After years of visiting New York City as a tourist and a business traveler, I have a few favorite places I like to visit. It’s kind of a random list including places I stumbled upon, places that were recommended, and a mishmash of other spots.
My NYC Favorites
(NEW) Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 103 Orchard St, Lower East // This is history at its best — told via compelling stories and tours of an amazingly preserved tenement building located at 97 Orchard Street. Even if you don’t like museums, I bet you’ll like this. My brilliant friend Alisa suggested first visiting Ellis Island and then the Tenement Museum to follow in the footsteps of the immigrants who lived during this time. I’d already visited the museum at the time she suggested it, but I love the idea and thought I’d pass it on to you!
Kee’s Chocolates, 80 Thompson St, Soho // Small hole-in-the-wall store front with an equally small chocolate case. Well worth the trip, but go early. Also, discovered entirely as a result of Yelp (90+ reviews).
Gramercy Tavern, 42 E 20th Street, Flatiron // Everything I’ve eaten (and tasted) here on multiple visits has been delicious. I’m always conflicted about whether I should try something new or just order the Mushroom Lasagna. It’s a beautiful setting too with floral arrangements that coordinate with the seasons.
(NEW) Idlewild Books, 12 W 19th St, Flatiron (via Kirsten Alana) // This small travel bookstore arranges everything by country — grouping all the travel guides, placed based literature, and travel writing about that country or region together. Loved visiting it and hearing the French class going on while I browsed. I walked away with a great book about Mexico City!
Artisanal, 2 Park Avenue, Murray Hill // A french-styled bistro with plenty of ambiance. Pick your own custom cheese plate (after sampling) at the cheese counter, but also consider trying the cheese gougeres (savory cream puffs)!
The Morgan, 225 Madison Ave, Midtown// It’s a great library and museum, often showing interesting exhibits including illuminated manuscripts, that marries modern design in the glass filled atrium with historical features of building that served as the town home of the Pierpont Morgan family (father of J.P. Morgan).
(NEW) Ravagh Persian Grill, 11 E 30th St (between 5th Ave & Madison Ave). A flavorful variation on the more familiar Mediterranean flavors, Persian food’s saffron, pomegranate, and walnut accents are fast becoming a favorite for me. My friend and I shared the dolmeh (dolmas), lamb kebob, and the khoresh fesenjan (walnut, chicken, and pomegranate stew – my favorite!). Worth a visit!
(NEW) Kalustyan’s, 123 Lexington Ave (between 28th St & 29th St). An ethnic grocery shop and deli counter (upstairs) stacked from floor to ceiling with spices, tea, nuts, and much more. Prepare to be a little overwhelmed when you visit. I ate upstairs and came away with a new favorite — saffron milk cookies. Savory and sweet. The cookie was an impulse purchase from inside the glass pastry case (also serving as the cash wrap) as I checked out.
Molyvos, 871 Seventh Ave, Midtown // Fancy Greek food. I love their avgolemono soup with loads of fresh dill. If you’re staying in Times Square, it’s just a short walk.
The Halal Guys at 53rd and 6th, Theater District // A line around the block every night. Great food and very affordable. We stumbled upon it as we headed back to our hotel; confirmed by 600+ reviews on Yelp.
The Frick, 1 East 70th Street, Upper East // Industrialist Henry Clark Frick’s beautiful, opulent mansion (built from 1913-1914) now serves as a museum housing the family’s extensive art collection and is definitely worth a visit.
Levain Bakery, 167 W 74th Street, Upper West // They’re insanely good and insanely big so it might be a good idea to split one or save half for later. Chocolate chip cookies are normally my favorite, but I’m hooked on the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookies here. Discovered entirely as a result of Yelp (2100+ reviews).
A few others I enjoyed include: Stumptown and The Breslin Bar & Dining Room at The Ace Hotel, the City Bakery (pretzel croissant, ftw), La Maison du Chocolat in Rockefeller Center, Fairway Cafe (UWS), and Margarita Pizza (LES).
Places I Still Want to Visit
- The New York Public Library Reading Room, 5th Ave & 42nd St, Midtown
- The High Line, on the west side from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.
- L’Ecole, The French Culinary Institute’s restaurant, 462 Broadway, Soho
- Public, Nolita (via Hither & Thither)
- Ellis Island. How have I never done this?
What Are Your NYC favorites?
While I tend to spend most of my time in Manhattan when visiting NYC, I’d love to hear your favorites from any and all boroughs! My favorites cover food and culture relatively well, but shopping, not so much. So please share any favorite boutiques you love too.
P.S. – Thanks for asking about my tips for NYC, Taina! It was about time I put something together. Hope you enjoy it. :)