“New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it: once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”
― John Steinbeck, America and Americans.
New York. New York.
In some respects, it’s the city that needs no introduction and the place is engraved on our hearts. Quite simply, it’s our opinion that New York is the greatest city in the world. Why? Because New York is the world in one city. Every culture represented. The food. The drink. The rolling out of bars in the village and ending up in Chinatown. The cold and the heat. The Lower East and the Upper West.
The sheer scale of it.
Having recently spent time in the city with Chippa Wilson, and knowing the amount of friends who live, or have lived in the Big Apple, plus the accessibility of it from anywhere in the world, we decided it was high time to get a city guide together. We’d bank on the fact you’ll most probably end up in the Big Apple one of these days, so whether you are there for a weekend, a week or just a night, we hope the following pages contain some gems to keep you ahead of the pack with an ace up your sleeve in the city that never sleeps.
“You haven’t lived until you died in New York.”
― Alexander Woollcott
Luckily, New York is served by most major airports worldwide and is, if you’re coming from Europe, the US or Australia, pretty much in the middle of the world. If you’re coming from Europe, Norwegian are your go-to airline – cheap flights straight to Newark. If not, then anyone is your go-to. On the way to LA or Hawaii from Europe? You can usually arrange a stopover ticket in NYC at no extra cost and then wonder why you haven’t extended it to more than one night. Always fly to Newark if you can, as anyone that knows will testify that JFK is the mother of all shit shows. Think three-hour immigration lines, followed by three-hour trains to get to Manhattan or a $100 uber. Avoid.
You’ve arrived. Great. But a city ain’t nothing unless you have a place to lay your head and recharge those batteries. Unless of course you plan on taking ‘the city that never sleeps’ to heart and going full turbo à la Jay Davies, then we won’t hold that against you – we’d actually give it a nod of approval…
Ideally you’ll have friends in NYC, as that’s by far the easiest way to spend time in the city without breaking the bank. Some insider knowledge goes a long way and oversized American couches are more than accommodating.
Got money? No worries. The Ace. The William Vale. The Casablanca. These are all supremely cool and borderline affordable for a weekend.
Got loads of Money? The Greenwich. Conceptualised by Robert de Niro, explained as ‘“In a city of mayhem, an oasis that is both calming yet invigorating, stylish yet unpretentious – a true hotel”. You get the message. If money is also no issue, we’d also recommend poking your nose into the Crosby Street Hotel if even for a drink.
The best down-the-line option we’d recommend is staying at the Jane Hotel – an experience in itself, intentionally Wes Anderson and a perfect example of a boutique on budget. This is our top pick for staying in the city. On the Airbnb front, it’s a little pricey but what did you expect… anywhere south of Central Park is your go-to in Manhattan, and Brooklyn is also a total delight.
New York has the dreamiest of grid systems, so walking is our preferred way of getting around. It’s (nearly) impossible to get lost. We’ve found the buses to be confusing, but the metro is dreamy. Get your card, fill it up and you’re away. Paying with a foreign card? Type 00000 when the machine asks for a zip code. This little gem will save you much frustration…just watch out for express trains and local trains running from the same platforms.
Uber is in full swing in NYC, but we prefer the yellow cabs for that touch of nostalgia and the conversation. Just remember that tipping at least 10% is totally standard; we’d hate for you to have any untoward words thrown in your general direction.
Staying a little further into Brooklyn? Rent or hop on a Citibike and cruise around the leafy borough and across the Brooklyn Bridge into the city. If you’re crossing over from Brooklyn to Manhattan and don’t fancy the cycle, we’d recommend the ferry. Taking in the commanding skyline for $4 ain’t half bad. And if you go in summer, when if anything it’s too hot, it’s a nice way to cool down. The opposite applies in winter. Wrap up. But you knew that already.
Where to start. Breakfast is pretty easy to come by and there is something to suit all tastes. For a marquee spot hit Barney Greengrass even though it’s a little uptown, as I’ll let you in on a secret – most of your time in New York will be spent below central park and into Brooklyn. Veleska is a Ukrainan diner in the east village that offers breakfast 24 hours a day, and a damn fine breakfast at that. For Coffee geeks, scope out East One Coffee Roasters in Chelsea.
The lunch menus in China Town are to die for and don’t cost the earth, as well as all the other Asian cusine you would expect. Vietnamese and Japanese. We’d also recommend Zooba, an Egyptian fast food chain with various outlets that kept us fed and watered along the way for under $11.50 – pas mal. In a rush? Hot dog stall. Errytime.
For dinner, we’d recommend hitting Chelsea Market, more specifically the Mexican joint inside it. Think well-priced delicious tacos, as well as spicy margaritas and modelos. The Time Out market just over the water in Brooklyn is a delight and offers the a whole culinary world under one roof, although unless you have a love for screaming children, we would advise avoiding weekends. Casa Enrique in long island city is a hole in the wall joint which is more than worthy of a mention. If it’s not the Michelin star or the herald of the ‘Best Mexican in New York city’, maybe it’s just the spicy margs…later into the night, pizza is your go-to and the overall cliché winner we have invested a lot of time in is J’s pizza on 7th Ave.
A lot. And usually start at lunch. By afternoon drinking, you are most likely already a reprobate so why not delve deeper into your new found identity and venture into one of NYC’s many dive bars in which we have whiled away many afternoons in New York? We took a special liking to the Happy Hour at 169 bar, and smoking Chippa on the leopard skin pool table. We’d recommend the East Village for street level. More specifically Mother’s Ruin in the Village for their infamous Giddy up Pisco Sour.
Sunset, get high. We’re talking rooftops. Rooftops in NYC are everything, especially at sundown. Whether it’s mates with rooftops in Brooklyn, (we’d advise making friends with Madsteez) or the William Vale Hotel rooftop (has the best sunset going), you won’t regret your decision. Head back into town to the Refinery and Westpoint for rooftops that offer solid views and reasonably priced drinks.
Like cocktails? You’re in luck. There are all varieties of cocktail bars; we prefer the underground speak easy, prohibition-era variety – if you do too, then look no further than the Raines Law Room in Chelsea. Just get in early to get a table. A little later? The infamous Flower Shop is also worth a visit if you’re heading out late, but arrive well lubricated before as we learnt a round of 8 margaritas will end up being a little spenny…
There are many options, but don’t arrive too drunk as we and numerous people before us have learnt. This ain’t Spain or the UK or Germany where you can stumble into the front door and get a high five from the bouncer en route. In New York, if you roll up looking a little drunk, any stumble or even the slightest of slurs and you won’t be allowed in. Anywhere. Oh and also bring ID, everywhere. They will ID you if you look under 30. It’s annoying.
For full send, which we would imagine is a go after the bars above, then look no further than the Brooklyn Mirage. Marketed as an ‘open-air sanctuary’, it is in reality an open-air bear pit of sin and destruction, featuring the best DJs and electro acts to come through the city. It is utter, utter madness and we couldn’t love it more. For a smaller joint, hit the Bossa Nova Civic Club in Bushwick. It attracts the kind of crowd we’d imagine you would want to mingle with. Techno fans usually head to The Basement in Queens. We’re reliably informed it is suitably hardcore.
Everything you could want to buy in the world is available in New York. Everything and more. Token on Canal Street effortlessly bridges the divide between street and surf. Fun fact – Jonah Hill surfs with these guys and buys boards from them. The aptly named Saturdays NYC has its roots firmly grounded in surf but has transitioned more into the luxury market. For a more traditional surf store, have a look in Pilgrim in Brooklyn, they have a fine selection of their own and other brands, as well as a rack of good alt shape boards. The Monocle shop in the West Village is a great place to accessorise and head to Dover Street Market for the avant-garde threads we know your wardrobe craves.
For skate related goods, look no further than Labor, just down the road from Token. KCDC in Brooklyn is well worth a look too, it’s owned by Erik Ellington’s wife. And yes, Supreme does have a store in New York. Camera wise, the B and H photo and video store is gargantuan and offers more than you could possibly imagine, in turn for getting those precious rolls developed, we’d recommend the picture house/small dark room on W16th street.
The Hunt NYC is a cave of curiosities located across the way from Token. It was co-founded by Dylan Rieder, if you needed any more of a stamp of approval. It’s the natural choice for our favourite store in New York. Stocking an amazing and reasonably priced selection of antiques (you’ll wish you brought a bigger suitcase), as well as their own jewellery line, The Hunt is a worthy use of your time.
Into a little luxury more than you’d care to admit? New York has got it all, baby. Evan Mock will be able to explain more than we ever possibly could but there is something for everyone. You’ll just be waiting for a weak US Dollar to make your move.
Galleries, museums, and more galleries. In terms of the heavy hitters, it goes without saying that MOMA, as well as the MET, are of course worth a visit. The Whitney Museum of American Art is also often overlooked by its elder, larger museum cousins, yet has an amazing collection and is ever so slightly less crowded. The museum of arts and design has solid collections of more craft-based work, Within it there is a restaurant called Robert’s on the 9th floor, which also boasts amazing views of central park. For more underground art collections, there are a huge selection of galleries around Chelsea, even though they may be a little ‘Hors de Prix’.
For a touch of literacy-based inspiration, hit the New York Public Library. The second largest library in the world, with four million books underground, we’d imagine it will have something for you to expand your repertoire of quotes and all-important book geekery.
Cultured out? Hit the parks. Central. Prospect. Walk the Highline up or downtown and blow out those cobwebs, for the day is long and the night is longer.
Out of town.
A bonus section if you will.
New York is ideally situated for a city escape. If you are looking to score some waves, head out to Rockaway beach or long beach on the train. Is it Summer and you fancy something a little high-brow? The Hamptons. Upstate New York is a myriad of woodland and hidden gems, notably the DIA Beacon. A direct train ride from the city to Beacon and you are in one of the most incredible galleries we have ever visited, in a former print works set on the banks of the Hudson . Highly recommended. If you set your sights further north, a world of opportunity awaits. The snow in Vermont, the bars of Boston, the coves of Maine and the history of Massachusetts. It also goes without saying that the north eastern states have an insane amount of fun waves. Done right, New York is a springboard into the treasure trove of delights that the East Coast holds.
But a special mention has to go to New Jersey. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. The Garden State has a reputation for being the sleepy south of NYC but nothing could be further from the truth. New Jersey turns up pretty hard and the waves get very fun indeed. We can’t exactly say where, but jump on a train to Ashbury Park and you won’t be far off…with the wavepool opening in the near future, we’d hedge our bets on saying a trip to New Jersey (pronounced Joisey) may well become a shining star on the east coast.
“I like riding my bike around, everywhere. All the way up from the financial district to Central Park. If I’m not doing that, you’ll find me at the Russian and Turkish Baths in the East Village. As the sun begins to dip, I usually post up on the roof of my old apartment building and have a smoke watching the world go by.” – Balaram Stack.
“New York? I love it. The fashion and the skate scene is one and the same; they lead and influence each other. The shops are insane. I like shopping around Soho, The L.V store, Rick Owens, Moncler, Converse on Broadway, Opening Ceremony. There are a ton. For drinking and playing pool, I usually hit Carmelos in Brooklyn, it’s a dive bar that I love. A little later, head to the Flower Shop in the East Village… It goes off…” – Evan Mock.
“On the art tip, I would go to Christies and Sotherby’s before they have the big auctions; you can go to the galleries and see the most insane art with the price tag attached. There’s Picassos, and a lot more contemporary stuff too, George Condo and the like. MOMA is great as well. I’m hyped to check out the New Jersey Wave Pool when that opens up. I like to eat at this spot called Ruby’s, its owned by these Australian dudes. The food is all healthy and really good and it’s also reasonably priced so that’s my go-to.” – Madsteez.
“We stay in the Lower East Side so I’m usually hanging out and eating around that area. Token and Labor are cool shops in the zone. I like Roasting Plant for coffee, which is reallygood…there’s a store called Dime where you can get açaí and breakfast burritos. I’ve got a lot of favorite places to eat, it’s hard to narrow it down but Sauce, Bacaro, Sweet Chick, I love this restaurant called “Ja Ja Ja”, Mr Taka ramen is also amazing. I skate all around the city, I don’t really go to the main spots, I’d rather just roam. My wife owns KCDC skateshop so I’m in Brooklyn a lot.” – Erik Ellington.