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New York, New York

The Morning News Guide to New York

Summer is tourist season in New York City and maybe you’re one of them, on a visit to the city, unsure of where to go. Maybe you have recommendations from friends, maybe relatives have ideas for where to go; don’t trust them. Trust us.

Summer is tourist season in New York City and maybe you’re one of them, on a visit to the city, unsure of where to go. Maybe you have recommendations from friends, maybe relatives have ideas for where to go; don’t trust them. Trust us.

We’ve compiled our favorite bars, bookstores, and more for your enjoyment; they aren’t for everyone, but if you read our site and have a sense of who we are (and, more importantly, you like us), we’re sure you’ll like these places as much as we do.

Bar: Alva

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The only bar in New York where the bartender knows my name, and she’s also the best bartender I’ve come across. Get there early and ignore the brokers hovering around you, because the gimlets, fries, and hard-boiled eggs are the best you’ll find. Note: very small bar with expensive restaurant behind. (rb)

Bar: Brooklyn Ale House

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Also known (to me and my friends) as The Dog Bar (because so many of the customers’ dogs accompany them to said bar), the Brooklyn Ale House is a friendly and, uh, ‘rustic’ joint that sports one of the finest indie-rock jukeboxes in the area. Oh yeah, funny story: I was sitting at one of the tables by the bar one time when it was fairly empty in the place. This drunk guy at the bar stands up and begins to stagger around a bit while trying to put on his jacket. Seeing the fellow wasn’t having much luck getting his arms into the sleeves, the bartender heads around the bar and helps the guy put on his jacket. He finally gets the jacket on him when the guy jerks away from the bartender (informing him he didn’t need any help putting on his damn jacket) and approaches my table. He flips the collar up on his jacket all tough-like and says, ‘You know what this is?’ while pointing to his collar. I reply, ‘No.’ He answers, ‘Power,’ and then spins around, heads toward the door, knocks his head through the door’s stained-glass window, begins bleeding profusely, opens the door, walks down the street, and then turns around and walks the other way (apparently realizing he started out in the wrong direction), with blood streaming down his face. (aw)

Bar: Eugene

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The former home of a host of Paul Sevigny/A.R.E. Weapons parties, Eugene is still a fine, fine spot for the NYC bar-hopper in search of a more refined atmosphere. A breathtaking interior with magnificent lighting truly sets Eugene apart from the pack. Trust me, though, they must still be paying the architect for the work…the drinks are expensive. It is also, apparently, a restaurant, but I’ve only been there for parties. (aw)

Bar: Great Lakes

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The only claim to the name is a poster of the Great Lakes and a boat motor hanging on the wall, but with the dark décor, indie jukebox, and enough pretty boys and girls to shake a stick at, you can’t beat it. Sure, you might run into Dave Eggers (it’s in Park Slope), but you have a better chance of seeing good music, putting on The Sea and Cake when the band packs up, and going home with a likewise lonely pair of plastic-framed glasses. (rb)

Bar: Mare Chiaro

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Madonna, Pacino, and Depp have drank here. So have a lot of small crooks and hoods, so no matter where you are in the Scorsese-scale, you’ll find cheap beer, good lighting, and a friendly crowd in the heart of Little Italy. Definitely one of the best late-night places for lack of crowds and the cigar-chewing owner. (rb)

Bar: The Metropolitan Roof Garden

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Attention trendy single girls with jean jackets, Spade bags, and a punk bracelet: get the hell out of my sculpture garden! Not everyone knows, but there’s a sculpture garden/outdoor bar on the top of the Met, and though the drinks and vegan chips are expensive, the views are simply awesome, especially as fall approaches. Catch it while it’s open: it closes when the heat subsides. (rb)

Bar: Passerby

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A (reportedly) authentic flashing, light-up disco floor (like from Saturday Night Fever, you know) makes Passerby a memorable and, well, dizzying West-side experience. The drinks are on the pricey side, but the floor, coupled with the mirrored walls, ensures that you’ll only have one before it’s time to move on to less…dynamic surroundings. In that case you can head next door to the gallery Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (they’re connected) to sober up with some fine art. Then back to Passerby and back to Gavin Brown’s, etc. You take that one as far you want. (aw)

Bar: Pete’s Candy Store

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Truth: my girlfriend and I went to see Chris Lee play at Pete’s and got asked some questions by a NY Post reporter who was doing a story (in November) about romantic bars in New York. We answered him politely and posed for some pictures; three months later, we were on the cover of the Post’s Sunday insert, an 8x10 photo, with my head the size of your fist, and then in another photo inside where we looked like customers of Mt. Airy Lodge. Excellent. So, go there: they have trivia night during the week, really good music on the weekends, and a mojito to die for. Also, great décor and nice people. (rb)

Bar: Union Pool

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One of the finest bars in the Williamsburg area, hands down, Union Pool (a converted pool supply store) boasts a friendly (and generous) bar staff, lighting that will make you look really, really good, and a large back patio, with, uh, an empty fountain (pool?). Very good and very clean. (aw)

Bar: Yabby

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Located a few blocks south of the Bedford station in Williamsburg, Yabby’s been pulling in the hipsters for a while, and now has extended its pull to the bankers and chi-chi designers of Manhattan. But don’t let that deter you! Still the best outdoor drinking yard, with good music and food to boot (recommended: the guacamole), and lots of house on the stereo. (rb)

Bookstore: 12th Street Books

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This unassuming little bookstore boasts low ceilings, ludicrous disorganization, and a surly staff. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, then you should know that it’s those very things that make this a last stop for many bookshoppers, meaning the store’s selection is very, very good and virtually un-picked-over. Yeah, and it’s cheap. (aw)

Bookstore: The Strand

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Claiming to be the largest used bookstore in the world, The Strand is indeed huge, in both its stores (near Union Square—preferred—and on Wall Street), and definitely difficult to navigate. Did I mention the lack of air conditioning? There’s no air conditioning. But if you’re brave and well-ventilated, you’ll find incredible deals on used books of all subjects. Also, the tote bags are nice. (rb)

Bookstore: Three Lives & Co.

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The best bookstore in the city, bar none. Dense, quiet, and small, with the friendliest staff imaginable, plus great selections and frequent readings, you’re practically guaranteed to walk out with an arm-full. (rb)

Clothing Store: A.P.C.

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French fashion for the smart set. Ultra-modern, extremely wearable shapes make this shop (which stocks everything you need to live a much cooler life—even portable turntables) a mainstay on any SoHo shopping trip. Pricey, you say? Maybe: but it’s durable, beautiful clothing…and we go to their awesome 50-percent-off sales. (aw)

Clothing Store: Lacoste

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Why? Because the crocodile is cool. Why else? Because it’s exceptionally well-made clothing at a price far less than it’s worth. Shirts (the classic ‘polo’ or ‘golf’ shirt—we should call it a tennis shirt—was invented by Rene Lacoste and released to the public in 1934), belts, shoes—almost anything—all with that little crocodile smiling up at you as you walk coolly down Madison Avenue, shopping bags in hand. (aw)

Clothing Store: Nylon Squid

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If you like new English fashion, this is your store. Otherwise, get out and leave the deals to me. Featuring YMC as one of its best labels, Nylon Squid gets the good stuff before anyone else. Definitely watch for their clearance sales. (rb)

Clothing Store: Seize sur Vingt

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16 on 20 is not for the weak: you will commit, even before walking in, to spending at least a hundred dollars on something to make yourself look beautiful. The best deal is the custom shirts, and their fabrics are an Anglophile’s dream. Also, be sure to tour the garden when you visit. (And pretend you didn’t buy anything afterwards by getting drunk on martinis at the M&R bar across the street.) (rb)

Dancing: Body & Soul at Vinyl

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Just as all the architects are having brunch, the deep-house advocates are storming TriBeCa to Body & Soul, the heart of house in New York. Even if you don’t enjoy the music, the dancing is unparalleled: lots of people, great sound, huge room, tribal fever. Be warned, they don’t serve alcohol, since it’s a tea party, but once you start sweating (it’s a serious work-out) you’ll only want water. (rb)

Dancing: Frank’s Lounge

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Divine, divine, but shit, people have heard about it! No matter, we’re telling the masses: Frank’s has great hip-hop, great dancing, great vibe, great garden, great people, cheap drinks…but now they’re charging a cover on the weekends. Get in during the week and dance your ass off; be warned, though, the white kids sit upstairs and talk about performance art. (rb)

Gallery: P.S. 1

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Yes, they have art (in this, the first New York Public School, now converted by MOMA into a massive art innerworld), and the art is certainly well worth the trip, but what makes P.S. 1 truly outstanding are their indoor-outdoor all-Summer-long Saturday parties (‘Warm-Ups’). DJ-dancing, people-watching, beer-drinking: and, yes, art. (aw)

Intersection: Bedford and North 7th

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Williamsburg was hot, is hot, will be hot? Never mind. The point is, there’s a shitload of interesting looking people coming by this corner every hour of the day (honestly, does anyone work in Williamsburg?). Pay your respects to the bum that knows everyone (including the guys in the deli where he takes his phone calls) and watch the trendy walk by. (rb)

Outdoor Sitting Area: In front of Café Gitane

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Listen, you really shouldn’t eat at Café Gitane, no matter how cheap it is, how good the coffee is, the fact they speak French. Because then you’ll be one of those people: you know, with the trendy Gucci glasses, the ankle pants (on men!), the little dogs. But, you can get coffee to go and sit outside and laugh at all of them, that is, if you can get a seat. (rb)

Outdoor Sitting Area: The semi-circle of Union Square

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When I first moved to New York, I’d spend every Sunday night here, reading and suffering the plate of nachos I’d just had. You get a great view around sunset as the tourists are out of the city and the locals are going home. Definitely a good people-watching spot, and less crowded than Washington Square. (rb)

Outdoor Sitting Area: Along the West Side Highway near Morton Street

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I used to live in the West Village and this is where I’d go to read: there’s a small gravel garden with aluminum chairs that face New Jersey and the sunset; if you’re gay, it’s prime beef cruising, if you’re straight, it’s fun to watch. (rb)

Park: Bleecker and 11th St.

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You can’t afford Marc Jacobs; who the hell can? But at least you can sit comfortably while you eye the windows. One of the better parks known to natives, the corner of Bleecker and 11th is a big mixing spot, but don’t fuck with the homeless queens. (rb)

Park: The Cloisters

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You may never leave once you’re there, not only because it’s beautiful but because it’s easy as hell to get lost (Andy, Bill, and I had a hard time getting to a picnic, despite our plethora of global positioning devices and cell phones). With beautiful views of the Hudson River and the Met’s medieval collection housed in an old castle-like building, it’s an excellent relief for an afternoon. (rb)

Private Restroom: Barrio

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Barrio has a nice bar, sure (and the restaurant itself is supposed to be quite nice as well), but my favorite part of the establishment is the restroom: pristine, roomy, and bathed in warm, orange light. When I looked in the mirror I had a killer tan. I really spent, like, ten minutes in there; it was pretty wonderful. I’d also had, like, four margaritas, so that, as well, may have been the reason I was in there so long. (aw)

Private Restroom: Brasserie

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One reason: anytime that I’ve stood at the urinal and stared up at the curving, tiled ceiling, I’ve felt that either a) I was going to pass out, or b) that those burgers were loaded with Quaaludes. (rb)

Private Restroom: Rice

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I’m not sure how many mirrors are in this bathroom, but let’s just say that as soon as you sit down to do your business, you’ll have eight or so faces of consternation staring back. Also, the food’s good and cheap, if you can get a table. (rb)

Private Restroom for Sex: Double Happiness

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Secluded, lockable, supplied with candles. Enough said. (rb)

Public Restroom: McDonald’s at Union Square

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The first time I came to New York I used the public restrooms at the McDonald’s at Union Square. It’s really a fairly perfect setup when you have to go, since the restrooms are downstairs, thus making your appearance in the establishment decidedly inconspicuous, what with not having to wait in line right by the cashiers and all. Dash in, dash out. You can even get an apple pie for the road. (aw)

Record Store: Etherea

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Indie-music central: Etherea is hard to beat when nobody has the album you want. Somehow, some way (I really don’t know how they do it), after I’ve looked everywhere else for something, it always seems to be in stock here, which is strange, actually, since the store itself isn’t all that large. I’ve considered just going here first. I really should do that from now on. (aw)

Record Store: Halcyon

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A clean (the bathrooms are quite nice) little music shop in the heart of Brooklyn, Halcyon isn’t necessarily the best place to find records, but it is a great place to see a show (they have an open-mic DJ night), and everything in the place is for sale (the furniture, the lamps, the hope chests…you get the idea) and their coffee bar/bar bar is a treat in and of itself. (aw)

Record Store: Other Music

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If it’s out, it’ll be in at Other Music (you’ll just have to go there to find out what that means). The helpful, knowledgeable staff will show you where to find all those hard-to-find imports you’ve been salivating over for weeks. Other Music has its own way of doing things—such as dividing the music into bizarre genres (oh, I just gave it away…)—but it works, in its own, peculiar way. (aw)

Restaurant: Cowgirl Hall of Fame

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Margaritas: the best I’ve ever had. Here they make a (well, an albeit extremely powerful) margarita you can savor. One of those (or, if you prefer, a huge glass of iced tea), coupled with their authentic Southern cuisine—chicken fried chicken with cream gravy, mashed potatoes, um…really, just go there; it’s so good. (aw)

Restaurant: Craft

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This restaurant is not for the faint of wallet, the weak of palette, or those who mind eating in a restaurant that everyone is talking about. The secret to Craft is the menu: rather than selecting arranged dishes, you pick the ingredients and they’re brought out separately, super fresh, lightly seasoned, and delicious. Hence, the craft of the cooking (as my girlfriend explained to a friend, ‘you know, a craft, like wizardry’). I ate there on someone else’s bill; you should too. (rb)

Restaurant: Miyako

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Sushi, sushi, sushi. Everyone loves sushi. But even if you don’t, the extensive entrée menu will keep you happy, featuring a mix of Japanese and Korean cuisine. With a calming design and friendly staff, Miyako is the best Japanese restaurant in Williamsburg (do not go to Wasabi; do not collect two hundred dollars) and among the best I’ve visited in New York. Favorites: cucumber-cold sake, spicy-crunchy tuna roll. (rb)

Restaurant: Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano

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The original location is in Coney Island, but Coney Island is a hellish den of iniquity, where I, quite simply, feel this extraordinary pizza is best not experienced. Go to the Upper East Side. Go for the thin crust. Go for any toppings you want. But just go. (aw)

Sight: Brooklyn Heights Promenade

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A great view of southern Manhattan, surrounded by the finest brownstones New York has to offer. Lovely on a Sunday afternoon. (rb)

Sight: The High Line

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The entrance is at 33rd Street and 10th Avenue. Note: we are not liable for any injury you incur. You go at your own risk. (rb)

Street: 10th Street in Manhattan

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A great walk for a free afternoon: 10th Street crosses the widest point of Manhattan, and gets a variety of neighborhoods, from the tony/industrial far-West side to the NYU hub of Washington Square, across the East Village and Tompkins Square Park, then into the projects and down to the water. Well worth the trip. (rb)

Transportation: The New 6 Trains

I have a rule: if I am taking the 4, 5, or 6 train, and a new 6 rolls into place, I have to take it. Cleaner, brighter, with better directions and an audible conductor’s voice (supplied by a computer), the new 6 will roll into full action around 2004. I can’t wait. (rb)