NYC Dopers - Travel advice needed!

On 9/12 and 9/13 Mr. Elf and I are dropping Kid Elf at the in-laws and heading to NYC for the weekend! (Yea!) We are starved for grown-up activity. Restaurants where there is no children’s menu and no mac and cheese in sight, grimy bars with loud bands, art, and general romance to boot.

So, I’m leaving it in the Dopers’ capable hands to help us make the most of our getaway weekend.

Where should we stay? We’re not rich or very fussy, but would like someplace comfortable and maybe a little eclectic. I especially love art deco architecture, and if the hotel had a deco flair that would be a bonus.

Where should we go for dinner? Looking for somewhat exotic food, romantic atmosphere, or at least really fun atmosphere. We’ll probably do romantic one night, since it’s our anniversary. We eat anything from Ethiopian to Sushi to great Buffalo wings. I’m leaning towards making reservations at Les Halles because I’m a big Anthony Bourdain fan. Would it be worth it?

What’s a really hot spot for live bands? We have varied tastes - punk, new wave, metal, goth, if it’s good we’ll like it. We probably wouldn’t really want to go for jazz or country.

What’s your favorite daytime activity? Are there any really out of the way places that we must, must, must see? Super cool shops that are off the beaten path? Interesting small museums? We’re game for pretty much anything.

What else should we do? Any fantastic bars to recommend, great shows, etc.?

Finally, if you know of some excellent web resources, send the links my way. There are a million NYC websites to wade through in google!

I’m so psyched I can hardly stand it. :smiley:

As far as nice, centrally located and historically fascinating hotels, I always recommend the Algonquin.

It looks lovely, Eve, thank you!

I have a simple bit of New York travel advice that I’ll give to anyone who asks about it on the boards. Do a search for posts by Stuyguy. He’s the acknowledged expert on New York city history and travel.

There’s this great antique toy store called Love Saves the Day, that’s on 2nd Ave (cross st is 7th St).

A couple of good places for music are The Lion’s Den on Sullivan Street (between 3rd St and Bleecker), and The Knitting Factory on Leonard St (between Broadway and Church St).

I’d offer more suggestions but I’m pretty tired. ;j

Bill, that fiver is in the mail!

Morgainelf, if you want my best tips, do a search for a thread from a couple of years ago with “vacation advice” in the thread title; the thread was started by Slythe.

Here’s the link

I remember that thread.

(Incidentally, I also just learned that if a poster changes his/her username, they will appear as their former name on the search results page. slythe=Czarcasm)

Stuyguy, this is the thread you were referring to. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing, but it looks pretty informative.

Morgainelf, here are some of my recommendations. Granted, I’m not a native, so I don’t have too much to recommend.
[li]Lombardi’s Pizza at (I believe) 32 Spring Street. Get on the southbound 6 train (It’s on the green line) and get off at the Spring Street stop. Turn right (I think) and it’ll be on the right side if the street (I know). Best pizza ever.[/li]
[li]Cabaret. This show is easily one of the best things on Broadway, or at least, it was when I was there last. A lot of people will recommend Chicago, but not me. Don’t get me wrong. I like the show, but this particular version of it just seems to miss the point. The original production in 1975 was very lavish and gaudy and it really fit the material. The revival is really just a concert version of the show and a good deal of the dialogue has been cut. Plus, Cabaret really has a lot more depth. But then again, maybe that’s not what you’re looking for. is a great site for finding out what’s what on Broadway.[/li]
I know a lot of people would lynch me for saying this, but I really, really don’t recommend The Producers. Sure, it’s funny, but the music is bland and very formulaic, IMHO. And now that the two original stars have left the show, I can’t imagine it has all that much going for it. Personally, I didn’t think it had that much going for it from the beginning and I saw it with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. Also, I highly recommend Rent. Yeah, it’s kind of a has-been, but if it’s new to you, you might really like it.

One thing you definitely ought to think about is catching an Off-Broadway show. Broadway has some great stuff, but it tends to be a little more crowd pleasing, if you know what I mean. A good analogy is to think of Broadway as big-budget Hollywood and of Off-Broadway as independent. My most memorable NYC theatre experience was seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Jane Street Theatre. This was toward the end of its run and I saw it with both Ally Sheedy and Matt McGrath. Sadly, it’s no longer playing and that’s part of the problem with Off-Broadway. Shows don’t tend to stay very long, so it can be hard to recommend stuff, especially for me, since I don’t live there. You can go to to get a listing of Off-Broadway (and Broadway) shows.

[li]I really don’t have too much to recommend in the hotel department, although the Pickwick Arms is a neat little (cheap) place. I’m sure, though, that Eve’s recommendation, the Algonquin, would be much nicer. Personally, I’d really like to stay at the Gramercy Park Hotel, but mostly because I want to see what’s so damn special about that park![/li][/ul]
Well, I seem to be fresh out of recommendations, but I’ll post again if I think of any more. Sorry if I’ve babbled too much.

If the idea of seeing an off-broadway show appeals to you, I recommend you catch “Matt & Ben”, a two-woman play about Matt Damon and Benn Affleck’s rise to fame. It operates on the premise that the script for “Good Will Hunting” dropped from the ceiling onto their laps. Hilarious.

Get out and walk, walk, walk. Late summer nights in Greenwich Village or the Upper West Side are magical. Try a sidewalk cafe in Soho and just watch people. Brunch at Sarabeth’s in the West Side or Manatus in the West Village; brunch is a big NY thing.

I do recommend CABARET on Broadway–very atmospheric, great music, and you’ll get to say to went to Studio 54 at last! For a straight play (it has a gay theme, but you know what I mean) I recommend TAKE ME OUT, this year’s Tony winner. Hilarious and heartbreaking, baseball for the hubby and naked men showering for the wife, excellent and not something to which you could take the kiddies; very adult but not dirty. Off-Broadway, MATT AND BEN is great, so are STOMP and FORBIDDEN BROADWAY.

Have real NYC pizza. Have bagels. Ride the subway, as long as you’re not dozing off with your wallet loose on your lap it’s safe and you’ll be amazed at how clean and safe it is now–save taxi money for bad weather or ultra-late night. Ride the Staten Island Ferry which is free and the best view of Lower Manhattan. Visit nearby Ground Zero if you feel you can–every American should see it and understand what was lost.

Shopping: If you like books, check out the Strand Bookstore at 12th & Broadway. If you like cast CDS, Footlight Records is down a block and 1/2. Cast recordings of shows from all over the world. For classical music, the Academy on 18th St & 5th Ave is cheap.

For the anniversary dinner, I’d go to Babbo, owned & operated byMario Batali (the FoodTV guy with the red hair) for some outstanding Italian. Located in the Village on Waverly Place. Very romantic, pricey but worth every penny. For example, two appetizers, two entrees and three drinks each amounted to $150 with the tip. I also recommend, Pepe Verde, also in the Village on Hudson Street. A small storefront restaurant, it isn’t romantic but great for an inexpensive Italian lunch or dinner.

I am not a fan of sushi, but my husband LOVES Kura Sushi on First Avenue (near East 4th, I believe).

If you plan to come to Staten Island, the Ferry ride is really nice and Snug Harbor Cultural Center is cool. See here for more info. If so, stop for lunch/dinner before/after your excursion at The Bayou on Bay Street for some awesome Cajun/Creole.

P.S. 1 is a great place for contemporary art. It is located in Long Island City, Queens, Link. I’ve never taken the train there from the city, so maybe someone can add the length of the train ride, I fear ir might be too long.

Of course, the Bronx Zoo and the Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn is a must see (if you like that sort of thing, of course). Coney Island is fun for a day trip, and you MUST ride the Cyclone and check out the aquarium. Then take a walk on the boardwalk to Little Odessa (Brighton Beach). It is almost like being in another country and Primorski, according to my co-worker, is the best Russian restaurant in town.

As for bars, my personal favorite is McSorley’s (15 East Seventh Street, NYC). It opened in 1854 and is one of the oldest watering holes in NYC. Abe Lincoln had a few here (and John Lennon for that matter). The walls are covered with memorabilia - photos, newspaper clippings, etc. I love this place, but I only go in the afternoon when you can really appreciate the history. In the evening it is PACKED with college kids and the line to get in extends half way up the block.

The Continental, the Knitting Factory and CBGB’s are great for live music. I’ve checked the on-line calendars for all and there are no bands that I have ever seen or heard of so I’ll zip my lip on that subject.

There is so much more I could say, but I have to eat at some point today. If you want details on anything I have suggested feel free to email me. And if I think of anything else I’ll post it.

Have an excellent time!!

If for any reason you don’t stay at the Algonquin – or maybe if you come back some other time! – I recommend the Hotel Beacon on the Upper West Side. Every room has a kitchenette, so you can take advantage of the great food stores in the area: Fairway, right across the street, and H&H Bagels and Zabar’s (where you can get cream cheese and lox to put on your H&H bagels) not too far up Broadway.

I second Mehitabel’s recommendation of brunch at Sarabeth’s. If you’re up for brunch two days in a row, another terrific Upper West Side restaurant is Good Enough to Eat. Both restaurants are wonderful for dessert, too.

This is my old neighborhood, and even though I moved away eight years ago, I still miss it. My favorite way to spend a weekend day in the fall was breakfast at Sarabeth’s or Good Enough to Eat, riding in Central Park, then a movie. If I were a tourist, I think I’d do the same thing, except that I’d probably substitute a Broadway show for the movie!

Depending on what train you take, P.S. 1 is either one or two stops away from the city. You can take the F, A (or is it C or E? The blue line, anyway.) or 7.