Insider Interviews

Van Le: A Bronx-Born Fashion & Food Blogger’s NYC Tips

September 5, 2016 | BTSNYC
Curiosities Insider Interviews Van Le Forever Vanny Subway

Bronx-born fashion & food blogger, Van Le, shares her best NYC tips! She talks about spots in the Bronx, SoHo, Lower East Side and other hip neighborhoods.

Curiosities Insider Interviews Van Le Forever Vanny Stairs

This week, we interviewed Van Le, a New York + Tokyo Fashion and Food Blogger. This Bronx-born influencer shared some of the her top spots in some pretty awesome neighborhoods!

“Long story short, I was born in Vietnam and raised in the Bronx for the past 15 years. I can confidently say that my experience in New York has truly been something that I’m forever grateful for.

Growing up in one of the roughest parts of the State has given me a lot of insights and perspective on the diversities here in New York, not just in different ethnicities and races. It also allowed me to grow out of my traditional expectations from my parents, as well, in a sense.

I currently work in Fashion and am huge food enthusiast.”

Here are Vanny’s Top 7 NYC Tips:

Antonio’s Trattoria

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“I went to Fordham University for my Bachelor. The campus was in the Bronx, so it didn’t seem like there was much around, but I discovered my all time favorite Italian place Antonio’s Trattoria. It’s a restaurant that’s hidden in what most people overlooked as the original Little Italy, but it’s a restaurant that not only feels like home, but the food is also made with tons of love. The owner, Uncle Joe, will make sure to give you a kiss on the way out too!”

It all started when a group of friends, that grew up on Arthur Avenue, decided to open a traditional Italian Trattoria. The idea was to offer Nonna’s (Grandma, in Italian) recipes and cooking style.

They are very well known for their brick-oven Margherita pies!

As they say: “Welcome home! Let’s eat!”

Monday – Thursday: 11:30am – 9pm
Friday & Saturday: 11:30am – 10pm
Sunday: 12pm – 9pm

Location: 2370 Belmont Avenue, Belmont, Bronx


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“Devoción is my favorite coffee shop. It’s super out of the way, but the coffee there makes the trip so worth it. Plus, I usually go with the intention of spending a long period of time there, because it’s just that lovely.”

They are based in Williamsburg and are freelance-friendly, so be prepared to maybe drink your coffee standing up. There is always tons of freelancers working and occupying the tables.

If you like good coffee, this is the place for you, since they have around 17 different types to try!

They have a gorgeous green wall that everyone adores and a ceiling with a skylight, allowing natural light to flow in. It surely makes the entire experience more pleasant.

We are always there too….working!

Their slogan? “Grown in Columbia. Roasted in Brooklyn.”

Monday – Friday: 7am – 7pm
Saturday – Sunday: 8am – 7pm

Location: 69 Grand Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn


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“If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that Dudley’s is by far my favorite brunch spot. It’s really small and gets pretty crazy on the weekends, but I go there religiously for my mocha and fries (and everything else on the menu).”

This neighborhood gem is a great place to find fresh local produce, new seasonal cocktails and a delicious espresso coffee we love!

It’s located in the trendy Lower East Side part of Manhattan.

If you’re into sharing food, this is the spot for you, since their dishes are perfect for sharing. Plus, this way you can definitely try more stuff! Yum!

Sunday & Monday: 9am – 2am (kitchen closes at 11pm)
Tuesday & Wednesday: 9am – 2am (kitchen closes at 12pm)
Thursday – Saturday: 9am – 4am (kitchen closes at 12pm)

Location: 85 Orchard Street, Lower East Side


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“One of my favorite date night ideas for New York is still grabbing dessert at Serendipity close to midnight to avoid tourists (that’s when they close). Most people go for the original Frozen Hot Chocolate, but the Strawberry Fields is my personal preference. If there’s still a wait, just walk over and take the tram to Roosevelt Island for the view and come right back!”

It’s 1954, in the heart of Little Italy, and Serendipity “comes into the world four tables, sixteen chairs and a towering espresso machine strong.”

They were New York City’s 1st coffee house boutique and Andy Warhol claimed his love for it in no time! Now, they’re currently located on the Upper East Side.

The place was founded by Calvin L. Holt – that passed away in 1991 at the age of 66, and his friend & partner Stephen Bruce.

It was the scene of several films and series based in NYC, like the famous movie that was actually also called “Serendipity”. If you don’t remember, this is the place where Jonathan (John Cusack) meets Sara (Kate Beckinsale) and they fall in love…

Oh! And keep your eyes open, maybe you’ll bump into some big celebrity that’s just coincidently passing by there too.

Sunday – Thursday: 11:30am – midnight
Friday – Saturday: 11:30am – 1am

Location: 225 East 60th Street, Upper East Side

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake

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“I’m hesitant a sharing this one, but Eileen’s Special Cheesecake is the best you can get in New York.”

With over 25 years of baking experience, Eileen is considered one of the city’s cheesecake gurus. She opened her business in 1975. Here’s her story:

“It was a “ghost town” when I first arrived, but that didn’t bother me because the rent was low and I desperately needed a place to bake for my growing wholesale business. I hadn’t considered the retail aspects of the business until people started knocking on the door of the bakery wanting to buy cheesecake. With that encouragement, I purchased a bakery case and began to conduct retail business.

Soon after our cheesecake attracted the press and we were listed in “Best Bites” in New York Magazine. Radio station WOR rated us “Number One Cheesecake” and we appeared on television quite often whipping up batters of cheesecake. Time passed, and now Cleveland Place is in a popular area where the mix of people and restaurants and shops are so unique.

Downtown is becoming the “place to be”, and we are actually on most maps now. We survived difficult times, and now “let the good times roll”!” ~ Excerpt from her website.

Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9am – 9pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10am – 7pm

Location: 17 Cleveland Place, NoLita

Sixty LES Hotel

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“I often treat myself to staycations and one of my favorite hotels is the Sixty LES. Tons of restaurants and bars around for a really relaxing, yet eventful time.”

With 3 different locations: 3 in New York, 1 in L.A. and 1 in Miami, the Sixty Hotels are definitely a great pick if you’re into luxury lodging.

“Our guests are true “artists-in-residence,” at home to make their experience their own canvas. In our carefully curated inns, lodgers-in-residence can expect a distinguished palette, artful service and comfort in every way. The result is a hospitality group that assures a stay in a SIXTY Hotel will remain with guests long after they’ve checked out.”

Their upcoming new location will be in Montreal, so stay tuned!

190 Allen Street, Lower East Side (LES)
60 Thompson Street, SoHo
308 West 58th Street, Hell’s Kitchen

Top of the Rock

Curiosities Insider Interviews Van Le Top of the Rock

“If you live in New York, you probably don’t go to the Top Of The Rock often. I don’t either. But when I do, I would splurge on the sunset ticket just to get up there and have a moment of complete silence. While everyone squirms to catch the sunset on one side, I look for a quiet place on the opposite side and wait to gaze the view as all of the lights in the city turn on. It’s so therapeutic, you have no idea.”

Yes, the Top of the Rock is definitely one of our Top Picks to chose from if you want to see the entire city and catch the breathtaking sunset.

It is definitely a touristy spot and we usually don’t write about those, but it’s the only place you’ll have a 360º view of the New York’s 5 boroughs.

Plus, it’s got a great price ($30/adults) and we never faced any huge lines to go up – versus other touristy spots that can take a couple of hours, at peek moments.

You obviously can book everything online!

Location: 30 Rockefeller Plaza

…and a few fun questions to finish the interview:

What does NYC mean to you? 
“NYC is always changing. No one day in New York is ever the same. People say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. That’s true because New York is rough even on a really good day.”

What can someone expect when coming to NY? 
“Everything you’ve imagined or heard about New York City is probably true. Even rude New Yorkers, haha!”

What is the best NY slang? 
“Not really a slang, but ETA (estimate time of arrival) is a crucial meet-up question. It’s either the MTA or traffic.”

Thank you Van Le, for sharing these great spots that are so dear to your heart! Take a look at her website to learn more about her work:

If you enjoyed her post, you’ll most surely love Tamara Peterson’s Brooklyn tips!

Photo Credits: Courtesy of the venues, Van Le, Jetsettimes and Arty Pomerantz/New York Post Archives/(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images
*Last Update on March/2020.*

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