New York City Guide
|This big fat (or is that phat?) city can seem overwhelming at first, but it breaks down into lots of smaller neighborhoods, just like in other places, and is filled with real live people (often from other places). New York is just like anywhere else, except it's just, well, more accelerated … more intense … more clamorous … more of just about everything.
And that goes for retail, too. Where else would you find a Toys 'R Us with a giant indoor Ferris wheel and Candyland floor, or an Apple store open 24/7, or an entire floor of Saks Fifth Avenue devoted completely to women's designer shoes-with its own express elevator and zip code?
Navigating through the city is easiest via subway, which is efficient and stops all over town. Buses are slower but offer glimpses of the city around you. Cabs are expensive and often get caught in the clog of traffic. And nothing beats walking for getting a gander on the scene - or, for that matter, feeling like a true New Yorker, since they all walk walk walk …
It's true that NYC sets the standard for everything sophisticated, slick, and luxurious, but the fact is, being the biggest city in the world also means there's lots of competition, so the bargain opportunities are endless. Just when you think you can't afford to even browse, an amazing deal on one thing or another comes along and you're back in business.
So strap on your walking shoes, and don't be intimidated. The city awaits!!
|Quick: You hear shopping in NY and think … Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, right? It's certainly where the fanciest flagships and highest-end boutiques hang. So for the ritziest and glitziest, stroll, trawl, and yes, go ahead and drool over the delicious and decadent designer department stores out to make a Big Impression.
5th Avenue in the 50s will net you plenty of flash - like the new over-the-top Gucci flagship, probably the epitome of excess and the grandiose … Then stop a block up at classy Henri Bendel, a smaller-scale women's-only department store that's the fourth B (along with Barney's, nearby Bergdorf's, and Bloomie's) in the starry firmament of New York's grand dames. Bendel, famous for its cosmetics selection and funky accessories, is, like its competitor Barney's, among the first to receive the latest and greatest (and its chocolate-and-white-striped cosmetic bags make terrific gifts). . . . Up another block, the meticulously constructed Louis Vuitton flagship shows off as much of its tony wares as possible, and the hanging vintage trunks complement the store's otherwise modern vibe.
Moving east a block to Madison Avenue for some more fanfare, we find Hermes at 60th purveying the ne plus ultra of leather goods; Kelly and Birkin bags are their pride and glory (and, with a multiyear wait list and $5K-plus tab, the ultimate fashion status symbols) … On to Tom Ford (men's wear), possibly the most extravagant store there ever was, modeled after his London apartment and outfitted with roaming butlers alongside the salespeople. (One section of the store is limited to appts. only.). . . . Landmark Ralph Lauren, on 72nd St., the quintessential emporium of upscale traditional American fashion and lifestyle, offers special merch not found in other Lauren locations. . . . Needless to say, there's plenty more in this neighborhood, but this should get you started.
Cleanse your palate from all that glam and head southwest to what is incontrovertibly the coolest hot spot in Manhattan: the brand-spanking-new High Line, an old elevated railroad bed between 10th and 11th Aves. recently transformed into a very pretty, very clean, very friendly promenade and park, currently open from Gansevoort St. in the meatpacking district up to 20th St. in Chelsea, with plans for northward expansion. Lounge chairs face the river, inspiring a picnic, romantic dinner, or sunset drink -- made possible by the awesome and convenient Chelsea Market,, a kind of postindustrial theme park with million-dollar lofts and interior arcades featuring gourmet shops and restaurants. That's where you'll find all you need for a magnificent river-view feast.
Some Chelsea Market faves: Eleni's for the most beautiful and whimsical frosted cookies, great for gifts (retirement, new baby, get well, etc.), showers, or a cute thematic dessert (celebrities, handbags, high heels, autumn leaf, turkey) to bring to a dinner party. . . . Sarabeth's Kitchen for flourless chocolate souffle cake and assorted scones for brunches, but esp. muffins, buns, biscuits, jams. . . . Fat Witch Brownie for amazing variations of brownies and blondies (Oprah loves this place). . . . Ronnybrook Dairy Milk Bar for an ice cream sundae, various yogurts and milks. . . . Then BuonItalia gourmet grocery, for foods/products exported from Italy (including pottery, frozen desserts, truffles). . . . Impressive Amy's Bread boulangerie, which bakes 24/7 and displays the action through a huge glass wall (go nab a semolina and raisin twist). . . . Chelsea Market Baskets for its impressive assortments of teas, chocolates, cheeses, sparkling drinks, and lots of gifties, plus an NYC exclusive on shortbread from renowned Shortbread House in Edinburgh. . . . The Manhattan Fruit Exchange, an indoor farmer's market, for fab produce and dried goods. . . . The Lobster Place for some of the freshest and highest quality seafood in town, plus delectable chowders and sushi. . . . Can't wait to start cooking? Check out Bowery Kitchen Supplies, and avail yourself of the services of the itinerant knife-sharpener. (Chelsea Market: 75 9th Ave., bet. 15th & 16th Sts., N.Y., NY 10011)
Uptown a bit, Grand Central Station
(now spectacularly restored--definitely not your grandmother's Grand Central) offers an eclectic mix of wonderful shops, including L'Occitane and Pylones, a marvelous source for exceedingly cute gifts, plus authentic NY cheesecake at Junior's.
At Columbus Circle, where Midtown merges into the Upper West Side, get lost in the mega mixed-use TIME WARNER
complex of retail, restaurants, clubs, condos, hotel, offices, and fitness centers, conveniently anchored near Lincoln Center, the Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Hall, Central Park, and other local landmarks. The shopping center is replete with high-end national stores and local boutiques - Cache, Coach, Montmartre, Kee-Ka-as well as a basement boasting the brilliant Buchon Bakery, Borders Books, and a Whole Foods supermarket. (10 Columbus Circle, N.Y., NY 10019; 212-823-6300)
Working our way downtown … Heading south, marvel at the fierce and trendy shopping in the recently mainly industrial Chelsea neighborhood that borders the garment district. Most of the stores here sell furniture or are art galleries that emigrated from pricy SoHo; you'll find large raw loft-spaces with soaring ceilings that make up revitalized storefronts. You gotta love the au courant merchandise right in the midst of 19th-century support columns. Very NYC.
Union Square/ Flatiron District has become a mega-hot shopping area and gathering place -- Whole Foods, Filene's Basement, DSW for shoes, Virgin Megastore, Barnes & Noble in a cool 1880 cast-iron building. Not to mention the awesome 4-days-a-week Greenmarket, the biggest farmers' market in the city.
The West Village (aka Greenwich Village) is probably the most quaint, neighborhoody part of town, and its colonial brownstones and tree-lined streets could make even the most hard-bitten anti-New Yorker fall in love with the city. Certainly a lot more commercial (and high end) than it once was, it still offers wonderful neighborhood storefronts and boutiques. Among other notable retail is the Marc Jacobs empire on Bleecker Street, with numerous stores purveying the clothes and hardware-adorned accessories that have become the epitome of 21st-century cool: the West Village "gift store" at Bleecker & Perry that sells unisex accessories, knickknacks, shoes, t-shirts, and other seasonal fun stuff; the adjacent Marc by Marc Jacobs men's and women's boutiques; a separate storefront for women's purses and shoes; the "black label" Marc Jacobs a street away on West 4th. Also on this stretch are Tommy Hillfiger, Lulu Guinness, the Magnolia Bakery, and what locals claim is the busiest little playground in the city.
|For Something Special:
Patricia Field The costume designer for Sex and the City and Ugly Betty has been a legend with a creative NY sensibility, creating head-turning ensembles of both high-end and low-brow pieces. Her sexy, in-your-face boutique is a test for the five senses; a very funky staff (sometimes Pat herself) will gladly guide you through the crazy, colorful, (and usually skimpy) fashions. (302 Bowery, N.Y., NY 10012; 212-966-4066). . . Go to Liana on the Upper West Side for a dress or outfit for a special occasion. A tad pricey, but you can almost always hit it, and if Liana is there, she'll dish out ideas, guidance, and solid feedback on what works and what doesn't. (324 Columbus Ave., at 76th St., N.Y., NY 10023; 212-873-8746). . . . Sew will wow you with its custom tailoring and bespoke clothing, (more for men, really great stuff), in a tiny downtown shop with a helpful designer-owner who is really fun to talk to. (229 Mott St., N.Y., NY 10012; 212-686-1630)
Savvy, Trendy, Very New York:
Theory Clean lines and simple, modern designs make these clothes popular with young with-its (when they can afford them), but you can score some terrific deals at this particular location -- a suit, for example, otherwise easily $700, can be found for maybe half that. All merch is already about 30% off original retail, plus two annual sales offer even further discounts. (139 5th Ave., 2nd fl., N.Y., NY 10010; 212-398-2777). . . . Vince's classic, well-made clothing has an edgy downtown twist with fine details and does not cost the earth. (16 Prince St., N.Y., NY 10012; 212-343-1945). . . . At Intermix find hip, modern clothes by Euro and American designers … for a price. (1003 Madison Ave., at 79th St., N.Y., New York 10021; 212-249-7858; 4 more M'hattan locations)
Good ones here are cherished and spoken of in hushed tones. Here are some of the best: Cadillac's Castle features designer resale, vintage clothing, consignment, and overstock. (333 E 9th St., bet. Ave A and 1st, N.Y., NY 10003; 212-475-0406). . . . Fisch for the Hip carries only high-fashion items from recent seasons and is especially noteworthy for its amazing selection of immaculately preserved pre-owned Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags, Vuitton, and beautiful dresses and coats. (153 W. 18th St., bet. 6th and 7th Ave., N.Y., NY 10011; 212-633-9053). . . . Amarcord sells very fine fashion and accessories, mostly enviable pieces from the late '70s and early '80s. Score vintage Halston, discontinued Gucci and Louis Vuitton, Jackie-O era Givenchy and Courreges, Pucci. (252 Lafayette St., bet. Prince & Spring Sts., N.Y., NY 10012; 212-431-4161). . . .
Michael's Consignment Lots of shoes, handbags, scarves, dresses, suits, coats, even bridal wear in upstairs shop, where merch constantly changes. (1041 Madison Ave # 2, nr. 80thSt., N.Y., NY 10075; 212-737-7273). . . . What Comes Around Goes Around
One of New York's most cherished vintage stores, with a museum's worth of rock'n' roll t-shirts from the '70s and '80s and an awesome selection of used denim and leather products, including cowboy boots. (351 W. Broadway, bet. Broome & Grand Sts., N.Y., NY 10013; 212-343-1225)
More Very New York:
Barney's Co-Op This free-standing boutique, the more casual, creative “wayward offspring” of Barney's New York, is known for its annual warehouse sale. (236 W. 18th St., bet. 17th & 18th St.,
N.Y., NY 10011; 212-593-7800). . . . Jeffrey Kind of a mini Barneys, with designer shoes and clothing and accessories. Very pricey but fun to walk through, and the staff is typically less intimidating than at Barney's or Bergdorf's. (449 W. 14th St., bet. 9th & 10th Sts., N.Y., NY 10014; 212-206-1272). . . . The Shoe Box
Vast selection of the very, very latest in designer shoes; hyperventilating permitted. (1349 3rd Ave., N.Y., New York 10021; 212-535-9615).
H & M (435 7th Ave., at 34th St., N.Y. New York, 10018; 212-643-6955; 2 more M'hattan locations) and Zara (500 5th Ave., N.Y., New York 10110; 212-302-2551; 5 more M'hattan locations) are probably the two most commonly shopped stores for the younger demographic for the vast array of well-priced fashionable clothes and accessories. It's a treat when H & M debuts a collection in consultation with a top designer, like Karl Lagerfeld, Viktor & Rolf, or most recently Matthew Williamson. . . . Uniqlo Japanese megastore, a higher-end H & M with superior quality and less trend-driven designs, great for basics like Technicolor and artsy t-shirts and sweaters (cashmeres as low as $50 around holiday time), and outerwear, like a pal's “starter trench” for about $100. (546 Broadway, N.Y., NY 10012; 917-237-8811)
Young and Down-to-Earth:
OMG Nothing but Levi's, and something for everyone. A favorite with teens. And you don't have to offer your first-born to walk out with a pair. (12 E. 14th St., bet. 5th Ave. & University Pl., N.Y., NY 10011; 212-366-6501; 9 other downtown locations). . . . Forever 21 Young sophisticates have given this place a little more respect in the past few years, tho the clothes are definitely more trendy than high quality. (50 W. 34th St., N.Y., NY 10001; 212-564-2346). . . . Harry's Shoes neighborhood shoe shop for all seasons, from tots to teens to well-shod adults. (2299 Broadway, at 83rd St., N.Y., NY 10024; 866-442-7797), and half a block up, there's Harrys Shoes for Kids.
In a Class by Itself:
Century 21 Fames huge bargain-hunter's department store (discounts up to 75%) with tons of designer duds, right in the heart of the financial district; something of a mecca and madhouse, so be prepared. (22 Cortlandt St., N.Y., NY 10007; 212-227-9092).
|Fun & Unique:
Mxyplyzyk (mix-ee-pli-zic) Can we talk inventive, amusing, and adorable? Everyone's fave place for unusual, clever, whimsical-practical!-gifts for him, her, them, tots, and pets, and tho their name seems unpronounceable, that hasn't hurt business any, which has been humming since 1992. (125 Greenwich Ave., N.Y., NY 10014; 800-243-9810). . . . Muji This very new, only-in-New-York Japanese lifestyle store emphasizes natural resources and the environment and offers not only very chic, well-priced, environmentally conscious, unmistakably Japanese clothes but also myriad household products, from pencils and cosmetic bags to bathrobes and shelf organizers. (620 8th Ave., at 42nd St. in the new NY Times Bldg., N.Y., NY 10018; 212-382-2300). . . . Flight 001 The original in a growing chain of travel stores, whose white-and-blue setting invokes an airplane's interior; it's a hipper, slightly kitschy Brookstone, with travel guides, jet-lag remedies, travel wallets/passport holders, coffee-table books, luggage, travel-size products, toiletry kits--all kinds of travel-related gear. (96 Greenwich Ave., bet. 7th & 8th Aves., N.Y., NY 10011; 212-989-0001)
Elegant & Classy:
Aventura Fancy high-end glass and tableware that's both functional and beyond fabulous. Our first stop when we win the lottery. (463 Amsterdam Ave., at 82nd St., N.Y., NY 10024; 212-769-2510). . . . Roam Cute store with jewelry, kids' clothing, hostess gifts (soaps, trays, candles, etc.), cards, small purses. Something special for everyone. (488 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 84th St., N.Y., NY 10024; 212-721-0155). . . . Les Pierre Formerly Pierre Deux, purveyor of everything French Country, now selling seriously beautiful French antiques to die for. (369 Bleecker St., nr. 10th St., N.Y., NY 10014; 212-243-7740)
Zitomer One-stop household shopping. Aside from pharmacy and typical drugstore items are fashion accessories, classy costume jewelry, high-end skin- and hair-care products, makeup (like Kiehl's and Bliss) and lots of lovely fragrant candles, body washes, lotions and potions. A floor for kids, even Zitomer for Dogs! A wonderful wander. (969 Madison Ave., at 76th St., N.Y., NY 10021; 212-737-5560) . . . . Phyto Universe The French pharmacy-like hair-care company's salon and spa, complete with lush interior garden to emphasize the products' botanicals, and the best place to see the entire Phyto line in all its (tres expansive) glory, not to mention several other hard-to-find European fragrances and skin-care products. (715 Lexington Ave., N.Y., NY 10022; 212-308-0270)
Pearl River The first Chinese-American department store; everything from the practical and chic to the curious and exotic -- brocades, paper fans, food, furniture, traditional clothes, cheap thrills, fun stuff. (477 Broadway, nr. Grand St., N.Y., NY 10013; 212-431-4770). . . . Alphabets Boutique of two adjoining storefronts: on one side, cards, clever t-shirts, and little toys, keychains, and gag gifts that make for lots of bday laughs; on the other, a home store with perfect housewarming/hostess gifts like picture frames, candles, pens, books, leather goods. (115 Ave A, at 7th St., N.Y., NY 10009; 212-475-7250)
Kids Corner (All Ages Welcome):
Maxilla & Mandible One-stop shopping for fossils, bones, weevil jewelry, and museum-quality specimens; the first of its kind. (451 Columbus Ave., at 81st St., N.Y., NY 10024; 212-724-6173). . . . The Evolution Store More natural history collectibles -- stones, fossils, shark teeth, butterflies, beetles, seashells, skulls and skeletons, medical models, tribal art, bug candy-in other words, heaven for kids. (120 Spring St., N.Y., NY 10012; 212-343-1114)
Forbidden Planet Hottest comics, t-shirts, toys, Manga, anime. (840 Broadway, at 13th St., N.Y., NY 10003; 212-473-1576). . . . Yoyamart Funny, graphic, colorful Japanese toys, books, clothes, and other treasures. (15 Gansevoort St., N.Y., NY 10014; 212-242-5511). . . . Pink Olive Mainly a baby store, but also sells cute gifts, note cards, and jewelry, and it's a heckofa lot of fun to browse in. (439 E. 9th St., bet. 1st & Ave. A,N.Y., NY 10009;
212-780-0036). . . . KidRobot This Japanese clothing and toy company is quite the rage right now, and their miniature vinyl figurines of anime animals with cigarettes coming out of their mouths are very collectible … go figure. Esp. popular with the East Village crowd. (118 Prince St., N.Y., NY 10012; 212-966-6688)
And definitely NOT for kids…
Kiki de Montparnasse With such a name, this could only be a unique Parisian lingerie and sex store, oui? The sexy mood-lighting and velvet ambiance set the scene for intimate apparel, artistic manuals, and luxury sex toys…and yes, Virginia, those are multi-hundred-dollar silver dildos in the display case. Not for the faint of heart. (79 Greene St., N.Y., NY 10012; 212-965-8150)
|Any talk about food in NYC is pointless without leading with the legendary Zabars, granddaddy of delis and purveyor of redolent appetizers, smoked fish, cheeses, olives, condiments, oils, breads, coffees, sweets, plus an entire upstairs of housewares and cookware at good prices. Prepare for a crush of vocal shoppers and lots of banter from the world-wise sales help. It doesn't get any more New York than this. (2245 Broadway, at 80th St., N.Y., NY 10024; 212-787-2000)… Drop in next door at H&H Bagels for genuine articles that will spoil you for life. (2239 Broadway, nr. 80th, N.Y., NY 10024; 212-595-8000). . . . But don't overlook nearby Fairway, a big draw for locals with its reasonable prices, extensive produce, gourmet offerings, and a little restaurant that makes some of the best bargain-priced gourmet meals in town. (2127 Broadway, at 74th St., N.Y., NY 10024; 212-595-1888; also locations in Harlem & Red Hook, Brooklyn)
And while we're on the subject, a wildly enthusiastic nod to Barney Greengrass the Sturgeon King, which may be 100 years old but boasts the freshest possible caviar, smoked fish, and other deli delicacies. Another legendary destination. (541 Amsterdam Ave., at 86th St., N.Y., NY 10024; 212-724-4707)
More Gourmet …
Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto A relatively new joint venture between Cesare Casella and Parma Cotto, one of Italy's leading meat distributors/brands, it's a restaurant and market rolled into one storefront that uses the Parma Cotto products and other Italian exports under Casella's expert guidance.
(283 Amsterdam Ave., bet. 73rd & 74th Sts., N.Y., NY 10023; 212-877-4800). . . . Dean & Deluca A granddaddy of great gourmet and specialty foods, wines, high-end kitchenware; started in SoHo in 1977 before everyone else followed suit. (560 Broadway, at Prince St., N.Y., NY 10012; 212-226-6800; 9 other M'hattan locations)
Murray's Cheese A savvy NY denizen claims Murray's is one of his favorite places in the entire universe, with the most thorough selection of cheese he's seen outside Europe. Find everything related to cheese: books, jams, crackers, breads, and even a few foods to go, like cheesecake, brownies, pastas, and unreal sandwiches. And their book, Guide to Cheese -- a bible. (254 Bleecker St., bet. 6th & 7th Ave.,
N.Y., NY 10014; 212-243-3289). . . . Saxelby Cheesemongers Ann Saxelby, highly respected in the cheese world, runs this small shop in the Essex Street market that emphasizes American farmstead cheeses and offers the very best of the bunch. Best of all, she and the owner of Shopsin's, next to her stall, have combined forces to make heavenly sandwiches. (120 Essex St., bet .Rivington & Delancy Sts., N.Y., NY 10002; 212-228-8204)
Beautiful Bakeries …
Cupcake Cafe, Unbelievably gorgeous and delicious cupcakes and cakes (some made to order), with butter cream to die for; beautiful flowers in strong colors -- and not just roses either, but sunflowers and other spectacularly botanically correct creations. Wow. (18 W. 18th St., N.Y., NY 10011; 212-465-1530). . . . Silver Moon Bakery Famous for their macaroons, muffins, brioches & croissants, rustic sweets, Bavarian pretzels, artisan breads, presentation challahs, cakes, tarts, and what some claim are the best chocolate chip cookies, period. (2740 Broadway, at 105th St., N.Y., NY 10025; 212-866-4717). . . . Levain Bakery “Insane” cookies so substantial they almost resemble scones. They say the oatmeal raisin is life-changing. (167 W. 74th St., at Amsterdam, N.Y., NY 10023; 212-874-6080)
City Bakery The hot chocolate is immensely popular, as are the gigantic chocolate chip cookies and pretzel croissants. The chocolate and fruit tarts, macaroni and cheese, and caramelized French toast on weekends are also to die for. Check out the buffet-type lunch, too. (3 W. 18th St., bet. 5th & 6th Aves., N.Y., NY 10011; 212-366-1414). . . .Sugar Sweet Sunshine Retro-styled shop serves up classic American banana pudding, layer cakes, fruit crumbles, etc. They've perfected the buttercream-topped cupcake so you can finish one and not feel sick, but their pistachio and pumpkin cupcakes really knock this place out of the ballpark. (126 Rivington St., N.Y., NY 10002; 212-995-1960)
Amy's Bread NY icon, known for specialty breads like semolina with golden raisins & fennel, and red velvet cake. (672 9th Ave., bet. 46th & 47th Sts., N.Y., NY 10036; 212-977-2670250; also at Chelsea Market and the West Village). . . . Sweet Revenge Savory cupcakes that can be served with wine or beer. (62 Carmine St., N.Y., NY 10014; 212-242-2240). . . . Magnolia Good pastries, made famous by being featured in Sex in the City. (401 Bleecker St., at 11th St., N.Y., NY 10014; 212-462-2572). . . . Blue Ribbon Bakery Justice Sonia Sotomayor's favorite, across from her building. (35 Downing St.,
N.Y., NY 10014;
212-337-0404). . . . Butter Lane Cupcakes You get to compose your own cupcake combo here. (123 E. 7th St., N.Y., NY 10009; 212-677-2880). . . . Raffetto's Fabulous fresh pasta (144 W. Houston St., N.Y., NY 10012; 212-777-1261).
Dandy Candy …
Economy Candy Remember the candy you loved as a kid and haven't had in years? They'll have it here. In bulk. What the place lacks in sleek and glitz it makes up for in spirit and inventory. Check out the intriguing little mint boxes with vintage drawings/ads on them and tin bank boxes with old photos of happy people and messages like “I'm Saving Up for More Valium” or “I'm Saving Up to Clone My Cat.” We're SO curious about the fist-sized gummy bears, too. (108 Rivington St., N.Y., NY 10002; 212-254-1531). . . . Dylan's Candy Bar
Owned and managed by Ralph Lauren's daughter, this bi-level emporium could easily obsess a child, with its bulk candy, big old-fashioned lollipops and unicorn pops, chocolate confections, a special room for birthday parties, and even a “build your own ice cream sundae” option. Everything here's devoted to candy, including the clothes, games, and accessories for sale. (1011 3rd Ave., N.Y., NY 10021; 646-735-0078)