Tag Archives: nyc10

NYC 10: The Best

Last month marked 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

New Yorkers are generally stereotyped by being rude; in truth, they’re just strongly opinionated. With that in mind, here are a number of things I am right about, in alphabetical order.

The best Apple Store in NYC is West 14th Street, as it is rarely crowded or busy.

Inside Chinatown Fair

The best arcade is Chinatown Fair, although this is mostly because it’s the only arcade worth a damn at this point. It’s lost something since its hole-in-the-wall years (as pictured above), but it still has a good selection of music games and a couple fighters.

King Henry's Road NW3

The best bar in NYC is The Dead Rabbit. Busy Irish pub downstairs, crazy speakeasy cocktails upstairs. If you’re downstairs, get the Irish Coffee; if you’re upstairs, get the Ginger Daisy.

The best barbecue in NYC is Mighty Quinn’s. The brisket and pulled pork is unreal.

The best coffee in NYC – and this is, admittedly, a very tough pick – is the Iced Latte at Cafe Grumpy. Any Stumptown or Blue Bottle location is also acceptable.

The Troll 2 Experience

The best comedy venue in NYC is UCB Theatre. I’ve seen Aziz Ansari, Paul Scheer, Bobby Moynihan, Julie Klausner, and plenty of others build their careers there.

The best doughnut in NYC can be found at Doughnut Plant. I am partial to the Vanilla Bean & Blackberry.

Schnitzel & Things Line at 12:08

The best food truck in NYC is Schnitzel And Things. Chicken platter, fries and cukes, spicy mayo.

The best fried chicken in NYC is Hill Country Chicken. Eat downstairs. Don’t skip the pie.

The best lobster roll in NYC is Luke’s Lobster. Practically perfect.

The best mocha in NYC (which is very different from best coffee) is at Lucid Cafe. I don’t know how they make it but it is downright magical.

The best movie theatre in NYC is Regal Battery Park Stadium 11. Somehow, it is still a secret, despite everyone I know agreeing on this point.

The Cloisters

The best museum in NYC is The Cloisters, not because it’s got a particularly vibrant collection or strong curation, but because it is so far out of the way that you don’t feel like you’re in the biggest city in the world.

The best music store in NYC, and the best place to buy movies, is Kim’s Video and Music. I miss their old location, but they are vital for DVD and vinyl collectors.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Sakura Field

The best park in NYC is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, especially in the spring.

The best pizza in NYC is at Motorino.

The best ramen in NYC is at Hide-Chan Ramen. You get a free topping Monday through Wednesday. Get extra pork.

The best overall restaurant in NYC – and by “overall”, I mean balancing the service and quality of food against price – is Gramercy Tavern. I have a solo lunch here every year on my birthday, and it’s where we go on our anniversary. Yes, Per Se is gorgeous, and Le Bernardin does amazing things with seafood, and I eat at North End Grill every week – but Gramercy just hits this balance of everything so well that it’s a solid level above the rest.

Gallow Green

The best rooftop bar in NYC is Gallow Green. Gorgeous in the summer. Yes, it’s expensive – it’s a rooftop bar. That’s how these things work.

The best sandwich in NYC is the prime rib sandwich at the Rosticceria inside of Eataly. This is a sandwich I come into the city for on my days off. It’s only available until about 5 PM, so plan accordingly.

The best subway line is the N. While I take the E every day because of its copious cell signal coverage (and that its the best choice for my commute), it’s hard to beat the path the N cuts diagonally across the island.

The best sushi in NYC is at 15 East. Be forewarned, it’s expensive – sitting at the counter for lunch is the best way to try it.

The best video game store is Video Games New York. The shelves are legendary, and sometimes pricey, but their selection is unmatched.

NYC 10: The 10 Worst Types Of People In NYC

This month marks 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

Tourists. Not all tourists; just those who fail to understand that the city may not operate in the same way their hometown does, and then opt to get huffy about it. (These are the ones always complaining about how rude NYC residents are.)

People who don’t move in to the center of a subway car when there’s a mass of people on the platform.

Those who walk by a giant line for something, ask what the line is for, and then respond with “Oh.” Were you going to get in this massive line if it was some really compelling thing? No, you weren’t. Keep walking.

People on subways platforms who shout at people in the train to move into the center of the car when there’s no room.

Grifters. I have run into two in my life. One I dodged, one I did not.

People who cut their fingernails on the subway.

Food cart vendors who seem to be unable to do anything other than burn the hell out of chestnuts, leaving whatever street they’re on smelling of burning death.

Those who stand to the left on any escalator.

Stand-up comedians in Times Square who, in a desperate attempt to hand out free tickets so they get stage time, ask everyone they see “Hey, do you guys like comedy?”

But the worst people in all of New York City, the lowest of the low? The leeches who stand around Ground Zero and sell “NEVER FORGET” souvenir magazines to unsuspecting tourists. It is the most literal profiting off of a tragedy I have ever seen, and it is disgusting.

NYC 10: A Guide To Taxis

This month marks 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

First. Find a corner where no one else is looking for a taxi. You don’t want to be that asshole that stands in front of someone who’s been trying desperately to hail a cab for ages, as they will complain about you for hours. Hours. If you’re feeling charitable, walk with traffic for a block before attempting to hail.

Second. Look for an available cab. Stare at the medallion number on top of the cab. If it is lit up, it is available; if it is not lit up, it is not available. Use this information to guide you in the next section.

Third. As an available cab becomes visible, or if a large swarm of traffic comes your way, put your arm that is closest to the street up at a 45-degree angle. (There is no specific thing you need to do with your hand, but I like a two-finger point, myself.) If no cab stops and no other cabs are visible, you may drop your hand until the next wave of traffic comes – although if you see someone else lurking for a cab, you may wish to continue the Hailing Gesture to indicate that this territory is yours and they need to go elsewhere, lest you complain about them for hours.

Fourth. When a cab does stop, quickly enter it. Do not ask the cabbie through the window if he will take you somewhere, because if you have to ask, he will immediately say no and drive off, which is legal because you didn’t get in the cab before telling him you wanted to go to Queens. If you have a suitcase or luggage, the driver may pop the trunk for you. (Note that if you have luggage and you aren’t going to the airport, they will grumble.) Do not get in a black towncar or a gypsy cab if they attempt to pick you up, as that’s illegal. If a pedi-cab (those guys on bicycles) try to pick you up, scoff loud enough for them to hear you.

Fifth. Now inside the taxi, indicate clearly to your driver where you wish to go. Unless you are going to a major landmark, give a cross-street. Do not give building numbers as it doesn’t help. Enunciate clearly all numbers, indicate what type of street it is, and repeat any multi-digit street numbers using just digits, so as to avoid confusion between similar sounding numbers. And be polite.

BAD INSTRUCTIONS: “51st and Lex.”
GOOD INSTRUCTIONS: “Fifty first Street and Lexington Avenue, please. Five one.”

Sixth. Tap the Taxi TV screen in the lower right corner to turn it off. Do not sit and watch Sandy Kenyon’s terrible movie reviews. Don’t worry, the screen will turn back on at the end if you’re paying credit.

Seventh. Relax, but retain a general sense of where you’re supposed to be going and where you are actually going. Traffic, street fairs, accidents, and that weird things where all the cops park on the same street at once (seriously, what is up with that?) may cause your cabbie to redirect. This is natural; going twenty blocks the wrong direction is not. If you detect the driver is going too far the wrong way, provide helpful feedback, such as: “Hey, buddy, are we going the right way? I said (repeat destination clearly).” If you are not familiar with the city geographic, you can turn the Taxi TV back on and put it on GPS mode.

Eighth. You have arrived! Pay the driver. Cash is king, but credit cards are accepted in all cabs. Tip nicely (at least 20%) because driving a taxi is not the easiest way to make a living. Get out on the side closest to the curb. If someone nearby was waiting for a cab, hold the door for them as they get in and close it behind them for an extra touch of class.

And that is how you take a taxi.

NYC 10: Concerts

This month marks 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

LCD Soundsystem

If my blog archives are to be trusted, within the first two weeks of being in NYC, I had found my way to my first concert (Paul Van Dyk at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square) and my first book event (Neal Stephenson at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square for the release of Quicksilver: Volume One). Both were free, letting me get in very close contact with two artists that I had a deep love for almost immediately after arriving in my new home.

As a first hit, that was one hell of a drug.

New York is constantly busy with events, so much so that there’s no possible way that you will ever attend all, let alone most, of the things you might be interested in. I tried, lacking any better judgement, to do them all for a couple of years, before growing too old/too tired/too annoyed to keep that up.

Concerts are particularly tough. Plenty of concerts start way too late: regardless of day of the week, main acts for rock shows tend to go on around 10 and DJ sets are lucky if they start by 2AM. NYC is dotted with venues with shitty sight lines, crowds are ill-mannered, expensive drinks, and bathrooms that are indescribably bad.

But every now and then, you get that one really really great show, and your faith is restored, at least for a little while. And being in the Media Capital Of The World, most every band you will ever want to see will come to town at some point.

With all that in mind, some high points and low points of concerts I’ve attended in NYC.

THE ABSOLUTE BEST SHOW I’VE EVER BEEN TO AND PROBABLY WILL EVER GO TO

LCD Soundsystem’s final show at MSG, easily. You can grab the documentary of the show easily enough, and it’s worth watching, but James Murphy’s drive to churn out three of the best dance (and I mean that in the actual-music-that-makes-you-want-to-dance sense, not the unn-tsst-brostep-or-generic-trance sense) albums of the 2000’s turned his band’s final show into something unforgettable. It was an almost painfully long set, emotional to be in the audience of, and one of those shows that was truly a “had to be there” experience.

THE SECOND BEST SHOW I’VE EVER BEEN TO AND THE FALLBACK SHOULD I EVER START HATING LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, WHICH WON’T HAPPEN BUT I NEEDED TO CONTEXTUALIZE THIS SOMEHOW

Daft Punk at the Cyclones Stadium on Coney Island. This was the heyday of the Alive tour, with the pyramid and the mashups and the blowing of minds. An outdoor show with perfect weather, with the set just hitting its peak as the sun went down, and a perfect light show – it was magical.

THE SHOW THAT MOST MADE MY SIXTEEN YEAR OLD SELF HAPPY, AND THUS RUINED MY FUTURE ENJOYMENT OF THE BAND IN QUESTION

I have had three opportunities to see Nine Inch Nails play in NYC. The first, a fairly regular show at MSG in support of their 2000-era albums, was alright but perhaps a touch forgettable.

The second show came during the “retirement” tour, and as we crammed into Webster Hall in August of 2009, we were treated to the thing I would have most wanted when I first discovered Trent Reznor: a concert of The Downward Spiral, sequentially from Mr. Self Destruct all the way through to Hurt. It was beautiful, and perfect, and even as the band played stuff off the other albums to cover the second hour of the show, it was sort of set in my mind that when it came to the formative band of my angsty teenage years, it wasn’t going to get better than that.

The third opportunity is in a month or two. And it is an opportunity I’ve passed on, because after I’ve seen you on a retirement tour – especially one where you do wish fulfillment the likes of which that Webster Hall show managed – you’re off my desired ticket list. It’s not getting better than that.

BEST SHORT NOTICE SHOW

LCD Soundsystem again, this time for the show announced a day before it happened for Music Hall of Williamsburg. A tune up before the This Is Happening tour, where most of the new songs were played for the first time. Great small crowd, the band was in high spirits, and it was like a meeting of the LCD Fanclub, since you had to act really quick to have made it in.

WORST SHOW

Chemical Brothers, Hammerstein Ballroom. Half due to the guy drugged out of his mind who kept trying to squeeze in front of us when we were standing at the barricade, who ended up getting removed by security because he wouldn’t stop being a complete jackass.

But beyond him: such a shitty DJ set. Sure, the video display was kind of neat, but it was basically a “push play and then spent the night waving your arms in the air” sort of a night.