My NYC Recommendations
It is a bit out of date in places (I haven’t lived in NYC since 2007). Make sure you google places to make sure they are still open:
Sunset drinks at the Boom Boom room at the Standard Hotel. It is in the meat packing district. Overpriced cocktails but stupendous view.
Hidden gem: Go to the rooftop bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Few people know about it, museum entry fee is optional, so skip paying, go straight upstairs and have a drink overlooking central park.
Hidden gem: Rooftop bar at the Metro Hotel. If you find yourself in Midtown during the day, try this. Unassuming, not hip by any means, but drinking on a roof outside is excellent in nyc. (summer only)
Hidden gem: Campbell Apartment. This is a bar inside Grand Central Station of all places. You'll have to ask to find it. Hard to find, but FANTASTIC. Good cocktails. No jeans/sneakers if I remember correctly. The space is so wonderful, great history.
Sex and the City moment: Have a drink at the bar in the Hudson Hotel. If you go at night, make sure you look hip enough to get in. But pretty cool.
Times Square: This is an absolute wasteland, but if you find yourself here, there is one and only one bar I can recommend. Twist Lounge in the Ameritania Hotel. Tiny, but great cocktails. A welcome respite from Times Square.
Some of my regular haunts: Ace Bar (dive, EV), King Size (LES, tiny, great vibe), Bouche Bar (tiny, EV), Big Bar (tiny, EV), 2A (EV, divey), Double Happiness (SoHo, hip), Happy Ending (LES, hip), Box Car Lounge (EV, tiny/cool), Barramundi (LES, funky), Orchard Lounge (LES, hip/dark), d.b.a. (EV, patio out back, great beer list, lots of whiskeys), the list goes on.
People line up for hours to eat at Mission Chinese. I haven't successfully eaten there yet. Apparently easier at lunch. http://missionchinesefood.com/ny/
Pok Pok NY has gotten a lot of attention. I did eat there and it was great (in Brooklyn). The wait is more manageable. But good NY thai food is probably child's play for an Aussie.
Cronuts. Then there is this (I don't want to successfully eat here, but it's a craze).
Smorgasburg is fun. Go hungry.
These are some older ones, many will have closed by now, so check in advance:
We lived in the East Village and worked in SoHo so the bulk of our eating recommendations will be centred around there. Some acronyms (East Village = EV, West Village = WV, Lower East Side = LES).
A few highlights:
- Cafecito (EV) - fantastic cuban, great loud atmosphere.
- Great Jones (NoHo) - cajun/southern cuisine
- Lombardis (SoHo) - one of the contenders for best pizza in nyc
- Balthazar (SoHo) - French Bistro, institution. Huge, hard to get into. Expensive. Great.
- Florent (Meatpacking district) - 24 diner, in the meatpacking district. Institution.
- Katz's Deli (EV) - Get a giant pastrami sandwich. Required. If you've seen When Harry Met Sally, this where the fake organism scene was filmed.
- Esperanto (EV) - The Brazilian food is actually mediocre, but great atmosphere. Have a mojito/caiparinha or four.
- Old Town Bar & Grill (Union Square) - Old time NYC bar/grill. Good burgers.
- Corner Bistro (WV) - Some of the best burgers in NYC. Small, old time NYC bar.
- Bar 89 (SoHo) - Overpriced (though very good) cocktails, but if you need a decent meal while shopping in SoHo this isn't a bad choice. Do make sure you go here to check out the bathroom (seriously)
- Shake Shack (Madison Park) - Great, great burgers/hot dogs. In the middle of a small park. Have a beer, a chicago hot dog, and a some fries. There will be a long line, but if you're there in the mid afternoon, you'll be ok.
- Il Bagatto - (EV) great italian food, fantastic atmosphere. Make a booking, but you'll have to wait anyway. Go downstairs and have a drink. Don't fuck with Julio (the owner). He's from the Dominican Republic and has a booming voice but don't let that scare you, his wife Beatrice is from Rome and is a fantastic chef.
- Les Infants Terribles (LES) - In no man's land, but great food, cool atmosphere. French/African/Brazilian food. Have a mojito.
- Casimir (EV). If you like Steak Tartare, this french bistro has the best I've found in NYC. I tried them all. Cool restaurant anyway.
- La Esquina (SoHo). Great mexican food.
- Oyster Bar (downstairs Grand Central station). Get some oysters and a beer after walking around midtown.
Brunch is an institution in NYC, whatever you do, make sure you go for brunch each weekend day you have. My favourites:
- Prune (East Village), tiny restaurant, 12 different bloody mary recipes on the menu, excellent food. Get there when it opens (10am)
- Aquagrill (SoHo) expensive. If you love oysters, go here. 24 kinds of oysters every day, year round. This is an upscale restaurant, but not snooty. I can't recommend this highly enough. Also, fantastic for dinner. Best seafood restaurant in NYC (in my opinion).
- Bubby's (Tribeca) - southern cuisine. fantastic brunch, impossible to get into.
- Great Jones -(NoHo) Also has a great brunch, very cheap. Tiny place, great food.
- Five Points - (NoHo) A bit fancy, but very good.
SEE AND DO
- The High Line. It is an above grand park (converted rail line). Extends about 20 blocks with a few cafe's and a great view.
- Also when you do the high line, have lunch at Cook Shop. About halfway along.
- 9/11 memorial is at the World Trade Centre, obviously. You need to buy tickets in advance for this one.
- MOMA (modern art museum). You simply have to do go here.
- Tenement Museum (learn about immigrant new york from 100+ years ago. Bonus, it is next door to my first apartment in nyc. Gives you an idea how small apartments are...)
- Helicopter tour over Manhattan (touristy but I loved it).
- Yankee Stadium. Even if you don't like baseball, go because in the US, they bring beer to you at your seat. Giant beers.
- Central Park (see below for where to have a drink)
- Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and have an ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and pizza at Grimaldis.
- Go through Grand Central Station during rush hour. Go to the main hall and look up. (See DRINKS for a hidden gem in the Campbell Apartment). Underneath is also the Oyster Bar which is a great spot for a bite.
- Take an architecture walking tour of downtown manhattan
- Look at some of my favourite buildings from the outside: Chrysler Building, Woolworth Building, Flatiron building.
- Time Square at night (obligatory, but do me a favour and don't stand gaping, just keep moving, you damn tourist!)
I would expect that you will want to stay downtown (below 14th street) because that's where I would expect you to hang out. However, hotels are few and far between down there. The Maritime Hotel is cool, the Mercer is great, SoHo Grand, are all good options.
That said uptown may work out to be cheaper. The Library Hotel is supposed to be fantastic, and is (slightly) cheaper than the rest. The Hudson, W, Royalton, are good as well. I recommend checking out tablethotels.com for options.
Obviously AirBnB is another choice.
Remember, public transport is FANTASTIC in nyc, so you're going to be hopping the subway all the time. Also, it is easy to go up/down (i.e., north/south) and difficult to go cross-town (east/west) (except 14th street and around times square).
I've never stayed in a hotel in NYC so you may know more than me.
SoHo of course
Do 5th avenue (below central park) for over the top shopping. (Gucci, Prada, Tiffany, etc.) Check out the new Apple Store in midtown if you're into that kind of thing.
Also pick up a Time Out : New York magazine for listings.