Life on steroids. That’s how I’d define New York. For those who are creatively inclined, like me, it fills all your senses. It’s hard to get lost in a city that has been designed by a perfect grid pattern, but I can assure you each cross section tells a different story.
For me, it’s easy to dissect any city in three different parts, from food, art and design, to its cultural influences, which make a city truly special. Rather than take you down the tourist trail and talk about Central Park, the Statue of Liberty or Times Square, places that you would get in any guide book and can visit at your own discretion. I love taking in the street life, places where the fashion-infused youth is going and the boroughs that are changing the landscape of how you view New York today. From the perspective of a design person the city has a lot to offer. And I always like to visit neighbourhoods where the street culture mixes with commerce and has something tangible to offer.
On the culinary trail
Food is one of those items which defines the soul of a city, and New York is no different. You can have some of the best Mexican or Italian and learn about the quintessential flavours that make a place. How in the mid-1900s the iron workers’ staple diet, due to it being cheap and easy, become the iconic bagel. And even till this day is one of the most loved breakfast bites for New Yorkers. And if you want one of the best, Black Seed Bagels is one of the most famous bagel shops in Lower East Side. And who can forget the famous New York pizza? I would rate Prince Street Pizza as one of the best I have eaten. But beware, there is always a massive queue outside, so be ready to wait. This side of the city is also known for its night life and cafés, and you won’t be out of options. With amazing gin bars like Bathtub Gin, and speakeasies like Death & Company and Please Don’t Tell, which has its entrance from a phone booth positioned inside a hot dog place.
And when it comes to shopping, New York is a heaven comprising of many cluster neighbourhoods. Below 14th street is Soho, Greenwich village, Nolita, little Italy and the famous meatpacking district with great bars and shops. The food at Chelsea Market and their High line — which is an old elevated train track converted into a public park, walking track, with varied activities taking place on it — is a must visit.
Some of my favourite stores are on Prince Street, Soho. From Frye, known for their leather boots and all American leather goods. And Rag n Bone APC among many other boutiques on the same stretch. And if you keep walking down the street, crossing over to West Broadway, you find this coffee shop called Ground Support Coffee, which the coffee addict in me loves.
As street wear is big at this point, one of the coolest stores in New York City is Kith, which also has a splendid limited edition of sneakers for all those sneaker heads. Just a five-minute walk from there you would be in Nolita, an area with some of the hippest indigenous brands. You see retail taking its own independent look and feel, away from the high street labels. From EverLane, a women’s clothing brand with a queue of young women lined up to go in, to independent brands like Cuyana and Buck Mason making a mark in the fashion scene, along with many vintage stores.
NYC for hipsters
For the hipsters who want freshly brewed coffee, organic and vegan everything, the best vinyl records, stellar craft beers and vintage stores. There is always my favourite part of New York, Brooklyn, which from being a sketchy, affordable living area 10 years back has now become one of the coolest, most hipster districts. From Williamsburg recently opening one of the coolest hotels in Bedford, Hoxton, to Dumbo –which has one of the best views of Manhattan, Brooklyn is filled with coffee shops and amazing thrift stores. One of the best ones is Front General Store, with its collection of old Japanese labels, and housing sunglasses to stationery. Another thing that I always hunt for in a city are flea markets and New York has some really nice ones. And they mostly open on the weekends, so Sunday flea is a must in Brooklyn, you will come across some stunning treasures.
Few other of my top spots are the Viceroy on 6th Avenue for its art deco design. The Whitney Museum of American Arts, Guggenheim Museum, Smithsonian Design Museum. For food, other than those already mentioned, Los Tacos and Petite Boucherie. Goods for the Study and CW pencil for your stationary wants, Shinola for leather goods, and ABC Carpet for lifestyle and home décor.