So your friends are visiting again.

Curating the perfect New York experience for a friend visiting from out of town can be anxiety-inducing. Like planning a fun date, you want to make sure it’s a unique, hyper New York and memorable experience.

Before we dive into things, the first thing you should do is have them find 3 things they absolutely want to do before coming here. The full responsibility should not rely on you, and chances are, you’ve already done enough by letting them crash on your couch and gracing them with your friendship and presence. Plus, nothing is worse than someone saying, “I don’t know, you’re the one who lives here”.

In response, send them to scour Instagram and not some TripAdvisor Top 10 List that will literally suck the life out of you.

OK! Now that they’ve done the legwork, you can base the rest of your itinerary around those things. It’ll give you a jumping off point to start from, but definitely at least guarantee that they won’t have a shitty time even if they don’t love that favorite divey bar of yours.

Explore by Foot

We’re fans of picking a theme and exploring that option around the whole city. It gives you an excuse to pick the places together and since it’s trying out and ranking a few different things, there’s no pressure on whether it will be good or bad. Is your friend a huge movie fan? What about checking out all the movie locations in NYC? Foodie? How about a dumpling, fried chicken, banh mi, or pizza tour?

Not to mention, they’ll get to see the whole city on foot, and perhaps quite a few different neighborhoods.

Incorporate those Views, Yo.

The NYC skyline is gorgeous and you want to give them a type of experience they couldn’t have anywhere else. But that doesn’t mean you have to hop onboard the struggle bus to wait 2 hours for $18 cocktails at Le Bain. A few of our favorite views and options are:

Picnic in DUMBO to Watch the Sunset

This is a gorgeous view of the city. Grab a blanket, a bottle of wine and some snacks to catch the sunset. It’s serene, blissful and right on the water. You can people watch and see tons of people taking wedding portraits. The neighborhood itself is gorgeous as well, so you can end it by going to the ONE Hotel rooftop or by careening off into the sunset on the Ferry for $2.75.

Mini Golfing & Drinks on a Boat

Start the night by playing mini golf at Pier 25. It’s not often that you can be on an old boat in NYC enjoying some oysters and rose on a boat. Word of warning – the lines get crazy on a gorgeous day, so see if you can get there earlier for a seat.

Bike on the West Side Highway

Citibiking is one of the best ways to explore the city and on a gorgeous day, you can take them from one end of the city to the other. Plus, since you’ll be on the bike path you won’t have to worry about any angry cabbies cursing you out. Probably.

Kayak on the Hudson

A totally unique experience is FREE Kayaking in the Hudson. There are multiple locations across the city including LIC, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

Party like a local

Yes, you could go clubbing, but ugh. It’s so much work. Getting dressed up, lines and being pushed and shoved by bouncers and 22-year-olds in Forever 21 dresses. Save your money and instead, throw a makeshift theme party for your friend at your apartment or a local bar for Happy Hour. Get everyone to dress in a theme, like 90’s outfits, or matching outfits like a white t-shirt and denim… you’ll surely be making new friends and they’ll feel what the local vibe feels like in NYC.

Good Mood Food

Fine dining but instead of fancy schmancy, we suggest trying some of the various cultures they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Maybe Ethiopian, Korean BBQ, Chinese Hot Pot or Banquet style dinner, Indian Chinese or Pakistani, Greek Seafood or Italian family style. In fact, check out our guide to group birthday dinners that might be fun for this!

Memorable Random Experience

Alright – now that your friend has sufficiently been WOW-ed by your itinerary – we recommend throwing in a hyper random experience that you know they’ll love. We can’t tell you what that is since it’s your friend, but we can throw in a few suggestions like a show to Comedy Cellar or UCB Improv, a boat cruise around New York City or concert at Brooklyn Mirage, Tiki Disco or Webster Hall.

By the end of this weekend, your friend will adore you, and as long as you map out one of each of the above categories, you’ll be sure to design the most memorable and enjoyable experience for the both of you!

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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Jordan Scott is the 24-year-old founder of idk tonight, NYC’s trusted resource for couples. For nearly two years, she has helped to curate unique, fun dates all around NYC for over 30,000 couples. We asked Jordan for her favorite date in the West Village. You can read our full bio with her HERE.

Jordan Scott – Founder of IDK Tonight
https://idktonight.com/otto-zinc-bar/
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Zinc Bar

Start with a set at Zinc Bar (where Nick took me on our very first date). The underground jazz lounge has slinky, sexy vibes and a rotating cast of incredible musicians. You can pay extra to see the show behind the red curtains, or simply sit by the bar and listen in.

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The Olive Tree Cafe

The Olive Tree Cafe is located directly above the Comedy Cellar. The food is surprisingly good, and you can draw on the tables in chalk. The best part is you’ll usually find the comics hanging out here before and after their sets. One of the tables in the back is known as the comics table! Come here for a drink before a show at the Comedy Cellar!

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Comedy Cellar

See the best comedy show in New York, hands down, at Comedy Cellar (be sure to make a reservation at least a week in advance). Comedy Cellar is New York’s most classic comedy club. You will never have a bad time here. Weekend shows tend to sell out, but celebrity comics tend to drop in during the weekdays to practice their sets.

https://www.zomato.com/new-york-city/sevilla-restaurant-greenwich-village
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Sevilla

Split the seafood paella at Sevilla. The restaurant has been around for over 61 years and the place has an incredible, homey, West Village feel to it.

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Cafe Reggio

Talk until it’s late over cappuccinos and profiteroles surrounded by stunningly gloomy and very old artwork at Caffe Reggio.

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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Oh, Halloween.

You’re our favorite holiday, and yet, having a great time in the city is so hard to have. Much like New Year’s Eve in New York City (AVOID midtown at all costs), there WILL be the ill-fated long lines of people ready to pounce over watered-down vodka sodas. But alas, here’s a few of our favorite things to do in NYC which are fun and won’t cost you an ARM AND A LEG. See what I did there?

But first, hold up. How did Halloween even start?

Oooooh spoooky aside. The first Halloween was celebrated in Ireland over 2,000 years ago with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. As part of the New Year, the holiday was meant to usher in the “the dark half of the year” and families all across Ireland would burn bonfires in their front yards to ward off ghosts and monsters. Randomly, the original Jack O Lanterns were actually carved using turnips, and not pumpkins. It was rumored that this time period was the entryway for spirits to cross over from the underworld to the living world.

The original celebrations included six days of drinking alcohol and multiple feasts. That doesn’t seem TOO far off from today, in my opinion.

In the mid-1800s, the tradition followed Irish immigrants to the United States where trick or treating, and dressing up, turned from a pagan, spiritual holiday, to a cultural one and thus, the concept of Halloween turning into America’s most beloved “Let’s get fucked up” tradition turned alive. But alas – there are a few ways to enjoy your Halloween this year. Continue reading below for the scoop.

Walk the 46th Annual Greenwich Halloween Parade

If there’s anything that we love more this Halloween, it’s WALKING the Village Halloween Parade. I’m often surprised how many New Yorkers opt OUT of this. Usually, people are quick to find a bar or house party or haunted house on Halloween to check out, but there’s something SO incredibly New York about this parade that it’d be a RISK to miss this.

The Parade started off as a tradition over 46 years ago when a puppeteer decided to start his own little tradition walking with the children of the neighborhood to go trick or treating. Today it is the LARGEST Halloween parade in the world with over 60,000 marchers and more than a million spectators.

Now, we’ll be real with you – this is like New York’s version of Carnival. You’re not going to want to stand on the sideline for this. You’re going to WANT to be in costume roaming the streets with some of THE MOST INCREDIBLE costumes you’ve ever seen. Imagine walking the streets with a 6-foot woodland monster on stilts to your left, and an ornate AF chandelier costume to your right. Throw in a bunch of spooky floats along the way, and waving to all the sideliners — it is truly an experience trying at least ONCE in your life. Expect an impromptu flash dance of THRILLER at some point, but if you’re lucky, you might find some OG New Yorker slinging some “nutcrackers” – a homemade liquor cocktail out of a plastic cooler. We definitely recommend grabbing a few of these for the road, or packing yourself some White Claws or nips. Nothing more New York then drinking in public out of a good ol’ paper bag.

What you should know:

It’s no fun standing on the sidelines tiptoeing over the tall person in front of you, plus navigating the streets are super annoying since only certain streets have exits. Going to pee WILL be difficult and some restaurants and bars won’t even let you in to use the bathroom. Best believe that all the venues located on 6th Avenue WILL be crowded.

ENTRANCE: You can only enter this area from the EAST and SOUTH. That is Sullivan, East Broome and Canal Streets. If you come from the West, enter ONLY from Canal Street and make sure to enter between 6 – 9pm to walk. We recommend coming in around 730 / 8pm.

Spooooky Night Tours at Greenwood Cemetary

Visiting the Greenwood Cemetary is probably one of the most beautiful experiences in NYC. Built in 1838, the cemetery was so popular, that it served as the inspiration behind Central and Prospect Park! With over 600,000 graves and 7,000 trees the park is definitely filled with some sort of spooky shit for you Halloween lovers. A few of the famous who call this home are famous mob leader, Boss Tweeds,  William Poole (aka, “Bill the Butcher”), and Harvey Burdell whose famous murder in 1887 was the MURDER of the century. Tix are $20.

The Halloween Dog Parade

Dogs in costume. It’s ridiculously adorable and you’ll get to pet ALL of them. Need we say more? Sunday, October 20th from 12PM – 3PM at John V. Lindsay East River Park.

Iqram and the Immigrant Groove at Citizen M Hotel Times Square

Best Costume wins $100 Open Bar for the night!!! Citizen M Hotel Times Square at 7PM! Get your pregame on with one of New York’s finest up and coming bands!

A Friend of a Friend Party Halloween Edition

And last but not least, check out our Halloween Party Thursday, Oct 24th. No, Britney and Justin won’t be there, but maybe you’ll find someone who will want to rock a Canadian Tux with you one night : ) Tickets HERE.

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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This is a sponsored post thanks to our friends at THE SPIRITS NETWORK, a new video and subscription box service for the modern-day spirits enthusiast. You can sign up for an Explorer Base Membership for just $1 using the code “ciaooo30”. Right now you can enter to win a free whiskey tasting for you and 6 friends at The Brandy Library HERE.

This whole story starts out as any great modern-day millennial story does. It starts with a DM.

It was a choppy, amateurish video at best. Taken POV style, similar to a dad haphazardly trying to figure out Instagram stories for the first time when I stumbled across it on my Discover page.

The content, my friends, was pure beauty.

Seared steaks ladled in a bath of buttery, thyme goodness. Perfectly portioned nests of homemade tagliatelle dropping into a boiling pot of salted water. Golden brown crisps of Chicken Parm sizzling in a pan. It was a saliva-inducing dive into the life of an incredible, seemingly 5-star chef and I needed to know MORE, so I slid the anonymous chef a DM. 

“Hey. I need to eat whatever your cooking”

The person, in fact, was NOT a professional chef by trade, but, Adam Mignanelli, the VP of design for VICE, North America (yes, he sets the “lewk” for one of THE world’s largest media companies). On top of that, he’s also a curator of contemporary art for Ballast Projects and chef de cuisine at his catering startup, SIZZLE VISION. 

At only 34, Adam seems to be holding it all together. This month, we’re collaborating with Adam to launch the first of a series of intimate dinners in Williamsburg’s newest photo studio, Mi Casa. The curated menu will feature a Friendsgiving menu created by Adam, where he and his brother will cook, prepare and host with a spirits menu curated by The Spirits Network. The series of dinners are meant to inspire others to take a step back, lighten up and have fun around having seriously elevated food, but casually while meeting and making new friends in what feels like…home.

“Welcome to my humble abode”.

Adam lets me into his studio apartment in Gramercy and it is everything I imagined it would be. If he were a character in a movie, he’d play the eccentric uncle who throws outlandish multi-course meals at his home while discussing art in so detailed a way that it’s clear he knows his shit and isn’t making things up. Throw in an endless supply of wine hidden in a treasure trove somewhere (most likely hidden by Taschen Artbooks), and the multitudes of art (framed and signed!!!) all over his home and you’ve got the makings of a hybrid Martha Stewart/Salvador Dali/Williamsburg-ish designer that is Adam.

All while being the most laid back person ever. 

Along the rest of the apartment, a floor to ceiling wall is plastered with a deep green wallpaper (from The Royal Tenenbaums), “It’s called SAFARI, and was a huge trend back in the day. That’s all the zebras and arrows being thrown at them… Not the most politically correct, but I still love the design”, a Salvador Dali cookbook sits on the coffee table “It’s a rare one. Most people don’t know he was a chef, but it’s got a lot of weird interesting recipes in there”, and in the middle of all the fine art, a one-wheeled skateboard balancing concoction meant to stimulate balance, “I got it as a kid back in Rhode Island”.  He stands rocking back and forth effortlessly on the contraption while pointing out all the art in his home.

“That one was really peculiar”, he points to a framed speckled art piece dotted with colors reminiscent of a heat map, “This artist John Knuth uses flies and he fed them colored sugar water and when they poop it out, they leave these tracks on the paper. This whole design was made entirely by flies. It’s kind of gross, but I mean…unbelievable, right?” 

Perhaps the piece de resistance, however, is Adam’s kitchen. When I walk in, he’s already got a pot of homemade stock bubbling on the stove, with a pressure-cooked veal shank cooling on the cutting board. It falls right off the bone, and within minutes, Adam is searing it in his grandmother’s cast iron pan until it’s perfectly crisp. He throws it in a bowl with olive oil and some Parmigiano Reggiano and my tastebuds immediately shrink into the recesses of my mouth, asking me why the f*** I haven’t treated them to this ecstasy before. Oh and did I mention, Post Malone is playing in the background? He’s by far the artsiest, most cultured person I know, and yet, I don’t feel intimidated one bit.

“I’m a painter and designer. I get more likes and discussion around me frying a chicken cutlet than any painting I posted”

“Well, I came from a large Italian family. You know, I grew up cooking with my mom and my aunt and every Sunday we’d make these incredibly humongous meals. My parents weren’t really chefs, but they loved to cook. When I moved to NYC, I kind of missed it, and my brother eventually came as well and together we decided to start up the tradition again. And now – we do it every Sunday”

They’re multi-course, multi-hyphenate flavor explosions of intricate recipes and concoctions reminiscent of a madman, or reserved for a 5 star restaurant, but in this case, they’re just Sunday dinner.

The dishes are far from the amateur chef. They’re multi-course, multi-hyphenate flavor explosions of intricate recipes and concoctions reminiscent of a madman, or reserved for a 5-star restaurant, but in this case, they’re just Sunday dinner. For a full-time designer, empresario of an art curating company and now, a catering business, it’s difficult to understand where Adam finds the time to do it all, let alone, be good at it all. 

Sizzle Vision is Adam’s way of sharing his love for design, food, and art in a way that makes it easier for people to understand, sans the pretentiousness, the nerves, all the BS. ” I learned doing art fairs and shows and watching viewers behavior that, people love museums and such, but they don’t know how to respond to the emotions when looking at or buying art. But food, it’s healing, it’s cultural, it’s literally necessary, and easy to evoke emotion in a comfortable way to others while exploring.”

Since then, his little IG entree into his life has grown his own line of dried salts (Moroccan lemon cured salt that he sat with for 6 months) and has gone on to host his own dinner parties. “Every year, we have a huge party for the holidays at our house, and we cook pasta for nearly 200 people. It’s insanity” and now, with the start of Sizzle Vision Dinners, he hopes to continue it here in NYC, one perfectly seasoned porchetta at a time.

The first dinner series takes place on November 7th, sign up for our email list HERE to get the next date.

This article was brought to you by our sponsors at The Spirits Network, a new content channel and subscription box company for the spirits enthusiast. You can sign up for $1 for the first month to sample using the code “ciaooo30”.

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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Our next tour is on November 3rd at 3PM. You can get tickets HERE.

So you’ve probably been to Chinatown a handful of times and gone to the same few places. Joe’s, Vanessa’s…but you’ve never really known:

Where are the BEST, LOCAL spots for dumplings in Chinatown?

How can I find the places NOT on the “Top 10” or inundated with tourists?

What’s the actual history + story behind Chinatown?

THE MOST EPIC DUMPLING TOUR

We started this tour for friends who’ve lived in NYC for years, and never really knew how to get around, or what to do in Chinatown. As a born and bred New Yorker whose father was a chef in Chinatown for 20+ years, I became the go-to Chinatown expert. So – for the person who has always wanted to get to know NYC better, wanted to make new friends or simply, just fricken loves dumplings, food + culture – this is for YOU. Watch the video below to get a better idea of what our dumpling tours are like!

When are the dumpling tours?

We do tours 1-3x a month, usually on a Saturday or Sunday at 11 AM and 3 PM. Our tours typically run for 3 hours, but sometimes, when we’re having too much fun they can run a tiny smidge longer. Either way – we are super conscientious of everyone’s time so we only run longer if everyone is down to stay!

I can just go online and find a list of dumpling places. Why should I pay to come to yours?

You totally can! There are a few spots on our list that don’t even have a Yelp or website. We support local mom and pop businesses that are beloved by locals and often miss the Top 10 lists because they’re not as social media savvy. A lot of the businesses we visit are run by hard-working families who work 6-7 days a week and are almost always behind the counter whenever we visit. We have built up relationships with them and are super proud to be able to bring them business and awareness they may not have otherwise.

Also, the whole experience is more than dumplings! The whole tour is to showcase the beauty and culture behind Chinatown! We share everything from the wild history of when Native Americans first held down the land to gang warfare of the 1900’s to the current cultural situation. We share parts of Chinese culture that go beyond just food. Our goal is to share the Chinese culture and to make Chinatown a place that you can visit and take your friends/family when they come to visit! Many of our previous fans message us when they show their friends around.

What makes you the expert of dumplings?

Our tours are curated by me, Chau, the founder of ciaooo! I’m a native New Yorker who grew up on Canal Street in Chinatown. My dad was a chef in the Chinese restaurants for 30+ years so I would consider myself an expert in these parts.

There’s my dad (center) in front of the first Chinatown restaurant he worked in.

What should we expect on the tour?

We like to keep our groups small + intimate so that it’s not impersonal. On average, our groups run between 8-10 people. For special occasions like birthdays, group events we’ve done this with groups of 20! Our tours are meant to get you FULL on food + knowledge (mic drop).

You can expect a walking Tour of Chinatown including checking out favorite local hotspots that I grew up going to including Singaporean Beef Jerky, Sponge Cakes, Milk + Bubble Tea, super hidden markets + old school gold shops.

Dumplings at over 5 different locations of the steamed, fried, and soup variety!

Crazy history of Chinatown from the bloody gang fights to the most recent years of speakeasies.

A ciaooo! Branded tote bag, stickers + swagged out dumpling ranking card + pencil.

Just the most lit tour ever. Like, how often are you gonna get a real New Yorker who grew up there actually take you?

Who goes on the tours?

Most of our guests have been 20 – 30 something locals. We’ve had people who grew up on Mulberry Street or were immense dumpling fans and still told us they were in shock at all that they discovered! We like to seperate ourselves from traditional tours cause we’re not tradional people. Ummm have you seen how many “Os” are in “ciaooo!”?

In that case – we like to make the tours a fun place for you to meet other cool, like-minded people. People have come alone, with their significant others, and with friends. At the end of the day, it’s a low key + fun experience that anyone can enjoy 🙂

Someone please come dressed like this one day

How should I dress?

Do wear comfy shoes and stretchy pants ’cause it’s gonna be lit. If you roll up in a full-blown dumpling costume and wear it for the whole tour, we’ll comp your ticket!!!

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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