Latina’s Guide to New York City: Where to Eat, Drink, Sleep, and Play

Before you settle for a Times Sq. Instagram marathon, memorize this list of the best hotels, restaurants, and spas that will really make your trip unforgettable.

1. Where to Go For a Romantic Date: Salinas

Where to Go For a Romantic Date: Salinas

With candles and roses covering every almost every inch of the entranceway of this charming Spanish restaurant, it's hard not to immediately fall in love with Salinas. Then, you get to the back room with a retractable roof exposing killer views of the city and you taste their contemporary paellas, which are essentially life changing. Choose between the "Seco" (bomba, chicken, sepia, scallops, octopus, prawns, monkfish, shitake mushrooms) or the "En Costra" (baekseami, quinoa, artichokes, cauliflower, hen of the woods, egg costra) and definitely do not leave without sampling the creamy croquettes of the day. The restaurant is also a favorite of Victoria's Secret model Jasmine Tookes.

2. Where to Get the Best Facial in Town: Cecilia Wong

Where to Get the Best Facial in Town: Cecilia Wong

New York is a city where a new blow dry or brow bar opens every day, but there are very few landmarks in this beauty-filled space that are really worth a visit. Cecilia Wong Skincare happens to be one of them. The guru (who has been in the business for over 11 years) counts many celebrities as clients thanks to her famous microcurrent facial, which will you looking 10 years younger upon exiting. She combines cleansing, microcurrent technology, a lymphatic drainage massage, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Spray infused with Black Currant Serum to produce Botox-like effects, in a 100% non-invasive way. Not only does your skin look and feel immediately tighter and lifted (in a vibrant, non scary way), but this facial also helps target sagging muscles, fine lines, dark circles, and excess water. Be sure to stock up on her Rose Toner and Blemish Peel Mask on your way out as well.

3. Where to Go For a Farm-to-Table Meal: Gardenia NYC

Where to Go For a Farm-to-Table Meal: Gardenia NYC

From the moment you walk through the door at Gardenia and experience the bright airy space teaming with live plants (succulents abound) and a signature scent (Gardenia, no less) you are hooked. Then you start to work your way through the Latin/European-inspired menu and you consider never leaving. Order the blue corn crusted calamari with pomegranate charmoule vinaigrette, the roasted corn and manchego empanadas with pine nuts and chile amarillo, and the paella negro (calamari ink, sepia, escargot, chorizo, octopus, shrimp, avocado aioli) before finishing off your cena with a classic plate of churros. As for the cocktails — don't leave without sipping the lavender margarita.

4. Where to Go For Live Jazz and Craft Cocktails: The DJango

Where to Go For Live Jazz and Craft Cocktails: The DJango

When you’re in the mood for good music and margaritas, head to to the newly renovated Roxy Hotel (formerly The Tribeca Grand) and downstairs to their underground jazz club, The DJango. A vintage vibe mixed with an electic menu of light bites and bespoke drinks makes for the perfect Saturday night. Do not leave without ordering the Maid in Mexico (tequila, lime, cucumber, mint) or the Juschu (tequila, lime, honey, bitters).

5. Where to Eat Lobster on a Boat: North River Lobster Company

Where to Eat Lobster on a Boat: North River Lobster Company

There’s nothing better than enjoying some lobster tails on a hot summer day — oh wait, yes there is, when you’re enjoying them on a boat. Enter the North River Lobster Company, which is essentially a floating lobster shack on the Hudson River. Choose from their countless fresh seafood options, mason jar cocktails, and buckets of beer, then grab a seat upstairs and take in the views. The best part is, you don’t have to pay to get on, so you can spend more on the lobster (and the aforementioned booze). 

6. Where to Sip Bespoke Cocktails: Bar Nana

Where to Sip Bespoke Cocktails: Bar Nana

Inspired by the legendary brothel in Punta del Este (known simply as “Casa de Naná"), Bar Naná merges South American and French influences for a destination after-work or late-night drinks spot that’s truly worth a visit. Try the chorizo empanadas and wash them down with one of mixologist Giovanni Love’s hand-crafted cocktails like the Alta Smash (Avuá Cachaça, lemons wedges, sugar, mint) or the Mai Tai Clasico (Zacapa 23 Rum, fresh lime juice, orgeat, fresh pineapple). Oh, and the staff wears custom uniforms by Olivier Theyskens — we told you it was chic.

7. Where to Go For Contemporary Mexican Food: Fonda

Where to Go For Contemporary Mexican Food: Fonda

Celebrated chef Roberto Santibañez is known for signature dishes like the Enchiladas de Mole Negro Oaxaqueño (soft corn tortillas filled with braised chicken topped with a stone ground Oaxacan black mole) and grilled chorizo with Oaxaca and Chihuahua cheeses, but there's one cocktail at the Fonda location in Chelsea that's not to be missed: the “Ninth Ave” margarita. The restaurant also boosts a unique mix of paintings and artisanal items by Mexican and local New York artists making the ambiance just as enjoyable as the comida.

8. Where to Take the Best Selfies: SPYGLASS

Where to Take the Best Selfies: SPYGLASS

22 floors above Manhattan clearly offers a great backdrop for your vacation Instagrams. The following libations also serve as great props for your pics as well: Empire State (a blend of Hendricks gin, St. Germaine ginger and Basil) Top of the World (Aperol, watermelon, St. Germain, Prosecco), and Mez-jito (a twist on the classic mojito with Union Uno Mezcal, lime, cucumber, mint and simple syrup).

9. Where to Beach It In Manhattan: The Beach at Dream Downtown

Where to Beach It In Manhattan: The Beach at Dream Downtown

Enjoy a Hot to Trot cocktail (Cazadores Blanco, cucumber, agave, jalapeño) on the only real beach in Manhattan. OK, while there’s no technical ocean involved here, there is actually sand. Plus, the crowd, private cabanas, and chaise lounges are all added perks. 

10. Where to do Jazz Brunch: LAVO

Where to do Jazz Brunch: LAVO

Brunch is a staple in NYC, but jazz brunch is even more of a big deal. Make a reservation on Sundays between 1-4 to chow abajo on signature dishes like "South Brooklyn" chicken and waffles (crispy spiced chicken, bourbon maple syrup, spiced pecans), lobster eggs benedict (avocado, poached egg, truffle hollandaise), and lemon ricotta waffles (assorted housemade preserves, whipped cream) while listening to some smooth sounds.

11. Where to Go For Express Beauty Treatments: Red Door Union Square

Where to Go For Express Beauty Treatments: Red Door Union Square

Red Door has long been a spa staple on 5th avenue, but their new downtown location — which offers a bandada of 30-minute services — is taking things to a new level. May we suggest a microdermabrasion mini facial, gel mani, or makeup lesson at the beauty bar? Or, if you’ve got more time to spare, indulge in one of their customized scalp treatments like the Kérastase Deep Conditioning ritual or the Kérastase Mono-Dose application for thinning hair, followed by a blowout. For the serious pamperers, there’s also a full-service salon and spa downstairs. 

12. Where to Take a Rooftop Dip: The Empire Hotel

Where to Take a Rooftop Dip: The Empire Hotel 

Not only is the Empire the place to stay during New York City Fashion week (or if you’re visiting the Met Opera or ballet), but it’s also known for it’s amazing rooftop pool, bar, and incredible views of the city. Try the Monkey in a Tree (Don Q Passion Fruit Rum, banana liquor, pomegranate juice and fresh lime) as you’re relaxing poolside, or indulge in the Bloody Mary Bar on Sundays from noon to 4pm. If you choose to stay in the hotel, you can also partake in their “Grazing in the Grass” package, which includes room accommodations for two, an Empire Hotel picnic blanket, thermal canvas carrying bag, frisbee, two bottles of water, city map, Central Park map, complimentary in-room WiFi and 50 percent off all mini bar items.

13. Where to Get In Shape Like Supermodel Adriana Lima: UFC Gym

Where to Get In Shape Like Supermodel Adriana Lima: UFC Gym

In between the brunches, lunches, and dinners we’ve suggested here, you might want to find an hour to actually work those off. When modelos like Adriana Lima and Gigi Hadid want to get runway-ready, they skip the gym and head straight to the ring. The boxing ring that is. We had the chance to take a class at the newly opened UFC Gym in NYC and let us tell you — this is the best workout ever. Not only does it work every single muscle in your body, but you actually leave feeling stronger. Like you could take on Ronda Rousey. (Ok, maybe not, but you get the point.) UFC’s boxing class is a high-energy, high-intensity class that helps build endurance and flexibility, while burning through hundreds of calories in just fifty minutes.