Monday, April 9, 2012

Bridges and a Trashy Julep - A Guide to New York City

I’ve been to NYC a handful of times, not an expert amount but enough to know that the rumours are true - she’s a hell of a town. There are so many amazing things to see, do, nibble, drink …. it can be a little overwhelming. I thought I would put together a small list of my favourite things, no need to unpack those guidebooks just yet, instead just a few suggestions you'll hopefully take as a friendly nudge in the right direction.

First, and this is really just a side bar, if you are flying to New York be thankful if there are no delays. I work for an airline. If someone so much as coughs in New York the whole damn place goes into a ground delay. If there are long delays see if you can get on earlier flight - it's usually free. The truth is delays are not pleasant, but when it comes to any NY airport they are a very regular occurrence. Bring a book. 

Ok. So here we go ….


 The Brooklyn Bridge

 After taking a midnight Greyhound from Montreal it was still dark when we pulled into the Port Authority. I’d been to the city once before, but this was my first time alone and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I dumped my bag at the hostel and immediately headed for the bridge. Armed with the Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack and very little sleep I emerged from a crowded rush hour subway to an overpowering morning sun. I started walking.  At first there wasn’t much to see, just dodging camera hungry tourists and angry cyclists for twenty minutes, but then you turn around and you see it. Manhattan. All of it. It’s impressive. And just as that view took my breath away “Judy is a Punk” began to blare into my headphones and I caught my first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. She doesn’t disappoint either.

MOMA & The Museum of Natural History
Two amazing museums. Your guide books will explain them to you. 

Central Park
It’s really, really big. Really, it’s bigger than you think. Pick a small piece you want to see and go there. Otherwise, it’s big. My favourites - Strawberry Fields & Alice in Wonderland.

Brooklyn (Bedford Stop on the L)
Take the L train out to Brooklyn,  ( the J, M, and Z to Marcy also work if the L is still under construction) or if you have the time just walk over the Williamsburg bridge. Wander up and down Bedford. Explore all the little side streets. Hunt through the colour coded racks at Beacon’s Closet, finger through the vinyl at Sound Fix,  and then congratulate yourself on your singular finds with a drink or 4 at any of the nearby bars.


Brazenhead Books
Full disclosure - I have yet to go here. A friend from work wrote a great piece for the Toronto Standard about this little gem and now it’s at the top of my visiting wish list. Go ahead, hunt it out for yourself and make me incredibly jealous.


Black & White Cookies
They are a NY staple and you can buy them at most corner stores and fancy bakeries. This might be the one and only time I suggest this, but buy your cookie from the corner store. The fancy bakery people seem to get a little marmalade happy, which doesn’t sit so well with me. 

Caracas Arepa Bar
93 1/2 E 7th St. (Lower East Side)
Super tiny and very colourful. Sit at the bar if you can and watch as they make savage little Venezualian treats.

The Magnolia Bakery
1240 Avenue of the Americas (6th Ave & W49 th, behind 30 Rock)
Yes, cupcakes are well over done these days, and yes, there is usually a line up out the door. The answer? Skip the Bleeker street flagship and opt for the just as twee Rockefeller bakery because their vanilla butter cream cupcakes really are worth it,and you’ll probably need a sugary kickstart after wandering around Madison Avenue.

Marlow & Sons
81 Broadway, Brooklyn
Best Brunch. Best biscuits. We squeezed ourselves onto the bar stools and even though Questlove’s twin barely gave us any room to breath we were all smiles the entire time.

Meatball Shop
170 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn (between N 7th St & N 8th St)
You pick the type of balls, then your sauce, and then your side. Simple. Delicious.
Order the gin cocktail with lavender honey and thyme. They also have two places in Manhattan.

161 N. 7th St., Brooklyn
3$ falafel right across from the subway stop. They pack their pitas full of fresh goood things.

Cafe Moto
394 Broadway, Brooklyn (between Hooper St & Keap St)
It’s in a bit of a dodgy area, the waiter warned my boyfriend against using a nearby ATM because “they sell crack there”, but it’s pure romance. Tiny tables, soft lights, and there was even a bluegrass band playing in the corner. Also really nice - it wasn’t that expensive.


Jimmy’s Corner
140W 44th St.
This place is a wonderful little anomaly, right off of Time Square and possessing more character than all the TGICrap places that choke the surrounding area rolled together. Jimmy used to be a boxer, and yes, that is a photo of him up against Ali behind the bar. Ten points if you’re drinking when he’s there.

Rudy’s Bar
627 9th Avenue (W 44 St and 9th - Hell’s Kitchen)
The beer is really cheap, the hot dogs are even cheaper - they’re free.

406 Broome St (between Cleveland Pl & Centre St), Nolita
They have all kinds of beers on tap for some, but I prefer the Midnight Rambler. The White Trash Julep wasn't so bad either.

Surf Bar
N 6th St (between Berry St & Bedford Ave) Brooklyn
When there is actual sand covering the floor and . Skip the food, indulge in a ridiculous cocktail. My favourite was the Aloha Goodbye - a mix of booze, coconut cream, booze, and more booze. 

Other Helpful Bits ….

Niotillfem’s Guide to NYC
I’m a sort of addicted to this website, her life is a little too pretty. You can find her NYC guide by looking down the right hand side, then use google to flip it into English.

The NY Times’ The Scoop
This free app is really helpful - especially when you’re stuck in the rain and need to know rightthisverysecond where you should go.

NYC Subway
You’ll never have to fiddle with a map again, and you won’t have to panic if you forget which stations are local stops.

Well, that's about it.
For now.
I'd love to hear any and all suggestions for where I should go next time.


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