon arriving at Shake Shack, we were greeting by a line around the corner, but were informed that the line moves quickly and it shouldn't be an issue. I mean, we did walk all the way over there just to get these burgers, so we weren't about to just turn around and leave like we had done with the Meatball place the night before. So with what felt like a jackhammer rumbling in my stomach, and faith that we weren't being lied to in regards to the speed of the line, we took our place and prepared for the feast ahead of us. As promised, the line moved pretty quickly and before we knew it we were inside and ready to order. I get made fun of a lot of the way that I like to eat my burgers, usually the only ingredients I get are cheese, ketchup and mustard... sometimes bacon, so I knew right off the bat I wasn't going to get the "Shack Sauce". I still thought the burger was amazing, so I don't know what else the Shack Sauce would have done for me, but clearly it's overrated... the sauce, not the burger. I definitely thought the Shake Shack burger was leaps and bounds better than anything In-N-Out Burger has. I don't care what you say, just because I don't get In-N-Out "Animal Style" doesn't mean that I can't judge the burger... it's way overrated.
With full stomachs and a desperate need to walk off the 2000 calories we just ate, it was time to take a pit stop at "E"'s apartment and then make our way towards Times Square. We didn't really want to do too much in Times Square, just checked it out as we walked through, so we didn't get too overwhelmed with the hordes of curious people. We walked up broadway and then cut over towards Rockefeller Plaza. My wife decided she needed a picture in front of the cool statue at "50 Rock", but decided she didn't need one in front of the more famous "30 Rock"... we didn't argue with her. We didn't spend much time here, but enough to know that we weren't going to see Liz Lemon or Tracy Jordan, so it was on to the next stop. The High Line.
The High Line is an old, decommissioned elevated train track that runs about 10 blocks or so. In the last few years it has been completely rehabbed and turned into a "garden walk" of sorts, which is really cool. This was probably my wife's favorite part of the whole trip. Sidenote, as we were walking towards the entrance to The High Line, we passed a little outdoor cafe/restaurant and happened to see Leighton Meester, the not-as-hot-one in the movie "The Roommate" as well as "Gossip Girl", eating lunch with her boyfriend. Nobody else seemed to notice her except for our group, but we weren't about to bother her as I don't even watch that show so I really didn't care. So anyways, we walked the entire length of The High Line, which only took about 20 minutes or so, and decided we were going to grab a drink at the beer garden at the end. The beer garden was completely overrun with hipsters and douche bags who must have smelled the scent of horny females or something, as they swarmed this place like it was a sorority house during a kegger... Needless to say we passed and went to the Brass Monkey, a different bar just down the street. The Brass Monkey was fun. Far less crowded, had a bit of overflow from the douche-garden down the street, but it wasn't terrible. There was an upstairs, rooftop deck, but it was packed so we opted to hang out at the second floor bar for a ridiculously strong drink...
After what seemed like hours of non-stop walking, we decided to head back to the hotel and rest before we had to get ready to head to dinner at Blue Smoke BBQ. This restaurant was awesome. We had a bit of a mix-up with the reservation as we made it a week before we were coming into town, but of course our party grew. The restaurant was extremely nice and was able to accommodate the change, so thanks to the staff at Blue Smoke, we're definitely glad we were able to eat here. I was a little disappointed that there was not a pulled pork sandwich on the menu, just a "dinner plate" which was just pulled pork, beans, and some other stuff; I opted for the ribs. I'm normally not a rib guy, but for whatever reason they sounded absolutely delicious, and I was not disappointed. Almost everyone at the table ended up getting ribs in one form or another, except for NB who ended up with brisket, but I'm sure it was just as delicious.
After dinner it was time to start drinking again... I mean, continue drinking. We settled on a place called Wilfie & Nell, which is a bit on the small side, but I was able to snag a large, old, arm chair in a corner and sat my ass down. With everyone else standing around me looking down on me I felt like a king... wait, no... that doesn't make sense... A king wouldn't have everyone looking down on them would he? Actually I just felt like an asshole, but my legs were killing me and I had to sit down. It was a little bit awkward that I was staring at everyone's crotch, but that's the price you pay for being comfortable. We had a quick drink here and the three guys decided that we were going to walk over to the world famous "Comedy Cellar" and see if we could snag a couple of empty seats for whoever was going to be there. I don't know what we were thinking, but the Comedy Cellar was packed and there were 2 lines around the corner... there was no way we were getting in. Oh well, we'll make sure that next time we go to NYC we get tickets ahead of time. I really just wanted to see the steps that Louis C.K. walks down in the intro to "Louie".
With disappointment in our eyes and dry mouths, we made our way back to Wilfie & Nell to find that the girls had snagged a long table which made the bar more tolerable. This place was wall-to-wall people which, if you know me, isn't the type of place I normally frequent, so the table made it more bearable. By this point we had added a few people to our party so the table was perfect. We drank for a couple more hours, lost our voices screaming over the loud New Yorkers in the place, and then called it a night. We made our way back to our hotel and decided that we needed a late-night, drunken snack... McDonalds. Our hotel was right around the corner, so the trip was convenient. We got some food and headed to the hotel to get some sleep.
Day 3 consisted of brunch at a place called Bubby's in TriBeCa with "E"... apparently her fiance was too hungover to come hang out with us, HA! Brunch was delicious, but it was all my stomach could take. Between all the drinking and eating, my stomach was at it's breaking point, so despite already checking out of our hotel, we had to make our way back there so I could do some work before we made our way to the airport. Speaking of the airport, have I mentioned that Delta Shuttle is the only way to fly into NYC? Any guesses as to how long it took us to get from the curb where the cab dropped us off, to the nice leather seats we were sitting in while waiting for our flight? Bueller? Bueller? 5 minutes. Seriously. We walked in the door to LaGuardia Marine Terminal, walked up to the computer to check ourselves in, got our boarding passes, handed them immediately to security, walked right through security and right to our gate in about 5 minutes tops. There were no lines anywhere, plenty of seats available and to top it off, the gate area is basically a lounge with a bar and a bunch of TVs so we even got to catch the replay of the Bears game from the night before. My only regret is that we got there 2 hours early because we're used to O'Hare, but now we know for next time.
And that's it. The flight home was uneventful other than the fact that we sat on the runway itself for probably 30 minutes waiting for our turn to take off, but it could have been worse. The whole trip felt like a whirlwind, but it was amazing. We had no down time, we saw almost all of our friends out there, and everyone got along... perfect. Thanks to "E", "G" and "S" for showing us around, "J" and "J" for meeting up with us later, and of course my wife for planning the whole thing... I just showed up. Can't wait to go back, but maybe we won't have to if a couple people just move back to Chicago
In case you missed it: Day 1 NYC