Murray Hill / Gramercy - Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists

Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists (2016)

Map 10. Murray Hill / Gramercy



Neighborhood Overview


Map 10

The Murray Hill/Gramercy area of New York is one of New York’s largest studies in contrast. On one hand, there are massive housing and hospital complexes that take up several city blocks; on the other hand, there are narrow alleys and small, gated parks of unparalleled beauty. Add it all together and we get (ho-hum) just another brilliant slice of New York.

Murray Hill’s contrast, for instance, can be found by checking out lovely little Sniffen Court, one’s of Manhattan’s finest residential alleys, and then walking south to teeming Kips Bay Plaza, a set of two parallel housing towers designed by I.M. Pei. Or by watching kids play in St. Vartan’s Park, then walking south on First Avenue to gaze at the humongous NYU and Bellevue Medical Centers (by which time, the “hill” portion of Murray Hill has evaporated). For the hill itself, head to Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue in the upper 30s—from there, you can get a sense of why this area is so-named (our unofficial guess is that Park Avenue and 38th Street is about the highest point in these parts). Then walk the side streets in the East Thirties to see some really prime real estate, as well as consulates, hotels, and lots of other stuff you can’t afford.

Moving south from Murray Hill, the neighborhood changes rather dramatically in the East 20s. You first encounter “Curry Hill” on Lexington Avenue in the upper 20s, a fantastic strip of Indian restaurants and groceries. Two large landmarks, one old and one new, punctuate the southern end of this strip—the looming brickwork of the 69th Armory, now home to many special events throughout the year, and then Baruch College’s postmodern new main building just south of there (architects like to call this type of building a “vertical campus;” what that means is a 15-minute wait for an elevator between classes). Baruch is joined in this area by two other schools of note, the School of Visual Arts and NYU’s Dental School, both on East 23rd Street.

The area changes again south of 23rd Street, becoming one of New York’s loveliest residential neighborhoods, Gramercy Park. The park itself is gated, controlled and accessed by those who actually live around it. For the rest of us, we’ll just need to be content with looking in at the park through its wrought-iron gates and staring at incredible period architecture facing the park. Our favorite three examples of this architecture are the Mayor James Harper Residence on the west side of the park, and the Players and National Arts Clubs on the southwestern side of the park. Then stroll down hidden Irving Place, a six-block long stretch of restaurants and nightlife options which dead-ends at 14th Street. Classic watering hole Pete’s Tavern, where writer O. Henry drank, is a must-stop on this walk.

But the aforementioned contrast is still alive and kicking down here, because a few blocks to the east of warm, intimate Gramercy are the hulking Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village housing complexes, which together comprise over 11,000 residential units. Controversy has marked these two huge complexes for the past several years, as longtime owner Met Life spurned a (lower) offer from a tenant’s group to buy the complex, instead selling to Tishman Speyer for $5.4 billion in 2006. It was the largest single sale of American property, which, now thanks to a deflated housing market, is now undoubtedly the largest property fiasco in American history (since Tishman had to turn over the property to its creditors to avoid bankruptcy). For us: no thanks, we’ll stick with our Brooklyn walk-ups, and just visit.

Irish pubs abound in this neighborhood, and all of them (Failte, Molly’s, Paddy Reilly’s) have their devotees. We prefer dives like McSwiggan’s, live music venues Irving Plaza or the Jazz Standard, and (of course!) classic watering hole Pete’s Tavern.

Murray Hill / Gramercy


Map 10

image Landmarks

✵ 69th Armory ✵ 68 Lexington Ave [E 26th St]

Event space, historic landmark, hookers at night.

✵ Baruch College ✵ 55 Lexington Ave [E 25th St]


Baruch’s “vertical campus;” very cool unless you need an elevator quickly.

✵ Curry Hill ✵ Lexington Ave & E 28th St

Eat your way down Lexington in the 20s!

✵ Gramercy Park ✵ E 20th St & Irving Pl

New York’s only keyed park. This is where the revolution will doubtlessly start.

✵ Kips Bay Plaza ✵ 1st Ave & E 30th St

I. M. Pei does the superblock, 1960s-style. A tad brutalist.

✵ Mayor James Harper Residence ✵

4 Gramercy Park W [E 21st St]

Cool wrought-iron madness from 1846.

✵ MeetingHouse of the Religious Society of Friends ✵ 15 Rutherford Pl [E 16th St]


Quaker meeting house from 1861. No guns, please.

✵ The National Arts Club ✵

15 Gramercy Park S [E 20th St]


One of two beautiful buildings on Gramercy Park South.

✵ Pete’s Tavern ✵ 129 E 18th St [Irving Pl]


Where O. Henry hung out. And so should you, at least once.

✵ The Players ✵ 16 Gramercy Park S [E 20th St]


The other cool building on Gramercy Park South.

✵ Protestant Welfare Agencies Building ✵

281 Park Ave S [E 22nd St]

Looming Gothic structure circa 1894. Worth a look.

✵ Sniffen Court ✵ 3rd Ave & E 36th St

Great little space.

✵ St. Vartan Park ✵ 1st Ave & E 35th St

Murray Hill kid/playground nexus.

✵ Stuyvesant Town ✵ 1st Ave & E 20th St

Would you really want to live here? Really?

✵ Tammany Hall/Union Square Theater ✵

100 E 17th St [Park Ave S]


Once housed NYC’s Democratic political machine.

image Coffee

✵ FIKA ✵ 407 Park Ave S [E 28th St]


Swedish coffee is really great. Seriously!

✵ Franchia ✵ 12 Park Ave [E 35th St]


Modern Korean tea and treats.

✵ Irving Farm Coffee Roasters ✵

71 Irving Pl [E 19th St]


Brilliant coffee.

✵ Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon ✵

56 Irving Pl [E 17th St]


It’s tea time for the ladies of Manhattan.

✵ Maialino ✵ 2 Lexington Ave [E 21st St]


Drip bar located in the Gramercy Park Hotel.

image Farmers Markets

✵ Murray Hill Youthmarket ✵

E 33rd St & 2nd Ave

Sat 8 am-3 pm, Jun-Nov

✵ Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket ✵

14th Street Loop & Avenue A

Sun 9:30 am-4 pm, June-Nov

Irish pubs abound in this neighborhood, and all of them (Failte, Molly’s, Paddy Reilly’s) have their devotees. We prefer dives like McSwiggan’s, live music venues Irving Plaza, Rodeo Bar, or the Jazz Standard, and (of course!) classic watering hole Pete’s Tavern.

image Nightlife

✵ Bar 515 ✵ 515 3rd Ave [E 34th St]


Local pseudo-frat hangout.

✵ Bar Jamon ✵ 125 E 17th St [Irving Pl]


Pig out at this wine bar.

✵ Failte Irish Whiskey Bar ✵

531 2nd Ave [E 29th St]


Sip Guiness by the fire. Shoot a round of pool. A favorite of Irish Ex-pats.

✵ Gramercy Theater ✵

127 E 23rd St [Lexington Ave]


Music venue.

✵ Irving Plaza ✵ 17 Irving Pl [E 15th St]


Staple rock venue.

✵ Jazz Standard ✵ 116 E 27th St [Lexington Ave]


Solid shows. BBQ upstairs!

✵ Joshua Tree ✵ 513 3rd Ave [E 34th St]


Murray Hill meat market.

✵ McSwiggan’s ✵ 393 2nd Ave [E 23rd St]


One of the best dive bars on the island.

✵ Mercury Bar ✵ 493 3rd Ave [E 33rd St]


Lots of TVs for sports. You make the call.

✵ Molly’s ✵ 287 3rd Ave [E 22nd St]


Great Irish pub with a fireplace.

✵ New York Comedy Club ✵

241 E 24th St [3rd Ave]


…and the bartender asks, “where did you get that?”

✵ Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar ✵

519 2nd Ave [E 29th St]


Sunday night means pints of Guinness and live Irish fiddlin’.

✵ Pete’s Tavern ✵ 129 E 18th St [Irving Pl]


Where O. Henry hung out. And so should you, at least once.

✵ Plug Uglies ✵ 257 3rd Ave [E 20th St]


Full length shuffle board table!

✵ Revival ✵ 129 E 15th St [Irving Pl]


Low-maintenance beer drinking.

✵ Rolf’s ✵ 281 3rd Ave [E 22nd St]


December holiday visit is a must for some German bier.

✵ Rose Bar ✵ 2 Lexington Ave [E 21st St]


Another classy hotel bar NFT can’t afford.

✵ The Stand ✵ 239 3rd Ave [20th St]


Intimate comedy club attracting hip names.

✵ Ted’s Corner Tavern ✵ 523 3rd Ave [E 35th St]


Ted sure has good taste in craft beer. Plus Mediterranean food.

✵ Waterfront Ale House ✵

540 2nd Ave [E 30th St]


Decent local vibe.

image Restaurants

✵ 2nd Avenue Deli ✵

162 E 33rd St [Lexington Ave]

212-689-9000 $$

Reborn in a new location. Miracles do happen.

✵ Anjappar Chettinad ✵

116 Lexington Ave [E 28th St]

212-265-3663 $$$

Southern Indian food from a global chain. And a full bar.

✵ Artisanal ✵ 2 Park Ave [E 33rd St]

212-725-8585 $$$$

Eat the fondue and leave.

✵ Bar Jamon ✵ 125 E 17th St [Irving Pl]

212-253-2773 $

Pig out at this wine bar.

✵ Blockheads ✵ 499 3rd Ave [E 34th St]

212-213-3332 $$

Damn good burritos, a little pricey.

✵ BLT Prime ✵ 111 E 22nd St [Park Ave S]

212-995-8500 $$$$$

Steakhouse with Craft-like, a-la-carte sides.

✵ Blue Smoke ✵ 116 E 27th St [Park Ave S]

212-447-7733 $$$$

Finger lickin’ BBQ, Danny Meyer style (with downstairs jazz club).

✵ Brasserie Les Halles ✵

411 Park Ave S [E 29th St]

212-679-4111 $$$

The original. Steak frites and French vibe.

✵ The Cannibal ✵ 113 E 29th St [Park Ave]

212-686-5480 $$$

Hope you like meat. And beer.

✵ Chote Nawab ✵ 115 Lexington Ave [E 28th St]

212-679-4603 $$$

Nice Indian restaurant with lots of seafood options.

✵ Clover Delicatessen ✵ 621 2nd Ave [E 34th St]

212-683-0227 $

This stellar deli has one of the best signs in NYC.

✵ Coppola’s ✵ 378 3rd Ave [E 27th St]

212-679-0070 $$

Neighborhood Italian.

✵ East Japanese ✵ 366 3rd Ave [E 26th St]

212-889-2326 $$

Sushi comes by on a conveyor belt, so act fast.

✵ El Parador Café ✵ 325 E 34th St [2nd Ave]

212-679-6812 $$$

NY’s oldest and friendliest Mexican.

✵ El Pote ✵ 718 2nd Ave [E 39th St]

212-889-6680 $$$

Spanish food in all its classic, old-school


✵ Franchia ✵ 12 Park Ave [E 35th St]

212-213-1001 $$

Modern Korean tea and treats.

✵ Friend of a Farmer ✵ 77 Irving Pl [E 19th St]

212-477-2188 $$$

Chic country-cooking.

✵ Gemini Diner ✵ 641 2nd Ave [E 35th St]

212-532-2143 $$

Open 24 hours. Diner.

✵ Gramercy Cafe ✵ 184 3rd Ave [E 17th St]

212-982-2121 $$

Open 24 hours. Diner. You know the drill.

✵ Haandi ✵ 113 Lexington Ave [E 28th St]

212-685-5200 $$

Stellar Pakistani grilled meats.

✵ I Trulli ✵ 122 E 27th St [Lexington Ave]

212-481-7372 $$$$$

Italian. Great garden.

✵ Irving Farm Coffee Roasters ✵

71 Irving Pl [E 19th St]

212-995-5252 $

Good coffee, great treats, superior service.

✵ Jackson Hole ✵ 521 3rd Ave [E 35th St]

212-679-3264 $$

Extremely large burgers. A post-drinkfest must.

✵ Jaiya ✵ 396 3rd Ave [E 28th St]

212-889-1330 $$$

Inventive, spicy Thai.

✵ Joe Jr ✵ 167 3rd Ave [E 16th St]

212-473-5150 $

Great diner atmosphere, fairly decent diner food.

✵ L’Express ✵ 249 Park Ave S [E 20th St]

212-254-5858 $$

Always-open French diner.

✵ La Posada ✵ 364 3rd Ave [E 26th St]

212-213-4379 $

Authentic Mexican burritos, tacos and enchiladas.

✵ Le Parisien Bistrot ✵ 163 E 33rd St [3rd Ave]

212-889-5489 $$$

Classic French bistro fare.

✵ Lyric Diner & Coffee Shop ✵

283 3rd Ave [22nd St]

212-213-2222 $

24 hours of triple-decker sandwiches and coffee refills.

Everyone has their Curry Hill favorite; ours is vegetarian dosa house Pongal. If you’re into meat, upscale burger joint Rare or steakhouse BLT Prime both make the cut. Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark spiffs up an underserved corner of Kips Bay. And good Thai (Jaiya) can be found, but the sleeper pick here is Turkish Kitchen, our favorite Turkish in all of New York.

✵ Maoz Vegetarian ✵ 38 Union Sq E [E 16th St]

212-260-1988 $

Cheap and tasty falafel take-out chain from Amsterdam.

✵ Mayhem & Stout ✵ 711 2nd Ave [W 38th St]

212-986-1600 $$

Slow braised sandwiches like puller pork, brisket and chicken.

✵ Mee’s Noodle Shop & Grill ✵

547 2nd Ave [E 30th St]

212-779-1596 $

Noodles, General Tso’s and sushi for cheap.

✵ Mexico Lindo ✵ 459 2nd Ave [E 26th St]

212-679-3665 $$$

Famous Mexican food.

✵ Murray Hill Diner ✵

222 Lexington Ave [E 33rd St]

212-686-6667 $$

Last of a vanishing breed. Simple Greek food and greasy classics.

✵ Novita ✵ 102 E 22nd St [Park Ave S]

212-677-2222 $$$$

Sophisticated Italian without the pretension.

✵ Penelope ✵ 159 Lexington Ave [E 30th St]

212-481-3800 $$

Gingham décor but oh, what a menu!

✵ Pete’s Tavern ✵ 129 E 18th St [Irving Pl]

212-473-7676 $$$$

Good pub food, especially after/while drinking!

✵ Pongal ✵ 110 Lexington Ave [E 28th St]

212-696-9458 $$

Possibly NY’s best vegetarian Indian. Sada dosa…mmmm.

✵ Posto ✵ 310 2nd Ave [E 18th St]

212-716-1200 $$

Savory thin-crust pizza, salads.

✵ Rare Bar & Grill ✵

303 Lexington Ave [E 37th St]

212-481-1999 $$$

Should be better, given the focus. We’re divided on this one.

✵ Resto ✵ 111 E 29th St [Park Ave S]

212-685-5585 $$

Belgian gastropub that’s pretty darn great.

✵ Riverpark ✵ 450 E 29th St [1st Ave]

212-729-9790 $$$$$

Colicchio brings his vision to underserved corner of Kips Bay.

✵ Sam’s Place ✵ 132 E 39th St [Lexington Ave]

212-599-6360 $$$

Hidden old-school Italian haunt.

✵ Saravana Bhavan ✵

81 Lexington Ave [E 26th St]

212-679-0204 $$

All about the dosas at this multi-national Indian vegetarian spot.

✵ Sarge’s Deli ✵ 548 3rd Ave [E 37th St]

212-679-0442 $$

24-hour-a-day pastrami, convenient to GCT.

✵ Scotty’s Diner ✵ 336 Lexington Ave [E 39th St]

212-986-1520 $$

When you need food, not an Instagram photo.

✵ Spice Symphony ✵

182 Lexington Ave [E 31st St]

212-545-7742 $$

Mouth-watering Indian, friendly, a gem in a douchy ‘hood.

✵ Tiffin Wallah ✵ 127 E 28th St [Lexington Ave]

212-685-7301 $

Veggie lunch buffet for a few bucks.

✵ Turkish Kitchen ✵ 386 3rd Ave [E 28th St]

212-679-6633 $$$

Excellent Turkish, great décor, brilliant bread. NFT pick!

✵ Union Square Café ✵ 235 Park Ave S [19th St]

212-243-4020 $$$$$

Second location of first restaurant of Danny Meyer’s empire.

✵ Upland ✵ 345 Park Ave S [E 26th St]

212-686-1006 $$$$

If San Bernandino County were on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

✵ Vamos! Tacos Y Tequila ✵

348 1st Ave [E 20th St]

212 358-7800 $$$

Crappy New York service, great California cuisine.

✵ Vatan ✵ 409 3rd Ave [E 29th St]

212-689-5666 $$$

All-you-can-eat vegetarian Indian feast.

✵ Vezzo ✵ 178 Lexington Ave [E 31st St]

212-839-8300 $$

From the owners of Gruppo and Posto. Delizioso.

✵ Via Emilia ✵ 47 E 21st St [Broadway]

212-505-3072 $$$

Emilia-Romagnan specialties.

✵ The Water Club ✵ FDR Drive & 30th St

212-683-3333 $$$$

Romantic, good brunch on the East River.

✵ The Watering Hole ✵ 106 E 19th St [Park Ave S]

212-674-5783 $$

Perfect place to watch the game.

✵ Yama ✵ 122 E 17th St [Irving Pl]

212-475-0969 $$$

Sushi deluxe.

image Shopping

✵ City Opera Thrift Shop ✵

222 E 23rd St [3rd Ave]


They always have something or other.

✵ DaVinci Artist Supply ✵

137 E 23rd St [Lexington Ave]


Discounts to student, teachers, and art professionals.

✵ Dover Street Market ✵

160 Lexington Ave [30th St]


Multi-floor multi-brand orgy of fashion.

✵ Foods of India ✵ 121 Lexington Ave [E 28th St]


Huge selection including harder to find spices.

✵ Housing Works Thrift Shop ✵

157 E 23rd St [Lexington Ave]


Our favorite thrift store.

✵ Jam Paper & Envelope ✵

135 3rd Ave [E 15th St]


And…the envelope, please.

✵ Kalustyan’s ✵ 123 Lexington Ave [E 28th St]


International spice and specialty food market dating back to 1944.

✵ La Delice Pastry Shop ✵

372 3rd Ave [E 27th St]


Delectable pastries, buttery croissants, layer cakes.

✵ Lamarca Cheese Shop ✵

161 E 22nd St [3rd Ave]


Italian culinary goodies.

The constantly changing Dover Street Market is a boffo orgy of high-end designers. Hit either Lamarca or Lamazou cheese shops to go along with pastries from La Delice. Indian shops Foods of India and Om Saree Palace are always worth a look. Jam will have any envelope you could ever need and Nuthouse Hardware is New York’s only 24-hour hardware store, with power tool rentals. Cool.

✵ Lamazou ✵ 370 3rd Ave [E 27th St]


Great selection of cheese and gourmet products.

✵ Ligne Roset ✵ 250 Park Ave S [E 20th St]


Modern, sleek furniture. Only for people with very good jobs.

✵ Max Nass ✵ 118 E 28th St [Lexington Ave]


Vintage jewelry, repairs, restringing, and restoration.

✵ Nemo Tile Company ✵ 48 E 21st St [Broadway]


Good tile shop for small projects.

✵ Nuthouse Hardware ✵ 202 E 29th St [3rd Ave]


Open 24-hours; equipment rentals, too.

✵ Om Saree Palace ✵

134 E 27th St [Lexington Ave]


Saris, bangles, earrings, sandals, and accessories.

✵ Pookie & Sebastian ✵ 541 3rd Ave [E 36th St]


Murray Hill outpost for fun, flirty, girly garb.

✵ Spokesman Cycles ✵ 34 Irving Pl [E 16th St]


Sales, service, repairs, and rentals.

✵ Todaro Bros. ✵ 555 2nd Ave [E 30th St]


Home made mozzerella, pastas, high quality groceries.

✵ Vintage Thrift Shop ✵ 286 3rd Ave [E 22nd St]


Vintage clothes you can actually afford.