Best way to get to 53rd and 1st Ave from Newark at 7:30 friday?
June 10, 2015 3:49 AM   Subscribe

Yay, weekend in New York! I'll be landing at Newark at 6:30, so it will be 7:30 or so by the time I'm out of customs. The friend I'm visiting suggests taking the Air Train to another train that will get me to New York Penn station, and take a cab from there. Would it be easier to take a cab the whole way?

Now, I'm pretty lazy, and the page here says that taking a cab from the airport would be $50 - $75 - does that sound right? also, would I be likely to get caught in hellish traffic if I take a cab at that hour?

I don't mind the cost, but I'd hate to be stuck in a car when I could be having fun. On the other hand, finding my way through what looks like a fairly complex system in an unfamiliar city sounds a bit daunting, so I'm feeling stumped.

Also, any recommendations for a good mexican place to eat, and fun weird things to do would be totally welcome.

posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (16 answers total)
Those prices are about right. As of right now, at 7am on a Tuesday, the traffic situation in the bridges and tunnels into Manhattan is already fairly backed up.

The Airtrain - to - NJ Transit connection is really straightforward and not at all complex. I would use that option and get a cab from there.
posted by deanc at 4:05 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would take the cab, personally. Especially if I had luggage. I'd rather sit in a little traffic than be squished in rush hour crowds on the train and make multiple switches after a flight. (Once you're in the city the subway is great for getting around and much faster than cabs -- I just hate to deal with it after a flight.)

I also might arrange a car service in advance to avoid the taxi line. (As a former New Yorker I now I fly into Newark and go into Manhattan several times a year, often in the evening around that time.) I usually use Carmel, whose phone is 212 666 6666. A lot of people might post after this with complaints and warnings about Carmel but I've rarely had a problem with them personally. They cost the same as a cab pretty much.

There's better Mexican elsewhere in the city (esp. Brooklyn -- and my fave is a little unassuming place called Noche Mexicana in the West 100s on the upper west side -- NOT a party atmosphere but delicious food and a sweet place) but there's a popular Mexican restaurant right on Ist Ave in the 50s if you want to eat when you get in -- it's called Rosa Mexicana.
posted by third rail at 4:45 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Depending on your luggage situation, I'd take the AirTrain/NJTransit into Penn then change to the E train to 53rd and Lex (then walk 2 blocks to 1st). Yes, the E will be crowded at that time, but taking a cab crosstown in midtown during rush hour is not fun. On the other hand, there is the convenience factor of taking a car (I'd recommend reserving a car w/ Carmel or Dial 7s instead of a cab; prices are about the same, especially if there's traffic, and it's a more comfortable experience). If you have luggage that's bigger than a carry-on suitcase, I'd strongly consider the car service route.

As for Mexican, I recommend La Esquina, Taqueria y Fonda, and Tehuitzingo. La Esquina has a "hidden" full-service restaurant underground -- you may be able to get a last-minute reservation.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:48 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're interested in Tex-Mex, you could try El Original, which is co-owned by the author of the Homesick Texan blog. It's located in Hell's Kitchen.
posted by neushoorn at 4:54 AM on June 10, 2015

If it helps-- think of the Air Train as a shuttle. You're taking the airport shuttle to NJ Transit, which will get you to New York Penn Station.

Here's a map. You're looking at about 4 minutes on Air Train, and then about a half hour train ride. If you take the E like suggested, you're looking at another 10 minutes or so, for about an hour total. For driving, Google says it can be between half an hour and 2 hours to drive leaving around 7:30 AM, which sounds accurate. If it's 7:30PM, between half an hour and an hour.

If I didn't have a lot of luggage, I would take public transit. If you have a lot of stuff, it might be worth it to take a cab.
posted by damayanti at 5:46 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Are you talking about 7:30 am or pm? There's a big difference - if it's am I would do exactly as your friend suggests. Inbound morning traffic is dreadful. Take the air train/NJ Transit to Penn Station. The air train takes you directly to NJ Transit, and the only options are NYC-bound or NJ Coast bound - they announce the train and you can always confirm with the conductor. Once you get to Penn I'm pretty sure either side you come out has a cab line, so you don't have to hail the cab yourself. The line goes pretty quickly, in my experience.

You might have to sit in traffic once you're in the cab, but to me, that's better than finding the subway then walking with luggage. YMMV.

But if it's pm, I might hire a car service from Newark. Inbound traffic on a Friday night in June at that time might not be so bad, and a car service will be more convenient.
posted by lyssabee at 5:55 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Same here. I would absolutely do this in a cab/car at 7:30 p.m., but 7:30 a.m. is likely to be much thicker traffic and public transit may well be faster.
posted by Mothlight at 6:13 AM on June 10, 2015

7:30 AM? Take mass transit.
7:30 PM? Take a cab.

NJ Transit has commuter trains. Search for EWR to NY Penn Station. Train 3504 leaves Newark Airport at 8:19 AM for US$12.50 and gets to Penn Station at 8:47 AM. There's no train at night, since these trains are designed to get commuters into NYC in the morning and back out at night.

Amtrak might be a possibility for you as well, though they are more expensive (but more comfortable, as they are long-distance trains). Search for trains from EWR to NYP. Northeast Regional Train 130 at 9:37 AM for US$47.00 gets you to Penn Station at 10:00. Northeast Regional Train 136 at 8:17 PM for US$56.00 gets you to Penn Station at 8:41 PM.
posted by tckma at 7:52 AM on June 10, 2015

I would take AirTrain on either 7:30am or 7:30pm on a Friday. Other nights of the week might be OK for a cab, but weekend evening inbound traffic can be quite horrible.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:59 AM on June 10, 2015

What? Of course there are trains at night. The Airtrain runs 24/7. There is a 3 hour window where NJ Transit isn't running but that's from 2 am till 5 am.

Maybe not as many but there are trains, except for those wee hours of the morning.
posted by lyssabee at 8:00 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Of course there are trains at night.

In fact, the schedule reveals that the last train on weekdays leaves Newark Airport at 2:07 am and arrives into New York Penn at 2:46 am. If there's anywhere where rail transit runs late and frequently in the entire US it is in the New York metropolitan area.

I would not take Amtrak as seats are reserved in the Northeast Corridor so tickets are not interchangeable between trains (i.e. if you miss one you can't typically just use your ticket to get on another one), and at the cost of Amtrak I would just take a cab to Manhattan.
posted by andrewesque at 11:57 AM on June 10, 2015

Response by poster: you guys are awesome! - thanks so much for all the help here. It will be 7:30 pm, and I will only have a carry-on bag, but arranging a car service is sounding pretty good to me!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:37 PM on June 10, 2015

Response by poster: oh neat, looks like I can book and pay for the car service online. I love being to arrange things ahead of time! you guys are the best!

food and fun suggestions still welcome!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:53 PM on June 10, 2015

Of course it's totally fine to use a car service, but I just want to say -- we live in Manhattan, and try to fly in and out of Newark when we can in large part because taking NJ Transit to/from Penn Station, plus the AirTrain (which is really just a shuttle between the NJ Transit stop and the terminals), is so easy and relatively inexpensive.
posted by merejane at 6:20 PM on June 10, 2015

Some suggestions assuming you're not from the USA and you won't be traveling elsewhere except for NYC...

Some "Only in NY" types of foods / experiences:
bagels and smoked salmon at Russ & Daughters (they have both a retail store and a sit down cafe now, very busy on weekends)
pastrami on rye from Katz's Deli (from When Harry Met Sally, also pretty busy on weekends/nights)
coal oven fired thin crust pizza from John's on Bleecker (whole pies only, 1-2 toppings max, ask for it well done)
hot dogs & papaya juice from Papaya King etc. (not gourmet but iconic)
black and white cookies from William Greenberg's
cheesecake from Junior's
egg creams from Gem Spa or Ray's in the East Village
pickles from the Pickle Guys*
halal cart food from the Halal Guys (multiple locations but the best New York experience would be late night at the SW corner of 53rd and 6th, assuming the weather cooperates enough to eat outside)

* Note also that some of the traditional places on the LES (like Pickle Guys) are usually closed on Saturdays because of religious observance.

Some things not specific to NY but more to the USA in general:
BBQ from Mighty Quinn's, Hill Country, etc
Fried chicken/southern food from Pies 'n' Thighs, Root & Bone, Bobwhite, etc.
Fried chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth's
A lobster roll from Pearl Oyster Bar, Red Hook Lobster Pound, etc
Burgers at Shake Shack (multiple locations)
Steak at Keens (not the absolute best in town but it has great NY history and is relatively easy to get in)
A huge gut busting brunch at Shopsin's (assuming you'll tolerate the line and the cursing)

As for off the beaten path activities, I'm not sure when you're coming, and some of these might be beyond the budget or fully booked, but look into...

An immersive theatre experience, like Sleep No More (Hitchcock-inspired, loosely based upon Macbeth, dance-based without any dialogue), or Then She Fell or Queen of the Night or Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic
Modern, non cheesy magic at The Magician at the NoMad Hotel
A behind the scenes hard hat tour of the abandoned Ellis Island hospital
A foraging tour in Central Park
A class at Brooklyn Kitchen
Helicopter ride
A guided tour of the Woolworth Building (until recently, off limits and no photos allowed)
One of Levys' Unique New York! tours: graffiti and street art, TV & movie locations, architecture, punk rock, and more
A "Hack the Met" tour
A day at Spa Castle
A nice boat ride around Manhattan with the AIANY Around Manhattan Architecture Tour
One of the MTA museum's excursions

And keep an eye on whatever Atlas Obscura has going on for events.
posted by kathryn at 6:24 PM on June 10, 2015

Response by poster: well I'm on my way home now - the car service was great! it really made things simple, so thanks everyone for that.
We did go to Rosa Mexicana for dinner friday, and it was so good - they have a dude that comes by your table with a guacamole cart and makes it for you right at your table. I want a guacamole cart in my life all the time.
we also walked the high line, took in the Whitney museum, went to momofuku for dinner (all awesome) and today went to the zoo in central park. so many amazing birds!!! Also got caught up in the crowd watching the Puerto Rican independence day parade which was crazy!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:53 PM on June 14, 2015

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