New York City is such a big, brash, gutsy city; you can’t help but get caught up in the energy and excitement of the place. Often when I come back off a trip I feel like a crash landing for a few days but New York has re - invigorated me. I think it’s the “Nothing’s impossible” attitude of the place; I’ve absorbed the city mantra and I’m raring to go.
Like any major city it is an amalgamation of many districts, each with its own culture and character. Different immigrant groups arriving in the Big Apple have stamped their identity on the districts they moved into; the Jewish deli’s and Irish bars of the lower East side, the fantastic grocery shops and restaurants in China town and the smell of fresh baked pizza’s wafting out of the family style trattoria’s of Little Italy. I love to see New Yorkers share a picnic in Central Park and there are some landmark architectural treats; the Guggenheim, the Chrysler building and welcoming you to the city itself, The Statue of Liberty.
My favourite districts are the East and West villages and Soho. I can spend hours browsing in the book shops, recuperating from museum and gallery visits in little cafes and hitting the vintage clothes shops is my passion! The thing in such a vast and diverse city with so much to offer is to be selective. If your trip is only a couple of days you want to hit the right spots. Here, I’ve selected my guide to the best places to food shop, grab a spot of lunch, dine out in the evening and of course have a cocktail. Mine’s a Manhattan – what else!
The Fatty Crab
A small and cosy Malaysian restaurant serving incredible food with Bohemian interiors of red walls, original NY antique tiled ceilings and low lighting. The music is quite loud - churning out R&B and soul so its the perfect place to
start your big night in the city! If you're looking for somewhere low key then this isn't the place for you. I asked the host to choose my dishes - he turned out to be from Dublin. Expect to pay about $70 per head including Asian beer and plenty of wine.
643 Hudson St,
Tel:212.352.3590 – no bookings taken
If you like Seinfield and appreciate a good NYC corned beef sandwich that this place is a MUST! This NY landmark is perhaps the most famous deli in the city. Here they make the best and biggest corned beef sandwiches in town. Inside the vast space, the walls are hidden behind pictures of the famous actors, and baseball greats that have eaten here. Want more? Two doors down is another much smaller but equally renowned Jewish deli called ‘Russ and daughters’ where I like to wander in for a look at its historical interior. Don;t miss their cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel.)
Remember the Sex and the City moment with Carrie and Miranda eating cupcakes? This is the spot.
401 Blecker Street (Chelsea area),
One of the best Italian delis that I have ever had the good fortune to stumble across (and I live in Italy!). They have a wide and varied selection of cured meats and cheeses. A must experience if you are in the Little Italy area.
200 Grand St (between Mott St & Mulberry St)
A fantastic Italian restaurant - amazing food, beautiful surroundings and excellent service.
194 Elizabeth St. (btw. Spring St. and Prince St.)
When I am in NYC I always try and find the best place for a great burger. This is possibly the best I have ever had! The burger was a blend of sirloin and brisket, topped with house-made pickles and artisan cheddar and the bun was made in-house. It all happens in ornate but laid back surroundings and the obligatory All-American service. Book ahead as its a hot spot!
54 Carmine Street at Bedford Street
El Quinto Pino
This brilliant Spanish tapas bar was recommended to me by Colman Andrews the gastro king of NYC and former editor of Saveur magazine. It has an exhaustive tapas menu that runs until 1am making it a perfect after hours haunt for aperitifs or full on Iberian spread. Try the Five tender shrimp float in a pungent garlic sauce that’s infiltrated with ginger, its delicious!
401W and 24th St. on 9th Ave
One of the best cocktails bars in NYC, located in the village it has a warm and friendly atmosphere. The interior is what I would describe as ‘Lounge’ style with wooden panelling, velvet drapes, a beautiful mahogany cured bar and, the crowning touch, Sinatra crooning in the background. There are also some small rooms for a more intimate cocktail and a great appetizer menu. Try the lemoncello Lemon Drop or the Arbitrator was another favourite of mine. 332 Lafayette St., (between Houston and Blecker)
Brunch at The Blue Note
The most famous jazz club in the city. Take the Sunday Brunch and enjoy good food and a cocktail while you listen to the best jazz in the country. But book well in advance as its a very popular thing to do with New Yorkers. www.bluenote.net
PICNIC IN CENTRAL PARK
This is an experience worth going out of your way for Go to Murrays Cheese Store for American artisan cheeses, breads, cured meats, chutney, chocolates and then out the door turn left and then take the next right on to Jones Street (no. 23) and about half down the street on the left handside is a tiny but wonderful wine store selling called ‘Wines By’– pick up a bottle (and a corkscrew!). Then hop in a taxi and ask him to bring you to where else but Central Park! (Murrays also do picnic baskets in the summer)
254 Blecker St, between 6th and 7th Ave