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By Kathryn Wilson | November 19, 2008 | Style & Beauty
West 55th Street to West 190th Street
For bargain waterfront views, you could live in Brooklyn—but why go JV in a varsity city? Washington Heights offers Beaux Arts, Art Deco, and Tudor-style buildings with backdrops of the Harlem and the Hudson Rivers. For under $1 million, you can buy an apartment in the Riviera (790 Riverside Drive, 212-247-2603; 790rsd.org), which once housed Stokely Carmichael, or Hudson View Gardens (RIGHT) (116 Pinehurst Avenue, 212-923-7800; hudsonviewgardens.com), which was designed to resemble suburban living when it was first constructed in 1923.
Put on your most comfortable Stubbs & Wootton loafers and take a walk from 155th Street to 190th Street. Start at the Hispanic Society of America (RIGHT) (613 West 155th Street, 212-926-2234; hispanicsociety.org). The museum is part of the collective that composed the museum complex at Audubon Terrace when it originated in the early 20th century. Then take a leisurely stroll up to the New Balance Track & Field Center (216 Fort Washington Avenue), home to the Track and Field Hall of Fame. Recharge with local fare: La Casa del Mofongo (1447 Saint Nicholas Avenue, 212-740-1200) serves up a signature dish of plantains and pork along with other Hispanic delicacies (be prepared to wait). End your tour by meandering up to 190th Street, the northern boundary of Washington Heights.
BITS & BOBS
Although British forces destroyed the area’s namesake Fort Washington, the original site can be found in Bennett Park.
In the Heights, a musical about the trials of growing up Dominican in New York City, won the 2008 Tony Award for best musical.
John James Audubon owned a waterfront estate in Washington Heights and called it “Minnie’s Land,” after his wife.
Foley Square to Canal Street
? Golden Unicorn
For another take on brunch, gather your gang for dim sum. This à la carte dining experience is best had at the Golden Unicorn, where large parties are accommodated (no waiting), a diverse menu is served, and chicken feet are considered tame. 18 East Broadway, 212-941-0911; goldenunicornrestaurant.com.
? Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
This dessert heaven is set underneath a giant flag depicting a green dragon. Bring an empty stomach, cash (no credit cards accepted), and an open mind to try flavors like Zen butter and black sesame. 65 Bayard Street, 212-608-4170; chinatownicecreamfactory.com.
? Hester Gardens
Gentrification has seeped into this Downtown nabe in the form of condominiums: The first residential development, built by architect Peter Poon a couple of years ago, was Hester Gardens, which charged as much as $1.67 million for a residence—and got it. 158 Hester Street.
? Machinery Exchange
Up next is the Machinery Exchange. Art dealer Max Protetch’s warehouse-loft conversion has attracted the attention of creative types like Björk and Moby (neither ended up buying). 136 Baxter Street, 646-613-2660; machineryexchangecondo.com.
? Bar Scene Sasha Petraske, the man responsible for Milk & Honey, opened White Star (21 Essex Street, 212-995-5464), to the alarm of gentrificationfearing locals. Apothéke (RIGHT) (9 Doyers Street, 212- 406-0400), the speakeasy found behind the sign that reads GOLDEN FLOWER RESTAURANT, is run by Albert Trummer and Christopher Tierney and boasts a menu of more than 250 drinks with druggist names (it’s modeled after an Austrian apothecary) and hipster patrons.
? Gucci! Gucci! Prada! Prada! Word on the street is that the new venue to score convincing fake accessories is one that’s on the move—literally. Since 32 vendors were shut down after a police raid in February, merchants have set up shops inside vans, making it harder for the NYPD to pinpoint their locations.
East 86th Street to East 96th Street
? Café d’Alsace
Why a French recommendation in a German neighborhood? Alsace is a French region bordering Germany that changed hands between the two countries a number of times before France finally won. Today, most residents speak both languages and cook food heavily influenced by their eastern neighbors. Here, try the choucroute garnie, a plate of assorted sausages and braised pork belly over sauerkraut with Riesling, juniper, and potatoes. 1695 Second Avenue, 212-722-5133; cafedalsace.com.
This German eatery opened during the Great Depression, survived the German backlash after World War II, and is still in operation today. Waiters dress in lederhosen and waitresses in dirndls—and all are ready to carry a bevy of imported German beers straight to your table. 1648 Second Avenue, 212-628-2332; heidelbergrestaurant.com.
? Schaller & Weber
Like Heidelberg, neighboring Schaller & Weber has been around since the thirties. The Americanbased sausage manufacturer continues to astound even the Germans with a selection of hearty meats, pickles, and mustards—in 2000, it won 14 gold and six silver medals at the Welser Fair in Austria. 1654 Second Avenue, 212-879-3047; schallerweber.com.
? The Brompton
Couldn’t get into starchitect A.M. Stern’s 15 Central Park West? Try its eastern counterpart, the Brompton, with its LEED silver certification and traditional interiors. 205 East 86th Street, 212-249-8505; thebromptonnyc.com.
31st Street to 36th Street
? Asian Barbecue: Although it shares the same moniker, Korean barbecue is nothing like the meat slathered in tangy sauces found throughout the Southern states. For one, it’s called “gogi gui” by locals. And two, the grilled chicken, beef, or pork is generally marinated in soy sauce and comes with sides like kimchi, a fermented cabbage- based dish. Try Kun Jip (9 West 32nd Street, 212-216-9487; kunjip.net).
? Korean Idol: If you’ve ever sung “Living on a Prayer” after midnight in public, there’s a good chance you’ve been to one of the many karaoke bars in K-Town. Some have storefronts, but most are hidden inside mixed-use buildings (they’ll buzz you up), are BYOB, and have multiple party rooms (no battles with drunken strangers for the mic). Our favorites are Toto Music Studio (38 West 32nd Street, No. 508, 212-594-6644) and Chorus Karaoke (25 West 32nd Street, 212-967-2244).
? Get Lost: K-Town is possibly the best neighborhood to lose your orientation in—whether you want to or not. With tourists converging on the Empire State Building (350 Fifth Avenue, 212-736-3100; esbnyc.com) and locals clamoring for the latest bargains at Macy’s (151 West 34th Street, 212-695-4400; macys.com), its streets swallow even the savviest New Yorkers.
Mulberry Street between Canal and Broome Streets
Meet the mob—sort of. This scavenger hunt (which bills itself as “part game, part theater, and part tour”) sends participants through Manhattan neighborhoods, one of them being Little Italy. We won’t divulge more (there is a mystery to solve, after all), but we will tell you that you’ll dine at one of the neighborhood’s finest Italian eateries with a member of the Sicilian mafia—well, an actor who plays one, anyway. Visit accomplicetheshow.com.
BY THE NUMBERS
? Now in its 81st year, Little Italy’s San Gennaro Festival (RIGHT) attracts more than a million people every September.
? Italians originally settled in New York’s Five Points slum, then migrated to what is now Little Italy in the late 19th century.
? Mobster Joey Gallo was gunned down at 5 A.M. on April 7, 1972, while eating seafood at Umberto’s Clam House, resulting in the saying, “He ordered clams but he got slugs.”
Lexington Avenue between 25th and 29th Streets
Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi
? Hooray for Bollywood: The city calls this neighborhood the Flatiron District, but residents lovingly refer to it as “Little India” because of the slew of stores hocking Bollywood DVDs and saris. Find the latest Bollywood offerings at Kenara Paan Shop (134 East 27th Street, 212-481-1660) and Little India Stores Inc. (128 East 28th Street, No. 2, 212-683-1691). If you want to dress the part, purchase a sari at Om Saree Palace (134 East 27th Street, 212-532-5620) or Swapna Trading (121 Lexington Avenue, No. 1F, 212-684-3450).
? Curry Hill: Because of its proximity to Murray Hill and its concentration of Indian restaurants, the stretch of Lexington Avenue between 25th and 29th Streets is also referred to as “Curry Hill.” For fast food, try Curry in a Hurry (RIGHT) (119 Lexington Avenue, 212-683-0900), or if you’re in the mood for a sit-down meal, we suggest Haandi for its all-you-can-eat buffet with up to 22 items (113 Lexington Avenue, 212-685-5200).
? Gramercy 145
While the building isn’t quite in Gramercy (it’s about 10 blocks shy of Gramercy Park), it’s the closest thing to a luxury condominium in the area. Abigail Michaels provides concierge services, a landscaped roof deck is perfect for latenight entertaining, and it’s backed by Green Circle Construction, the same folks who brought you the Shoreham Hotel and 610 Park Avenue. 145 Lexington Avenue, 646-443-3743; gramercy145.com.
East 96th Street to East 125th Street
Mexican, Puerto Rican, African American
Forget Banksy. If you want to witness true graffiti, walk the streets of East Harlem. The paintings feature rappers like Big Pun (RIGHT) (103rd Street and Third Avenue), Latino heroes such as Pedro Pietri (104th Street and Lexington Avenue), and even cartoon characters like Charlie Brown (110th Street and Second Avenue). Many are the work of James de la Vega, a local artist who owns a store in the East Village (102 Saint Marks Place, 212-876-8649), and were commissioned by Hope Community Inc., a nonprofit invested in bettering the community.
? 116th Street
This is Spanish Harlem’s busiest street—and its most delectable. Right around 10 A.M., street vendors start setting up portable taquerías, sitting in lawn chairs next to coolers full of taquitos and tamales. Too spicy? Go to the next block for a bevy of fast-food joints.
? Fifth on the Park
If you want to be closer to God but missed out on the latest church-apartment conversion, here are 194 ways to rectify the situation. This new East Harlem condominium (RIGHT) will house a cathedral on the ground floor as well as 47 church-owned rental apartments and 147 condos on the floors above. 1485 Fifth Avenue, 877-348-8233; 5thonthepark.com.
If you needed evidence that El Bario is gentrifying, walk down East 110th Street. This condominium is going up across the street from the gourmet Savoy Bakery (170 East 110th Street, 212-828-8896). The condominium itself sells penthouses below $1 million, but don’t let the price fool you—amenities include a concierge service, covered parking, and a fully stocked gym. Luxury at a bargain? Sold! 161 East 110th Street, 212-939-7400; miradanyc.com.
Second Avenue between Seventh and 10th Streets
? I, Robot: Since when have wind-up robots and figurines been collectibles? Since they’ve been crafted in Japan by edgy artists. While there are several Manhattan stores that sell these pricey toys, none has a better selection than Toy Tokyo (121 Second Avenue, 212- 673-5424; toytokyo.com).
? Eastern Eats: From dumplings to sushi, St. Marks Place runs the gamut of Japanese delicacies. For Japanese pizza, visit Otafuku (236 East Ninth Street, 212-353-8503). If you don’t want to gamble by ordering a dish you can’t pronounce, we suggest Yakitori Taisho (5 St. Marks Place, 212-228-5086; yakitoritaisho.com) with its picture menu. Find a quick bite at Dumpling Man (100 St. Marks Place, 212-505-2121; dumplingman.com), or if you want to sit down, we’re fans of Soba-ya (229 East Ninth Street, 212-533-6966; sobaya-nyc.com). For dessert, your best bet is the green tea tiramisu at Panya Bakery (10 Stuyvesant Street, 212-777-1930). If you want to try Japanese cooking at home, Sunrise Mart (4 Stuyvesant Street, Second Floor, 212-598-3040) will have all the supplies you need.
? Theatre Condominium
What was once a quirky, off-off-off-Broadway theater named the St. Marks Playhouse, and then became the St. Marks Cinema, is now home to converted lofts. We could blame Netflix for the demise of these art houses, but the movie’s about to start on our big-screen TV in one of these 11 oversize apartments. 133 Second Avenue, 212-696-7105; theatrecondo.com.
The Japanese are already on to the next thing. But in New York, last season’s Far East trend is this month’s coveted fashion. Where to find it? This consignment shop carries designers like Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto. Happy hunting! 64 East Seventh Street, 212-353-8443.
Photographs by Michael Surkis/courtesy of Hudson View Gardens (GARDEN); Stephen Grande Jr./Hispanic Society of America (GALLERY); Nicholas Routzen (APOTHÉKE); Swim by the 7th Art (BROMPTON); Erin Gillis (KARAOKE); Erin Gillis (CURRY IN A HURRY); Battman Studios (SAN GENNARO); Lisa Reynolds Wolfe (BIG PUN); A. de la Cruz (TOY)