One of my favorite things about traveling is meeting new people, particularly the locals. Through my travels, I’ve made new friends, discovered out-of-the-way destinations that weren’t in any of the guidebooks, and genuinely had a great time – all because I tried to talk to local people during my stay. So when Marion, an English travel blogger, commented on a couple of my posts and said that she was going to be visiting New York City for the first time in January, I decided it was my chance. I reached out to Marion, asking if she and her travel companion would like to meet up at some point during their visit and offered to show them a bit of the city from a local perspective. Although I was afraid Marion might be put off by my boldness – after all, we had never met! – she agreed to my plan. I suggested that we meet up at a subway station in Long Island City in Queens at 3:00 pm one afternoon, and that is exactly what we did!
It was a fairly blustery afternoon, so I proposed that we start off our time at the Rockaway Brewing Company, which was only a few blocks away and had just opened for the afternoon. I knew it would be a great place to sit and talk and get to know each other better, and Rockaway’s tasting flights meant that we could sample a variety of craft beers. It turned out to be a perfect option! (I previously described our visit to Rockaway Brewing Company here.) It was so fun hearing about their adventures in New York City during the preceding days as well. (Wondering what Marion and her travel companion did during those previous days? She’s described them here!)
Knowing the sun would set about 5:00 pm that day, I next suggested that we walk a couple of blocks to Gantry Plaza State Park, where we could look across the East River and watch the sun set over Manhattan. It was cold and windy, but there was a beautiful sunset. As the sky grew darker, the skyscraper lights twinkled like diamonds. (I’ve previously blogged about this sunset location here. I think it really is one of the best views of the city, featuring the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the United Nations, and Roosevelt Island. In fact, one of those sunset photos is the header photo for my blog.)
Needing to warm up, and wanting to introduce my new friends to some quintessential American food, I suggested that we travel back to Manhattan to eat at Pies ‘n’ Thighs. Pies ‘n’ Thighs has two locations; one in Brooklyn, and the other on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We went to the Manhattan location, which was easy to reach by subway from Long Island City. It was the perfect way to end our visit, as the restaurant is cozy and warm. Pies ‘n’ Thighs is known for its fried chicken, pies, and doughnuts, among other delicious things. It’s Southern-style comfort food at its best.
As we continued our visit, we ate some delicious food. Marion’s travel companion ordered chicken and waffles, a traditional Southern dish. If you’ve not had it before, it’s exactly how it sounds: a large waffle, topped with pieces of fried chicken. It’s always served with maple syrup, and this version also came with some luscious stewed cranberries to balance the sweetness of the syrup.
Marion and I both ordered the chicken biscuit. It’s a chicken sandwich, made with a large buttermilk biscuit. The boneless chicken breast was fried, creating a crispy exterior and juicy interior. The chef spreads honey butter on the biscuit and drizzles a spicy hot sauce over the chicken breast. The combination is perfect – hot and spicy, crispy and tender, sweet and salty! We also ordered baked beans, Pies ‘n’ Thighs’ own special recipe, made with bits of smoked brisket and barbecue sauce. It was a delicious meal, made all the better by the company I was keeping.
It was a great experience to meet new friends, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to travel to England and see a few of Marion’s favorite spots from her perspective in the future! I always enjoy seeing any location – even my own city – from someone else’s perspective.
Wondering what Marion thought of our visit together? Head over to her blog and read about the 6th day of her New York City adventure! (It’s located here.)