Balthazar (80 Spring St) - Large French bistro with a majorly scene-y brunch scene. My scrambled eggs in puff pastry were okay. Pretty, but otherwise nothing spectacular. I'd give the place another shot, but I'm not eager to go back. (A brunch at Bistro Zinc in Chicago is much better.)
Lower East Side Tenement Museum - Don't go on the hottest day of the year, but do go. It gives you new respect for the phrase "turn-of-century immigrant experience," by visiting actual tenement apartments reconstructed to look as they did 100 years ago. Book ahead!
Lolita (266 Broome St) - You know those simple, real, low-key hoodie bars you instantly love? This is one of those. It's right around the corner from the tenement and saved us from passing out in the heat. A nice little list of refreshing summer cocktails for $8.
WD-50 (50 Clinton St) - Just for the famous five-course dessert tasting - we sat at 6:00 pm because a) we're hardcore and b) why not? (As I texted Dar, who proposed the idea the day before, "Dinner later can just be sandwich.") All five courses were excellent. Two were transcendent. Solid dessert wine pairings that offered a few surprises, like a blend from Rhodes, Greece. The staff was surprisingly laid back and fun to chat with.
High Line - This is the new elevated rail line downtown that's been turned into a landscaped public space. I've never seen New Yorkers so chilled out and happy. Chicago will get it's own version sometime in the future on the Bloomingdale Trail, which I happen to live over.
Red Cat - Dinner? Not a sandwich. But we did go light by each ordering the special scallop appetizer instead of an entree, and each of us tried it paired with a different white wine. The wine list here is big and stellar. The place is cute as a button, but all glowy and elegant at the same time - it's style meets substance. The scallops were giant and divine - seared simply over a bed of farm-fresh sauteed veggies. It's at the top of my list to go back for dinner next time. Absolutely loved it.