In a city of more than 8 million, it’s easy to get jostled on the crowded streets of Manhattan. But the borough can also feel small. Here's local Adrienne Jordan's guide to the best things to do and eat in NYC, whatever your style.Less
Named after President James Madison, the park is between East 23rd and 26th streets near the Flatiron Building. If you like just doing nothing, then set up a picnic blanket or grab a table and people-watch. The park is popular for art installations and rollerblading, and was where the first public Christmas tree in the United States was displayed in 1912. You’ll find food vendors around the edges of the park (not to mention the first Shake Shack, inside it) and a dog run area.
Visit the city’s main public library, whose construction finished in 1911, to take in the sweeping architecture; then stroll "Library Way." Look down at the sidewalk along East 41st Street between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue to read inscriptions on 100 bronze plaques with famous literary quotes from authors including E.B. White and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “The knowledge of different literatures frees one from the tyranny of a few,” attributed to José Martí, is just one inscription.
Watch a pickup basketball game on the iconic West Fourth Street Courts, called “the Cage,” where NBA players like Anthony Mason, Smush Parker and Stephon Marbury played before entering the league. You can find players from sunup to sundown challenging each other — from the 15-year-old neighborhood kid hoping to cut his teeth in a match to an NBA coach from the San Antonio Spurs just passing through.
If you have a dog, then you and your pet can plop down on the casual outdoor seating at Hole in the Wall Cafe. Inside, the restaurant decor is shabby-chic, with exposed Edison bulbs, a neon sign welcoming guests with “Hello Gorgeous,” abstract framed photos and pothos plants dangling from a peg board. The venue serves favorites including avocado toast, a pulled pork Benedict, chili scrambled eggs and whipped waffles with salted caramel.
Jessica Grynberg opened Bourke Street Bakery to bring a fusion of cuisines into a warmly lit 50-seat venue. Grynberg was inspired by the multiculturalism of the people from her hometown of Sydney, and because of the diversity in the menu, you’ll often see locals in line outside waiting to take away items like lox sandwiches, fennel-infused pork shoulder sandwiches and fattoush salads. If you return for the after-4 p.m. menu, you’ll find natural wines.
Find this standing-room-only corner storefront for a cheap slice of pizza ($3-$5) but with higher-end ingredients than the usual New York pizza joint. The place is owned by Noam Grossman, who partnered with Eli and Oren Halali, the guys behind the 2 Bros. Pizza chain known for its $1 slices around New York. The organic ingredients include sourdough wild yeast starter and mozzarella stretched from curd every day.
A 35-foot-long bar takes up most of the New England-style oyster bar, with a few seats in the back of the narrow, railroad-style restaurant. The decor is mostly white brick and white walls, evoking a seaside restaurant rather than a city joint. The long, communal bar invites conversation between locals and owner Ed McFarland, who is usually behind the bar overseeing the oyster-shucking and lobster-roll-making, while fish plates come from the kitchen.
Located on the ground floor of an apartment building in Sugar Hill, you can eat and drink Ethiopian food and beer inside the cozy restaurant or in the little backyard. Pick from dishes that longtime Harlem residents love, like doro wat, mushroom tibs, and the smoked salmon and avocado salad. Be sure to try the injera, a flatbread commonly served with Ethiopian dishes, and tej, an Ethiopian honey wine that is popular at North African weddings.
Dublin House is a classic dive bar. The Irish-owned Dublin House was a popular spot frequented by sailors docking at the 79th Street Boat Basin in the 1930s. Now, it’s a hangout for Upper West Side residents. It attracts those looking for cheap drinks, like the Dublin House ale or a standard selection of beers from Coors to Bud Light. Catching an NFL game here is a normal occurrence, as are the bros playing darts.
In the Radio Wave Building, where Nikola Tesla lived and did experiments, there is now a coffee shop. At night, a hidden door disguised as a large menu opens into a hallway lit by candles to reveal a speakeasy. Seating is first come, first served in the Tesla-themed bar, where you sip cocktails called “The ’Twain,” “Light Me Up” and “Hit By a Taxi.” There is even a taxidermy pigeon hanging from the ceiling; Tesla had an obsession with the bird.