I’ve spent a lot of time in New York City. I grew up nearby, and I lived there during college, both uptown and downtown, while I interned in the summers. Now, when I visit from California, I usually stay with my family—and I get the local Upper East Side experience. But for a change, earlier this month, I decided to try something new.

I didn’t want to stress out trying to hit every much-hyped new spot in 48 hours, and I didn’t want to leave it all up to fate, either. Instead, I booked a great hotel, made one solid dinner reservation, visited some old favorites, kept my eyes peeled for places I’d heard about, and most importantly, left room for my favorite thing: discovery. I couldn’t have asked for two more-perfect days.

What follows is a pretty fantastic way to spend 48 hours. But I hope you don’t trail this too closely. Instead… make it yours.

Omar’s La Ranita

Photo: Brian Ferry

We started the evening meeting friends for drinks at Omar’s La Ranita. Located in the basement of a West Village brownstone just a block from The Marlton, the elegant space, designed by BHDM Design, a MyDomaine favorite, has a strong cocktail list and a Mediterranean-influenced menu. Its owner, Omar Hernandez, also opened a neighboring members-only private dining club, Omar’s, which has an unmarked door and requires a little more finesse to visit.