So having lived in New York for many years, and now living in London, a lot of people ask me where they should go. Not the touristy places that any guide can tell you, but the places that those in the "know" go, to get the real NYC experience. Here is the list:
So food recommendations- some places are just very “New York.” Obviously lots of fine dining, but really to experience NYC here are some good places.
Second Avenue Deli is one of them- it even has its own Wikipedia page. You need to try the corn beef and Pastrami- think it goes for $15 USD or something. It was pretty dry by it self- but the trick is to ask for the sauce to put on it- I get the Russian Dressing and it becomes fabulous. They also give you dill pickes- (the sour and half sour version- go for the half sour), which I like very much.
For drinks- go to Angel’s share. ONLY in groups less than 4 (generally 2), and go early (8 or 9ish on a weekdays for actual seats)
finding it is hard- read the reviews
These are called “speakeasy” places- nice places to have drinks. Only get the $15 drinks on the first page- the best. Oh and bring cash. In fact it’s a good idea to always bring cash and not credit card.
Sakagura is another amazing place-A bit closer on 40s between 1st and 2nd?- if not then maybe worth a visit. Pricey though (they also serve food), so I’d recommend Angel’s share first. You can also eat in the restaurant that houses Angel’s share, since AS is inside a door of a restaurant.
There another million choices around NYC for good food. Zagat can give you a list, as can the Michelin guide- tons of those. Let me know what kind of food and we can discuss. NYC has good food. Serendipity is there for desserts if you want to go just to say you’ve been there- though long lines- usually you go and take your name then come back in an hour (go somewhere else to eat first).
Bon Chon. You must try Bon Chon and the Chicken Wings in Korean Town. Get the spicy or not, probably a mix of drumsticks and regular. Start with 10 sticks and go from there. I'd eat there (you MUST go early, that place fills up Very quickly). There are other stores now but the in Korea town is the best!
Transport and Sight Seeing:
Most people get around—walking! However usually subway is the next best thing. It’s very hard to master but at the end you should be ok. Just get a metro card (don’t throw it away) either for the week or pay as you go, the latter probably the better choice, though it depends on the person. Cabs are good for tourists- you only round to the nearest dollar. So if its $4.22 you say 5. If its 10 or more sometimes you give a bit more. Much cheaper than London.
Forget the Empire State- unless you really want to do that. For a good view (on a good day), go to the “top of the rock” That’s the Rockefeller Center, you go up, pay $21 or something, and then you get amazing views of the city. Empire is ok but its more a tourist trap, then again is Rockefeller, but whatever. Rockefeller is also where all the good shopping is- around 5th avenue, just walk up that toward the park. All the nice stores- on 59th st and 5th avenue (or around there) you get the famous ”apple store.” The glass and the store is worth seeing. Look up when you go up and down the elevator.
To see the Statue of Liberty you need to call and book in advance online. They sell out VERY early (months in advance), so probably not possible. You can though, just take the Staten Island Ferry, that goes from the bottom of Manhattan to Staten Island. It’s free, and it just goes past the Statue of Liberty, and then you sit in the terminal and take the next one back. You can book specific boat trips to the tower as well.
As mentioned 5th avenue has all the expensive designer things. There are also a lot of funky stores around NYC, down by the soho area, (that’s on broadway, below Prince street. Start around there and walk downwards on broadway for a lot of cool stores). There are others but probably not worth mentioning since its hit or miss.
For discount clothing I do like Century 21- not the real estate company, but the store. http://www.c21stores.com/ Terrible lines (queues), lots of shoving, and just an uncomfortable place- do not go weekends, and go early on weekdays. Wear comfortable shoes and don’t bring anything nice with you. Absolute tourist trap. But by far the best store to get nice things on the cheap. Zegna sunglasses for $280 USD? Yours for $50. Socks that go for $30 go for $5 here. Key is to get “value” items here like cashmere gloves maybe bags, and scarves, sunglasses and things you can wear forever. It’s AMAZING value, but only if you’re a good shopper who knows what they want and is willing to push and shove. There is one right by the World Trade Center- so make sure you plan to see that while you’re there.
Brooks Brothers clothing is made in China, and cheaper in the USA than it is in China. Don't ask me why, but a lot of things are cheaper in America. Even if its made in China!
You’ll probably want to plan a trip where you spend one day in midtown- one day in downtown WTC, statue of liberty, etc.