Ramshackle Glam / Best Of NYC

I get a few emails every week from readers who are planning to visit NYC in the near future, and who are looking for some recs for places to shop, eat, and grab a drink.

Click through for my updated list of top NYC picks…and feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments! Would love to hear them.


Fat Cat NYC (live jazz and every game imaginable, from billiards to chess), SPiN (Susan Sarandon’s ping-pong bar; also offers good food at in-house restaurant Ducks), the Breslin (in the Ace Hotel; excellent pickle-back shots), Raines Law Room (speakeasy vibe and decadent cocktail list), The Diamond (a Brooklyn bar done exactly the way you want it to be), The Patriot Saloon (Kendrick’s rec; it’s majorly cheap and majorly dive-y), and The Frying Pan (beers…on a boat!).


Trattoria Casa Di Isacco (total hole-in-the-wall secret find), Menkui Tei ($8 ramen; my new favorite place in the world), Nobu (if you’ve never been, a visit to NYC is a good time to change that), 44 1/2 (for brunch) and 44 & X (for pre-theater dinner), Essex (very boozy, scene-y brunch), Minetta Tavern (go early, maybe sit at the bar, and definitely drink a martini), and Casellula (if you like cheese, there is no better restaurant in the entire city).

This walk (Midtown West), which includes free hotdogs and an excellent, affordable brunch spot.

This one (Lower East Side), which includes some of the best pizza in the city and a museum dedicated to the man who inadvertently bestowed upon me one of my favorite possessions.

And this one (Brooklyn), which includes neon drinks, board games, and indie jewelry. While you’re there, stop into Dear Fieldbinder for luxe basics that you can wear all year ’round.

Some must-do touristy-type things:

Spend an afternoon at the Museum of Natural History (stand under the whale), take a ferry ride around the island, eat a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli, window-shop on 5th Avenue (and for-real shop on Broadway below Bleecker), hit The Highline (followed by a sunset drink at the Rusty Knot), stop into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and eat a dirty-water dog and something from a Rafiqi Food Cart (they’re all over).


Delicious Eats:

Try Pastis for some fancy afternoon fries and cocktails – it’s a little (OK, a lot) frou, but it’s also very chic and located smack in the middle of Meatpacking, surrounded by great bars and upscale shops. For brunch, hit August: the baked eggs are spectacular, and there’s an adorable garden seating area out back (also love their beer menu). You might also want to try Cafeteria: it’s casual but very chic, and has insanely good mac ‘n’ cheese. For late night, go to Blue Ribbon for bone marrow, oysters, and champagne.

A couple more: if you don’t eat at Grimaldi’s (best pizza in the city, which is saying a lot) and Shake Shack (ditto for burgers), your trip will not be complete.

Local Music:

Here’s my translation of what Kendrick (who’s made the Grand Tour) has to say about it: Webster Hall is where well-known bands play before they graduate to stadiums, but it’s not the best space (sort of big and unfriendly). The Knitting Factory and Bowery Ballroom (Kendrick’s favorite places to play/see music) put on great shows (the sound and lighting are awesome), and you’re guaranteed to see an about-to-break (or broken) band. Mercury Lounge (my favorite) is juuuust below Bowery Ballroom in terms of who you’ll see playing; the bands are all talented but still sort of unpolished, which makes for a real communal, exciting experience.

Union Pool is a crappy little room that doesn’t fit a ton of people and has mediocre sound, but when a good band plays there it’s wild, and there’s an awesome bar outside and a photobooth. And Pianos has a good vibe, is located in a great area for going out afterwards. It’s a little bit hipster-angsty, but they have great burgers. And the truth is that the bands that are playing there aren’t there for the money; they’re there to play and to build an audience, so they’ll be happy to see you. If you want to talk to them afterwards…you can.

More good venues: Southpaw (Brooklyn), Union Hall (Brooklyn; there’s a bocce ball court!), Santos Party House.

Day Trip!

If you’re in town for a bit longer, you might want to check out the surrounding area. For a gorgeous day trip (only about an hour outside the city) with lots of fantastic antiquing, try Cold Spring.

P.S. That picture remains one of my favorites I’ve ever taken – I took it last spring, on a walk through the park with the dogs. Can’t wait to see it again in just a few more weeks!

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