A Local's Guide to Manhattan
In a city with over 8 million people, it’s easy to get jostled while walking down the crowded streets of Manhattan. However, the city can also feel very small: those intimate moments when you meet an old friend by chance at a coffee shop or see someone you know get on the same train car as you remind you of those magic moments in Manhattan.
LOW KEY: The Upper East Side
Known for wealthy retirees with their meticulously groomed dogs, the tree-lined blocks are home to quiet brownstones; upscale eateries, and Museum Row, which includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim, and the Frick Collection. The Upper East Side touches Central Park on the west and the East River on its eastern border.
IN THE ACTION: East Village
The East Village used to be a place to find cheap housing and was associated with the punk culture of the 70s. Today, millennials flock to live in the East Village, being a stay and play destination with the grungy tattoo shops; record stores; dive bars; brunch spots that play club music while you eat; and drag shows on weekends.
Hole in the Wall Café
If you have a dog, then you and your pet can plop down in the casual, outdoor seating at Hole in the Wall Café. On the interior portion of the restaurant, the décor is shabby-chic, with light bulbs; a neon sign depicting “Hello Gorgeous”; abstract framed photos; and pothos plants dangling from a ___ board. The venue serves local favorites including Avocado Toast, Pulled Pork Benedict, Chili Scrambled Eggs and Whipped Waffles with salted caramel. 15 Cliff St, New York, NY 10038. 212-602-9991. www.holeinthewallnyc.com
Pro-tip: If you go for breakfast on the weekends, try to arrive before 9:30am as the neighborhood starts to wake up around then and tables can book up fast.
A casual, music-themed eatery with old trombones and record players mounted on the walls, the West Harlem venue serves brunch on the weekends with fun items like Huevos Pizza and Sweet Waffles with Nutella and vanilla ice cream. On a sunny day, the entire restaurant storefront is open and you can catch a fresh breeze and people watch. Much of the staff is from Italy and you may hear your waiter speaking to you in a thick, Italian accent while serving up your dishes. 1260 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027.646-682-7645. www.bar314nyc.com
Pro-tip: To burn off some of those calories, take a stroll around the corner to the 30-acre Morningside Park, which has craggy rock outcroppings thought to be around 30 million years old.
Bourke Street Bakery
Aussie, Jessica Grynberg opened the Bourke Street Bakery to bring a fusion of cuisines into a warmly-lit 50-seat venue. Grynberg was inspired by the multiculturalism of the people from her hometown of Sydney, and because of the diversity in the menu, you often will see locals in line outside of the door to take away items like lox sandwiches; fennel infused pork shoulder sandwiches; and Fatoush salads. If you happen to return for the after 4pm menu, then you will be treated to a bevy of natural wines. 15 E 28th St, New York, NY 10016. 917-675-6394. www.bourkestreetbakery.com
Pro-tip: A couple blocks away, the Ace Hotel is a great spot to sip a coffee in the design-focused lobby, popular for locals getting work done with their laptops or catching up after work.
Visit the standing-room only corner storefront for a cheap slice of pizza that costs between $3-$5 but with high-end ingredients. The casual eatery has six pies, as well as one that is a seasonally rotating pie with spring veggies sourced from farmer’s markets. The organic ingredients include rare sourdough wild yeast starter; no bleach; and mozzarella stretched from its curd form every day. The pizzas are all named after 90’s themes like the Fuzzy Dunlop, Falkowitz, and The Cheese.
598 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018. 646-484-5244. www.upsidepizza.com
Pro-tip: Ask for Noam Grossman, the 28-year old owner who will inspire you with stories of how he started Upside Pizza and partnered with Eli and Oren Halai, partners of the popular 2 Bros Pizza chain in New York
Ed's Lobster Bar
A 35-foot-long bar takes up most of the New England-style oyster bar, with a few intimate seats in the back of the railroad-style restaurant. The décor is mostly white brick and white walls evoking a seaside restaurant rather than city joint. The long, communal bar invites conversation between locals and the owner Ed McFarland who is usually behind the bar overseeing the oyster shucking; lobster rolls; veggie dishes; and fish plates coming from the kitchen. 222 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. 212-343-3236.www.lobsterbarnyc.com
Pro-tip: Because of the cozy space, the staff share responsibilities in bar tending, serving food, and playing hostess. Make eye contact with someone behind the bar so that you get seated quickly.
Located on the ground floor of an apartment building in north Harlem, you can eat and drink Ethiopian food and beer in the low-key backyard that has healthy plants decorating the bamboo fence. Choose from menu items that longtime Harlem residents love like Doro Wat, Mushroom Tibs, and the Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad. Be sure to try the Injura- a flat bread commonly served with Ethiopian dishes and Tej-Ethiopian honey wine that is popular to be served at North African weddings. 763 St Nicholas Ave, New York, NY 10031.212-234-2070. www.tsioncafe.com
Pro-tip: A few doors down, visit the Harlem Natural Hair Salon located on the second floor of a brownstone. They specialize in locs, twists, and blowouts-all in a historic, pre-war architecture setting.
EAT/DRINK (LATE NIGHT)
Fancy a pint, mate? The Irish-owned Dublin House was a popular spot frequented by sailors docking at the 79th Street Boat Basin in the 1930’s. The local hangout for Upper West Side residents attracts those looking for a dive bar with reasonably priced drinks like the Dublin House ale or your standard beer selection from Coors to Bud Light. Catching an NFL game on the screens is a normal occurrence, as is the bros playing darts. The venue has had period scenes filmed there for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. 225 W. 79th Street, New York, NY 10024.212-874-9528.www.thedublinhousenyc.com
Pro-tip: Before heading to the Dublin House for a drink, stay a while at the American Museum of Natural History located two blocks from the bar, which showcases two fossil halls filled with dinosaurs.
Located in Nikola Tesla’s former Manhattan residence, by day the venue is a coffee shop, and by night, a speakeasy-style hidden door disguised as a large menu opens up into a hallway lit by candles. Seating is first come, first serve in the Tesla-themed cozy bar, where you sip cocktails called “The Twain”, “Light me Up”, and “Hit by A Taxi”. There is even a taxidermy pigeon hanging from the ceiling as Nikola Tesla had a weird obsession with the bird. 49 West 27th Street, New York, New York 10001.212-689-4002.www.patentpendingnyc.com
Pro-tip: Because of the limited seating and no reservations allowed, go with a small group or on a date to ensure entry. Also, you may pass the entrance a couple times before you realize it’s a non-descript clear door with black lettering.
If coworking and yoga had a baby, then The Assemblage would be their love child. The main, communal space is decked out in greenery-from the towering, 19-foot plant wall to the collection of yarn and mixed materials hanging above a private alcove. The wellness-themed coworking space hosts a few events every month that are open to the public — some free with RSVP and some with ticket purchase. The events range from leadership talks; intro to meditation; yoga and sound experiences; and paired Thai yoga massages. You can purchase 1, 3, and 5-day traveler passes that can be used over a 30-day period, or a week-long pass.
114 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010. 646-849-9861. www.theassemblage.com
Cost: free-$375 (weekly pass)
Pro-tip: Sign up early for the free and popular classes as they tend to book up quickly
Watch a pick-up basketball game on the iconic West 4th Courts, called “The Cage”, where NBA stars like Anthony Mason, Smush Parker, and Stephon Marbury played before entering the league. You can find basketball lovers from sunup to sundown challenging each other in matches-from the 15-year-old neighborhood local hoping to cut his teeth in a match to an NBA coach from the San Antonio Spurs just passing through. You can also find food trucks and fresh fruit vendors parked around the courts on a nice day. 320 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014. 212-639-9675
Pro-tip: Walk 5 minutes to The Stonewall Bar, which is an in-use LGBT landmark: the site of the 1968 riots that launched the gay rights movement.
East 41st Street between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue is known as “Library Way”, where you can look down at the sidewalk to read inscriptions on 100 bronze plaques with famous literary quotes from authors like E.B. White and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. For example, “The knowledge of different literatures frees one from the tyranny of a few” by Jose Marti is inscribed on one of the plaques and after reading some of them, pay a visit inside the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building: the city’s main public library to take in the sweeping architecture built in 1895.
Pro-tip: Check the library website at nypl.org to see the schedule of free events, which range from toddle story time; docent tours; and rotating artist talks.
The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra at Chelsea Music Hall
That leg shaking and foot stomping that happens subconsciously when you hear good music? For those keen on jazz, the The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra is a 16-piece group that plays big band music from the 1930’s and transports you back in time inside the Chelsea Music Hall. At least one Wednesday a month, you can catch the band playing underneath the Chelsea Market and join in with couples dressed in 30’s outfits swing dancing to the vintage American jazz music.
Pro-tip: If you are hungry before the show, visit the ground level Chelsea Market- replete with food purveyors, from shops like Los Tacos, The Lobster Place, and Very Fresh Noodles.
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
If you seek to have your mind spin while taking in bold, queer and erotic art, then visit the Chelsea-based Leslie-Lohman Museum- the only dedicated art museum in the world to exhibit and preserve artwork that speaks about the LGBTQ experience. Because of intolerance, the first museum space in 1969 was held underground in the Soho loft of Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman, but now the aboveground museum proudly displays art in several mediums, including sculptures; black and white photographs; and portraits of LGBT icons.
Cost $10 donation
Pro-tip: Grab a brochure at the front desk to stay informed of upcoming exhibits and complimentary artist talks and lectures
Madison Square Park
Named after U.S. President James Madison, Madison Square Park is located in Gramercy between East 23rd and 26th streets. If you like just doing nothing, then you can set up a picnic blanket and splay out. However, the park is popular for art installations and rollerblading, and is home to the first community holiday tree in the U.S. If you have a dog, they will enjoy running in the dog run area and kids can take part in the Madison Square Kids concert series that happen every summer.
Pro-tip: If you get hungry from running around the park, Num Pang Kitchen is a Cambodian eatery with artistic cracked tile on the walls and floors located one block away, serving dishes from catfish to brisket.