Help me meet New York City
October 22, 2007 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Help me watch every single type of person New York City has to offer.

I've lived in New York City for a few years, and I'm bored. This must be some kind of sin. So, before I leave the city next year I'd like to energize myself by visiting as many different places as possible, each one frequented by a different ethnic group, nationality, socio-economic type or cultural group. I'd like to visit a heavy metal club, a Senegalese joint, rich WASP families at play, Russians, a Brooklyn hip-hop show, and so on into infinity.

A few things I'm looking for:
1). Each place must have a dominant group -- there are plenty of melting pot places in NYC, and I'm not looking for those. The group can be defined loosely: if you know a great bar for watching "Upper East Side Douchbags", that's fine. But it must be a specific place, not just "the Flushing Chinatown" or some such.

2). Touristy=bad. I'm going to people watch, and people-watching tourists can be accomplished easily. Also, I've been here for a while.

3). It doesn't have to be a place you enjoy, unless you are a member of said group. It doesn't have to be a place that you think I would enjoy, except for people-watching. I loathe big loud nightclubs, but plan on visiting at least one in the next year.

4). Anywhere in NYC is fine. Don't feel compelled to stay in Manhattan.

5). If the place serves food, please suggest a single menu item that will enhance the experience.

Thank you.
posted by Bookhouse to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (20 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: TONY just did a great feature on ethnic enclaves, including sending fish-out-of-water types into them to see how they got along. Plenty of ideas there.

UES douchebags: Dorian's Red Hand.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:08 AM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Woodlawn, Bronx is an extremely Irish enclave. Do a pub crawl on Katonah Ave, you'll hear more Irish than American accents.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:20 AM on October 22, 2007

Ah yes -- Dorian's Red Hand known for its association with the notorious Preppy Murder of 1986.
posted by ericb at 10:22 AM on October 22, 2007

Best answer: Head to Chelsea and have a Caramel Appletini at G during Happy Hour to see the boys mix-and-mingle after work.
posted by ericb at 10:25 AM on October 22, 2007

Wooldawn is mentioned in that TONY article. Cool, I just know it cuz it's where I go for runs. People there say "Hi" to me on the street. Granted, I "blend".
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:36 AM on October 22, 2007

Best answer: Q: Bearded, over-educated, hipster snob beer nerds?
A: Spuyten Dyvil
P.S. Ask a bartender for a recommendation, and then follow it.

Q: Bearded Hasidim?
A: Williamsburg, specifically Bedford south of Broadway on a Saturday.
P.S. This walking tour is also quite good.

Also, if you can stretch your definition of people watching to include, uh, parrots, go see the Parrots of Brooklyn. I like seeing them at Green-Wood Cemetery, and then taking a tour of the grounds and monuments.
posted by minervous at 10:37 AM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

For hipster watching: Take the L to Bedford. Seriously, thats it. Skater kids: go to Tompkins Sq. Park on a nice day. Go to the Motherfucker party. Go to the Hudson end of Christopher St. at night to see a ton of young black male gay dudes. Or really anywhere along Christopher for that matter. For punks (and wannabe punks), sit at the window seats at Chipotle on St. Marks. Walk along East Broadway and see a sea of chinese people. Check out that street with like 20 indian food joints on it (i think its 6th between 1st and 2nd). My personal favorite people watching place is the window seats at the Astor Place Starbucks (the one across from the K-Mart, not by Cooper Union). Always interesting people emerging from the 6 stop and loitering around the cube. I only know Manhattan though, I have yet to explore the other boroughs. Hope this helps!
posted by Mach5 at 10:51 AM on October 22, 2007

Check out the Russian & Turkish Baths in the East Village for interesting old-worldian people-watching possibilities. And also because you'll feel amazing afterward.
posted by hermitosis at 10:53 AM on October 22, 2007

Best answer: For an Eastern Europe circa 1989 vibe, you can't beat the Bulgarian Bar. Check out this review at

...i heard a lot about this place and thought that i would check it out on a recent trip, its terrible, cramped, hot, all the guys looked like horshach from welcome back kotter, if all bulgarian music is like what they play here, i would never go to bulgaria it all sounds like terrible techno with accordions in every song, as far as the eclectic mix, i heard one non bulgarian song and that was i love rock and roll by joan jett i would never return to this place
posted by xo at 11:07 AM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

omg, we should have a meetup there!
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:10 AM on October 22, 2007

Can I come with? I could take you to an underground poker club (predominantly degenerate gamblers), or a Japanese hostess bar (predominantly Japanese businessmen). But I'm not gonna post the info for either of my favorites publicly.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:16 AM on October 22, 2007

Send me a message if you want to go to a rave or other underground dance music festivity =)
posted by infinityjinx at 11:27 AM on October 22, 2007

Q: Bearded, over-educated, hipster snob beer nerds?
A: Spuyten Dyvil

Why the hell would someone give that name to a place in Brooklyn? Spuyten Duyvil is in the Bronx.
posted by JaredSeth at 12:25 PM on October 22, 2007

Best answer: Russian restaurant/nightclubs in Brighton Beach.
Elderly Spaniards watching Liga Nacional de FĂștbol Profesional at La Nacional/Centro Espanol on West 14th St. (The paella's good, but -- speaking from experience here -- steer clear of the vino tinto.)
Bike polo games on the Lower East Side.
Jackson Heights, Queens, has its own Little India.
posted by GrammarMoses at 12:52 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

I haven't been in NYC this year, but I hope this Sri Lankan restaurant on Staten Island is still open. On the ferry you will get a mix of tourists and islanders, not to mention the sea air and Liberty. Then you'll get to the restaurant in whatever way you figure out, and possibly be the only one in the restaurant. The food is great, though I have no other Sri Lankan restaurants to compare it to. Be aware of the ferry timetable so that your night won't be unnecessarily dragged out.
posted by xueexueg at 1:28 PM on October 22, 2007

Best answer: Go to a Todd P show.
posted by yeti at 1:41 PM on October 22, 2007

Yea, I think I was at that Bulgarian bar this weekend.

For Carribean eats (mostly Trinidad/Panama/Jamaica) go to the area around Nostrand and Fulton.
posted by iamck at 4:33 PM on October 22, 2007

the boardwalk in brighton beach at night, preferably a warm night.

sheepshead bay, anytime--it's kind of touristy but it's all tourists from within the 5 boroughs and it oddly feels a bit like Massachusetts.

floyd bennet field--all sorts of weird sub-cultures on old airfield runways: guys who fly model planes, fishing people, guys who drive model cars, motorcylist doing tricks and in the summer the fuji blimp is tethered there.
posted by beckish at 9:44 PM on October 22, 2007

Best answer: Don't forget Greenpoint: Heavy-duty Polish population, where newsstands are filled with Polish titles, and where you can get pierogis at Christina's and kielbasa at Donna Market (or any of the other Polish butcher shops).
posted by amandam673 at 11:52 AM on October 23, 2007

Best answer:

Curry Hill in Murray Hill. But not the shiny restaurants: the cab stands like Haamdi (Sp?). Or maybe a cab stand like the one near the housing works cafe. Plenty of Ind-Pak originated taxiwallahs.
Order a Vindaloo or Phaal curry: your eyeballs will sweat profusely.

Chinatown. Not chinatown, in lower manhattan. Chinatown flushing. And go to a szechuan restaurant, such as Little Pepper and order the dan dan noodles or better yet, the rabbit with in sechuan chilli peppers.

Your recently dessicated eyeballs will sinter and melt.

Go to a thai restaurant in queens: Zabb - there are some thai locals there - much better than Sripraphi in terms of non-western. Order the green curry, ask, nay, insist on it being thai spicy

The remains of your liquefied eyeballs will flee your throbbing, glowing skull, pausing only to mutter something about nowing what's good for you.

Ater this there wil be no more ethno-observation unless you develop echolocation and sonar imaging skills.
posted by lalochezia at 11:53 AM on October 23, 2007

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