a blog written by Brandon Mowat

NYC Fall 2021 🗽🏙

Some thoughts, travel tips, and other ramblings from my most recent vacation

Sun Nov 28 2021

Streets of SOHO

As an Urbanist I have a special place in my heart for New York City. Life is always beaming in Manhattan's dense neighbourhoods and there's always a plethora of opportunity for new experiences around every corner. It's the setting of many of our favourite movies and tv shows, the home to some of the worlds greatest architecture, and filled with the smells and tastes that make me – any many other city dwellers – feel most at home.

Two people standing at the curb in SOHO

As a city, New York is pretty close to perfection in my eyes; Toronto could take a few notes, both architecturally and in zoning. Its mixed use buildings with 5 stories of residential occupancy and street level bars, restaurants, shopping, narrow one-way (sometimes laid with cobblestone) streets, and wide sidewalks, make for very inviting and walkable neighbourhoods. This density, coupled with the charm of small family-run businesses, set the bar for what a great city is; one that Toronto has many notes to take from.

Architecture shot from Greene street

A vacation for myself had been long overdue so my only plans for the trip was to eat, drink, and shop; and of course take photos. I'd done the major touristy things on trips to the city prior, so this time around I wanted to live out my NYC local fantasy. There were no plans each day other than dinner reservations, nearly all other activities were ad-hoc. To find things to do each day, I would walk the surrounding blocks and either wander into places that caught my eye or made a mental note of places to return to.

Westside books

I also talked to the neighbours; an underrated way to travel. If you ever find yourself travelling I recommend that you do one thing, and that's talk to people. You don't know anything about the place that you've landed, but the bartender, the shopkeeper, the waiter, the barista, the cashier; these people call this place home and know where to eat, where to drink, where to shop, where to take the best photos. To travel like a local you have to act like one, and that starts with being a good neighbour.

So following this short essay, I'll act like a local and tell you my favourite local joints. Thanks for reading 💕

SoHo architecture

Where I Ate:

Dante NYC

Dante was a surprise hit. When looking up great spots in SoHo+Greenwich Village, Dante kept popping up as "The Best Bar in NYC". I usually shy away from places with press like this, but honestly it's quite good. Now, I went for brunch and the food was fantastic. The menu winner for me was their flatbread. Get it.

Prince Street Pizza

I hadn't had Prince St. before now – I was a hardcore Scarrs stan before – but any time I had passed Prince St. there was always a line down the block. Now I can understand why. The crust and sauce on their pizza is perfection. It's crunchy, cheesy, and has the perfect amount of spice to make it interesting. Scarrs takes a backseat to Prince St. in my books now.

Wayla

I'm a huge fan of Thai food. The spices and savouriness of the cuisine just turn me on in a way that few other cuisines consistently do. Wayla is a great example of this. Everything that I had blew me away. If you like Thai food and find yourself in NYC, this is the one place I think you NEED to go.

Girl eating Prince St. Pizza

Where I Drank:

LB

If you're going to go to one bar, this is the one I would recommend you go to. It's a small cocktail bar in the West Village with live jazz – need I say more? While there I met an elderly Physicist named Kimball Kramer, where we discussed his research, drank, and listened to the live band. We now keep in touch through email. google maps

Macao Trading Company

A hidden, Chinese-Portuguese fusion restaurant with an excellent bar. Down the bar from where I sat was a man who resembled that of Stanley Tucci; he was not him. However, he did sketch the gentleman who sat next to me and gifted it to the gentleman. It felt like a uniquely NYC experience – one that would be seen as creepy in any other city, in any other setting. It felt intimate and a privilege to witness.

Where I Shopped:

Goods for the Study

I still prefer pen+paper to digital note taking, especially when it comes to work. It's much more meaningful to write something down by hand and occupy space on paper. Goods for the Study is a cute shop in the West Village that carries a variety of pens, notebooks, and other journaling tools that make you feel right at home.

Maison Margiela

Now, I know this type of store may not be for everyone, but Maison Margiela has some of the best garments and shoes that one can buy. Their pieces are timeless and great investments, however they are expensive. If you're interested in adding a beautiful piece to your wardrobe, I recommend hitting up their store on Crosby Street. Their service is impeccable too, especially when compared to the staff at Rick Owens, across the street.

I ended up purchasing the loose cable knit sweater that you can see below:

MM loose knit sweater

If you hit up any of these places, or have been to any, I'd love to hear your experience. you can email me at: me@brandonmowat.com

Hopefully I see you soon 👋


Written by Brandon Mowat
building useful things at Ada, in the city of Toronto

made from scratch