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Our Team’s 2021 New York Obsessions

From NYC exhibits to restaurants to new openings!

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

Our Team’s 2021 New York Obsessions

It’s another year to be grateful to work in the most amazing city in the world — and as we each scrolled through our camera rolls, we were reminded of what an excellent year it was!

Although the pandemic carried on, we were still able to see a beautiful regrowth of the city, with vaccines rolling out and businesses reopening like never before. Though things have set back a bit since then, we’re confident 2022 will truly have New York full and thriving once again.

So here’s a look back at all of our absolute favorites from this past year. Thanks for following along with all of it, and we promise, the best is yet to come!

We all adored visiting Summit One Vanderbilt the first time!

Bianca Bahamondes, Executive Editor

Favorite NYC exhibit?

It’s a tough call between the serene Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the NYBG, and the Christian Dior exhibit at Brooklyn Museum! But I think I have to lean toward the latter. The curation, attention to detail, flow of the exhibit and sheer level of production throughout made it one of the few exhibits they truly left me speechless.

Installation view, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Brooklyn Museum, September 10, 2021–February 20, 2022. (Photo: Paul Vu)
Favorite NYC restaurant or bar?

The idea of picking only one favorite restaurant or bar feels blasphemous to me. So instead I’ll rattle off a handful of my go-tos this year: Babs (great dirty martini!), Win Son (game changing scallion pancake BEC), Pecoraro Italiano (heavenly crèma-filled croissants, & they carry fresh gluten free pasta), and Pineapple Club (new favorite spot in EV).

Favorite NYC opening or new discovery?

My favorite discovery this year was of this little unassuming shop in the heart of SoHo called Unfashional. Definitely meant for statement pieces, but I’ve found so many gems here.

Favorite thing I watched?

Encanto! It’s so beautifully done and resonated with me in ways I wasn’t expecting. Latin or not, it’s a must watch in my book.

Favorite thing I read?

Speaking of books, my favorite read this year was White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelby. It’s an imagined story of the life of the famous French chef, Auguste Escoffier, based on the little we do know about his life. It’s a tale of indulgence in everything—for food, success, ego, love, and beauty. And there are recipes weaved in along the way!

Favorite SNYC moment?

Hitting 1-million followers on Instagram! When I started at SecretNYC we were only at about 50K followers, so to have grown our platform so much in a few years is huge milestone for us. It feels like a full circle moment, and is a testament of how much our team loves this city (and hopefully a good indicator that we’re doing something right by all of you!).

Claire Leaden, Editor

Favorite NYC exhibit?

Jasper Johns at the Whitney! This was admittedly my first time at the museum (one of the rare NYC museums I had never been to!) but I really loved the color and vibrancy of his work, and the vast range from paintings to prints to sculptures. The museum also has the most amazing NYC views on the outdoor terraces spanning the fifth to eighth floors — and a bar & cafe! I definitely could imagine grabbing a cocktail here in the afternoon and just taking in the city after visiting a new exhibit.

Jasper Johns at The Whitney Museum of American Art
Views from The Whitney’s Terrace
Favorite NYC restaurant or bar?

Ah where to choose! There were so many delicious dishes and drinks I got to enjoy this year. I went to Fine & Rare on my birthday and though I had been to their sister location, The Flatiron Room, many times, I really loved this space. You’re right up close to a jazz band every night and the cocktails and food were wonderful.

Favorite NYC opening (or new discovery)?

I was pretty impressed by Great Jones Distillery, NYC’s first legal whiskey distillery since prohibition! It was so cool to have a craft liquor experience right in Manhattan, where you can learn a lot about the distilling process, etc. The Art Deco interior design was also gorgeous and though I’m not a huge whiskey drinker myself, the cocktails in their bar really delivered.

Cocktails at Great Jones
Favorite thing I watched?

One of my all-time favorite shows Search Party actually ended with its fourth season this year (when I looked it up I couldn’t believe it was 2021, it felt so long ago!). Though it wasn’t my favorite season of the four, it was still brilliant. I would highly recommend giving the first season a watch, especially for millennial New Yorkers.

Favorite thing I read?

I picked up The Witch Elm by Tana French on a weekend getaway to Vermont this winter and I completely devoured it (though it did take a bit to get going!).

Favorite SecretNYC moment? 

When Zoe Kravitz shared our Bernie Sanders meme! Also, our Bernie Sanders memes. Again, can’t believe that was this year.

Justine Golata, Staff Writer

Favorite NYC exhibit?

I’m a sucker for projection mapping, so I’ve got to go with Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience! I went to something similar in France a few years back for Chagall, so I was beyond excited that something similar was coming to NYC this year. I think it’s such a magical way to indulge in art beyond just a regular day-to-day exhibit.

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience
Favorite bar or restaurant?

I feel like asking someone’s favorite restaurant/bar in NYC is like asking who your favorite child is—I mean that’s nearly impossible! But I must say, I’m currently into this little spot near my place called The Cabin. It’s camp, has a great staff, and even better cocktails! I definitely recommend it if you’ve never been.

Favorite NYC opening (or new discovery)?

Though it’s not new to the city, Black Cat LES coffee shop has been one of my favorite discoveries of the year. I’m always looking for great WFH spots, and I feel like I’ve finally found my place. Not only does Black Cat have delicious coffee (not to mention they offer macadamia nut milk—my fav) but it has tons of comfortable seating perfect to cozy into.

Favorite thing I watched?

I’ve recently binged the entire two seasons of Love Life. I’m guilty to admit it, but I was so wrapped up with the first season that I actually finished it in one sitting—yes, I was having a rather lazy day. And I know, I know, I’m a little late to the game but better late than never. I thought the series gave a beautiful look into life in NYC, masterfully portraying all the highs, the lows, and everyday curveballs, yet still showing why we all choose to stay in this amazing city regardless.

Favorite thing I read?

Interestingly enough, I was really fond of Julia Child’s My Life In France. I’m not normally one for autobiographies but I couldn’t take my eyes off the book. It made me want to fly off to Paris and shop at la boulangerie each morning!

Favorite SecretNYC moment?

Though I have plenty, I’ve got to say my favorite SecretNYC moment was reading through everyone’s comments when we asked “What’s the most ‘New York’ thing to ever happen to you?” I think NYC cultivates such a unique community that can only ever be understood by those who have lived here and I absolutely loved reading through everyone’s stories and laughing or relating to them in some type of way.

Connor Myers, Videographer

Favorite NYC exhibit?

Caleb Hahne’s The Earth, It Held Me at 1969 Gallery. My older sister works in the art world and has really gotten me interested in the independent gallery scene in NYC. I think it’s so cool that there are so many galleries in NYC — there are SO many artists and types of art here, you’re bound to find an artist or gallery that shows work you connect with. 1969 Gallery in Tribeca always has great shows, and they’re super friendly!

Favorite NYC restaurant or bar?

I went to Rule of Thirds in Williamsburg with my girlfriend back in early September on the night of that crazy rainstorm and flood and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since! The space itself is gorgeous, and their seasonal dishes just don’t miss. We had great service, including a couple sake tastings for the inconvenience of the (very slight) flooding that evening.

Favorite NYC opening (or new discovery)?

La Noxe opening in the 28th St. subway station was so cool. Speakeasies in NYC feel pretty contrived a lot of the time, but the vibe of La Noxe is right up my alley and the fact that there’s a subway station entrance didn’t feel like the only draw at all. Music, decor, drinks, and small plates: all hits in my book.

@secretnyc_

Not us putting you on to a new speakeasy! ✨ La Noxe is a hidden gem tucked away under NYC’s 28th St. station and our new go-to spot 🍸 Have you been?!

♬ original sound – Secret_nyc

Favorite thing I watched?

I’m wayyy late to Marvel-mania and JUST watched Spiderman: Homecoming. It. Was. Awesome. Tom Holland Spidey is supreme.

Favorite thing I read?

I re-read an old favorite called Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, and can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve also been working through a creativity challenge book I picked up wandering Orchard St. in the LES — support your neighborhood bookstores!

Favorite SecretNYC moment?

Hitting 1M followers on Instagram was so cool. I’ve been with SecretNYC for a few years now so seeing how many NYers look to us now feels great.

Also every time we get the team together for a shoot or office lunch! We have a lot of fun together.

Behind the Scenes of our Hello Fresh shoot!
Culture