New York

Youngmi Mayer's Day Off in NYC's Chinatown Feels Like Home

The comedian dishes on her favorite spicy noodles and where to find rare potato chip flavors.

Thrillist/YouTube
Thrillist/YouTube
Thrillist/YouTube

Chinatown is Youngmi Mayer’s safe place in New York City. The comedian and Feeling Asian podcaster moved to the neighborhood in 2020, during the first summer of the pandemic, and quickly felt at home.

Mayer doesn’t hesitate when she refers to Chinatown as her favorite neighborhood in the city. “A big part of the reason that I moved to this neighborhood was because I was living in another part of Manhattan and I felt unsafe,” she said in a recent interview with Thrillist. “I was living with a lot of tension that I wasn’t even aware of until I came to Chinatown.”

Chinatown came to her rescue, and welcomed her into its vibrant community. In our new series “Ride With Me,” Mayer leads us in a discovery of her own Chinatown, bustling with dainty coffee shops, authentic Chinese supermarkets, and very, very spicy noodles.

By the way, she knows everyone by name. Mayer’s Chinatown feels like a small suburban neighborhood. Oddly enough, the pandemic played a major role in welcoming her to the area. “All the people that work in those restaurants, we’ve just been sort of friends for years,” she said. “But during the pandemic, I feel like we really formed these lifelong strong friendships.”

Pumpkin spice lattes made with real pumpkin, rare grilled shrimp-flavored Lay’s chips, and big dishes of hand-pulled noodles are only some of Mayer’s favorite things about Chinatown. Check it out-and don’t forget to take notes.

Places to Eat & Drink

Dreamers Coffee House
Hidden away in a very quiet part of Chinatown, Dreamers Coffee House is a tiny nook offering creative craft drinks and small bites. It’s one of those places where you can recharge your batteries in peace.

A proud pumpkin spice latte hater, Mayer admits she cannot resist Dreamers’ real pumpkin spice latte. “During the winter, Sandy was making her own pumpkin spice mix with real pumpkins and that was so delicious,” said Mayer. “I was drinking that every day.

Spicy Village
Mayer is absolutely aware that everyone knows this place, but she can’t avoid talking about it. It’s just too good. A classic Chinatown eatery, Spicy Village is small-and it does tend to get busy.

Mayer’s been coming since 2012, and ate their famous hand-pulled noodles throughout her pregnancy. She’s even taken her young son to Spicy Village to get him a bowl of tomato and egg noodles.

Don’t miss out on Mayer’s personal favorite. The Big Tray of Chicken is simply that-a chicken-based mala soup with chicken, served in a big tray.

Chinatown Supermarket of Manhattan
Nothing is really special about Lay’s potato chips, unless we’re talking about flavors that are hard to find. The Chinatown Supermarket of Manhattan offers a selection of imported Lay’s chips, with flavors ranging from lobster to grilled shrimp. No wonder it’s Mayer’s go-to snack.

Right inside the entrance, you’re greeted with a live seafood section, followed by a huge produce area and pantry items on the upper level.

“The reason I started going there so often is because when I first moved to Chinatown, I would go to H Mart and all these Korean markets to get Korean pantry items,” Mayer said. “But then I realized that most of those things can actually be found in the Chinatown Supermarket.”

Bacaro
Mayer regularly dreams about the food at Bacaro. Their duck ragù dish? A must-order. The steak? Also incredible.

Located on a popular stretch of Division Street, Bacaro delights with both its food and its ambiance. An old-school chandelier hangs from the ceiling at the entrance, setting the tone for a romantic dinner.

Mayer usually comes here to sip on a nice glass of wine, snack on a meat and cheese plate, and hang out with the staff. After years of stopping by, she eventually learned how to recreate some of their dishes. “They serve the steak with these smashed whole mini-potatoes with rosemary, and I learned how to make it at home,” she said, proudly.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

New York

Scavenge for Peeps Cookies and More Fun Treats in NYC This Easter

The best Easter desserts in NYC this spring include Easter Bunny Churros and Carrot Cake Macarons.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

As spring makes its way through New York City, not only do we get to enjoy beautiful weather, stunning cherry blossoms, and cool activities priced at $Free.99, but it’s also the perfect time for some limited-edition desserts.

With Easter fast approaching, bakeries are filling their shops with tons of chocolate eggs, carrot cake-flavoured everything and all types of flavours that offer both nostalgia and innovation within the city’s dessert landscape. After you’ve picked up a cake from the city’s best new bakeries, from Easter Bunny Churros to Carrot Cake Macarons, here are 8 Easter desserts to try in NYC right now.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery

Throughout April
Various locations
There’s great news for devotees of Magnolia Bakery’s Classic Banana Pudding: For Easter, the spot is mixing up the iconic dessert’s vanilla pudding with some carrot cake. The Carrot Cake Pudding is filled with freshly grated carrots, coconuts, pineapples, raisins, and walnuts. And if both bananas and carrots aren’t your thing, they’ll be offering their Classic Vanilla Cupcakes in pastel colours with a Cadbury chocolate egg hidden inside.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

Funny Face Bakery

Through Easter Sunday
NoHo and Seaport
Known for their celebrity face and meme-worthy decorated cookies, fans of Funny Face Bakery know that a new fun design is always just around the corner. For Easter, they’ve created the adorable Hoppy Easter decorated cookie that resembles a classic box of marshmallow Peeps. Along with that, they also have the return of their fan-favourite Caramel Pretzel Chip cookie flavour, plus a set of three mini-decorated cookies perfect for gifting.

The Doughnut Project

Friday, April 7 through Easter Sunday
West Village
With the ever-changing flavours at The Doughnut Project, it’s super easy to miss out on trying out a new debut. But this Easter weekend, there will be two new flavours available. One is of course, a carrot cake doughnut topped with a cream cheese glaze, and the other is known as the Doughnut Nest-a French cruller “nest” with a cream-filled doughnut hole “egg” in the centre.

Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour

The Fragile Flour

Wednesday, April 5 through Easter Sunday
East Village
For stellar vegan desserts this holiday, head to The Fragile Flour, a plant-based bakery and dessert wine bar. They’re known for going all out for each holiday with a variety of new pastry options that you can pair perfectly with a glass of wine. This Easter, they’ll have a whole dessert menu that’s both delicious and gorgeous for posting on IG. The menu includes Stuffed Carrot Cake Cookies, a Lemon Cake (whole or by the slice), some festive cupcakes, and specialty macarons.

Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Through mid April
Midtown
For a luxurious take on Easter chocolates, browse the selections available at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. You can even pick the Easter Signature Chef’s Selection for a special box curated by award-winning chefs. For something other than chocolate, choose between the Carrot Cake Macarons or the cake flavored Easter Marshmallow Trio, both of which are almost too cute to eat.

La Churreria

Throughout April
Nolita
This churro-centric spot is putting the cutest Easter spin on their crispy cinnamon churros by twisting them up into bunnies and bunny ears. At Churreria, choose from a Bunny Churro Lollipop topped with your choice of chocolate or dulce de leche and sprinkles, or the bunny ear churros in the Ube and Matcha ice cream sundae or the Ube Milkshake, both of which are made with ice cream from il laboratorio del gelato.

Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci

Lafayette

Throughout April
NoHo
You’ve surely seen this croissant tons of times while scrolling through IG or TikTok, whether it’s the Pain au Chocolat one or the latest of the month. Known as Supr√™mes, these filled croissants went viral and continue to live up to the hype each time a new flavour comes out. April’s flavour-sour cherry amaretto with a Luxardo custard and toasted almonds. While you’ll have to be super early and wait in line during one of their three drops of the day to get a taste, we promise you it’ll be worth it.

Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain

Levain

Seasonal
Various locations
We all know the iconic cookies from Levain-they’re gigantic, perfectly crispy and chewy, and well worth the long lines. For spring, the shop is launching a new flavour: Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip. Filled with gooey caramel chips, fresh shredded coconut, and melty dark chocolate, it’s one you’ve got to try while it’s still around. To further celebrate the new season, all of Levain’s storefronts will be decked out in spring floral displays, serving as the perfect backdrop for pictures.

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Alaina Cintron is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Her work can also be found in Westchester Magazine, Girls’ Life, and Spoon University. When she’s not at her desk typing away, you can find her exploring a local coffee shop or baking a new recipe.

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