New York Treasures
A few of my newest favourite places in New York City…
Relish // 225 Wythe Ave (between 3rd St & 4th St) // Brooklyn
Best for: a magical weekend brunch. How can I describe this to you? Relish is a diner from 1952 — think stainless steel diner car with original detailing — which was relocated to Brooklyn, adored & polished & totally restored for two full years, before being turned into the Relish we know & love today. There’s a low counter with a line-up of bar stools, an outside garden full of roses & big blue umbrellas, great tunes (Bauhaus!) & good coffee. Bonus points if you get there by riding across the Brooklyn bridge on a perfect day on the back of a 1968 Triumph Bonneville…
A Salt & Battery // 112 Greenwich Ave (between 12th St & Jane St) // Manhattan
Best for: fantastic fish & chips, a selection of British soft drinks, & to top it all off, the pièce de résistance — a magnificent fried Mars Bar. The people who work here are actually British, accents & all, so if you’re from somewhere in the realms of the Commonwealth & are feeling a bit homesick, it’s a good place to go. For me it felt like I was in an episode of Eastenders which was just as good. It is truly delicious, just as good as what I’m used to in New Zealand, which sets a pretty high bar. But beware, A Salt & Battery is not the cheap, easy fare you’re expecting — my beau & I ran up a total of $36US for two pieces of fish, one scoop of chips, a pie & two deep-fried Mars Bars. But hey. When you want fish & chips, you want fish & chips. There’s no point in arguing. Just pull out your wallet & take it like a man.
Mama’s Food Shop // 200 E 3rd St (between Avenue A & Avenue B) // Manhattan
Best for: sating those rare cravings for a home-cooked meal. I find that I don’t often want that, but when I do, I better get it. Mama’s is amazing — the roast chicken is tender & packed with flavour, the mashed potatoes & gravy are fantastic, the green vegetables are crisp & the servings are enormous. It’s cheap, too — two huge pieces of roast chicken with a side is only $11 — & if you can finish it, I’ll be amazed. Good times.
Cafecito // 185 Avenue C (between 11th St & 12th St) // Manhattan
Best for: bollos, sweet midnight French toast, & a relaxed start to the weekend. (I say relaxed because they don’t open until 11am, so you hyper-achievers will have to go elsewhere!) They do fantastic sandwiches too, with this insane garlic mayonnaise that awes me every time. Note: they don’t take credit cards, but there is an ATM either side of the restaurant, so it’s certainly not the end of the world.
MUD // 307 E. 9th Street (between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave) // Manhattan
Best for: huge mugs of coffee, great atmosphere, good music & delicious food. I almost always get the Mudman Panini & a massive soy mocha, it’s good for what ails you. The space is skinny but they have an outdoor area at the back which you should try to get seated in if you can. It’s a fantastic place to gather strength in the morning or early afternoon before an all-day shopping spree!
Crif Dogs // 113 Saint Marks Pl // Manhattan
Best for: gourmet hot dogs. (Yes, they exist!) My favourite is the Chihuahua — a bacon-wrapped hot dog with avocado, sour cream & salsa (the salsa is optional but it is some of the best I have ever tasted). They are delicious & evil all at the same time, please don’t eat there more than once a week at the very most. Crif Dogs is a cute little unassuming place down a short flight of stairs, but it holds a secret. Yes. The phone-box on the left is the entrance to PDT, a hidden speakeasy next door. You’re welcome.
Black Iron Burger Shop // 540 East 5th Street (between Avenue A & Avenue B) // Manhattan
Best for: fantastic burgers with horseradish cheese, serious milkshakes & good tunes (Elvis Presley mixed with New Order mixed with Chuck Berry, anyone?). The Dish & I had a good time here, sitting up high at a table on the side, munching away delightedly. It’s small & dark, they show sports on the television & sometimes the waitress is a bit slow & inattentive (some would say “laid-back”), but it’s worth it, because damn do they do a good burger.
Cadillac’s Castle // 333 E 9th St (between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave) // Manhattan
Best for: good condition vintage designer clothing that won’t break the bank. Cadillac’s is a combination of gently-worn & brand spanking new clothing, all expertly chosen & extremely tempting. By the way, when I say labels, I mean labels. Missoni, DVF, Prada, Balenciaga — you name it, they have it. Did I mention the prices are incredible?! You should definitely check this place out. P.S. Cadillac — the shop dog — is as much of a sweetheart as the owner.
Fabulous Fanny’s // 335 E 9th St (between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave) // Manhattan
Best for: specs that stand out. Prove Dorothy Parker (she of “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses” fame) wrong with a miraculous pair of blinkers that will have the mens (or womens) a-runnin’. Towards you. Not away from you. I LOVE THIS STORE. The staff are so friendly & the selection is truly mind-boggling. They’ll help you find a way to channel your inner Elton John or Woody Allen tout de suite. The frames are very reasonably-priced & they’ll even direct you to a place in Chinatown to get your prescription filled in under an hour. RAD.
Butter Lane // 123 E 7th St (between 1st Ave & Avenue A) // Manhattan
Best for: pick-&-mix cupcakes on the go. When my friend & I walked in, we stared at the blackboard, confused, but here’s how it works: you pick the kind of cake you want, & then the kind of frosting. They’ll frost your cupcake (oh, you) on the spot. So you can be as ridiculous (banana cake with espresso frosting?) or tasteful (chocolate cake with raspberry frosting?) with your flavour combinations as you like. They’re no Sugar Sweet Sunshine (oh, my love), but if you’re in the East Village & craving a sugar fix, hit them up. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Ninth Street Espresso // 700 E 9th St (between Avenue C & Avenue D) OR 341 E 10th St (between Avenue A & Avenue B) // Manhattan (+ other locations)
Best for: a coffee-drenched religious experience. The space is clean & minimal with a beautiful, shiny tin roof, & while the food selection is sparse, the coffee comes in enormous cups & is beyond description. I have never had a better cup of coffee & I have dated multiple coffee snobs so I know what I’m talking about. It is perfect every time, they have free wifi & sometimes you’ll see me sitting inside tapping away on my MacBook. Holla.
The Standard Grill // 848 Washington St (between Little W 12th St & 13th St) // Manhattan
Best for: a fabulous meal in a comfortable but opulent setting. I went along to the friends & family tastings before the restaurant opened officially, & have not yet had the opportunity to go back, but in the three short hours I spent there (!), it quickly established itself as one of my favourite places in New York City. The staff are friendly & while the décor is extremely well thought-out & implemented, the place still has a relaxed feel. We sat in a cozy curved booth & I would recommend that over a table any day. My favourite things on the menu are the chicken liver pâté, million dollar roast chicken, mojitos & the warm chocolate brownie with toasted marshmallows. Oh boy.
Obscura Antiques // 280 E 10th St (between 1st Ave & Avenue A) // Manhattan
Best for: all things creepy & bizarre. Don’t be put off by the fact that they have “antiques” in the name — though this would normally signify an expensive selection, somehow Obscura manages to be sanely-priced. For example, my friend Tim Kern bought half a taxidermied bear here for $650… & they’re very sweet in there. They gave me an old red hardcover copy of Dracula with a bite missing from the spine (!!!) just because they liked the cut of my jib. It’s a great place to go if you love digging through an assortment of taxidermy, strange bottles, tools, hats & madness.
Galleria Nail Salon // 520 E 11th St (between Avenue A & Avenue B) // Manhattan
Best for: the world’s most relaxing & simultaneously OCD mani/pedi. Usually when you go to get your nails done, it doesn’t matter what you pay, you always feel a degree of going-through-the-motions, you always wish they would spend more time massaging your feet & that the polish was just a little bit more meticulously-applied. Well, at Galleria, they don’t rush anything. (Understatement: my standard mani/pedi took three hours here.) They put slices of lemon, drops of lavender oil & crystals in the foot-bath, play The Beatles & Nina Simone, & give you delicious green tea with brown rice (I love it & usually green tea is not my thing) as well as Hershey’s Kisses. Too good. Devote your afternoon & be amazed.