Friday, August 03, 2012

New York Must-Sees

I wrote a list for a friend of mine who will be leaving New York soon of places they should see before they go.  This is more a list for people who hate NYC or are down on all the pretension and the bullshit and the rat race.  I acknowledge that I haven't lived there in 8 years, but that's alright because I'm not thinking any of the places that sprang up in the last 8 years are places you need to see anyway.

This is not a "Hot" list of in places.  This is a list I made of things that make me miss New York.  And my New York, the actual fabric of the city, that was there before I was born and will be there hopefully when I'm gone. They're in no particular order except the last one, which is my favorite.  The ones that are not in Manhattan I'll just say that transit or wheels is required. 

Eisenberg's: Eisenberg's is a lunch counter located on 5th Avenue between 23rd and 22nd, opposite the Flat Iron.  It is one of the few lunch counter places that used to be everywhere which provided NYC office denizens a chance to grab a stool and a quick lunch.  Your usual NYC favorites are amazing.  But I'll recommend the pastrami or tuna melt.  And if they have the matzoh ball soup, and you like it, then you should get it.  Matzoh ball as big as your head.  And it goes without saying, but only losers sit at tables, the counter is really where its at.  

Ziegfield Theater: Long before IMAX and fake IMAX and "squint your face with stupid glasses on" IMAX, there were movie houses.  And these theaters had one screen.  This was before owners decided to chop their one screen into 8 closet sized screens to maximize revenue.  The Ziegfield never changed.  It remains the largest screen in the city.  And as a fan of movies, if you haven't been there, you owe it to yourself to see NYC in the way it used to be.  Before even my old ass.  Currently Playing: Dark Knight Rises

Staten Island Ferry:  I'm sure you've probably done this, but it remains a great tour of the harbor and view of southern Manhattan for free.  Go over and come back, or sample some of St. George's culinary delights.  But its' a free boat operated by the City of New York, and that's pretty cool.  

Brennan and Carr's: Let me tell you how I found out about this place.  When I was in the Police Academy with Mahoney and Hightower, a guy named Frank Kolanovic (AKA Franky Yo-Yo, Frankie Beans) asked if I liked roast beef.  That question was followed by asking if I'd "ever had roast beef so good I creamed my pants?" I had to respectfully say I hadn't.  And then he took me here.  It's in the ass end of Brooklyn, near Marine Park.  But it's been there for years.  You gotta get the roast beef and the cheese fries.  The bun its on is soggy from the roast beef.  But more importantly it's Brooklyn, and not your kale eating, brown flip-fop wearing Brooklyn.  Speaking of Brookyn...

Coney Island:  Yeah, I know its cheesy and the amusement park feels like a training ground for grifters and pedophiles.  But Coney Island, is another example of NYC in its original weirdness, and not fake weird, or safe weird.  Home of the Mermaid Parade and the July 4th Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, where NYers show up with sign saying "Tojo go home!" in awesome racist reference to the Japanese competitive eating giant, Kobayashi.  While here, ride the Cyclone.  Not because the coaster is amazing for a wooden roller coaster, but because its old.  And as you look at the Russian immigrants operating it and seeing the bolts rattling as you're climbing the first hill, you become scared.  As in, you could actually die.  A rite of passage for kids in the city.  And while we're still in Brooklyn...

L&B Spumoni Gardens: This is a place that's a tradition near Bensonhurst.  You've never seen so many actual Goombahs outside eating pizza.  The pizza comes in trays and it's like grandma pizza, which is pretty good if you've never tried it.  It's off the 86th St. stop on the N.  Real family place.  Great on a night that isn't blazing hot and you just want to be reminded that you're in NYC.  No kale chips sold here.  

McSorley's Ale House:  While they only began admitting women in the last 40 years, this is the oldest bar in the city. Sawdust on the floor and only two types of beer.  Light and dark.  They come in small glass half-pint mugs and you can either order light or dark and get two mugs each, or half and half.  Again, this place is special.  They have no food, and if you don't like beer, then you probably won't stay long, but it's worth the visit.  Careful, douchebags like this place sometimes.  Here's their location.

NYC Formal Gardens: Not sure if you like Central Park, but I grew up with it being my backyard.  But it wasn't until my parents showed me this gem near our apartment that I found it.  You'll have to fight the crowds of brides and grooms getting their photos taken on the weekends, but this is a really nice and quiet place to go and read or just see some really cool flowers in Central Park.  

And finally, if you do nothing else on this list, you must, must, no but seriously, must visit....

Empire State Building: Alright, this is the only really touristy thing on the menu.  But, there are qualifiers.  You need to go at night . No one cares about being able to see New Jersey.  Also, you need to go to the open observatory on the 80 something floor and not the higher one which is lame.  When I was living in NYC, I would go to the ESB every year.  At night, outside with the city unfolding in front of me, it felt like I owned that city.  It made me fall in love with it every time. Also, if you bring the Icelander, it's pretty romantic.  But more than that it is awesome, in the way that it is full of and inspiring awe.  

I realize that some of these are food related, and you might not hit all of them, but they're all things that remind me of why I love NYC.  Oh, and if you've never had a falafel at Mamoun's on McDougal. stop reading this right now and go get one.  

1 comment:

Mom said...

Oh, indeed! Reading this makes me homesick...and I'm just upstate!