Monday, October 13, 2008

Stuff I've Learned: A Non-Touristy Tour of NYC

Let's say you have a friend visiting from a city like, say, Los Angeles. Very cool, smart, well traveled girl, uninterested in waiting in long lines to see tourist attractions. What should you do? What is the quintessentially NYC experience?

My answer: food, fashion and art.
  • Go on a shopping / walking tour of Soho, the Village (East, West and Greenwich), or the Lower East Side
  • Skip all Mexican food or sushi. They're better done in LA. Instead take her to a cute little West Village eatery, like Blue Hill or Little Owl, or dazzle her with the architectural marvels of celebrity chef joint like Perry Street, Morimoto or Gilt. Or if you can get reservations, take her to one of NYC's restaurant crown jewels: Per Se, Le Bernadin or Bouley, for instance. Better yet, get hot dogs at Gray's Papaya or pizza at Two Boots.
  • See some art. Do a gallery walk in Chelsea. Go to a lesser known museum, like the Cloisters or the Tenement museum.
  • Take a walk in a park - Central Park, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Bryant Park or Hudson River Park.
  • Have dessert/ candy / chocolate. This city's full of amazing sweets. Sit at Madeleine Patisserie for macarons, Le Maison du Chocolat or Jacques Torres for anything chocolate, or go to Dylan's Candy bar and stock up on old-fashioned candy.
  • Celebrate the written word. Go to a reading at a local book store like McNally Jackson or hang out at the NY Public Library. Buy a used book from the Strand or Biography Book Shop.
  • Park yourself at a cafe and people watch. No Starbucks allowed. Try 71 Irving Place or Aroma Coffee Bar just off of Hudson.
That's the plan if you're entertaining your friend for a few days. If you only have one evening, you might do what Ms. Pinot Noir and I did on Monday, Columbus Day. Here are some snapshots:
  1. Have dessert first at Jacques Torres. In this case, warm giant chocolate chip cookies.
  2. Walk up to the West Village, passing cute little shops, like Yamak and restaurants like Pink Tea Cup, a soul food place. Stop at Magnolia for cupcakes and buy used book at Biography Book Shop.
  3. Pass the Little Owl on a whim and find out if they can accommodate two without a reservation. They can! Eat amazing food two feet away from record industry legend Clive Davis and entourage of pretty boys (the guy in the picture is not him!).
  4. Walk up to the Meatpacking District. Sightsee. Stop at Apple Store so Ms. Pinot Noir can pay her phone bill online.


thegirlinthecafe said...

Thanks for this post. I am going to New York next week and will definitely try some of your (not too touristy) suggestions! :)

The Girl Next Door said...

Thanks for visiting! Hope you're having a great trip.