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Favorite Spots, Five Boroughs

July 29, 2020

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In a city like New York, that has a population of close to nine million, it’s great to know that there’s something for everyone. This gave me the idea to write about fun and/or favorite spots in all five boroughs, namely: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. So, in this blog we’ll cover places I’ve personally enjoyed over the years and spots mentioned in an article that ran in Condé Nast Traveler magazine in April 2020. Here are five slices of the Big Apple:

Houston Street in Lower Manhattan: it slices through the East Village, Greenwich Village and Soho

MANHATTAN is what I know best so here goes. My spirit soars every time I walk through Grand Central – I think it’s majestic and wonderful. Then, when I’m in the mood, I’ll whip downstairs to the Oyster Bar for a big, soul-satisfying bowl of She-Crab soup that you can only get on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Moving on to the Upper Eastside there’s the famous Metropolitan Museum that always brings back memories, for example: the spectacular Alexander McQueen show in 2011 where folks lined up for hours to see this once-in-a-lifetime exhibit. You could spend a year at the Met and still not see everything. If you’re in the mood for coffee and a delicious treat when you leave the Met be sure and go to the classy Neue Galerie at 86th and Fifth. We had a delicious Sachertorte (Viennese Chocolate Cake) in their café that was absolutely superb.

Kids having fun at the fountain in Washington Square Park

Now, let’s go to the Carlyle Hotel at 35 East 76th Street and visit the famous Bemelmans Bar with its Madeline murals. One fan says, “To me it captures a glamorous old New York that no longer exists.” We had a great time here.    

BROOKLYN brings back memories because Peter and I used to go to the Gage & Tollner chophouse located at 371 Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn. It closed in 2004 after 125 years BUT recently reopened with great fanfare. The interior with its glittering chandeliers, elegant cherry-wood paneling, arched mirrors and even brass Victorian hat hooks is a visual marvel. It specializes in tasty steaks, chops and seafood. You’ll love it!

Another fan of Brooklyn is chef Tom Colicchio, formerly of Gramercy Tavern, who lives in Fort Greene and says, “It feels like a version of New York from 40 years ago.” He recommends Miss Ada’s for brunch and adds, “There’s also a restaurant named ‘Olea’ that is a very good Mediterranean place.”

QUEENS Here’s a lively description of “A Saturday in Queens” from Josh Russ Tupper, a co-owner of Russ & Daughters (see the end of this blog).  He says, “I often take our dog for a walk to Jackson Heights. Later we might explore Flushing’s Chinatown and stop for a bite at Joe’s Steam Rice Roll or go to Astoria Park for our favorite Greek spot, Agnanti.”

THE BRONX Now here’s one of my all-time favorite spots on planet Earth: the New York Botanical Garden. We’ve made a number of trips via train to this fabled spot that is described as “New York’s iconic living museum.” At Christmas it’s a magical wonderland and the famous Orchid Show is always a glorious sight that outdoes itself every year.

Plan to spend the day or at least a good portion of it, at the Garden. You’ll do a lot of walking so plan to revitalize yourself with coffee and whatever strikes your fancy. They also have a huge shop with beautifully designed products for the home or for gifts. Trust me, you will definitely spend money here.

STATEN ISLAND Of course you’ll take the ferry from NYC to Staten Island – everyone does this at least once – we’ve done it a number of times. You’ll be able to get a close view of the Statue of Liberty and even better it’s the only ferry in New York that’s free and sells beer.

 

Brooklyn has Coney Island, a 2.7-mile-long boardwalk on the beach and, of course, the famous Cyclone roller coaster – all photos courtesy of Condé Nast Traveler, April 2020

Now we’ve made the full circle and we’re back in Manhattan where I’d just like to end with a few words about Russ & Daughters at 179 East Houston Street. The name of this place stopped me cold when I first saw it about 10 years ago. The story goes back to 1933 when Joel Russ made his three daughters, Hattie, Anne and Ida partners in his store where they had worked since they were teenagers. This was a bold move at the time. (Truth be told, I think it would be a bold move today.) The store has now been selling bagels, bialys and smoked fish for 105 years and Russ Tupper is the fourth generation to be involved in the family business. A book has been written about this place and it’s titled, “The House That Herring Built.” That’s the whole story right there.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick


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