Young, Dumb, and in NYC for a week and a half
December 26, 2007 6:27 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are housesitting in Manhattan for 10.5 days starting very shortly, and we have some questions. Things to eat, things to do, things to eat while doing things....

We're in our early twenties, from montreal, with a decent bit of disposable income. People on the street might describe us as "hipsters", which is clearly wrong. We just like things that are hip. And, like, culture and stuff.

We've got a pretty good idea of the normal stuff... Moma, Cooper Hewitt, etc., but we're wondering if anyone had any suggestions for things that we'd have trouble finding in guides, and in general things that we'd be hard-pressed to experience anywhere else in the world.

We're also looking for good 3rd party resources of the above. If I ever speak to anyone planning a trip to montreal, for instance, I point them to An Endless Banquet, a top notch food blog. Any new yorkers have similar resources?

Finally, my girlfriend is interested in something to do on new years eve with "her boring boyfriend." I clearly don't know the dude (being a blast, personally) but I'm a grownup, and I hope the two of them can find something fun to do... maybe a show or a seance or a NOT TIMES SQUARE.

thanks in advance.
posted by cmyr to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (26 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Neighborhood matters.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:34 PM on December 26, 2007

Here's a blog that talks about the best place to find different types of food (falafel, fried chicken, etc.) in New York.
posted by buriedpaul at 7:02 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites] is a quality local news/events/happenings blog.'s New York section should be up your alley as well.

Get a copy of Time Out New York at your local newsstand, too.

What part of Manhattan are you going to be located in?
posted by huskerdont at 7:09 PM on December 26, 2007

Response by poster: we're on west 111th, but we have lots of time and want to explore.
posted by cmyr at 7:22 PM on December 26, 2007

avoid manhattan on new year's eve. you might really enjoy barbes, in park slope. if you don't, a walk up 5th avenue (not the same 5th ave. in manhattan) will surely bring you to bars you will enjoy, like the gate, great lakes, o'connors, or union hall.

new year's or not, it's a neat strip to explore on a saturday, with tons of great restaurants. take the R to union street and 4th ave and walk to 5th ave, hang a right on 5th, walk about 20 blocks, hang a left around 9th or 15th st. and head back up 7th ave. for a nice circuit of shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:25 PM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: You could pretty much spend your entire time wandering around (please wander! It's the best way to see the city!), seeing the sights, and eating out.

Only in NYC experiences: pastrami sandwich at Katz's Deli, drinking beers on the Staten Island Ferry as it whizzes past the Statue of Liberty, viewing downtown Manhattan and points beyond exactly at sunset at the Top of the Rock, take an eating tour along the 7 train in Queens, the whispering gallery at Grand Central Terminal and a drink at Campbell Apartment, gawking at the giant 24 hour Apple Store at 59th and 5th, standing in line for food from a well-known street cart, a big and luxurious brunch at Balthazar, stopping in for a few chocolates at Kee's as Kee herself packs your order (and/or dropping in at Jacques Torres while the man is in the shop although he's not always there), dinner at Tsukushi where everything is omakase (there's no menu), bagels and lox at Barney Greengrass (which hasn't changed in decades), a mid-afternoon beer at McSorley's (which also hasn't changed in decades), pausing while crossing the street at 23rd and Broadway to get a glimpse of the Flatiron on one side and the ESB on the other, delicious banh mi in the back of a jewelry store (no, really), civilized drinks at a no-standing/reservations cocktail lounge like PDT or Pegu Club or Death & Company, traveling out to Brooklyn to get a slice from Dom DeMarco of DiFara Pizza while a line fight breaks out in front of you, Lower East Side food excursion. I'm not sure how many of those are in the guidebooks you have, but they feel unique to me, and I live here. will have many, many more recommendations if you are into dining out; best food blog in NYC is probably but it's more about reporting news/reviews than making recommendations.

Flavorpill's recommendations for New Year's Eve. Preparations for the big ball drop in Times Square start in the afternoon; I'd avoid anywhere between 34th and 59th Street that night if I were you. Time Out New York's recommendations.

See also NYC on Upcoming. Please read, it's my indispensible resource for what's going on in NYC. See also events listings on:, New York Times' UrbanEye, Flavorpill (mentioned earlier), New York Magazine's Agenda, Manhattan User's Guide.

For offbeat NYC, check out the latest issue of Nonsense NYC. Attend a Todd P show. See also best weird places to go in NYC. If you're in the mood for urban exploration, check out the archives of Forgotten NY. Consider breaking into the High Line. Or staying on the 6 train after it reaches City Hall. City Secrets has lots of interesting factoids about NYC.
posted by kathryn at 7:45 PM on December 26, 2007 [9 favorites]

An EXCELLENT local restaurant, my favorite, is 107 West at ... 107th & Broadway. Eclectic menu. Enjoy!
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:55 PM on December 26, 2007

Seconding NonsenseNYC - sign up now!
posted by suedehead at 8:46 PM on December 26, 2007

Kathryn's ideas are good, but you might also want to check out a Yahoo group called NY Happenings. It's a little less slick and more underground than Time Out NY, Flavorpill, etc.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:30 PM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: A few more:
Drop in on a weekend night to see pastry chef whiz Will Goldfarb serve you personally at a tiny chocolate bar hidden inside ABC Carpet and Home (enter through Lucy's Restaurant). His old place, Room 4 Dessert, was reviewed favorably by the New York Times before it closed.
Clinton Street Baking Company serves the best brunch in town every day. It's horribly crowded on weekends. Go on a weekday.
The Monday Room is a wine bar with upscale food, but tucked in an annex of a larger restaurant (Public). Reservations recommended.
Also: Shopsin's.

PS If you go to Di Fara, try to go at an off peak time on an off peak day. And be aware that there's no real system when you get inside (none of this "take a number" business), just jostling and general chaos.
posted by kathryn at 9:42 PM on December 26, 2007

West 111th? You are next to Koronet (110th and Broadway), my favourite pizza joint in the city. Go there.
posted by Mikey-San at 10:46 PM on December 26, 2007

The new Bowery contemporary art museum is pretty great too.

Here's something that might be helpful.
posted by luriete at 10:50 PM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: Right around the corner from where you are staying is St. John the Divine, IIRC the worlds largest Gothic cathedral. They have a great New Years Eve concert. Across the street from St. John the Divine is the Hungarian Pastry Shop, a good place for a coffee and a treat - you can stay all day reading a book. You claim to be a student on your profile, if you are in a humanities discipline you need to go to book culture on 112th street between broadway and amsterdam - the best academic bookstore in NY. The Garden of Eden on 107th and Broadway is pricey but has the cheese, bread, fish etc.
posted by shothotbot at 5:03 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

NotForTourists is pretty damn useful. Lots of info on all the NYC essentials, and available totally FREE as a pdf.
posted by Mach5 at 5:15 AM on December 27, 2007

Go to a library that has no books - only little snippets of material: Materials Connexion.
posted by yoga at 5:43 AM on December 27, 2007

I used to live at 529 West 111th and here are a few places I would visit if I spent a week there now.

V&T's Pizza:A contender for my favorite NYC pizza parlor. They don't sell slices so you have to get a whole pie. I recommend pepperoni, black olive, spinach and extra sauce.

The Hungarian Pastry Shop: This was my living room for 4 years. The tables out front are great for people watching when the weather permits. Get there before 8:30 AM for the fresh croissants.

1020: I worked here for 3 years while in college. A great bar. It's full of locals and grad students between semesters, so if you're there before MLK day, you won't have to deal with the college students.

Nicholas Roerich Museum: Awesome museum homage to mad genius Russian painter and spiritual leader.

*laments passing/relocation of Caffe Taci*
posted by mds35 at 6:14 AM on December 27, 2007

Forget V&Ts, forget Koronet, although they do have impressively large slices. Get thee to Sal & Carmines, on 101 & Broadway.
posted by Caviar at 6:35 AM on December 27, 2007

Forget V&Ts, forget Koronet, although they do have impressively large slices. Get thee to Sal & Carmines, on 101 & Broadway.
posted by Caviar at 9:35 AM on December 27 [+] [!]

Listen to the man.
posted by shothotbot at 6:46 AM on December 27, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the neat stuff guys, and kathryn especially, who seems to be on exactly the right page. We appreciate the pizza thing isn't going to get a unanimous answer, so we're making a list and we'll try and fit the top 5 or so in. The hungarian sounds like a good local for first coffee, which is something we'll need but I forgot to mention.

Feel free to keep em coming.
posted by cmyr at 7:03 AM on December 27, 2007

If I were you, I'd also take the bus across town to Patsy's of East Harlem. I've found it much better than John's of Bleecker (too cheesy), Joe's (not the same since they moved), Lombardi's (crust too wet), and Grimaldi's (too thin crust but probably the best of these four). My personal pizza-archy goes 1. Di Fara, 2. Totonno's out (only the one at Coney Island), 3. Patsy's of East Harlem (and no other location!).

For shopping:
MoMA store (especially the auxillary housewares store across the street from MoMA), Kiosk, Pearl River Mart, Exit 9, 826 NYC, Giant Robot, Kid Robot, Moss, Mxyplyzyk, and Flight 001, Pylones, Takashimaya, Rare Device, Marchand de Legumes, Maxilla and Mandible, the shop at the MTA's museum, Kinokuniya (for stationary, paper goods), B&H Photo Video (for electronics, check hours in advance). Ride the wooden escalators at Macy's on 34th Street. Mitsuwa Marketplace in NJ perhaps, if you want to rent a car/take the bus from Port Authority.

For foodie shopping, Zabar's, Kalustyan's, Di Palo, Meyers of Keswick, Murray's Cheese, Despanda, Union Square Greenmarket, Chelsea Market, Essex Market, Broadway Panhandler. Arthur Avenue in The Bronx (as a substitute for Manhattan's tourist trap of Little Italy).

I also forgot to mention that a Chelsea gallery crawl could be interesting -- check hours though, due to the holidays. Most are closed Sundays. Online guide with art thumbnails. Interactive map. Also, I believe you can pick up a paper version that also lists out the galleries and what's showing where.
posted by kathryn at 7:38 AM on December 27, 2007

Sorry, meant to type Despana. Not Despanda.
posted by kathryn at 7:39 AM on December 27, 2007

Samad's Gourmet at 111th and Broadway has great muffins and spinach pies. I'm not sure how much of a coffee nut (or would that be bean?) you are, but for my money they also sell some of the best beans in the city. David's Blend is my personal favorite.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:12 AM on December 27, 2007

There's a great italian place up around Amsterdam and 92nd, Generro, although I haven't been there in more than a year. If you ever want to do delivery is definitely your friend. Ding Dong, on Columbus and 106thish, is a cool chill place for a drink. Hip without being too hipster.
Frankly, being on 111th I would *not* go to brooklyn for NYE unless you are really going to be up for a massive schlep home in questionable weather. But Brooklyn can be a fun place to explore, and Park Slope at least used to have good shopping (for women especially) that wasn't as outrageously expensive as most of Manhattan (and williamsburg).
posted by ch1x0r at 10:57 AM on December 27, 2007

PS: You need more tags.
posted by mds35 at 3:51 PM on December 27, 2007

Frankly, the last time I went to the Hungarian Pastry Shop it was off - I think it is grossly overrated. I should know - I'm a fat man who likes his pastries. I'd stroll up Amsterdam to about 121st and go to Max caffe, great place to hang out, not extraordinary pastries by any stretch, but a good anti-Starbucks vibe. Lots of young Columbia hipsters and they even allow an old fart like me to hang out there. They also have a restaurant two doors down, Max Soha that has pretty good Italian food, but there are about 12,000 Italian restaurants in New York, so I wouldn't go here specifically.

Given your New York locational coordinates...
I'd go uptown to Washington Heights (1 train to 181st) to get the Dominican Vibe - especially if you like Merengue or Reggaeton. Hispaniola is a pretty good Dominican restaurant. Fort Tryon park is a nice interlude and has great views of the Hudson. Plus you can see Dominicans, Russians, and hipsters mingle and get along. In the park are the Cloisters.

A little South of the Heights is one of New York's unsung museum gems - The Hispanic Society. Admission is free, the neighborhood is non-descript, but the building and the exhibits are great. Lots of Goyas, vintage photographs of Spain and Latin America, and sculptures.

I'd also train it to Brooklyn to a Hasidic neighborhood to see a unique culture. Williamsburg (the real part, not the McHip® part) or Borough Park would suffice. What the plateau in Montreal was like when Mordecai Richler grew up there. Dress conservatively and don't gawk like you were at a zoo. Also Coney Island is a MUST. Freak shows and Astroland will still be open, Russian Brighton beach isn't far away. A night at a Russian nightclub - Очень хорошо! New Years day they have the Polar Bears club go for a swim in the Atlantic and anyone can join them. Might be cold to some, but you *are* from Montreal ;-)

nthing Squared the suggestion to take an eating tour of Queens on the 7 train. The most diverse place on the planet is Queens. If I had to take a tourist to do one and only 1 NY thing it would be that.

So much more really..
posted by xetere at 8:20 AM on December 29, 2007

This is kinda late for the thread, but around W111th specifically. These aren't mindblowing places to eat, but rather nice, very solid (and often cheap) places to eat:

(Nthing) Max Soha and Max Cafe: solid Italian restaurant/cafe, 123rd & Amsterdam
(also Nthing) Hungarian Pastry Shop
Pisticci's, and Toast, around 125th and Broadway.
Taqueria y Fonda la Mexicana - 107th and amsterdam
Saji's - cheap, good takeout Japanese - 109th and broadway

And please! PLEASE! go to Hummus Place. There's one on 75th and Amsterdam, and two down in the Villages. This is not the hummus you've eaten before, you've probably never eaten hummus this good. Divine.
posted by suedehead at 9:34 PM on December 30, 2007

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