Around Town: Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, New York City

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream is a contemporary twist on the traditional ice cream parlor, which is clear in their shop design, delicious ice cream, and the overall vibe of the place. I first enjoyed Morgenstern’s ice cream last month, and when I was in the neighborhood recently, I couldn’t resist going again.

I’ve enjoyed the Chocolate and Cafe Latte so far, but I can’t wait to try some of their other flavors such as Green Tea Pistachio, Black Strap Rum, and Maple Syrup Vanilla. Pro tip: get a couple of flavors with toppings (a few include honey, pickled pineapple, and toasted coconut) in the Monster (waffle) cone for a well-rounded treat. Also, they only take cash.

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
2 Rivington Street / NY, NY 10002

Images by Lauren

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Around Town: Empire Diner – New York City

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Sometimes there are days when all you want to eat is diner food. This craving hit late one night so I decided to make my way to the iconic Empire Diner in Chelsea for breakfast the next morning. Empire Diner was built in 1946 and was recently renovated to give the restaurant a more modern feel while maintaining its classic look. Empire Diner has been seen in many television shows and movies over the years, including Manhattan, Home Alone 2, Men in Black II, and Law and Order.

Also, today is Star Wars day (May the fourth be with you), and the Galactic Empire is referred to as ‘the Empire,’ so you see how it all comes full circle.

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I love the painted EAT sign above the diner and the retro look with the silver and old-fashioned interior. The space isn’t too big, so it feels cozy and laid back.

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Empire Pop Tarts were an obvious choice, because who can resist homemade pastry puffs with jelly on the inside and icing on top? The flaky edges were perfect for the first bite of the day. The Buttermilk Pancakes were fluffy while maintaining a crispier edge, and the Chilaquiles, though spicy, tasted fresh and was loaded with cilantro. Next time I’m going for lunch and trying the Classic Grilled Cheese with a Cookies ‘n’ Creme milkshake.

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Images by Lauren

Around Town: Clinton Street Baking Company

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On any given weekend, you could be in line for two hours waiting for a table at Clinton St. Baking Company. Go on a weekday, however, and you only have to wait 20 minutes. I kept hearing great things about the pancakes at Clinton St., so I decided to finally try it for myself. The verdict? They are pretty darn good. Fluffy, thick, melt-in-your mouth pancakes, that’s for sure. And the side of warm maple butter doesn’t hurt. Major perk: you can enjoy their pancakes after dark. Breakfast for dinner is a cure-all.

I ordered the Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes, along with the Country Breakfast. When it comes to breakfast, I enjoy having meat, egg, potatoes, and something that goes well with syrup. This combo was perfect. Add a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and you’ve got yourself one delightful morning.

Clinton St. Baking Company
4 Clinton Street (btw. East Houston & Stanton)
New York

P.S. If you’re in Seattle, the pancake (yes, singular – a literal pan cake) here is out of this world.

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Images by Lauren

Around Town: Cafe Luxembourg in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ – New York City

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When Harry Met Sally (1989) is one of the greatest romantic comedies ever made. It’s effortless, hilarious, and filled with lots of restaurant scenes. Nora Ephron is a romantic comedy wizard and I can’t get enough of her work. During the film, Harry, Sally, and their two best friends go out to dinner at Cafe Luxembourg on the Upper West Side. In this scene, emotions are realized and relationships have changed. A very funny interaction between all of the characters takes place before they have even ordered their food.

Cafe Luxembourg, which opened in 1983, has a low-key vibe that made for an enjoyable breakfast. I ordered fresh squeezed orange juice, hot chocolate, and the Classic French Toast with fresh berries,‏ honey butter, and Vermont maple syrup. The French Toast was incredibly soft, and you just can’t go wrong with real syrup. This charming restaurant was a perfect backdrop for this double date, and it’s a must-visit for all you Nora Ephron/When Harry met Sally fans!

Cafe Luxembourg
200 West 70th Street, NYC
(between Amsterdam Ave. & West End Ave.)

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{Photos by Lauren & When Harry Met Sally}

Around Town: Claudette, New York City

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For one of the most charming restaurant interiors, visit Claudette in New York City. It was a frigid day with blue skies and snow on the ground when I came here for lunch, but one step inside this restaurant made me feel like I was somewhere warm. With tables in an area that feels more like a living room than a dining room, the vibe is low-key for a city that never stops hustling.

The Strawberry Thyme Homemade Soda was a great choice (it won out over the Mint Lemonade, which I’ll have to try next time), and it tasted as though I was drinking a garden. The thyme was strong, so if you’re not a thyme lover, opt for the Mint Lemonade (or one of the many cocktails they offer). Lunch consisted of the Root Vegetable Salad, Le Pain Tunisien (warm garlic flat bread with Truffle Hummus – it was as good as it sounds), and the Lamb Burger. For a calm and delicious meal, this is a beautiful place to spend the afternoon.

Claudette: 24 Fifth Avenue, New York City (W 9th St. and 5th Ave.)

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{Photos by Lauren}

Around Town: Bluestone Lane Collective Cafe, New York City

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I’ve seen Bluestone Lane in various parts of the city while walking around, but it wasn’t until I had a couple of hours between meetings that I decided to check it out once and for all. I took a seat in the corner of the restaurant next to the window (great for people-watching) and ordered an Avocado Smash with a poached egg and a Magic coffee (made to taste less bitter than non-Magic coffee). The cafe itself doesn’t seat many people and it can get a bit crammed, but the food is worth it.

The Avocado Smash was the best avocado toast I’ve ever had, hands down. With fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes, feta, sunflower sprouts, extra virgin olive oil, and tahini, every bite was filled with a variety of flavors. Next time I’m craving seriously good avocado toast, you know where I’ll be.

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{Photos by Lauren}

Around Town: Zazie – San Francisco

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When visiting my friend in San Francisco, we explored the city and kept our eyes open for a good brunch place. Then we discovered it: Zazie. The menu is incredible, and they let you order single items, such as one or two pancakes along with another item. I wish everyone would just do this because when it comes to brunch, I tend to crave every flavor – potatoes, eggs, meat of some kind, pancakes, waffles, French Toast, you name it. We started off with a sparkling champagne cocktail (naturally), and moved onto our main meals. The highlight: pumpkin spice pancakes with pumpkin topping. With a charming atmosphere and delicious food, Zazie is a must if you’re in SF.

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{Photos by Lauren}