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Bobo, New York
New York City, New York 10014
Tel: 212 488 2626
Bobo may be the most accessible of New York's glitzy insider restaurants. Unlike Freemans (hidden in an alley) and the Waverly Inn (co-owned by Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter), there's no need to know a guy who knows a guy. Mere mortals can score prime-time reservations with relative ease by calling a week or two in advance. The bi-level brownstone jewel box feels like a shabby-chic European apartment, with mismatched antiques in the dining room, old family photos on the walls, a few inviting tables on a backyard patio, and lively greenmarket food served on hand-me-down china. Though they nailed the style down immediately, it took awhile to back it up with substance, going through three chefs in the first year. Patrick Connolly, on board since August 2008, seems to have gotten it right, focusing on seasonal ingredients, such as crispy veal sweetbreads paired with pear, lentils, and Serrano ham, or duck lavished with a date puree, hazelnuts, and chorizo. Many dishes reference Asia, from pork chops with curry and carmelized fennel to daurade with miso consommé and ginger butter. Desserts range from homespun (plum-blackberry crisp) to luxurious (panna cotta with huckleberries and white chocolate), just like the decor.
Open Sundays through Wednesdays 6 to 11 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays 6 pm to midnight.
Young Designer's Market, New York
New York City, New York 10012
What's true of most cities also applies to New York: If you want to take the temperature of the town's tastes and style, get to a market. The Young Designer's Market, which operates out of a church gym on weekends, is a good primer on the future generation of fashion tastemakers: Designers, milliners, jewelers, and accessories makers set up (and usually man) stalls displaying their designs, which offers visitors the unique opportunity of conversing with the creators firsthand. Sure, there's a bit of dross to sift through, but there are always gems to be found among the crowded aisles. The labels on display change from week to week, but some recent standouts included cute, vintage-inspired cloche hats by Charm NYC; waist-cinching leather belts from Jetta Boone; and some gorgeous beaten-gold cuffs at the stall of Jennifer Young, who designs under the name Chameleon. The best part of finding something you like? You can expect to pay a mere fraction of the price for comparable pieces in high-end stores.
Open Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to 7 pm.
Opening Ceremony, New York
New York City, New York 10013
Tel: 212 219 2688
This Soho boutiquewhose proudly '80s font hints at the decade most revered within displays work by a different country's designers each year, plus a smattering of Americans for good measure. Back in 2006, the favored nation was England, with a mini Topshop installed on the second floor (complete with the trendiest offerings, including the store's famous super-skinny jeans). In 2007, the focus switched to Swedish designers. Recently, the store commissioned Chloë Sevigny, the It girl of downtown style, to design a capsule range: Standout items included a floral dress with built-in bustier and a high-waist pencil skirt. Regardless of the country, the mix here is avant-garde and never boring (if occasionally verging on the unwearable). Less daring shoppers should stick to the prettier offerings, like fun cocktail dresses from Vena Cava.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 8 pm, Sundays noon to 7 pm.
In spite of calling Paris home these days, Marc Jacobs will always belong to New York, the city where his multifarious design talents reached their nexus. It's possible, given a few hours to spare, to experience the entirety of Jacobs's creative genius, from the refined, avant-garde lines of his ready-to-wear collection on Soho's Mercer Street, to the quirky-cute accessories stores in the West Village. Bleecker Street lays claim to four of the most sought-after shopfronts in the empire, including his diffusion line, Marc by Marc Jacobs, which has a devoted cult following. Window displays change with the seasons (and the whims of the design team). Expect anything from a sexed-up Santa posing with shoppers for Christmas portraits (Polaroids which are then plastered all over the windows) to beds of tulips heralding spring. While young women comprise Marc's most ardent fan base, he doesn't neglect the rest of the family: The West Village empire extends to a children's line, Little Marc, and a men's ready-to-wear store. To get the best perspective on just how beloved Mr. Jacobs's vision is in this town, drop by the accessories store, where his coveted handbags and shoes inspire mob scenes every weekend.
Century 21, New York
New York City, New York 10007
Tel: 212 227 9092
This department store, known for selling designer fashions at heavily discounted prices, achieved a second degree of fame when it was seriously damaged in the World Trade Center attacks. Several months and millions of dollars in repairs later, it reopened in its original site, just across from Ground Zeroand as the women of Sex and the City famously put it in one episode, it is everyone's civic duty to go there and spend money. It's also in one's economic best interest. Prices on everythingmen's and women's fashions, shoes, housewares, cosmeticsare much lower than they would be anywhere else. You have to have nerves of steel to do hand-to-hand combat for the bargain goods, but the rewards are many.
Open Mondays through Wednesdays 7:45 am to 8 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 7:45 am to 9:30 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 9 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 8 pm.
Balthazar, New York
New York City, New York 10012
Tel: 212 965 1785
Balthazar reinvented the downtown hot spot when it opened in the late '90s, and it's already a New York classic. Impresario Keith McNally, still the reigning king of effortless restaurant cool, did such a fine job cloning a Beaux Arts Paris brasserie that Balthazar felt decades old the minute it opened. The spacious restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, still gets its share of high-wattage diners like Kate Moss and Jude Law. Over the years, the straightforward, often delicious, bistro fare has remained as consistent as the crowds. The gargantuan shellfish platters are a dazzling indulgence, particularly with a bottle of chilled Muscadet. The steak tartare, zingy with mustard and capers, is among the best in town, as is the grill-marked steak with silky béarnaise and slim, greaseless frites. Though you'll no longer need a secret phone number to secure a table for dinner, you'll still probably want to book well in advance. The attached bakery offers top-notch French pastries and sandwiches to eat on the run.
Open Mondays through Thursdays 7:30 to 11:30 am, noon to 5 pm, and 5:45 pm to 1 am, Fridays 7:30 to 11:30 am, noon to 5 pm, and 5:45 pm to 2 am, Saturdays 8 am to 4 pm and 5:45 pm to 2 am, and Sundays 8 am to 4 pm and 5:30 pm to midnight.
See + Do
Theater in New York City, New York
For many people, the quintessential New York City experience is going to the theater. Despite (justified) complaints that today's offerings have become too middlebrow and overly focused on Hollywood stars, no city in the world has a scene as accomplished and varied as that of New York. There are stagings all over town, but the Theater District around Times Square is where you can expect to find most of the long-playing musicals. The Broadway Ticket Center is one-stop shopping for all Broadway and several Off-Broadway productions. You can book both that day's performances and future dates for just a few dollars more than the box office price, subject to availability.
The choice is reduced but the prices are lowergenerally half-priceat the TKTS booths. The Times Square booth in a glorious red glass structure on 47th Street and Broadway opens at 3 pm for evening performances, 10 am for matinees on Wednesday and Saturday, and 11 am for Sunday matinees. Tickets are for that day's performance only; available shows are listed on the board. The downtown booth at South Street Seaport is open from 11 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday, 11 am to 7 pm on Saturday, and 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday; matinee tickets are available the day before.
For more consistently highbrow fare (often Shakespeare), aficionados head to the 50-year-old Public Theater in the East Village, where alumni Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline once trod the boards. The same organization puts on the sell-out (and free) Shakespeare in the Park performances during summer months.Note that most Broadway theaters are dark on Mondays; many Tuesday and Sunday evening performances start an hour earlier, at 7 pm.
See + Do
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
New York City, New York 10128
Tel: 212 423 3500
The unique spiral building designed by Frank Lloyd Wrightreluctantly, since he thought New York was too overbuilttends to overshadow the collections within. Designed as a reverse version of a Babylonian temple, the Guggenheim completely changed museum-going, sending visitors to the top floor first and then allowing them to wind their way down along a corkscrew ramp. What they see as they go are special exhibitions, like the 2008 installation by Cai Guo-Qiang that saw cars suspended from the central atriuman exhibition described by Guggenheim director Thomas Krens as one of the "best artistic transformations of the Frank Lloyd Wright space we've ever seen." There are also rooms devoted to selections from the Guggenheim Foundation's eclectic collection, including sculptures by Brancusi and Arp and paintings by Picasso, Pissarro, de Kooning, Klee, and Jeff Koons. There are frequent traveling exhibitions, and since the museum has outposts in other cities such as Bilbao and Venice, pieces may circulate from other locations.
Open Saturdays through Wednesdays 10 am to 5:45 pm, Fridays 10 am to 7:45 pm (admission is by donation after 5:45 pm).
See + Do
Rockefeller Center, New York
New York City, New York 10020
Tel: 212 332 6868
John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s Art Deco masterpiece, Radio City Music Hall, was the first component of his eponymous Midtown development. The stage, with its signature 60-foot-tall proscenium arch, is still a venue for major concerts and events, as well as the totally campy Christmas Spectacular, featuring the high-kicking Rockettes. On a backstage tour, you can watch them rehearse, and admire the ornate ceilings, plush red seats, and the hydraulic system that's been in use since the 1930s (1260 Ave. of the Americas; 212-307-7171; www.radiocity.com). Even if you can't do a triple lutz, it's almost obligatory to take a spin around the skating rink, flanked by skyscrapers and open from October through early April (between W. 49th St. and W. 50th St., just off Fifth Ave.; 212-332-7654). The 70th-story Top of the Rock observation deck, originally opened by Rockefeller in 1933, reopened in November 2005. Its panoramic views of the city stretch from Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge to the Statue of Liberty (30 Rockefeller Center; 212-698-2000; tickets can be purchased at www.topoftherocknyc.com). The view is equally impressive five floors below, in the legendary Rainbow Room, but the glamorous Art Deco restaurant and bar, along with its famous dance floor are closed while the property owners search for a new operator (30 Rockefeller Plaza; 212-632-5100; www.rainbowroom.com).
See + Do
The New Museum, New York
New York City, New York 10002
Tel: 212 219 1222
Towering over the Bowery like a beacon of all things shiny and forward-thinking, the New Museum is one of the city's most talked-about landmarks. Designed by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa in conjunction with Gensler New York, the building consists of six rectangular boxes covered in aluminum mesh and stacked precariously on top of one another like some giant children's toy. If the art doesn't always live up to the lofty exterior (the rotating contemporary exhibitions can be uneven), the great bookstore and panoramic roof terrace (open only on weekends) make it worth the visit, as do the ongoing "Night School" public seminars encompassing everything from 1970s seminal film screenings to performances from rockers such as Andrew WK.
Open Wednesdays, noon to 6 pm; Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 10 pm; Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 6 pm. Admission free on Thursdays from 7 to 10 pm.
See + Do
Museum of Modern Art, New York
New York City, New York 10019
Tel: 212 708 9400
The world's preeminent museum for modern art reopened in November 2004 on its original site in a new building designed by architect Yoshio Taniguchi. The new structure extensively expanded gallery space and added a soaring light-filled atrium 110 feet high. The walls themselves were designed to seem as if they float in space, reinforcing the idea that the building itself is an attraction. (Curiously, the new design also seems to bring in a lot more ambient noise than before, so on crowded days the resulting roar can be very distracting.) Then of course there's the art: The masterpieces in the permanent collection are too numerous to mentionamong them Van Gogh's The Starry Night, Dalí's The Persistence of Memory, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignonand the collections of contemporary architecture, design, and photography could fill museums of their own. There's so much, in fact, that visitors are advised to keep their eyes peeled at all timesa very important piece, Matisse's Dance (I), hangs unceremoniously over the back stairwell, for example. If your schedule allows, avoid the steep $20 admission fee by attending "Free Fridays" from 4 pm to 8 pm (although it can get very crowded); the ever-present crowds dwindle a bit on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Inspired to take a piece of art home but don't fancy getting involved in a heist? The MoMa Design Store (there's also a Soho outpost) is a must-see, with everything from Frank Gehry stools to Banksy books to delicate metal light fixtures by Tord Boontje.
See + Do
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
New York City, New York 10028
Tel: 212 535 7710
Philippe de Montebello, who was the director of this epic museum for 31 years, once said that you can tour its highlights in an hour if you look selectively and walk very fast. Not to argue with the man, but we're not sure we believe it. You could spend weeks here admiring the collections. Among the highlights: a European painting gallery packed with masterpieces (Rembrandt, Giotto, Caravaggio, Raphael, Goya, El Greco, Turner, Vermeer, Degas, Renoir, and Cézanne are all represented); a trove of Egyptian art and artifacts, including the showstopping reconstructed Temple of Dendur; an impressive selection of Greek and Roman statuary; American paintings and sculpture from colonial times through the present day; and prehistoric artifacts from all over the globe. Our suggestion is to pick two or three small sections you'd like to see, and then return another day for a few more. Or browse some of the less-appreciated and less crowded—but no less stunning—collections, such as the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, or the smallish but exquisite galleries of Modern Art. The museum's Costume Institute displays portions of its extensive collection of clothing from around the world in themed exhibits twice a year. Also make time to sit and people-watch in the common areas, such as the space by the American Wing Café, overlooking a fountain—you'll rarely hear as many languages spoken in one place. And if you're looking to actually meet one of those people, let us suggest the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden (closed in winter), accessed by the southwest elevators on the first floor. It has amazing views of Central Park, hosts sculpture exhibits, and serves up simple drinks such as beer and wine. The Met is pretty much always buzzing, but the crowds thin on Friday and Saturday nights, when the museum stays open until 9:00 p.m.; members can get into some exhibits half an hour before they open to the public in the mornings.
Closed most Mondays.
See + Do
Not so long ago, this was New York City's version of the Wild Westa warren of cobblestone streets abutting the West Side Highway, home to butchers and alternative-lifestyle night owls. Very little of that world exists now that the beef carcasses have moved out and the megaclubs, boutiques, and restaurants have moved in, with the stiletto-and-Prada crowd tottering swiftly behind. Still-standing stalwarts include Hogs & Heifers, where the shtick of bullhorn-shouting female bartenders who berate patrons and cut off their neckties with scissors was born (859 Washington St.; 212-929-0655; www.hogsandheifers.com), and the first upscale joint to move to the hood, Keith McNally's always good, always packed bistro, Pastis (9 Ninth Ave.; 212-929-4844; www.pastisny.com). Others haven't been so luckythe classic all-night diner Florent, whose walls could no doubt tell some hair-raising stories, was shuttered as of mid-2008, pushed out by exorbitant rents. Lately places seem to open up more quickly than one can followthe Hotel Gansevoort and clubs like Aer already seem kind of, well, old. While the neighborhood is fun and the shopping can be stellar (or should that be Stella?), it's also seeing the inevitable backlashstop by during the week; weekends are elbow-to-elbow with way-too-drunk amateurs. Still, everyone can agree that the High Line elevated park and the hip (and affordable) Standard Hotel have gone a long way towards bringing the best of Meatpacking's past into its hip future.
See + Do
Ellis Island, New York
New York City, New York
Tel: 212 363 3200
Roughly 12 million immigrants passed through this island as they entered America from the late 1800s through the mid-1950s, sometimes at the rate of thousands a day. Their reception was not always welcoming, and their stories of hope and struggle are re-created today in the restored hall and museum. Walking through the Baggage Room and up to the Registry Room, visitors experience the path just as the immigrants did, tracing their fates through photographs, artifacts, and oral histories. Outside, the American Immigrant Wall of Honor is a testament to about 600,000 of those new Americans. Anyone who wants to research his or her ancestors can start a search at the American Family Immigration History Center, or on the island's website. This is history in a very palatable medium—trust us, you'll like it. To get there, board the Circle Line-Statue of Liberty ferry from Battery Park (at the southern tip of Manhattan). Tickets can be purchased at Statue Cruises. It's recommended that you arrive at the ferry two hours before your tour time, as boarding is on a first-come, first-serve basis—there are airport-style security measures—and the lines can get very long, especially during the summer.
See + Do
Central Park, New York
New York City without the park is a dismal thought. Created by visionary landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the mid-1800s, the 843-acre park stands as the calming yang to the city's fervent go-go yin, with ample nooks and open fields to allow for just about any pursuit. (Did you catch that guy playing violin on a unicycle?) Its boundaries run from 59th St. north to 110th St. and from Fifth Ave. on the east side to Central Park West. There are simply too many attractions to list: First-timers might pick a section and wander-go-lucky, or hunt down specific sights. A good option is to begin from the southeast corner at 59th St. and Fifth Ave., near the iconic, newly revamped Plaza Hotel, and head diagonally northwestyou'll likely pass the Zoo (sorrythe Wildlife Center); the Sheep Meadow, a 15-acre field that serves as a prime summer tanning and pickup spot; the area near the volleyball nets where a faithful set of characters roller-skate to old disco tunes every weekend; and then arrive at the Bethesda Terrace, where two sets of stately stairs lead down to the Angel of the Waters Fountain and its lake. The area is the most picturesque spot in the park. The Loeb Boathouse, on the east side near 72nd St., is where New Yorkers come to have brunch and watch boaters; if they're feeling romantic (and energetic), they might even rent a boat themselves (212-517-2233; www.thecentralparkboathouse.com). If you find yourself in the northern tier, stroll through the Conservatory Gardens on the east side at 105th St.. The cheapest thrill in all of Manhattan is the Carousel at 64th Street$1.50! The north end of the park, past the Reservoir, feels wilder and more remote, with trails that lead into the woods and past streamsyou won't even feel like you're in New York. Always, you'll find characters, musicians, and a spot to be left aloneheaven in the city.
PDT, New York
New York City, New York 10003
Tel: 212 614 0386
There seem to be more speakeasies in New York these days than there were during Prohibition. So it's nice to see PDTor "Please Don't Tell"have some fun with the secret-bar concept. Here's how it works: At 3 pm on the day you'd like to attend, call and make a reservation for a time slot anywhere between 6 pm and 3 am. Arrive on time and descend the stairs of Crif Dogs, the legendary late-night snack stop on St. Mark's. Instead of getting in line for a bacon-wrapped hot dog with sour cream, avocado, and cheese (there'll be time for that later!), find the vintage phone booth, pick up the receiver, and press the buzzer. Now look back to catch a glimpse of the confused looks of hot dogeating patrons as the wall opens up and swallows you into a dimly lit bar. Inside, patrons cozy up in leather banquettes beneath a collection of quirky taxidermy and old family portraits. The high-end cocktail listthe Old Fashioned is made with bacon-infused bourbon and maple syrupgoes well with the deep-fried hot dogs that can be ordered from next door. It's not terribly secret anymore, but PDT is perfect for experiencing firsthand some good, old-school (but not overly obnoxious) New York exclusivity.
Open Mondays through Thursdays 6 pm to 2 am, Fridays and Saturdays 6 pm to 4 am.
New York City gay nightlife is as much about the stereotyped scene as it is driven by novelty. For guys, at least, choices abound: East Village dive, or Hell's Kitchen young professional haunt? Chelsea jock, or Williamsburg hipster? Promoted night at a straight club, or a seven-day dose of gay?
The latest bars to draw and sustain a crowd are in Hell's Kitchen, a.k.a. Hellsea. At Industry, leather couches, faux-fur rugs, and mismatched settees set against resin screens and steel create a steampunky ode to the gay lounge. Think pop music, drag shows, and a busy any hour (355 W. 52nd St.). Bar-Tini Ultra Lounge heats up after 11 pm, particularly on weekends, with two chic whitewashed rooms and a tightly packed dance floor (642 Tenth Ave.). In Chelsea, Boxers draws otters, twinks, muscle bears, professionals, and men who like men who like sports, particularly at happy hour. Loud and capacious with cheap beer and mini pizzas, it's like any other sports bar you'd find in the 'burbs (37 W. 20th St.). Coming out of the closet in the post-frat wasteland of the East Side from the 40s to 14th Street, Vig 27 remains a popular beacon for the whole cocktail-lit family—gay, straight, girl, guy, bi, drag queen. The atmosphere is low-key, with cush seating, beaded curtain walls, and hot bartenders that know how to mix a drink (119 E. 27th St.).
Shamefully, NYC hasn't had a proper gay club since the Roxy shut down in 2007. The 11,000-square-foot XL Dance Bar (part of the Out NYC hotel, restaurant, and shopping gaygaplex) on far West 42nd Street is set to fill that void in summer 2011. But with delay rumors swirling, the best bets for thumping club nights are the slicked-up straight haunts.
Rockit Fridays lures Gay List lookers with an open vodka bar before 11 pm (Web site gives current location), while Sundays at Griffin in the Meatpacking District skew younger and fashion-forward (50 Gansevoort St.). The latter tapers off round midnight, at which point Vandam at Greenhouse is blowing up; it's a sweaty, tricked-out vestige of Manhattan's club kid heyday, with electro beats and hallucinogenic decor (50 Varick St.). To a lesser degree, with more deep Vs and chest hair, Spank melds Williamsburg hip with an infectious art-fag sensibility and super randy boys. What started as a queer art zine's series of release parties has morphed into more or less monthly dance fests.
For the ladies, choice is limited: two bars, or else the 40-plus gay-guy bars. In the West Village, petite Cubbyhole offers a chill choice for cocktails and chat amid a riot of overhead decorations (281 W. 12th St.), while Henrietta Hudson's trends busier, if rougher at times, with two small rooms and a dance floor with go-go cages (438 Hudson St.).
Of course, in the city that never sleeps (because everyone is out drinking), nightspots change quicker than Gaga's outfits. Pick up free bar rag Next Magazine for the most comprehensive and up-to-date listings, plus a handy tear-out map. Gayletter, an irreverent take on the week's more alternative offerings, is e-mailed every Tuesday.—Justin Ocean