New York. Those are two words that unsettle me every single time I hear them. Why? Because every time someone mentions the place, I want to grab my passport and suitcase and run towards Heathrow. I cannot describe to you just how much I love this unbelievable city. From my first experience in 1999, a revisit in 2005 and then a three month transfer for work in 2007, my love affair for the city that never sleeps continued to grow when I touched down yet again in 2009 and 2010. Five visits. And it’s only just the beginning, I’m not done with this concrete jungle.
This NYC obsession, mixed with my constant desire to find the best cafes/shops/restaurants/secrets of each and every city I visit, means my list has grown and become a little New York Bible for not only myself but my friends too. I love being able to pass on these secrets to anyone planning a visit there, and I love it even more when my friends and then in turn their friends fall head over heels with my little list. Sharing is caring!
So here it is ladies and gentlemen, it’s long, it’s detailed, but you just have to trust me when I tell you it’s worth it….
So many shops, so little time!
My absolute favourite area is Soho, super cool with great shops and fantastic architecture. Broadway runs through Soho and has many a store to visit on its path but definitely wander off into the side streets for boutiques and fashion at its best. A few favourites:
Adidas: 136 Wooster Street, NY 10012
kid robot: 118 Prince Street, NY 10012
Yellow Rat Bastard: 483 Broadway, NY 10013
Dean & Deluca (specialty foodstore): 560 Broadway, NY 10012
Kate’s Paperie: 435 Broome Street, NY 10013
Greenwich Village and also the West Village on Bleecker Street are faaaaaaaab, so many beautiful boutiques. It’s such a pretty area of the city, again make sure you wander onto all the little side streets. Favourites:
Marc Jacobs Accessories (discounted!!!): 385 Bleecker Street, NY 10014
Flight 001: 96 Greenwich Avenue, NY 10011
Chocolate Bar NYC: 19, 8th Ave, NY 10014
These stores are just a tiny needle in the giant haystack of consumer pleasure to be had, and a few others dotted around town that are worth mentioning are:
Ricky’s NYC: 375, 590 and also 1412 Broadway
Century 21: 22 Cortlandt St, NY 10007
Graffiti Shop NYC: (I get a personalised cap designed by the super talented @SmurfouDirtyWCK every visit) 89 South Street Seaport, Pier 17 Mall, NY 10038
Bloomingdales: 59th Street & Lexington Avenue, 1000 Third Avenue, NY 10022
Williams Sonoma: (baking nerd heaven!) 121 E 59th St, NY 10022
Beyond the Empire State Building…
Greenwich Village, home to NYU is a fun area to wander around aimlessly, through Washington Square Park where you’ll dodge skateboarders and listen to musicians. Continuing on to the West Village, which is so so lovely! But it’s also very very confusing! Just when you thought you’d mastered the grid system of the citys streets, you’re completely thrown off course once you hit this part of town. It’s ‘Off the Grid’, and you will need a map, because believe me, the street layout does not make any sense. You will find the hippest cafes, the fanciest boutiques, and the quirkiest stores in this area. SATC lovers will also find Magnolia Bakery on 401 Bleecker Street.
Right next to the West Village is the even hipper and edgier Meatpacking District. I get excited just typing ‘Meatpacking District’! Cobbled Streets, restaurants of the namedropping kind, hotels including The Gansevoort and The Standard, you really can’t go wrong having a wander around here. If you’re a street art obsessive like myself, you will have a grand old time admiring the artwork on buildings and walls, and you’ll likely find yourself in the urban oasis known as The High Line – converted train tracks that are now occupied by a walkway, park benches, art installations and gardens, so unique, so worth a look. And because you’re in the area, it would be a crime not to pay a visit to the Chelsea Market, aka foodie heaven. Inside the market you’ll find pretty cake stores, organic food markets, cafes, coffee shops, all amazing.
The Upper West Side is also a favourite part of town for me. The architecture in this area with its brown stone buildings is really very pretty. You’ll find loads of independent coffee shops, cute little gift stores and the sweetest cafe Alice’s Tea Cup.
I could write a novel on this…
I love food. Pizza, sushi, cupcakes, taco salads, smoothies… NYC is my ‘Died and gone to Food Heaven’ city. So I’ll do my very best to list my ultimate favourites so as not to overwhelm you!
Mariella Pizza: 960 8th Avenue, NY 10107 Even Oprah and Gayle raved about this pizza. And with good reason. It’s large, it’s cheap, and it’s amazing!
Blockheads: Check the website for various locations around NYC. Burrito’s the size of your head. You’ll swear you’re never going to eat again, and then the very next morning you’ll wake up and your first thought will be ‘I need to go back to Blockheads!’. I’ve converted many a friend.
Serendipity 3: 225 East 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd Ave, NY 10022 Does a restaurant get any more magical than this? I have a slight obsession with this place, and also never tire of watching the movie Serendipity, based on a two strangers meeting in Bloomingdales and sharing dessert at this popular location. With the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and even Beyonce and Jay Z passing through its doors, its fair to say Serendipity 3 is pretty darn famous. So famous, that you will most certainly want to make yourself a reservation, unless you like queueing for well over an hour. Just don’t miss this experience, or their Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate!
Shake Shack: Madison Square Park, E 23rd St. Madison Avenue, NY, the most famous burger place in NYC. The line for food often snakes outside the park gates, and just a little tip for Londoners – they are opening a restaurant here in 2013, but you’ve got to do your best to try this location, and a ‘concrete’.
Ellens Stardust Diner: 1650 Broadway @ 51st Street, NY 10019 So cheesy, yet sooo fun, a diner where all the waitstaff sing, it’s A for Awesome. Please don’t think you’re too cool to go here, it’s hilarious and the burgers are delish!
Bubbys: 120 Hudson Street, NY 10013 The BEST brunch place! New Years Day 2011 started very well when friends and I made this our port of call for brunch. Pancakes, french toast, eggs any style, hot chilli chocolate, need I go on? Yet another very popular celeb spot too.
Crumbs Bake Shop: check the website for locations are all over NYC. Cupcakes don’t get bigger, or better than this, nothing else compares. Just trust me on this.
Momofuku Milk Bar: check the website for various locations all over NYC. The Milk Bar, part of the elite group of Momofuku restaurants is a fun and delicious place to visit, treats such as ‘crack pie’ and ‘compost cookies’ are definitely worth the weight gain!
La Esquina: 114 Kenmare, New York, NY 10012 Take-out taco restaurant by day, underground restaurant and tequila bar of amazingness by night! You’ll need to make a reservation at least 3 weeks in advance, and don’t be surprised when the burly doorman steps aside to allow you to descend the stairs, having you walk through the middle of the kitchen to the sound of ‘Hola’ from the chefs and in to this most amazing restaurant. It’s an experience not to miss. Tip for Londoner’s – they opened their sister restaurant La Bodega Negra in London’s Soho this year, which also has a very long waiting list for a reservation.
Don’t stop, make it pop, DJ blow my speakers up, Tonight, I’mma fight, Til we see the sunlight…
There is a bar or club to suit everyone’s taste in NYC, just do your research and you will find somewhere that guarantees a good night out. If you like to dance, or you like quirky hidden bars, then the following will work just fine for you:
Plunge Bar: 18 Ninth Avenue (at 13th Street) , NY 10014 This rooftop club at Hotel Gansevoort is fabulous, no door charge and views to die for. Sitting at a table requires you to rack up a hefty liquor bill but who needs to sit when the music is so good you’ll most certainly want to get on the dancefloor.
230 Fifth: 230 Fifth Avenu, NY 10001 Another free entry, another rooftop bar with fantastic views of the Empire State Building. And the most fun part? Red robes you can wear in winter, which remind me of the Twilight scene in Italy as Edward is about to expose his identity as a vampire.
PDT (Please Dont Tell): 113 Saint Marks Place, NY 10009 Who wouldn’t want to turn up at a hotdog restaurant, step into a phonebooth, and find themselves entering a hidden cocktail bar? You can find more about this amazing little place over at my post on nzgirl.
I want to go on and on. I want to tell you about the fantastic Trapeze School, and how bloody scary it was leaping off that ledge. I want to make sure you know there are nice places to stay if you don’t want to blow your budget such as The Gershwin or The Jane. You should probably know just how unbelievable the black miso cod is at Nobu and if you have a hankering for rice pudding as one might do then you should be rest assured that you can head to Rice to Riches for Fluent in French Toast Flavour.
To be honest, I think the only sensible thing to do is TAKE ME WITH YOU!