What to do in New York City

I leave today. I’ve been once before so I’m wondering what what are some cool things to do that aren’t the usual tourist stops. I’m also looking for great places to eat.


You should go to MOMA, tourist spot or not.

I like to people watch in Central Park and Greenwich Village whenever I’m in NYC.

Last time I was there (about 3-4 years ago), the Upper West Side had a lot of straightforward bars popular with young folks. The area was trendy, but you didn’t have to spend an hour to prep your hair and wardrobe before showing up.

I second the recommendation for MoMA, but it looks like they are renovating and it may be closed. I like the Metropolitan Museum of Art more than the Guggenheim as a second choice. I visited the American Museum of Natural History last time I was there; it’s well worth a look.

Food Choices:

  • I don’t have a specific restaurant, but I’ve had good success with food in Little India (East 6th Street, near Greenwich Village).
  • I’d probably try to visit one of Mario Batali’s restaurants; he seems to be very authentic to Italian cuisine. I have no personal experience with his restaurants.

The downtown MoMA is under renovation - some of the collection is currently being housed in the new MoMA Queens, but I don’t know where exactly it is.

I second the recommendation for Greenwich village. There’s a lot of great restaurants, bars, clubs and cool shops. If you’re into music, check out the record stores down on Bleeker Street.

Ok time to feel like an idiot what is MOMA stand for museum of modern art?

yeah, museum of modern art. take a ride on the staten island ferry (roundtrip, no point in dwelling in staten island). Personally, I just like to walk around, there’s so much to see just strolling the streets. For restaurants, there are tons of good ones everywhere. The Village is a good bet. I work in Soho and there are tons of good restaurants nearby.

Actually, you’re timing for MoMA is unfortunate. The Queens facility is now closed, and the renovated MoMA doesn’t re-open until sometime around Thanksgiving as I recall. They’re in the process of moving the collection back from Queens, so I’m afraid this is a bad weekend MoMA-wise. But, hell, it’s not like they’re aren’t plenty of other great museums in the Apple. Try the Metropolitan, and walk across the park to the American Museum of Natural History, with it’s spectacular Hayden Sphere.

For restaurants on a budget, try Chinatown for the main course, then walk uptown a few blocks to Little Italy for dessert.

Check the website for more info; the way I interpreted it was that they have just closed the temporary Queens collection, and will be reopening the main Museum of Modern Art (sorry for abbreviating without specifying it first) on Nov 20.

Which only leaves 26,999,999 things to do in the city. I could never live there, but visiting NYC is always fun.

EDIT: Jason posted near the same time. I haven’t had great experiences with Little Italy; it seems to trade on its reputation, and I found equally good Italian in New Jersey when I lived there. I don’t order dessert much, though.

Chinatown has more tourists than the lesser known Little India. I agree with Jason that it has good authentic restaurants that are good price values.

I timed the ferry ride just right one summer for 4th of July. The ferry driver pulled up short and let us watch the fireworks from the harbor. Pretty cool.

I have always liked the east village better than the west, but either one is great, especically for people watching and getting a bite to eat. Walk thorough Astor Place on your way between the two villages and see all the freaky herion addicts and street performers. I saw a guy do an amazing jump over trash cans on a skate board one day. I’ve also listened to some great stand up comedy from unknowns doing street shows. It’s cheap, it’s fun.

I love the Metropolitan on Saturday mornings and then you can hit Central Park. It ought to be awesome this time of year because of the fall colors. Cut over to the upper west side and look for a place to eat. Just wander the streets looking at the menus in the windows until you find something you like.

If you like beer, Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is pretty impressive (and expensive).

It’s a Belgian-style place, and hoigty-toighty, but has beer you probably won’t get many places elsewhere on the continent.

On the cheaper but still cool tip, Mugs Ale House in Williamsburg (the other direction from the Bedford L stop) has a lot of great stuff on tap and is cheap ($4/20 oz.)

If you make it into Brooklyn, that is.

I don’t do touristy stuff, because I live here. My lists will center around the village and soho. This is just a sampling off the top of my head of places I go very often.

five points - the best brunch in nyc IMO, try the huevos rancheros baked in the wood oven.
bar 6 - I come here almost every weekend for the prix fixe eggs benedict special.
good restaurant) another great brunch, try the lemon ricotta pancakes

'ino - best panini sandwiches in NYC
Lombardi’s - best pizza in manhattan
gothan bar and grill - very very good prix fixe $25 lunch on weekdays
kati roll - really good indian rolled sandwish thingies, great for munching while walking around the bleeker area
katz’s deli - the best jewish deli in NYC and thus the world
second ave deli - the second best jewish deli in NYC and thus the world

peasant - amazing italian, ignore the pretentious italian only menu and get the roast suckling pig
lupa - also amazing italian, along w/ peasant my ties for best dinner for your dollar
peter luger’s - the best steakhouse in the united states of america
per se - expensive, but in the top 5 restaurants in the USA. probably won’t get in here w/o a month’s notice.
gramercy tavern - the best new american food in america and thus the world
babbo - best pasta in NYC, very high level italian
asia de cuba - really great latin fusion, amazing ood and beautiful-people-watching

Just a short list… I could go on much further than this easily.

wow now that is a restaurant list!!

I have to go to J&R if there is time, just because I order stuff from there all the time.

If you go to J&R (which isn’t all that impressive in person, although the music section has a pretty decent Jazz selection) you’re a block from the pedestrian entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Well worth the walk over the bridge, even if you just stop half way and return to Manhattan.

Brooklyn is the borough, but you really need a tour guide or some good direction to appreciate it. The view of Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights, not too far from the bridge is a nice walking trip. I just moved out of Caroll Gardens Brooklyn after 12 years, 'cause the wife got a job in new jersey :( Now living way up in Washington Heights, and not far from Spuyten Duyvil the geographical landmark, the northern-most tip of Manhattan. I’d wager the bar in Brooklyn is much more inviting to hang out in though :)

As touristy as it is, the view from the Empire State building is pretty cool, even though it’ll be quite cold up there.

I go to Boston.

Peter Lugers == teh suck.

Katz’s == teh suck.

I == not a NYC native.

Peter Lugers = r0x0r.

I’ve got nothing against Peter Lugers. It’s a fine restaurant. However, by definition, the best steakhouse in America cannot be in New York. For that you have to come to the Midwest. Specifically, here.

Here’s some museum and restaurant advice.

You have to be a NYC native or have a NYC guide to go to a major museum there and enjoy it. There is an art in finding the off hour. When the Metropolitan or the Modern are in crush-mode, it can be a horrible, dismaying experience, especially if you are not a crowd-loving citydweller. If you do go to the Metropolitan, just don’t go to the advertised main show unless you really love that artist, wander off to some obscure area that is less travelled, and maybe you can enjoy yourself. The Modern temporary installation was less packed last year than the usual insane mob in Manhattan, but as someone mentioned, I believe it no longer exists, and they are in the process of returning to Manhattan.

For god’s sake, don’t go to the American Museum of Natural History unless you are really into some particular and hopefully obscure exhibit. It has really deteriorated in the last 10 years or so. It’s become grossly commercial and tawdry, and is generally packed with screaming children. There is a museum shop every 10 paces in there now. The gemology exhibit is still top-notch if you are into gems and minerals, but otherwise I’d strongly advise not to go. The Planetarium is a tourist trap, blow it off.

The Guggenheim is almost a total loss these days for some reason, but if by some fluke there aren’t a lot of people around when you’re there (highly unlikely) it can be fun just walking up and down the ramps and looking at the internal space. It’s sad the way they have let the concrete deteriorate though, and almost inexplicable considering how rich they are.

On the other hand, there are many second-tier museums that are nevertheless oftenmore interesting than most cities’ main museums. Sometimes there is an interesting design exhibition at the Whitney for example. There are also lots and lots and lots of galleries, some of which may well have unique and worthwhile exhibits, so flip through the New Yorker or New York magazine to see a list.

The best restaurant I’ve eaten at in NYC in the last couple of Years is called “Tabla,” an expensive and somewhat pretentious restaurant with a unique cuisine vaguely based on Indian, but with none of the familiar standard Indian dishes – really, it’s more like some kind of weird nouvelle cuisine with Indian elements. As described so far, this restaurant sounds like the last place you’d want to go to – but trust me, it’s really, really good. You want to go to the actual restaurant (reservation) not the packed bar/grill downstairs.

For lunch, you might consider, dammit, I’ve forgotten the name, it’s a Japanese teahouse on the east side in the 50s, they serve tiny English-style rindless sandwiches with bean paste and green tea and dainty pastries and the like, it’s very pleasant if you can find a concierge who has some idea what I’m talking about.

For cheap food, consider some of the little neighborhood ethnic restaurants on Amsterdam avenue up in the 80s and 90s. Not Columbus avenue, that’s kitsch-land, but on Amsterdam, you can get an excellent Cuban sandwich pretty cheap in the right place.

NYC pizza is the best in the world – IF you can find the right place. The beter places are in poor neighborhoods, and are absolute holes in the wall with steel ovens and maybe not even any chairs. The “gourmet” places and the “original” and “famous” places in nicer neighborhoods are not so hot.

That’s sad. It was one of my favorite museums when I lived in NY, but that was more than 10 years ago. I was in the planetarium when it had just opened and thought it was spectacular, but maybe that was before they got all the giftshops up and running. Of course, I always planned my visits there so they wouldn’t coincide with school tours.

On the other hand, there are many second-tier museums that are nevertheless oftenmore interesting than most cities’ main museums. Sometimes there is an interesting design exhibition at the Whitney for example. There are also lots and lots and lots of galleries, some of which may well have unique and worthwhile exhibits, so flip through the New Yorker or New York magazine to see a list.

I absolutely agree with this advice. You can spend weeks exlporing the interesting stuff in the smaller museums. If you’re willing to go off the beaten path and get outside of Manhattan, and you’re at all into movies, try the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. It’s located at the Astoria Studio, which was the East Coast Hollywood back in the silent area. You can get there from Manhattan on the subway, the R train and whatever it is they call the 7 train these days.

If you do get out that way, and you want to try some good NY deli, forget the hype of the Stage and Carnegie Deli’s (yeah they’re good, but they’re always jammed with tourists and priced to match) and continue out on the R train to Rego Park and Ben’s Best. Right outside the subway station on Queens Blvd. Heaven on Earth for the carnivore.

The Carnegie delivers, and I’m confident that the Stage and 2nd Avenue delis do too. Their ambience is awful anyway, so you might as well order to your hotel or whatever. Be prepared to be impressed by both the quality (very high) and the price (ridiculously high.) I don’t eat that kind of food all that frequently, because the notion of doing so doesn’t occur to me for some reason, but I really like the Carnegie lean corned beef, with of course nothing on it but some brown mustard. With a few sour pickles and maybe some coleslaw, you’ve got a meal for 2 hungry people from one of their sandwiches.