Mistakes Made in LA

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Just like my NYC list from a few years ago, here’s a West Coast version:

  • Park in DTLA Convention Center at 4:34 pm only to read the fine print that says the $11 flat rate kicks in “AFTER 5PM.” Pay $39.19 and convince yourself that it’s a parking lesson and at least this happened on a Thursday so you didn’t pay the MoCA Grand entrance fee (which is $15) on top of that punch. Cry on the 405.
  • Take the Express Lane because you have quarters for the toll. Get slapped with a $26 fee instead for not having a transponder installed because you were expecting a tollbooth to appear like back in 1999 when you still lived here. You also get charged $10 by the rental company for committing a dumb violation thanks to a phantom tollbooth that didn’t take you to Rhyme or Reason. Cry on the 405.
  • Leave the house without water bottles. Dehydrate on the trek into civilization. Cry on the 405.
  • Leave your house at anytime between 7-9am or 3-6pm. CRY ON THE 405.
  • Experiment with being on a plant-based diet (don’t say the V word) because everything has kale in it anyway and, after 3 years of living with your born-again vegan sister, the over-sensationalized What The Health had you thinking WTF. Start reading Campbell’s The China Study while dreaming (literally dreaming while unconscious) of multicolored balls of sharp cheddar and In-n-Out Double Doubles.
  • Start asking “Do you have any dietary restrictions?” as a standard question when inviting someone out or over. Spend lots of money and time cooking 3 different entrees because you’re feeding a carnivore, a no-carb, and someone who can’t eat tomatoes. You never host again.
  • Go to a SoulCycle class. Realize that it’s a SoulCult that uses endorphins to hook you into paying $30/class which is the same amount as ONE MONTH at the gym. Their empowering mantras convince you that this is good pain for the wallet…and the crotch. It’s the same expense as a few drinks at a bar that looks exactly like the dark-lit steamy Soul studio except you’re a cascading waterfall in a sports bra. Go all-in and attend a Beyonce-themed SURVIVOR class on her Monday morning birthday in Calabasas.
  • Once again, use your “I’m from Beirut” face whenever you feel remotely uneasy about your surroundings. Unlike in NY, this doesn’t fit in well with the overtly pseudo-friendly SoCal residents and you just seem like an asshole.
  • Discover bottomless mimosa brunches everywhere. Start living by the great words of Drake: Champagne with breakfast while I’m yawning but also don’t drink all day by starting in the morning because like Ali from Soul says, the energy you put out into the world today will come back to you and you gotta Take Care of yourself. Treat yoself, whispers Aziz.
  • Contemplate how many tacos is too many when you see that all events revolve around taco trucks (bless you, California). A friend suggests, “anything below double your age,” you trust his formula, and remind yourself that you’re practically 30.
  • Learn where you are on the snob-scale after shopping in DTLA Fashion District. Sure, you didn’t know what a Patek Philippe was before Leo Burnett and Ye taught you who Margiela is, but True Cost taught you about fast fashion. All of these lessons in luxury go out the window when you see sunnies for $5 a piece.
  • Bond with +40 year olds at Barnsdall Wine Night at 7pm on a Friday. “You know you’re old when you’re like THAT’S MY JAM when they play Phil Collins and Toto while drinking wine in the park this early,” they say with a chuckle. Grasp that you completely relate to this statement and thus find out that you are old.
  • Get caught in traffic near the coastline. Pack a beach bag to keep in the trunk for impromptu detours when you decide to wait out the gridlock on the sand.
  • Spot fellow Arabs within 6 seconds of crossing paths based on choice of footwear, level of arm hair, traces of Lacoste, or the I know you glance. When in grocery stores, the jar of Bulgarian yogurt is the dead giveaway.
  • Foster a cat so you have a companion in your office/home. Fall in love, consider adoption, and solidify cat-lady status. Watch Godfather again and notice Vito Corleone’s black tabby. If the Godfather can be a cat lady, so can you.
  • Reminisce about a time when walking to your destination was doable and uber was just an adjective that only dorks like you used. Wonder how you ended up in another city with shitty public transportation.
  • Watch HBO’s Insecure as another form of research since Issa Rae presents the backdrop of South LA as a character who is more interesting than the actual cast or storylines. Live vicariously through the ladies of Inglewood until you spend hours googling the wine bar in season 1, episode 2. Someone please help me find it so I leave the house this week.
  • Develop a playlist with tracks that correspond to household chores. TLC’s Creep for sweeping, MJ’s Thriller for mopping, Black Keys/JCole for dishes & folding clothes, and the Black Album for writing the afikra newsletter. Please subscribe here, thanks.
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The Thirst for Solitude

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El Matador State Beach, Aug 2017

After dropping off the family at LAX and a quick grocery trip, Destiny’s Child Independent Women, Pt.1 popped up on the radio. Sure, I didn’t buy my house or my car but it did feel like America was telling me, OKAY, LET’S DO THIS YOU INDEPENDENT HONEY MAKING MONEY.

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Having the family in town, while comforting, served as a reminder as to what pushed me to come out to the West Coast: a desire to detach and dive into the deep end. Them being here was like being back home save for the lack of decent tabbouli. Mom sticks to tacos and 7-layer dip when in Cali-mode. Strangely, it took over 2 months to real-feel like I left Beirut because Beirut left me in the form of my family departing.

I was laying down in the dark listening to Moonlight Sonata – what a depressing image, I know – in an attempt to map out the next two months. The hypochondriac in me was saying I had caught Lyme disease but, in reality, the stagnation was due to the overdose of screen-time and self-inflicted pressure to cross out as many lines on my overambitious to-do lists of the limited window that was now all mine. Instead of staring at my screen to type this out or manage to write in the dark, I voice-noted my thoughts and I’m now transcribing my neurotic moonlight monologue into something that’s coherent.

I have been itching to write but couldn’t filter out the impurities that contaminated my clouded noggin. They coagulated into a mental block which does not result in stringing words together. Not ones you want to read at least. However, the silence is back now and it’s so marvelously deafening. My brain is hyperactive which is why it takes Beethoven to decompress. Solitude is not a roommate I avoid since I’m not skilled at being sedentary. Being in Barcelona was proof that, even if I didn’t have company for the weekend, I was perfectly fine climbing up to the Carmel Bunkers to set-up a picnic for one. It could be due to being constantly surrounded in my Beirut life (lhamdella) but, when away, I’m good on my own.

The issue with being at ease with solitude is the ability to slip into hermit mode. I’m still in my shell remembering how to breathe in the oxygen now that I’m coming up for air. In suburbia, all necessities are readily available within a 3-mile radius so working from home can equal never leaving your safety forcefield. Going outside of that solo will barely take a soft push – after all, I love to explore – but being social will take a shove. Without an office or classroom to present like-minded people on a platter, making friends in a major city where everyone lives in their car is a challenge. Granted, I will not have the cushion of love that I cultivated after 17 years in Beirut after a mere few months in LA. I am aware you cannot find a new BFF after a 10-second encounter about green smoothies in line at a vegan eatery in Santa Monica. That shouldn’t be an excuse not to try though.

The US (California, really) is my motherland as Lebanon is my fatherland but it’s like a blossoming romance. You miss the familiarity of your former flame but there’s so much to discover with this new beau – perhaps even, discovering that they’re a better fit for you after you’ve grown up a little, shed the baby fat, and figured out that you were in love with a memory, not an actuality.

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I’m not afraid of forming roots here, I’m afraid that I want to. Being a hybrid means I’ve always had a foot in both worlds while being anchored in Beirut. But does that change?

If you don’t want to be underwater anymore, it could.

Maybe You Don’t Want Me Back

 

IMG_6399For being a coastal state that believes so strongly in flip flops, not enough Californians believe in pedicures. I’ve yet to figure out the 405’s mood swings or how to properly hydrate for an expedition across the traffic of the freeways without needing to find a Starbucks restroom. I’m getting excited over finding a $12 tub of laundry detergent that can do 205 loads, checking the physical mailbox every morning, receiving the orange-wrapped LA Times Sunday paper (with coupons!), and making trips to the grocery stores. That last one could be an occupational hazard; what can I say, I was born to discover food.

As a kid, I could not grasp why we had to spend all day in the kitchen sections of department stores. My parents would peruse the shelves of pans and pressure cookers with awe (another clue to our future in retail). After spending 35 minutes in Target looking for a food processor because I got tired of washing garbanzo beans out of the Vitamix blender whenever I make hummus, I understand the obsession. Maybe it’s genetic but apparently, I have an affinity for small cast-iron skillets.

Without noticing, I’ve been away in LA for a month.

I feel like Aziz Ansari’s Master of None character, Dev, who went to Modena, a small town in Italy, to learn how to make pasta except I’m in Simi, a suburb of Los Angeles, learning how to make kibbeh. And then, I read the stories coming out of little Beirut: Roy Hamouche’s death, the Nader Saab scandal, female protesters being beaten by the army, the new electoral law, talks of enforcing the death penalty, the death of the environment.

 

In all that darkness, the light that emerges comes in the form of Cannes wins for a Leo Burnett campaign that was fighting Article 522. The irony that the only positive I see is that of raising awareness of our own country’s shortcomings is not lost on me. This is the point though: the pushbacks are the only positives. Even Facebook pictures of the latest night at Decks on the Beach don’t evoke any FOMO but rather, an eye roll. The positives are not the parties, the Jounieh fireworks, or the wineries, they’re the baby steps made to pull us out of the drudgery.

I don’t want to be an expat that takes a figurative shit on Beirut just because I’ve left it. However, in the last few years, I’ve seen even the hardcore believers in a better Lebanon start to buckle under the weight of the place that doesn’t want to climb out of the sewage-ridden gutter. I’d like to think that getting older has a lot to do with that because time becomes a main concern. The time you’ve invested in trying to wade through the trash-infested waters and the time you’ve got ahead that seems more fragile than when you were a fresh AUB grad. Priorities shift to the concrete: making a stable living, creating a safe home for your parents and future family, and, at the simplest level, being happy with what that home can give you. The more time you put into Beirut as you mature into a somewhat stunted adult due to a comfortably sheltered existence, the more you are drained and left to question: can I build my life, one like the one my parents provided for me, here? More importantly, should I?

 

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 Netflix – Master of None Season 2, Episode 9

Marie-Rose Osta’s short film, Status Quo, made it into the LA Film Festival. Considering what a moment that is to a young, aspiring Lebanese filmmaker, the US embassy felt it was not necessary for her to attend and rejected her visa. Her short was a vignette focusing on the absurdity of the Lebanese and their surroundings. While the TV is reporting ISIS border incidents and actual threats, her oblivious characters focus on the trivial worries of typical Lebanese daily life like a cockroach in the bathroom that is lit by a flashlight because the power is out. Pointless arguments between the lovers are illuminated by the TV screen’s light as the audio continues to drone on as background noise becoming just a hum. If it weren’t for the subtitles, I wouldn’t have paid attention to the juxtaposition at all. How true to reality is that? When I was speaking to her about my impression of the film, she told me that foreigners picked up on the dramatic insight more than the Lebanese viewers that it was based on. Foreigners see it because the fear that is a cast member for us is a cameo in the sitcom that is their life. It’s still palpable to them while we are so numb to our status quo that we don’t even see it when watching it unravel on screen.

If you’ve left, it means you’re fortunate enough to have that option but it also means you’re fed up. For me, it means I’m a little heartbroken. There is guilt for walking away from someone you love, like you’re abandoning them when they need you but their uncertain salvation is only done by dragging you down too. Leaving is a gross, reluctant form of self-preservation. My expat friends and the last ones still standing on Lebanese soil, who are planning their subsequent moves in the next 18 months, have all said different versions of the same thing: Lebanon is home but I can’t be there anymore. The only thing that brings me back is my parents.

It’s true, the formidable pull for me is the parental unit especially when I imagine dadboss as Atlas, cradling the Wesley’s world on his shoulders. Everything else does not seem worthy or permanent.

I attended a friend’s family iftar a few weeks back and it was like being inside a Lebanese enclave in the heart of SoCal. It started to feel like you could have that dose of home while still being in a society that was made up of humans of all shades, without the accompanying condescension that comes from growing up in a homogenous village by the Mediterranean. America has its fair share of racism but at least here, there is a spectrum of people.

It could be the current sociopolitical climate but there is something about being in the US that makes you want to either assert your ethnicity or completely ignore it. Beirut, I may be making my own labneh, hanging a map of you above my bed, and playing Arabic songs for my American relatives but those are signs of gratitude for how you’ve shaped me. Like every love that comes into my life, you’ve left your imprint on who I am but I’m on the other side of the earth and I don’t miss you the way I thought I would.

As much as I love you, maybe you don’t care.
Maybe convincing myself of that is my way of coping with this sense of betrayal for wanting to stay away.

Maybe you don’t want me back,
maybe I don’t either,
maybe that’s okay.

My Interview with US Homeland Security

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A week ago, after being searched in CDG Paris before boarding, my sister and I were picked up upon exiting the aircraft in LAX by two border patrol cops. I thought, Excellent, we get to skip the lines! as they walked us through immigration. But it didn’t end there.

I asked them why we were getting a police escort to the baggage conveyors. “Oh, we’re just going to conduct an interview once you get your bags.” Riiiiight. I tried connecting to the airport wifi so I could notify my aunt that, after our flight already being delayed 2.5 hours in Paris, we might be with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for a while. It didn’t connect.

After collecting our suitcases, we were taken to a back area of baggage claim where our bags were searched, we were questioned, and our devices were confiscated.

“Could you just write your passcodes here please?”

I asked if that was legal, implied that being this invasive was a violation of our rights, and mentioned that we were citizens. “Yeah, we’re not regular cops, we’re border control cops.” Whatever that means.

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He gave me a leaflet about how they were allowed to take, copy, and keep all devices if necessary. Cop says, “it’s been like this forever.” “But we didn’t have our entire lives on our phones since forever,” I retort. I remembered the story about the NASA engineer and Rebecca Solnit posting about this happening but the legality of it all is a bit sketchy. You’re a citizen but you’re on the border so the Fourth Amendment – the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures – doesn’t apply 100% when within 100 miles of the US border.

Moxy*, the Filipino border control cop who felt like my friend after a 2-hour interrogation, says, he “eats too much rice” and is dabbling in a little landscape photography. As he goes through my suitcases, I explain what the jars of labneh and zaatar are, why I have so many books, and “yes, that’s Lebanese wine” as he peaks into a Wesley’s bag. He asks me about my Wacom tablet and we compare notes about which is the best one to buy. My sister, a nutrition student, gives him tips on how to stay healthy and tells him how she used to be a vegan extremist. The normalcy of our interaction gets interrupted by moments like having a police-escort to go pee, not being able to contact my aunt who’s still waiting outside cluelessly, and being told that my airport-bought cantaloupe needs to be incinerated.

I asked, “is this a Trump thing?” while we waited for our devices to return from a back room. Moxy has been at his post for 5 years and says it’s always been this way. Indeed, upon further digging now, it seems that this has been allowed since the Bush administration. Read more about this loophole and the legislation that conveniently passed quietly in 2013 herehere, and here.

They seemed surprised that my sister and I were so cooperative. Apparently, most who are stopped give them a hard time. “How weird, that after +20 hours on a flight here, they’d be assholes to you guys for keeping them from going into their own country. It’s been a long flight over, just ask whatever you want,” I said with a smile.  In these moments after a transatlantic voyage, you either lack patience or energy. Given my experience with these situations, being polite with a little sass has a greater impact in getting your point across than if you were to be plain aggressive.

I slipped in a few jabs (or latchet as we say in Arabic) when I could so that Moxy understood that we were seasoned at this search process and we didn’t appreciate being treated like terrorists in our own home state. I told him that this has happened before, that I get “randomly selected” and “interviewed” upon arrival AND departure from NYC or LA whenever I’m in town even though all I do is sell Oreos for a living, that now it actually feels odd when I don’t get stopped or marked with a giant X. I told him that their teams need to communicate better so I don’t have to keep telling my life story at every airport. He laughed and filled me in on this service which is your way of being proactive to you being prone to searches: DHS TRIP.

“Isn’t that like flagging myself FOR the system?” to which he replied, “well, you know you’re getting stopped anyway so you might as well do something about it.”
Good point, my man.

According to the leaflet Moxy gave me, DHS TRIP (or Department of Homeland Security’s Travel Redress Inquiry Program) “provides a single portal for travelers to seek redress for adverse screening experiences and to resolve possible watch list misidentification issues.” Unfortunately, it also says that, “individuals who receive redress through DHS TRIP may still be referred for additional screening for unrelated reasons in the future.” Hmmm.

They asked about our social media presence. When I mentioned my blog, he asked what I blog about. “You know, my life. This will probably be on there in a few days if I ever get my computer back.”
“Yeah? If you have beautiful readers, mention that I’m single,” says Moxy with a chuckle. I tell him that, since he already has my info, he should email me his photo so I can do a full profile. Business opportunity! A Tinder for border control cops in which I do the first screening interview myself.

When I got my computers, camera, and phone back, it was clear that they had probably downloaded its contents because I had an additional phonebook’s worth of Ethiopian numbers in my contacts. Jeez, if you’re going to steal my info, at least do it right. Now I know that if my iPhone is ever on the fritz, I have another backup synced at LAX.

To all those flying in the US soon, log out of your social media accounts and your email on all devices before boarding. Whatsapp conversations could be tricky – you can backup the chat history, delete the app, and redownload upon arrival. This may all be futile but try to carry as little data or access to it as possible. Most importantly, know your rights as a citizen or noncitizen entering the States.

Despite the annoyance at being delayed for no reason, Moxy’s upbeat, humble attitude and relaxed friendliness made the 2 hours easier to endure.

Moxy: I’ve got bad news *dramatic pause* You guys get to leave me now, you’re good to go
My sister: OH GOD, I thought you were going to send us back to where we came from!
Me: Which is here, technically.

We all laughed as my sister said, “see you next year!”
It’s always a pleasure feeling like a criminal in your own country. And they wonder why Beirut feels more like home to me.


*Name has been changed

Back in California: Where is My Life Going?

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I feel like I have more headspace while in sunny SoCal. The 10-hour time difference gives me enough quiet minutes to get my to-do list in order while dadboss is snoring in another hemisphere. I don’t have many friends left here so there are less temptations and I’m not a tourist so there’s no major itinerary to follow besides work-related supplier visits. Books and sunshine are my main distractions. However, having so many tete-a-tetes with your own tete makes the content all the more daunting. This self-reflection, this attempt to answer the everlasting question of should I stay or should I go, this search for the cure of stunted adulthood – it can be overwhelming when you’re one year away from that 4-year reevaluation that just so happens to fall on my 30th year of life.

I love being here and it’s not just for the donuts. I love that my thoughts have room to expand like a soap bubble and pop when they’re done. There is no annoying toddler in the form of Lebanese inconveniences coming in to poke the bubble forcing its premature death. To be fair, that may have more to do with the distance from daily life than it does with the California weather and temperament.

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Am I the only one that thinks, okay, I’ll figure this all out when I’m away for a few weeks? As if being detached from your own reality will give you clarity to work out the kinks in your life plan. You look back at home and think, is this where you want to be/are you maximizing your potential/are you meeting the right person/is this it for me/are you okay with it if it is? It would be wonderful if the answers to those questions came in black & white but it feels like gray comes in more than 50 shades. I’m sorry I used that. Won’t happen again.

When I’m away, Beirut is on my mind and when I’m home, I’m looking abroad. Not in the grass-is-greener way but in the am-I-settling way. Being young and untethered, restless and ambitious, hungry and responsible. All these adjectives lead to one: conflicted.

“Small goals.” After a talk with a friend in London who recently had a break from life to figure out life, he said it. Small goals will take some of the pressure off. Baby steps toward moving forward on a personal level so you feel that even if you’re not on the express train, you’re still not stagnant.

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And it’s about the little things. Reading in the backyard. Getting just the right amount of milk in your coffee. Finding that Yeezus shirt on Amazon. Tacos & dancing nights with your homies. Maybe the future needs to stay in the future since we all don’t know what’s ahead, how to get there, or even where we need to go. Or maybe I’m still jet lagged and a reflection session will hit me in the afternoon. At this point, all I can hope for is another good coffee and a good book to go with it.

Catalonian Traditions, Turkish Snowstorms, and Lebanese Warmth

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Coincidence brought me back to Barcelona around the same time that I had departed last November. I found the city just as I had left it, minus a few notches in temperature but just about the same number of pigeons.

Going somewhere familiar is unlike vacationing in an undiscovered destination. I guiltlessly slept in and spent afternoons in cafes. I finished a book. It was, for once, a break where I disconnected from home and was present in real time. I still worked from my trusty overweight laptop but I was mentally distant enough; my thoughts had room to expand and float above me before they popped in thin air.

Being in Catalonia at the end of the year means you learn about the seasonal traditions. First, there was Tio. Then, on New Year’s Eve, you have to eat 12 green grapes when the clock strikes 12. One grape per chime of the clock, one grape per month of the year. You also have to wear red undies for good luck? Some say they have to be a gift, others say you have to gift them before daybreak. I’m still digging up the origin story on this because I fear it’s the De Beers’ solitaire of undergarments, not that that stopped me. After 2016, I’ll take any source of luck for the calendar ahead.

Tortell de Reis (like our Galette des Rois) appears on January 6th for Three Kings Day. It contains two surprises baked into the pastry: a small king figurine and a bean. The person who gets the slice with the king gets to wear a paper crown and the person who gets the bean has to pay for the cake. They’re also granted good luck if they keep the bean in their wallet all year. I had already paid for the cake AND the bean was in my slice. It’s like it knew.

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Whenever I encounter Arabs abroad, there is an immediate sense of familiarity. You’d think that once you’re out of the country, you’d make it a point to meet people of different backgrounds but I understand why we flock to each other when setting up shop overseas. When I come across a Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian, and, of course to an even greater degree, Lebanese, I feel an unspoken understanding. As Rankoussi, my glass-blower friend in Rome, said to me with a grin,“you are also from there,” after revealing he was from Damascus.

The unexpected “unlucky” 72-hour layover in the Radisson Blu near Sabiha Airport opened my eyes to a quality of our people that I am reminded of whenever I leave: warmth. 

I left Spain decked out in thermal Nike running gear (that I didn’t run in) and boots (to avoid adding the extra weigh to my suitcase). Thank you red underwear and bean for knowing more than I did. Besides the literal warmth my lucky outfit provided, there was a figurative one that came from being stranded in a Turkish blizzard with 3 Lebanese guys who were also flying back to BEY from sunny Barcelona.

Although I may not ever see my stranded brothers of Istanbul again, I am grateful that I had some company while stuck in a frozen village. Plus, chasing down taxis in a snowstorm would’ve been a nightmare solo. These absurd yet instant friendships where you are trading stories on a hotel couch drinking minibar wine, the kind that may evaporate as soon as you part ways, never to see each other again, was still comforting in a situation where you would normally feel entirely alone. It’s bittersweet how this only happens when we’re away from home. When abroad, I don’t get the same warmth from my fellow Americans in airport terminals or Starbucks lines but, when I’m here in Lebanon, I don’t get it from my fellow Lebanese either. When at home, we don’t mix outside of our known circles.

We have to be removed. We have to be foreigners together against the world to feel like we can do that, to feel like we’re the same.

3 Meals in NYC – 2016 Edition

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Back in 2014, I spent a quick 5 minutes in NYC and wrote about my 3 main food stops – one of which has since closed permanently. After spending a week in 2015 and another in 2016, here’s an updated list of 3 meals to enjoy if you ever visit the home of 8.4 million.

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Hillstone for Campfire Ribs
My friend took me here in 2015, it was the first meal I had upon revisiting in 2016, and I will be back for sure. There is a fear that a restaurant will not be as good as you remember it, leaving you heartbroken because you romanticized a memory of saucy ribs, shoestring fries, and coleslaw. Not at Hillstone. They were better the second time around and I still couldn’t finish them. Mom helped.

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Photo Credit: @blacktapnyc

Black Tap for Burgers & Shakes
Pearl from legymonline tagged me in a gram of their crazy “milkshakes.” One afternoon, mom & I were wandering around Soho and ended up near Black Tap so we mozied over to the spot for a volcano of fat. Fifteen minute wait. She had a burger while I had a spicy margarita with onion rings. We split the top of a milkshake. It’s all we could get down considering they’re a mountain range of deliciousness. Bonus points for the 90s R&B playlists.

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Gotham West Market
Located in Hell’s Kitchen, GWM has a couple of offerings all housed in a food hall. From Indie Fresh to Choza Taqueria, the variety is there along with a chill vibe that’s perfect for hanging out with friends. It’s what you wish your high school cafeteria was like. It also has a bike shop inside. No, I did not see Wilson Fisk anywhere.


Honorable Mentions:
OBVIOUSLY, a pastrami sandwich on rye from Katz on the LES. The line you see above is not tourist hype, it is worth the wait, the $19.95, and Meg Ryan’s reaction was because of this sandwich. Also, Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, Untitled at the Whitney in the Meatpacking District at the end of the High Line, and pre-packaged food at the Food Emporium for when you need takeout so you can go back to your hotel room and binge watch Luke Cage.