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What Should I Do In New York?

The one where we all talk about cool stuff to see and do in NYC.

I mean, sure, you COULD go sailing
I mean, sure, you COULD go sailing

If you've been to New York, you have a favorite thing.  If you live in New York, you have a whole bunch of favorite things. Let's use this thread to collect all our favorite things for those lucky folks that are going to be in town for the Arsenal/ NYRB game on Saturday, shall we?  Some of these are scraped from the week's other NY threads, but I figure having them all in one place would be helpful. Go!


Arsenal are doing a thing on Friday.  The day starts at Grand Central Terminal, and features both the FA Cup and Arsenal players, then at 6PM the party moves to the East Village (East Village part is 21+, GCT stuff is all ages).

Now, what about non-Arsenal stuff?


Pretty much any kind of food you want, you can get in NYC.  I'm no cuisine expert - I mostly eat at brewpubs and Mexican food places - but there's a couple places I do like in NY that are worth checking out.

Pok Pok - 137 Rivington (between Norfolk and Suffolk), Lower East Side. Also in Brooklyn (117 Columbia St).  Pok Pok is a Portland Thai place that opened in NY a while back; "Thai place", however, doesn't do it justice, as that phrase calls to mind piles of Pad Thai or other noodle dishes, or yellow curry.  Pok Pok does amazing Phat Thai - that's the primary dish available on the LES - but their full menu will make you rethink what you think Thai food is.

Roti Roll - 994 Amsterdam Ave (between 108th st & Cathedral Pkwy), Upper West Side.  I must confess to not having actually been here; it was very highly recommended to me by someone I met right before we went to NY in May, and we never got up to the UWS.  I love the idea, though - basically Indian food rolled in roti bread (naan, but thinner).  If you're anywhere near Columbia University, give it a shot and let me know if I should regret not going there.

Gotham Cafe - 2nd Ave at 68th St, Upper East Side.  Officially "just" a coffee shop, but they do good bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and other casual options.

Soup Dumplings - Everyone has a favorite place to get them, but when you're in New York, you gotta go to a Chinese place that serves soup dumplings.  They are what they sound like - dumplings, filled with soup.  Joe's Shanghai is probably the most famous place to get them, but they're available in tons of places - Nice Green Bo, Shanghai Deluxe, and pretty much any other Chinese restaurant with "Shanghai" in the name will have them.

Pizza - There are a bazillion places to get a slice of walkin' around pizza.  You can't really go wrong with any of them. Slap down a couple bucks, and before long you have a big foldable slice of cheesy goodness. Not gourmet, but cheap and easy.


This is where I might lose you a bit, because you see, I love dive bars the mostest.  There's nothing wrong with a nice bar, sure; I won't turn my back on a place just because it looks like they clean it more than weekly.  But mostly, I want a dark, comfortable place with no bullshit and no pretensions.  So, given that, I offer up my favorite dive bar in the entire world:

Manitoba's - 99 ave B (at 7th).  Owned by Handsome Dick Manitoba, of the Dictators, this is everything a New York punk rock dive should be. Strong drinks? Check. Awesome, take-no-BS staff?  Check. Killer jukebox? Check. Tons of old photos of NYC punks on the wall? Check.  I could live here.

Other options:

Mona's - 224 Ave B (at 14th).  A few blocks up Ave B sits Mona's.  Not as divey as Manitoba's, it's probably the closest thing the Lower East Side has to a neighborhood bar; again, it has no pretensions to be anything it's not, it's just a comfortable place to sit with some friends and drink as much or as little as you want.

Okay, enough of that downscale stuff.  What else is there?

Draught 55 - 245 E 55th (between 3rd and 2nd).  This place has 60-odd beers (40ish on tap and the rest in bottles/cans) and pretty good food, and TV's for game-watchin'.  I felt underdressed when we walked in wearing soccer gear, but that didn't stop us and nobody really seemed to care, so.

Heartland Brewery - Multiple locations. Good beer, decent looking food - we didn't eat there, but they appear to have all your typical brewpub standards.  Union Square offers great people watching.


There are a million things to do in NYC.  Museums, galleries, just wandering around looking at stuff you've seen or read about - you could spend a month and not see everything you want.  I won't really offer many specifics, but I will say this: anything popular you want to see will be crowded.  And not like "oh, there's a few people here this kinda sucks" crowded, but HOLY JEBUS THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE HERE WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE HERE I CAN'T HANDLE THIS MANY PEOPLE crowded.  And it'll be hot. And sweltery.  So if you want to go to the Empire State Building, Top Of The Rock, or any other Big Popular Thing, be prepared to mostly be sweaty and annoyed.

And under no circumstances spend any time in Times Square.  If you do, do not eat or drink there or it'll cost you many multiples of what it costs for the same meal elsewhere in the city.

The two things I will unreservedly recommend, though, as a guy who likes well designed public spaces:

1. The High Line. The city took a disused elevated railway on the West Side and turned it into a park.  It's a fantastic use of space - it feels like you're not in Manhattan, you're up off the street and it's...not quiet, but less loud than being down on street level. There are benches where you can sit and there are restaurants/food carts; it's a good way to spend a couple hours recharging your batteries.

2. Grand Central Terminal. Seriously, just go there, grab a spot on the rail near the Apple Store, and take it in.  The building itself, the constant swirl of people, the energy - it's an amazing place to just stand and experience for 30 minutes.

So, now it's your turn. Have you been to New York? Are you from there?  What are your "can't miss" things?