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Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in North America.
Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in North America.
In your wanderings through the streets of the East Village and Lower East Side you’ll stumble across many interesting boutiques selling an assortment of individual items, from handmade jewelry and vintage rock T-shirts to trendy sneakers and wedding dresses.
For a fun hat-shopping experience, try Village Scandal (19 E. 7th St) in the East Village, which sells everything from hipster hats to panamas and their own custom cloche. For the latest in DJ turntables and a good choice of vinyl, head to the Turntable Lab (120 E. 7th St).
Vintage clothes stores and one-of-a-kind clothing boutiques line East 9th Street between Avenue A and second Avenue. Head for resale/consignment shop Tokio 7 (83 E. 7th St) and poke through great designer duds. Getting married? You’ll find gorgeous bridal gowns at Selia Yang (328 E. 9th St).
On the Lower East Side a number of designer co-op boutiques have sprung up, which showcase the work of emerging designers. Singer-songwriter Hillary Flowers also runs a boutique (40 Clinton St) featuring the work of about 20 designers, whose goods are put on display in exchange for working in the store. The Dressing Room (75a Orchard St) is both bar and hip designer emporium, with used and vintage clothes downstairs. Pilgrim (70 Orchard St) is a boutique owned by designers with Donna Karan and Anna Sui, who show off their own affordable designs here. The Frankie Shop (100 Stanton St) showcases international up-and-coming designers.
For men, 20 Peacocks (20 Clinton St) sells high-end European-style men’s shirts and ties. The New York Times calls nearby Assembly New York (174 Ludlow St) ‘the best curated men’s wear store in the city.’ Alongside its own designs it stocks an imaginative selection of other brands and vintage apparel.
Once a dark and desolate corner of the city, Tribeca today is home to wealthy young families who enjoy high-end loft living. Foodies make the trek to this revitalized area for some of the best restaurants in the city.
At the top of the list is Bouley (163 Duane St, tel: 212-964-2525, C1). Big windows onto the street reveal the kitchen where you might spot celebrity chef David Bouley at work. Inside, patrons enjoy haute cuisine in a refined romantic atmosphere. Dig into the five-course tasting meal, or order dishes like the Cape Cod baby squid with scallops and crabmeat, and remember, high quality doesn’t come cheap.
You might find yourself next to Nicole Kidman, P. Diddy, or Robert DeNiro at crowded Nobu (105 Hudson St; tel: 212-219-0500, C2), which De Niro helped launch with chef Nobu Matsuhisa more than a decade ago. Patrons are wowed by his nouvelle haute Japanese cuisine: a house favorite is broiled black cod with miso, and the sushi and hand rolls are consistently excellent. The $150 tasting menu is a good way to discover why it’s so hard to get a seat here. You might have more luck at the simpler and cozier Nobu Nextdoor, next door.
American Cut (363 Greenwich St, tel: 212-226-4736, C2) serves a new American menu, featuring horseradish-encrusted salmon and duck-fat fries, in a cozy and classy space with dim lighting and excellent bartenders that’s made it a low-key Tribeca favorite. Enjoy the outdoor seating in warm weather.
For Euro-glamor and the best Bellini in town, head just north of Tribeca to Cipriani Downtown (376 W. Broadway, tel: 212-343-0999; E3), perfect for spotting models and celebrities. The food isn’t bad either: try the octopus carpaccio, the lobster salad, or the freshly made ravioli.
The axis of Chinatown is slowly shifting to less expensive Flushing in the borough of Queens, and many longtime businesses didn’t survive the severe economic fallout of 9/11 (the World Trade Center was not far away). But the area still bustles with businesses catering to Chinese and tourists alike. Here are a few places to shop for Asian food, household goods, and knick-knacks.
Hong Kong Supermarket is the largest Asian supermarket in Manhattan. Upstairs you’ll find a wide selection of sauces, beverages from all over Asia, and frozen dumplings. Downstairs, the aisles are lined with snacks, dried goods, herbs, and a small selection of bowls, woks, and steamers. It helps to speak Cantonese, and it can get extremely crowded on weekends when management gives out free food samples. Some complain the ringing-up process at checkout is often dodgy, so pay attention as prices are keyed in.
Be prepared to spend a couple of hours at Yunhong Chopsticks Shop, a palace dedicated to the utensils. You’ll find them in materials like mahogany, ebony and sterling silver. Pick up colorful plastic sets for everyday use or buy a beautiful pair for gifts or special occasions. With over 200 different styles, you’ll have plenty to choose from, and while you’re there you’ll learn that it’s Chinese tradition and belief that giving chopsticks spreads happiness.
Kam Man Food Products is a bustling food and home goods store that’s a fun place to roam. It’s great for Asian sauces and candy, as well as cookware, dishes, and chopsticks.
On warm-weather days, the line can get long at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, but the delectable scoops of ice cream made on the premises are well worth the wait. Open since 1978, this little ice-cream parlor has spawned a number of competitors, but there’s no disputing that the original is the best. The ice creams and sorbets come in traditional flavors like chocolate, coffee, rocky road, or pistachio. But there’s also an enticing choice of exotic Asian flavors to tingle your taste buds, such as ginger, green tea, lychee, or black sesame.
The best place to enjoy your ice cream is nearby Columbus Park, the de facto community center of bustling Chinatown. Some say it resembles a square in China 70 years ago: along the fences and under canopies cobblers, fortune-tellers, jewelry repairers, and booksellers ply their trade. Inside the park, Chinese men and women play tile games, dominoes, and mahjong, some gambling and smoking. Others practice martial arts and Tai Chi while families stroll by or young lovers sit on benches. A frequent sight on weekends is a group of seniors playing traditional Chinese instruments, accompanied on occasion by retired Cantonese opera singers. Boxed in by skyscrapers lining Baxter, Worth, Bayard, and Mulberry streets, the attractively landscaped park is a welcome place of relaxation.
A new type of building construction appeared in New York in the mid-late 1800s that would become the precursor to the skyscraper: the use of prefabricated cast iron for building facades and interior support columns. The relatively inexpensive cast iron could be molded into intricate designs and patterns for the facades, while the strength of the metal allowed for higher ceilings and taller windows, permitting more natural light to flow into industrial buildings and warehouses in this pre-electrical era. The low-cost iron was an easy and inexpensive way to add decoration to utilitarian commercial buildings. More than 250 of these buildings exist in New York and most of them are in Soho. Here are a few worth seeking out:
At the northeast corner of Broadway and Broome is the E. V. Haughwout, one of the first cast-iron structures in the city which took just one year to build. When unveiled in 1857, it boasted the world’s first hydraulic passenger elevator.
Dating from 1873, the Gunther Building at the southwest corner of Broome and Greene boasts an elegant Second Empire facade, a style popular in the 1870s, with regularly spaced Corinthian columns and ornate cornices, balustrades, and brackets.
Damage to 71 Greene Street on the first and second stories of the building reveals how the ornamental cast-iron plates were bolted onto the facade. The ornate three-dimensional facade of 72 Greene Street is considered the area’s finest example of cast-iron splendor. The facade at 10 Greene Street, built in 1869, has heavy, unadorned Tuscan columns. Like other buildings in the area, it is partly obscured by fire escapes – a legal requirement after a series of loft fires swept the city in 1915.
You push a buzzer at a nondescript door in Soho tucked between high-end furniture and clothing boutiques, and head up a flight of stairs to what is perhaps the longest-running and most unusual free art display in the city, the New York Earth Room.
It’s a sprawling 22in pile of dark, humid topsoil filling a 3,600-sq-ft loft the size of a small football field. The same earth has been sitting here for nearly 35 years, the work of artist Walter De Maria, one of three Earth Rooms he has created since 1968, and the only one still in existence.
The exhibit is maintained and run by the Dia Art Foundation, a not-for-profit arts organization that likes to support artworks that wouldn’t otherwise be able to exist. Not only is this one of the longest-running art exhibits in the city, but the person who mans the exhibit has perhaps one of New York’s longest-running jobs. For more than 20 years he has greeted the public and tended the soil, raking and watering it weekly, occasionally finding small weeds or mushrooms growing which he carefully removes.
About 50 people come here a day, and reaction to the show is diverse. Some New Yorkers say it’s the most soil they’ve seen in years, some find it mildly creepy, others say being here is spiritual or comforting, a moment of peace in the hectic city. Many are drawn back to the room again and again.
You can’t photograph it, or touch it, but you can ask questions, like how they got the soil in here in the first place (through the windows with cranes) or what it means (that’s up to you).
It’s hard to find a higher- quality or more picturesque shopping district than Soho. The cobblestone streets are lined with beautiful and spacious cast- iron buildings, and their high-ceilinged stores sell some of the best designs in clothes, furniture, and household goods you’ll find in North America. Stroll around and you’re certain to stumble on something that will give you inspiration. Here’s a tour that takes you to some of the more interesting shops in the area.
Check out some of the best in contemporary and unique furniture at Matter (405 Broome St); the gallery and showroom is a resource for architects and interior designers to keep tabs on what’s hot. If you’re in the mood for some luxury lingerie, satin sheets, corsets, or gold-plated handcuffs, head to Kiki de Montparnasse (79 Greene St). The change rooms have three choices of lighting: before, during, and after.
Purl Patchwork (459 Broome St) has a great selection of beautiful fabrics ranging from Japanese and French imports to reproductions of Victorian-era designs.
Swiss Army (136 Prince St) has more than just knives. There are also great watches, luggage, and clothes. You can see or buy the very best in music photography of the last half-century at Morrison Hotel Gallery (116 Prince St, 2nd Floor), which also has great temporary exhibits. The Apple Store (103 Prince St) is New York’s flagship store and holds hourly free presentations in the auditorium on anything you need to know about Apple products.
For great outdoor apparel and gear for hiking and climbing head to Patagonia (72 Greene St). Further north on Greene St the elegant frocks at Stella McCartney (112 Greene St) never cease to amaze.
For those drawn to more morbid subjects, there’s Evolution (120 Spring St). Buy framed butterflies or insects, a stuffed rat, or a human skull for $895 at this quirky store selling natural history collectables.
MoMA Design Store (81 Spring St) presents two floors of carefully chosen products ranging from chairs to notebooks, scarves, and watches by classic and new designers. Great for gift shopping.
Housing Works (130 Crosby St) is a neighborhood favorite in thrift stores rife with amazing finds, while Prada (575 Broadway) is worth visiting for the sensational Rem Koolhas-designed interior.
Honor the kid in you or in your life at the McNally Jackson Books (52 Prince St). This enormous retail space sells thousands of high-quality and educational children’s books and toys. A little further along, find inexpensive stylish clothes at the world flagship store of Uniqlo (546 Broadway) – think H&M with a Japanese minimalist twist.
Finally, Kate Spade (454 Broome St) is a new American classic handbag, luggage, clothing, and shoe designer with a slightly quirky and retro feel. For great men’s bags and clothes try Ghurka (65 Prince St).
New York’s Chinatown is one of the largest Chinese enclaves in the world outside of Asia, and that means there’s a huge choice of places to eat. But not all are good – New York foodies have a shortlist of the places they like to go to:
Take a steep escalator ride up to Jing Fong (18 Elizabeth St, tel: 212-964-5256), a huge, bustling banquet hall crowded with patrons who choose from a wide variety of Hong Kong-style dim sum passing by their tables on rolling carts. It’s best to go closer to 10am when the food is freshest. They close at 3.30pm.
There are no rolling carts at Dim Sum Go-Go (5 East Broadway, tel: 212-732-0796), with its easy-to-order, reasonably priced dim sum menu – 24 kinds on offer. Recommended are the dim sum platter (good for the dim sum novice) and the roast chicken with fried garlic stems.
There’s usually a line-up to get into Joe’s Shanghai (9 Pell St, tel: 212-233-8888) to order their famous mouthwatering soup dumplings filled with pork or crabmeat. Other dishes are good here too, like the Szechuan string beans, salt-and-pepper prawns with shells, and the Shanghai noodles.
Oriental Garden (14 Elizabeth St, tel: 212-619-0085) attracts big-name chefs like Daniel Bouley, who come here for the exceptionally fresh seafood. It can be noisy and the menu can vary in quality. But you can’t go wrong ordering seafood dishes like the fried shrimp balls, lobster in XO sauce, or oysters with shiitake mushrooms and scallions.
One of the main draws of Greenwich Village is the vast choice of intimate restaurants tucked along the picturesque streets. Here are a few favorites:
The Cornelia Street Café (29 Cornelia St, tel: 212-989-9319) is a busy, cozy, comforting Franco-American restaurant with a solid and affordable menu (duck confit with lentils, seafood stew) and a jazz and folk club downstairs.
Trendy gastro-pub The Spotted Pig (314 11th St, tel: 212-620-0393) is open late and always full. The $20 charbroiled burger with blue cheese is a favorite.
Pearl Oyster Bar (18 Cornelia St, tel: 212-691-8211) is a highly rated seafood restaurant and packs in crowds every night. The straightforward dishes (lobster rolls, scallops, and oysters) are simply prepared but incredibly fresh. No reservations.
Lupa (170 Thompson St, tel: 212-982-5089) is one of celebrity chef Mario Batali’s first NYC restaurants and is still a standout for its delicious rustic Italian fare and decor, great wine list and fun but noisy atmosphere. Lunch is a quieter experience.
Aki (181 W. 4th St, tel: 212-989-5440) is a hidden gem for sushi-lovers. The chef spent a few years working for the Japanese ambassador to Jamaica, and his top-notch creations are tinged with Caribbean flavors. It’s tiny here, so be sure to reserve in advance.
For one of the best falafels or Mediterranean platters (hummus, pita, cucumber salad) join the line-up at Taim (222 Waverly Place). Seating is limited, but you can always head a few blocks east to Washington Square and enjoy a picnic there.
The outer edges of Greenwich Village, known as the far West Village, were as recently as a decade ago a deserted, inhospitable area, the streets buffeted by cold winds off the Hudson River in winter, and visited by the spill-over of transvestite hookers from the neighboring Meatpacking District. The wholesale butchers and prostitutes are gone, and the only thing being slaughtered there these days are fashion victims by the prices of designer clothes by the likes of Stella McCartney and the late Alexander McQueen, whose shops along these cobblestoned roads have supplanted the warehouses.
This fashion mecca has spread to the more intimate Bleecker Street, turning the first few blocks of the north end of this central roadway from Bank Street to Christopher Street into a miniature Madison Avenue, lined with boutiques belonging to Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Lulu Guinness, Cynthia Rowley, and Coach.
The street has become a destination for the well-heeled on weekends, who when they need a sugar pick-me-up, head to Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker St; tel: 212-462-2572), a cupcake shop made famous by its appearance on Sex and the City, which triggered the national cupcake craze. There’s usually a line up to a block long to get in, even late at night, but most say it’s worth the wait for the icing-laden cupcakes and old-fashioned desserts like banana cream pie and ice-box cake.
While most of the stores along this high-end shopping corridor are luxury clothes retailers, there is the occasional good-value gem, like the small optical chain See which sells imaginative frames and lenses at low prices that can be ready for pick-up in a few days.