I visit New York about three times a year, usually alone, on business. I’m going back to speak at the New York Times Travel Show and will report on new neighborhoods and “finds” soon. On a recently trip with my twenty-two-year-old daughter we explored new neighborhoods recommended by her friends who live in the Big Apple.
We discovered that there’s so much more to New York than Midtown and the bright lights of Broadway.
This trip we chose to sleep, eat, drink, shop and meander through the neighborhoods of Soho, Noho, the Village and Tribeca.
Here are some of our “finds.”
Above the crowds, walk over the streets and enjoy a path of green, on the new Highline. Located on the north side of Greenwich Village, where elevated trains used to run, it is now a linear green way high above the city streets. Starting in the Meat Packing District, it extends into Chelsea and along the Hudson River.
Looking for an affordable, safe, clean hotel in New York in a walking neighborhood? Try the Hilton Garden Inn on the border of Soho and Tribeca, with a subway stop on the corner.
Best breakfasts: Bubby’s at 120 Hudson Street, also well known for their homemade pies and the huge servings.
A great little neighborhood place with the best crepes, omelets and hot chocolate is in the antique-filled Cosmopolitan Café. We really liked this low key “find.” Stop in for an old fashioned soda or ice cream from the soda fountain. There are two Cosmopolitan Cafes, one on W. Broadway and the more atmospheric, European cafe around the corner next to the hotel at 125 Chambers Street.
Best affordable, secret of the locals, lunch spot while shopping in Soho is at Kelley and Ping, an Asian Grocery and Noodle Shop at 127 Greene Street between Prince and Houston. Try the Malaysian curried noodles, green papaya salad or create your own Vietnamese Pho with shrimp, chicken or fresh veggies.
Best Tapas restaurant for Happy Hour or dinner, with live music, dancing and Flamenco dancers: Flor de Sol, at 361 Greenwich Street.
For a young crowd and the most extensive wine menu to accompany innovative and affordable pizza: Enoteca Otto at One Fifth Avenue, a stone’s throw from the arches of Washington Square.
Best neighborhood, romantic Italian Restaurant; In Vino Wine Bar with one of the largest collections of Italian Wines in New York. Located at 215 E 4th Street in the East Village.
One night we stumbled upon Mekong, a Thai, Vietnamese Restaurant and Bar at the corner of 6th Ave., one block below Houston Street. The curries, pho and noodles were outstanding.
Authentic Cantonese Restaurant on Mott Street in Chinatown, recommended by regular customers:
Coming from San Francisco, we avoid American-style Chinese food which is usually lousy and not authentic. A friendly Asian waiter at breakfast recommended Hop Kee, a joint where his family eats twice a week, so we headed to Mott Street in Chinatown to check it out. After wandering through Confucian-style gates and through a warren of Asian markets and shops, we came to a neon light and flight of steps leading into basement rooms packed with Asian families. Forget the swanky décor of uptown popular restaurants, this joint is clean but simple. You’ll receive two plastic menus, but you’ll want to order off the small laminated page “today’s specials,” with the real deal Cantonese specialties, which haven’t changed for years. Families were chowing down platters of crab, the fat, juicy steamed mussels in black bean sauce and plump shrimp in walnut sauce at nearby tables. We ordered lemon chicken, sauteed green beans, noodles and walnut shrimp and wouldn’t let the waiter take away the plate until we’d picked up every morsel and dragged it through the sauce with our chopsticks. Hop Kee doesn’t have a liquor license, but they’re happy to offer you an opener if you bring your own beer or wine.
Best streets for shopping:
In Soho; Prince, Spring and West Broadway. In Noho (North of Houston); St. Mark’s Place. Although you can find chic shoes all over Manhattan, I’ve found great fashion and deals in the numerous shops 8th Street between Lafayette and West Broadway.
Of course, the best part of the trip was exploring New York with my daughter!