12 May 2007

How to have my kind of Manhattan weekend

"My boyfriend and I are taking a long weekend to New York City in early June. You seem to know the lay of that land pretty well -- do you have any recommendations for things to do, places to visit, restaurants to eat at, bars to drink at, etc.? Non-touristy things? Neither of us have spent much time there, but we've already done the Empire State Building, Natural Museum of History, FAO Schwartz thing. We want to do something a bit more local. Budget isn't a huge issue, because we're staying at a friend's place (she'll be out of town) and this will be our first vacation in two years. We've agreed to allow ourselves to indulge."

Favorite. Question. EVER.

I should preface my recommendations, however, by telling you - both D and the rest of you - I am by no means an expert on all things or any things Manhattan. In fact, up until last Summer, I was one of those naysayers who held an only-someone-from-New-York-could-like-New-York attitude. But as it always does, whether it's with a man, a woman, a dog, a pair of bow-adorned Louboutin peeptoes, or in this case a city, love hits without warning and with an urgency and a permanence only the two of you can understand.

Before you do anything, before the restaurants, the museums, the bars and the shopping, download Frank Sinatra's "How About You?". Do it today and listen, really listen to the hum of the intro and that first line. Look at each other and imagine yourselves a month from now, walking hand-in-hand laughing at the silly minutia you see on the street. Imagine settling into your two-person quiet, aware of but not at all bothered by the frenetic neon 24-hour-ness of Manhattan's buzz hovering over and around you. That, to me, is love in New York.


Onto the rest!

I'm not the most seasonsed fine-diner, nor is my palette professionally trained. That being so, when it comes to eating out, whether it's in Tulsa, Traverse City or Tibet, I place primacy on ambience, not a five-star rating, truffle-oil this or Kobe-beef that. As long as an establishment's food is well-prepared, well-presented and punctually served, I'm content.

My favorite eats and drinks in NYC:

1. Norma's in Le Parker Meridien Hotel (118 W. 57th St.) $
2. Café Gray in the Time Warner Building (10 Columbus Circle) $$$$
3. Lombardi's (32 Spring St.) $$
4. Zabb City (244 E. 13th St., btw. 2nd/3rd) $$
5. Picholine (35 W. 64th St.) $$$$*
6. Cafe Fiorello (1900 Broadway, btw. 63rd/64th) $$$
7. Jane Restaurant (100 W. Houston) $$$


1. Serendipity 3 (225 E. 60th Street, btw. 2nd/3rd) $$
2. Cafe Lalo (201 W. 83rd, btw. Amsterdam/Broadway) $*
3. Room 4 Dessert (17 Cleveland Place - Kenmare St., NoLita) $$

Cafe Lalo

1. King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel (2 E. 55th St.) $$$$
2. Cercle Rouge (241 W. Broadway, Tribeca) $$*
3. Library in the Hudson Hotel (356 W. 58th St.) $$$$
4. Lobby Lounge in the Mandarin Oriental (80 Columbus Circle) $$$$*
5. Stone Rose Bar in the Time Warner Building (10 Columbus Circle) $$$$
6. Town in the Chambers Hotel (15 W. 56th St.) $$$$
7. Monkey Bar in the Hotel Elysée (60 East 54th St.) $$$

Cercle Rouge

Lobby Lounge

When you're not eating and drinking:
1. The Met - be sure to see the Poiret and the Arms & Armor exhibits
2. Sotheby's - check calendar for exhibits (a terrific people-watching opportunity)
3. Strand Bookstore (I could easily spend an entire afternoon here)
4. Orchard Corset - (157 Orchard St.) 'cause God knows you can't find one here in DC
5. Take walks: East Village vintage district (morning), Madison Ave./Oriental rug district (day), Central Park South (evening)*
6. Stay in bed: take your weekly Tantric Sunday and turn it into a Tantric-Sunday-in-Manhattan (i.e. drink better coffee and eat better pastries in between sessions and make use of your purchases from #4)*

*your editrix's perfect Manhattan day


Dara D. said...

I want to put you in my pocket and have you make every decision for me! Thanks so much for replying to my e-mail so quickly! My boyfriend thank you too -- esp. for the corset recommendation and for introducing us to the term "Tantric Sunday"!

Johanna said...


You're so welcome! It was a pleasure to put together. A *little* painful but mostly pleasurable. I apologize that nearly all of my bar choices are $$$$ bars -- I just have a preference for the atmosphere at nice hotel bars.

And if you're taking the train up (which I SO recommend), I'll give you a great going-to-NYC mix that'll totally get you both in the mood for some Manhattan lovin'.

Enjoy your time there, and if you take but one recommendation from me, I hope it's that you don't put yourselves on any kind of schedule. Stay out late, get up late, eat just brunch and dinner, and spend twice as long at the Met as you expected.

intern in the city said...

Library is one of my favorite bars too, but only when I'm flush in the bank can I afford a drink there. Be warned, ASJINE readers, a champagne cocktail is $20+.