A May 2005 trip
to New York by quirine
Quote: I live in Brooklyn, and work in Manhattan. Of course, I've picked up on a few secret spots that the guidebooks might not yet have written about. This is a living journal, so I will add to it as my experiences grow.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 4, 2005
196 Elizabeth St
New York, New York 10012
32 Spring St
New York, New York 10012
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 5, 2005
375 Third Avenue
New York, New York 10016
They serve coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, teas, sodas (imported ones, of course), and even beer. You can get a Pabst Blue Ribbon for next to nothing, as well as Anchor Steam. The prices are dirt-cheap, and I almost feel guilty for paying a mere $1.50 for a cafe americain that I pay over 2 bucks for at Starbucks. Not only are the beans not burned (as they are at Starbucks), but you don't have to stand in a crowd of tourists ordering their gallon-sized coffee/milkshake.
They offer a few sandwiches, ham-and-cheese and the like, but the real draw are the pastries. For less than 2 bucks you can buy a croissant delivered by one of the best bakers in the city. BALTHAZAR!!! Don't waste your time in the pretentious French bakery when you can eat them here at a reasonable price and with some friendly company from the diverse locals.
The decor is mostly 1960s, with funky, yet understated wallpaper, fake brass candles/lights on the wall, and a beautiful antique mirror on the wall. The bar is imported from Germany and the floors are secondhand floor planks that have been trodden upon for many, many years. I love that this cafe is tiny and cozy and allows you the comforts of home (there are books on the wall for you to read) with the luxuries of a French bakery.
You won't be disappointed with this little to-go shop with the aspirations of a sit-down cafe.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 7, 2005
Eldridge, between Delancey and Broome
New York, New York
Gradisca is a gem! I found this place with my friends one night, and we had a wonderful time. The chef is an Italian grandmother who hails from Bologna, Italy. You walk in, and you immediately feel the coziness of the wood, bricks, candles, and the light chatter of other diners.
We ordered a carafe of red wine and an antipasto dish with chunks of mozzerella and parm, various meats and olives all resting on a bed of mesclun salad. With the bread we received, came a little pot of tomato sauce, fresh pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. All this really whetted our appetite for what was about to come.
We all orderd various entrees so we could share. We ordered the lasagna Bolognese, the carbonara, the veal cutlet with proscuitto and parm, and the grilled steak on mesclun with Parm shavings and balsamic vinegar reduction. The lasagna was dense and filled with a creamy bechamel sauce. The outside was crispy and topped with crispy parm wafer. The result was a completely flavorful, decadent square of pasta. The carbonara was a very reasonable portion (which means I totally was able to finish it without carb-food-coma worries) and barely needed any Parm to add flavor to the light, creamy pasta with bits of perfectly cooked bacon. I'm not into veal, but I did try a bite, and it was amazing how good it was. The combination of breaded veal, prosciutto, and Parm was sublime. Finally, the steak was cooked perfectly, with just enough pink in the middle. The vinegar reduction was surprisingly sweet, but add the steak, cheese, and lettuce, and you'll understand their reasoning behind putting the ingredients together.
The prices are New York for sure--15 bucks for appetizers and 20 bucks for entrees--but if you love true Italian food (not American-Italian ricotta filled pastas), this is the place to try out. It's heavy but not overly filling because the portion size is just right. In fact, one of us still had room for the bread pudding and a cup of coffee. Finally, I noticed on the website that you can get a two course meal for 30 bucks if you go in for a pre-theatre dinner. Not a bad deal at all.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 10, 2006
126 W 13th St
New York, New York
Verlaine rates at the hipness level of the nearby Rivington Hotel and other martini bars in the city, but the snootiness is nonexistent and the drink prices are just right. The design is minimalist, with a standard sleek bar and soft lighting in cubic shades. Not too long ago, I was able to reserve the front section of the restaurant for a party I was hosting. The couch is red velvet and shaped like a horseshoe wrapped around a coffee table. Next to this area was an L-shaped couch, also with a coffee table. We had plenty of room to sit and eat or walk around and mingle. I had such a good time!
The bar runs straight back into the restaurant area, where there are modern, yet cozy tables for dining. The food on the menu is perfect for when you're out partying, mainly because there are great shareable Asian appetizers, like satay and curry puffs. Main courses, like the black bean salmon with rice, are easy to share as well, keeping bellies filled while you're sipping on one of their delicious specialty drinks. The vibe is modern, chic but unpretentious, and the REALLY special reason why everyone loves this place is that the happy hour that lasts until 10pm. Their $4 lychee martinis, beer ,and wine specials are all under 5 bucks and are a great way to enjoy going out at a chic place without blowing a lot of cash.
The more expensive drinks can be worth it, though, with drinks that combine kumquats, sake, champagne, and crushed fresh fruit. Delish! I fully recommend starting a bar-hopping venture at Paladar around the corner and at 7pm moving over to Verlaine to continue the happy hour until 10pm. Paladar is a Latin restaurant that offers fruity half-price drinks during their happy hour (read my review). Have fun!!!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 17, 2006
110 Rivington Street
New York, New York 10002
Restaurant | "Loreley"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 8, 2006
7 Rivington Street
New York, New York 10002
My friend mentioned Paladar because of the affordable and delicious Mojitos, apparently a favorite at this bar. We walked up and noticed a cozy little window seat with a table, a long row of tables usually reserved for diners and a wooden bar that wraps around the front. We sat at the bar and enjoyed blue and white corn tortilla chips with white and blue sauces. Combine with a fruity drink at half price and who could ask for more? Mojo y Mas (their happy hour) is everyday between 5 and 7pm and on weekends the happy hour begins at noon. The drinks include: Champagne with Passion Fruit, Mango or Guava juice, standard margaritas, mojitos, El Vampiro (hibiscus flower juice margarita with cayenne pepper, and many more Latin-inspired fruity drinks. Surprisingly, Paladar also has an extensive international beer collection for those who shun the sweet drinks.
The decor is, at best, completely random. Items behind the bar look like somebody got grandma's re-gifted knick knacks. Everything else was furnished courtesy of the dollar store. Still the chef, Aaron Sanchez, is noted for his cuisine which is straight from "El Barrio". The dishes include a variety of ingredients from Latin culture such as plantains, chorizo, chipotle, tomatillos, avocados, mango, coconut, chiles, and yucca. Entrees range from $16-18 but you can also grab some appetizers like empanadas, plantains, calamari, and steamed mussels in Tequila sauce for less than $10.
The bar area is small so go here with a small group for drinks. The dining area is quite large, so you can bring a large crowd for dinner and drinks.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 8, 2006
161 Ludlow St.
New York, New York 10002
Otto Restaurant Enoteca Pizzeria
1 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10003
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 27, 2006
34 East 52nd Street
New York, New York 10022
I ordered the lunchbox and got more than I expected. Served from noon until 3pm, you can order chicken or salmon teriyaki, or tofu steak. Also in the lunchbox you'll receive a California roll, rock shrimp kakiage (deep fried), rice, and miso soup or salad. They have other options for lunch as well, and they'll all fill up your belly until dinnertime. The lunchbox was a typical Japanese rectangle tray with each portion in a separate section. The presentation was gorgeous and the food was spectacular. I keep trying to find excuses to go back there with other co-workers!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 27, 2006
280 Park Ave.
New York, New York
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 25, 2006
18 East 41st Street
New York, New York 10017
Attraction | "Shopping Loehmann's"
The basement carries men's apparel and accessories. It can be hit-or-miss, but we've found clothes from DKNY, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Samsonite, Ben Sherman, and even D&G and Gaultier. You can find great men's gifts, like grooming kits from Nautica and a plethora of ties, socks, belts, and underwear. All of it is cheaper than it would be at a regular department store.
The first floor is all women's accessories and shoes. Bags are everywhere, and behind the glass cases, you can find Prada, Fendi, and other high-end purses at deep discount prices. Shoes range from Pumas to Christian Lacroix, and you can often find a good deal on clearance items. Also on this floor is trendy jewelry, scarves and hats, and luxury luggage.
Hint: Always go to the back of each section and look for the red stickers. These are clearance items that often have even more of a markdown on sale days.
Floor 2 carries petite, junior, and women’s clothes, such as French Connection, BCBG, Seven, etc. The dressing room on this floor has personal stalls for those who have stage fright.
Floor 3 is usually dominated by dresses for all occasions, including Betsy Johnson, DKNY, BGBG, and many other brands. In the back, they carry sleepwear and lingerie. Also on this floor you'll find swimwear in the summer and coats in the winter. Fitting rooms are public, so be prepared to show some cottage cheese to the masses.
The top floor, also known as "the back room," carries the best lines for women in the store: Gaultier, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Versace, Chloe, CK, Donna Karan, etc. This is the place to find really nice expensive clothing that is finally somewhat affordable.
I highly recommend signing up for the Loehmann's card online and finding out when the biggest sale days are. Often you'll get coupons in the mail where you can save 20% on top of the clearance prices (be prepared to dig for treasure on this rack). Also, 4 days before and after your birthday, you get a 15% discount off of your total purchase. The nice thing about Loehmann's is that even on the craziest day, it's still not at nuts as Century 21!
Loehmann's is TJ Maxx on steroids. You have to go just once to experience it!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 24, 2005
101 Seventh Ave
New York, New York 10011
+1 212 352 0856
Attraction | "Shopping Union Square"
Head west and notice Shoemania, carrying all the hippest sneakers (Puma, Adidas, Merrell, etc.) and also comfort shoes (Dansk, Birkenstock, etc.)
Next door you'll see the new and happening Whole Foods. If you're just visiting, go straight to the back and pick up some prepared food. You can eat upstairs or outside.
The next big store/complex is DSW and Filene's Basement (ironically upstairs). DSW is New York's biggest discount shoe store. They carry something for everyone! Along the wall you can find Lacroix, Marc Jacobs, and more. For bigger bargains, go directly to the back racks. I found some awesome Cole Haan/Nike boots for my boyfriend at half the price.
Filene's can be hit-or-miss, but it's definitely worth the treasure hunt. I got my brother some really cool French Connection Jeans half off the retail price. Women have an entire floor to themselves and carry various name brands. The top floor has house wares and luggage. The luggage is really worth it since they are top name brands at a much better deal, especially when on clearance.
Starting up north, you'll see the Diesel store (smaller than the flagship up on 60th). Jeans here are probably the coolest around (for guys; I can't fit my butt into the female jeans); however, they can run up to $250 a pair. Run downstairs to see if you can find some on sale. (Always check Filene's first, since they sometimes have Diesel jeans on sale).
The next store, Mexx, is originally a popular Belgian store that came over to the states not too long ago. It's had nominal success and carries some decent stuff. Since it's not all over the US quite yet, you can at least buy something that no one will be wearing in your town.
Take a left on 16th Street over to Fifth Avenue. There you'll see Anthropologie, a store under the same company as Urban Outfitters. It carries more mature clothes, but they're still very whimsical and beautiful. Most clothes are reminiscent of older eras. This season, I'm seeing a lot of Victorian-looking clothes with high necklines, poufy shoulders, lace, and velvet. If you like interesting clothes and unusual cuts and fabrics, you'll enjoy shopping here. They also carry house wares and linens. Downstairs is where all the sales racks are kept.
Across the street is Esprit, back from Europe with a sizable flagship store. They have a teen line called EDC that has younger, trendier clothes. Esprit for Women is professional, with a hint of glamour. They introduce some more interesting clothes than Club Monaco, GAP, and Banana, and are sold at a reasonable price.
Also on Fifth Avenue, you'll find Kenneth Cole, Fossil, and Daffy's. Daffy's is a New York-exclusive discount store that carries a lot of strange European-brand clothing. It's a bit of a nightmare to shop there, but once in a while, you come across some amazing Italian clothes at a really low price. Dig around if you have time.
Also by Union Square, on Broadway and north of 16th, is the sports store Paragon. This store is very old-school New York (you'll see what I mean when you walk in). You can find polo and Lacoste clothing here, as well as bathing suits, skater shorts, and sneakers downstairs. It's basically a bit higher-end than the Sports Authority.
Finally, the ABC home and carpet store takes over the rest of the block. I have a full description of this store in my Brooklyn entry. It's a few stories of absolute luxury. You can't miss walking through this overpriced, yet beautiful, store.
On the north side of Union Square you'll find a Petsmart and a fairly large Barnes and Noble. Finally, in the center of it all is an organic market that runs all week long during the day. You can find fresh vegetables, wool yarn, flowers, fresh bread, fresh cheese, fresh game, etc. In the winter, the stands all have apples and warm apple cider.
*Please note that Mexx and Esprit is slated to move to SoHo. Check the websites for latest information.
Union Square and Greenmarket
14th to 17th streets
New York, New York 10011
Brooklyn, New York