10 Essential Stops For a Literary Tour of New York

Rediscover the legendary night-life and join the modern scene of one of the world's top writers' cities

It used to be bars, not cafés, where the writing community socialized, collaborated, and gossiped. And though Greenwich Village has largely been replaced by Brooklyn (which might soon be replaced) as the writers' neighborhood, you can still explore the history of New York City's vibrant and important literary scene. Design the best tour around the following ten famous homes and hotels, bars, cafés, exhibits, literary scenes and landmarks.

1. Minetta Tavern

Open since 1937, the Minetta Tavern was a favorite social spot and drink fountain of such great authors as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas and E. E. Cummings. It was also the semi-home of Joe Gould, the writer who wanted to write the longest book in history. It was the birthplace of Reader's Digest and has now become a Michelin-star rated restaurant after renovations in 2009. You won't find the cheap drinks enjoyed by early-20th-century writers but you will be able to order duck breast and a $33 burger while you talk knowledgeably about Pound's best work.

2. White Horse Tavern

Rather than an upscale remodel, you'll find at the White Horse Tavern a gorgeous bar and restaurant bearing the marks of history since its construction in 1880. Dylan Thomas was also a regular of this tavern and, according to legend, drank himself to death here with eighteen shots of whiskey. Other famous patrons include James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac (someone carved "Go home, Kerouac!" in the bathroom) and Frank O'Hara. Take time to admire the memorabilia on the walls but probably don't try to beat Thomas's fatal record, especially if you want to make it any further on your tour.

3. The Algonquin

In midtown, The Algonquin opened in 1902, when a single room cost $2 per night. It's home to the famous Round Table, where writers and artists met and conversed for years. Members of the elite group included Dorothy Parker, Robert Sherwood, Alexander Woolcott and Edna Ferber. John F. Kennedy once said, "When I was growing up, I had three wishes – I wanted to be a Lindbergh-type hero, learn Chinese and become a member of the Algonquin Round Table." Food doesn't come cheap anymore but its rich history might be worth the price.

4. The Plaza

A bit north of The Algonquin, The Plaza Hotel sits at Central Park and was the site of several famous literary events. Truman Capote held his Black & White Ball in the hotel in 1966. And what defines luxury and vitality more than being part of the setting of The Great Gatsby? It opened in 1907 and five decades later was the site of filming for Hitchcock's North by Northwest. The hotel's website quotes Hemingway as having once advised Fitzgerald to "give his liver to Princeton and his heart to The Plaza."

5. Old Town Bar

Open since 1892, the Old Town Bar has been a favorite of writers such as Seamus Heaney and Billy Collins. Madonna, another kind of star, shot a music video there, starring Christopher Walken, a bigger star depending on who you ask. So you have a choice of artistic history to discuss over drinks at the bar. Also of note: in 2010, the urinals in the men's bathroom had a 100-year birthday celebration. Heaney, Walken, and world-famous urinals—now that's a tour stop.

6. Morgan Library

In between food and drinks, the Morgan Library and Museum makes for a worthy stop to see the manuscripts and notes of New England Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. An upcoming exhibition called "This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal" promises to be the "most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to the life of one of America's most influential authors and thinkers." Permanently on display are artifacts including journals and diaries. For more on the stunning Morgan Library and its prizes, including a Gutenberg Bible, check out The Journiest's profile.

7. New York Public Library

Certainly a necessary stop for many reasons, one particular draw is the real-life Winnie the Pooh bear at the New York Public Library's Children's Center in the Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street. Young readers and kids at heart will enjoy the history of the teddy bear that inspire A. A. Milne to write his beloved Winnie the Pooh stories for his son, Christopher Robin. While you're there, take a moment or longer to relax in peace in the beautiful and finally renovated Rose Main Reading Room. Its high, painted ceiling and majestic wooden interior make it a perfect spot to rest your feet and page through a book or scroll through social media.

8. Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House

The Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House on West 10th Street was built in 1836 and has a vast artistic history over almost two centuries. Situated in the center of a neighborhood whose past residents—including Mark Twain, Willa Cather, Richard Wright and Marianne Moore—are often listed in metal plates next to their front doors, the Writers House is currently home to a weekly reading series hosted by NYU. It became the hub of NYU's creative writing program in 2007 and has hosted authors such as Zadie Smith, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Cunningham and Charles Simic. Their reading series continues, free and open to the public on most Thursday and Friday evenings.

9. Otto Enoteca

Explore the modern literary scene starting at Mario Batali's 8th Street pizzeria and bar, Otto Enoteca. Its kitchen stays open until midnight and the spacey bar area serves a wide variety of wines and spirits, including the restaurants own brand of wine and they even offer twice-weekly wine classes. Those ingredients help make the somewhat hidden restaurant popular with late-night patrons, many of whom might turn out to be writers, publishers or critics. A trip from the Morgan's bookshelves to Otto's wine shelves is a good plan for an evening's adventure.

10. KGB Bar

The KGB Bar on East 4th Street is difficult to find but once you're inside, the dark, Russian-themed bar doesn't seem like the most social of places to meet writers and talk books. Nevertheless, KGB hosts many fiction and poetry readings in its tiny space. It's so devoted to the literary scene, in fact, that it publishes its own online literary journal. Once a month, on the third Thursday, the bar hosts "Drunken! Careening! Writers!" its ongoing comedy-based, alcohol-influenced reading series. Arrive early for a seat at one of the several tiny tables or pull up to the bar and admire the barely-lit Russian memorabilia hung on the walls.

Don't forget:

Other fabulous stops include: The Strand, Housing Works Cafe & Bookstore, Overlook Lounge, the Library Hotel and McSorely's Old Ale House.

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Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!

Travel Tips

8 of the Best Donut Spots In the United States

Celebrate National Donut Day with our favorite treats across the country.

November 5th marks one of 2020's two National Donut Days.

Occurring in both June and November, National Donut Day allows fans of those delectable yeasty treats to embrace their sweet tooth. But like any niche food group, people often take their donuts very, very seriously, and there are countless places to get your fix.

Below, we've rounded up some of the best donut spots across the country. From coast to coast, these bakeries are sure to impress even the pickiest donut-heads.

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop – Modesto, CA

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop

If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's worth taking a short trek out east towards Modesto for some of California's best donuts. Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop has remained family owned since its opening over 30 years ago, providing both tried-and-true classic donuts as well as experimental flavors and holiday specials. Even their 24-hour service doesn't diminish the line that trails out the door most mornings.

Dough — New York, NY

Dough \u2014 New York, NY

Donuts might not be the first circular, doughy treat you think of when it comes to New York City. If you've had your fair share of bagels, the Big Apple also boasts some spectacular donuts at Dough, a go-to spot for both tourists and locals alike. Here, you'll find a host of Latin American-inspired flavors that are hard to come by anywhere else; their Dulce de Leche flavor is a customer favorite, while the tangy Hibiscus donut is just as good for Instagramming as it is for eating.

Blackbird Doughnuts — Boston, MA

Blackbird Doughnuts \u2014 Boston, MA

Boston's Blackbird Doughnuts is a no-frills donut spot specializing in both brioche "raised" donuts and old-fashioned cake donuts. With a small menu of year-round donuts and a rotating cast of seasonal flavors, Blackbird keeps it simple and classic. Why mess around?

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop — Brooklyn, NY

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop \u2014 Brooklyn, NY

For over 60 years, Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop has been calling the quaint Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint home. Since then, the bakery has remained a popular spot for both regulars and new visitors passing through the area. Here, you won't find uber-trendy decor or gimmicky recipes, just damn good donuts that prove the power of long-standing local businesses.

Pip’s Original — Portland, OR

Pip\u2019s Original \u2014 Portland, OR

In both their mobile catering van and brick-and-mortar locations, Pip's Original is a staple for small, sweet treats in Portland. They're known for their tiny donuts that come in inventive seasonal flavors like marionberry-lavender and mango ghost pepper. But even if you opt for one of the more traditional flavors, Pip's Original proves good things can come in small packages.

Round Rock Donuts — Round Rock, TX

Round Rock Donuts \u2014 Round Rock, TX

Founded in 1926, Round Rock Donuts—located just north of Austin—are impossible to miss. These donuts' distinct yellow-orange color, caused by fresh eggs in the original recipe, make them stand out among the crowd. While this classic outpost can easily churn out hundreds of dozens of donuts a day, they also offer Texas-Sized Donuts, which are just as ginormous as you'd imagine. Round Rock Donuts are not only delicious and easily recognizable, but they're a slice of Lone Star history.

The Holy Donut — Portland, ME

The Holy Donut \u2014 Portland, ME

In Maine's Portland, you might not find tiny donuts or a decked-out catering van, but you will find a slightly healthier alternative. The Holy Donut was founded on the premise of creating tasty donuts that used all-natural ingredients to make a treat you could feel good about eating. The secret ingredient is fresh, mashed Maine potatoes, which make these donuts delectably moist without sacrificing flavor.

Donut Friend — Los Angeles, CA

Donut Friend \u2014 Los Angeles, CA

As expected of a city so focused on entertainment, Los Angeles' Donut Friend puts an edgy spin on their inventive donut flavors. Their year-round menu features donut flavors with names like Green Teagan and Sara, Fudgegazi, and Bacon-182 that are sure to delight the rock music nerds. For everyone else, the delicious donuts speak for themselves.