Thursday, March 27, 2014

El Centro Park: Mexican Food and Central Park

A few Saturdays ago, a rare thing happened in New York: beautiful weather. 
What's more, an even rarer thing happened - a group of friends and I had a free day - on the same day.

We knew the forecast a few days ahead and tittered back and forth on Facebook message until we decided on a plan, courtesy of one lovely lady I've had the pleasure of meeting this year, A. A's friend from home was visiting and they had plans to spend the day at Sheep's Meadow in Central Park and check out a Mexican place that A had scouted. She kindly invited a group of us along for the day, and oh man, were we ever excited…

A hop, skip, and a jump off the subway platform and we were in Hell's Kitchen with only a couple blocks to walk to El Centro for lunch. We quickly grabbed a table and set out on studying the menu. The drink portion first, of course. 

There was a decent selection and the prices were very good, especially for NYC. I plumped for a mojito, which arrived with chips and salsa for the table. 

The mojito wasn't the best I've ever had, but it was strong and not too sweet, so I was satisfied. We put in our main orders and munched, snapped photos, and chattered away while we waited. 

Every once and a while we'd look around and admire the brightly coloured and whimsical décor - complete with bottle cap-topped tables and Corona bottle chandeliers. 

Up next was the entrée - Ashley (who runs a charming blog) and I split chicken enchiladas. I was glad we split because they were huge! This was just my portion: 

After we were stuffed full and slightly buzzed from our drinks, we were ready to stretch our legs and feel that beautiful, oft-absent sunshine on our faces again. We skipped through Columbus Circle on our way to Central Park.

When the city is warm (i.e., 60ºF), it's transformed. Grumbly New Yorkers smile, the collective bustle becomes a stroll, and everyone seems to have a song in their heart and a spring in their step. Please note the good amount of snow still on the ground. It didn't break our stride one bit.

It had originally been the plan to lay out on Sheep Meadow, a big, grassy expanse, but it's apparently not open until mid-April. Which I guess is understandable, because it's usually too cold to want to picnic in the sun until that time of year. We gave the meadow a longing last look, snapped a few sun-soaked photos, and moved on to find another grassy patch.

The perfect spot!

There was a frenzy of throwing down bags, kicking off shoes, spreading the blanket, finding a configuration of how we could all fit on the blanket… and then everything was perfect.

Little dogs from different owners pranced around and crawled all over us. For pet-starved university students, it was the most brilliant treat.

I lost track of how long we lay there. It's actually almost sad how euphoric "warm" weather makes me. Snow is fun for a little while, but I'm definitely a California girl at heart. Blue skies are one of my favourite views.

Eventually the sun started to sink below the skyscrapers. No longer warm, we walked towards the entrance of the park, where we met K's cousin and some of his uni classmates, who were visiting from Connecticut.

While we all chatted, there were some very preppy, quite handsome gentlemen behind us having some kind of silly photo shoot (kicking myself for not getting a photo of them, it was in equal parts strange and attractive). Anyway, we thought we could show them up as models and snapped a few group shots.

If this is not Vogue worthy, then I really don't know what is.

The sun on its last legs and so it was time to head back to school. As we were leaving, we were already planning our return on the next sunny free weekend.

It's cold, cloudy, and a little miserable again in New York, coming off of a gloriously warm spring break in California (posts coming soon). I need another sunny Central Park day soon!

**Thank you to L and Ashley for letting me steal some of your beautiful photos, and thank you to everyone that I took stalker candid photos of, you made stunning models! x

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