So long, New York.

I said goodbye to New York City last weekend. Next week I’m starting a new job in Nairobi (more on that another time).

Leaving NYC was bittersweet. I’ve always felt like I should live in Manhattan at some point in my life. So I moved there for grad school several years ago. I fully expected that I would enjoy a couple years there, then move away and never look back. It’s an undeniably amazing place, but I just didn’t think it was where I wanted to be forever. Now I’m not so sure. It grew on me. When I move back to the US (in a year or two or five), I’m not sure where I’ll end up. New York will definitely be high on my list.

In loving memory of my time in New York, here are a few of my favorite spots.

1. Otafuku: A tiny grill in the East Village that serves up the best okonomiyaki in the city, and possibly the entire country. If you don’t know what okonomiyaki is, I highly recommend you find out.

2. Tea Lounge: I’m a coffee shop lover wherever I go. I’m a fan of any joint with lots of mismatched couches, coffee/laptops during the day, and beer/jazz at night. When I lived in DC, I made Tryst my second living room. Well, Tea Lounge is the Tryst of Brooklyn.

3. Radegast Biergarten: The Platonic ideal of a beer hall. Excellent beers in half-liter and liter mugs (pictured at right). A grill serving up bratwurst, keilbasa and other goodies. Rowdy brass bands entertaining crowds on the long benches, which can fit large groups while also encouraging you to make new friends. It’s worth the trek out to Williamsburg.

4. Brooklyn Boulders: Kind of an obvious recommendation from a rock climber, but this is more than simply a great climbing gym. Though I was only a regular at BkB for a month or so, I loved the sense of community there. Good for both new and old climbers.

5. Fat Cat: Picture a bar full of games — pool, ping pong, shuffle board, scrabble, chess, backgammon, and more. Add in nightly jazz bands. Take away any hint of pretension. Now put it in a basement in the West Village. That’s Fat Cat. Very chill, honest, and fun.

6. Magical Burp Castle of Freedom: Okay, it’s actually just called Burp Castle. But a couple friends and I enjoyed this place enough that we thought it deserved an even more awesome name. It’s a great place for beer (all Belgian brews that you won’t find in most bars) and also for conversation (there’s no music, and if the room gets too loud, the bartender will “sshhh” until everyone brings their voices down). It’s a quirky little bar worth checking out.

And an honorable mention for…

7. New Yorkers: The people make the city. Crocodile Dundee was right when he said that New York is the friendliest place on earth. You have to be okay with — and maybe even enjoy — being constantly surrounded by strangers. If you want a sample of the city’s residents, check out the “Humans of New York” project, a wonderful photographic census of the city. The project’s facebook page carries many of the same photos, with accompanying commentary.

Finally, my favorite New York movie moment:

Got any favorite New York spots? Feel free to share them in the comments. I’m sure I’ll be back there someday…