City Hall / Chinatown - Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists

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

Map 3. City Hall / Chinatown



Neighborhood Overview


Map 3

Chinatown. Home of the NFT offices from 1998 until 2010, we truly have a love-hate relationship with this neighborhood. On one hand you have one of the highest concentrations of great (and cheap!) food in all of New York, one of the city's most interesting and diverse parks in Columbus Park, lots of history, and a daytime hustle-and-bustle that is probably only matched by midtown Manhattan.

On the other hand…it's quite possibly New York's grimiest neighborhood, there is almost no nightlife, and peace and quiet is, of course, nonexistent during daylight hours. But hey—if you want peace and quiet, what are you doing in the middle of New York City anyway?

Our advice is to just get in there and mix it up with the locals, many of whom live in the huge Confucius Towers complex at the base of the Manhattan Bridge. And mixing it up is something that New Yorkers have been doing in this area for hundreds of years, starting with the incredibly dangerous "Five Points" area north of Collect Pond (the setting for Scorcese's seething Gangs of New York). Both the Five Points and Collect Pond are gone (the area itself is now Columbus Park), but little Doyers Street (aka "Bloody Angle") was the scene of Chinese gang wars for over 50 years.

Today, though, you can stroll around like the most clueless tourist and have absolutely no problems at all—gang wars have been replaced with street and shop commerce, from the tourist vendors of Mott Street to the produce market in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, with all of Canal Street's wall of tourists and locals connecting the two. The mass of humanity is sometimes overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are some cool places to try and hide away for a few moments, including the Eastern States Buddhist Temple and Maya Lin's new Museum of Chinese in America. The best "living museum," however, is without a doubt Columbus Park, which has an incredible range of activities—from early-morning tai chi to afternoon mah-jongg—happening within its borders throughout the day. In summer, a stop at classic Chinatown Ice Cream Factory will also cool your jets momentarily.

Columbus Park also serves as the northeast border of the City Hall area. There are several standout examples of civic architecture, including City Hall itself, the Tweed Courthouse, the US Courthouse, the condo-ized Woolworth Building, the sublime Hall of Records/Surrogate Court building, and, one of our favorite buildings in all of New York, McKim, Mead, & White's masterful Municipal Building, complete with a wedding-cake top and the Brooklyn Bridge stop of the 4-5-6 trains underneath.

From the Municipal Building, a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge is almost a de rigueur activity; if you'd rather stay in Manhattan, though, check out the African Burial Ground or watch police procedurals being filmed from Foley Square. Or head back east a bit to discover another bit of New York City history, an ancient Jewish Burial Ground on St. James Place.

No matter what you do here don't forget to EAT. It's worth the traffic, the smells, the lines, and the general rudeness of people. Believe it.

City Hall / Chinatown


Map 3

image Landmarks

✵ 87 Lafayette St ✵

87 Lafayette St [White St]

Ex-firehouse designed in Chateau style by Napoleon LeBrun.

✵ African Burial Ground ✵

290 Broadway [Duane St]


Colonial burial ground for 20,000+ African-American slaves.

✵ Brooklyn Bridge ✵

Chambers St & Centre St

The granddaddy of them all. Walking toward Manhattan at sunset is as good as it gets.

✵ Centre Marketplace ✵

Centre St & Broome St

Another great street we can’t afford to live on.

✵ Chatham Towers ✵

170 Park Row [Worth St]

1960s poured-concrete apartment buildings overlooking Chatham Square. Nice windows.

✵ Chinatown Arcade ✵

48 Bowery [Canal St]

Hidden dirty hallway connecting Elizabeth to the Bowery.

✵ Chinatown Fair ✵

8 Mott St [Bowery]


Sneak out of the office to play Ms. Pac Man here.

✵ Chinatown Ice Cream Factory ✵

65 Bayard St [Mott St]


The best ice cream (ginger, black sesame, mango, red bean, et al.), ever.

✵ Chinatown Visitors Kiosk ✵

Walker St & Baxter St

Good meeting point. Just look out for the dragon.

✵ City Hall ✵

260 Broadway [Park Pl]


Built in 1811, the diminutive seat of government.

✵ Columbus Park Playground ✵

67 Mulberry St [Bayard St]


Former Five Points hub now operates as prime Chinatown hangout.

✵ Confucius Plaza ✵

Bowery & Division St

Confucius say: live here!

✵ Criminal Courthouse ✵

100 Centre St [Leonard St]



✵ Doyers Street (Bloody Angle) ✵

Doyers St [Chatham Sq]

Rare curvy street in Manhattan; film scouts love it.

✵ Eldridge Street Synagogue ✵

12 Eldridge St [Division St]


The first large-scale building by Eastern Euro immigrants in NY.

✵ Foley Square ✵

Worth St & Centre St

Now with bizarre black obelisk. Guiliani hated it.

✵ Lighting District ✵

Bowery [Broome]

Light up your life with products from these fine purveyors…

✵ Municipal Building ✵

Chambers St & Park Row

Wonderful McKim, Mead & White masterpiece.

✵ Museum of Chinese in America ✵

215 Centre St [Howard St]


Beautiful new home designed by Maya Lin.

✵ Not For Tourists ✵

2 E Broadway [Chatham Sq]


NFT headquarters from 1998 to 2010.

✵ Old New York Life Insurance Company ✵

346 Broadway [Leonard St]

Great narrow McKim, Mead & White with hand-wound clock and cool internal stairwells.

✵ Old Police Headquarters ✵

240 Centre St [Grand St]

A beautiful building in the center of the not so beautiful Little Italy/Chinatown area.

✵ Shearith Israel Cemetery ✵

55 St James Pl [Oliver St]

Oldest Jewish cemetery in New York.

✵ Super-Cool Cast Iron ✵

Crosby St & Grand St

We want to live on the top floor of this building.

✵ Surrogate’s Courthouse ✵

31 Chambers St [Elk St]

Great lobby and zodiac-themed mosaics.

✵ Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse ✵

40 Centre St [Pearl St]

Cass Gilbert masterpiece from 1935.

✵ Tweed Courthouse ✵

52 Chambers St [Broadway]

Great interior dome, but will we ever see it?

✵ Woolworth Building ✵

233 Broadway [Park Pl]

A Cass Gilbert classic. Stunning lobby.

Think Kansas is boring at night? You haven't been to Chinatown at 10 pm on a Monday. That said, you can shoot pool at the tiki-themed Tropical 128. There's also sprawling Fontana's (the site of several NFT parties), and dancing at Santos Party House.

image Coffee

✵ Cafe Racer ✵

374 Broadway [White St]


Highly respected La Colombe coffee inside a Harley-Davidson dealership.

✵ Ferrara Café ✵

195 Grand St [Mulberry St]


The best of the Little Italy cafés.

✵ Kung Fu Tea ✵

234 Canal St [Centre St]


Milky bubble tea for your afternoon sugar shot.

✵ Saturdays Surf ✵

31 Crosby St [Grand St]


Small espresso bar with laid-back surfer vibe.

image Farmers Markets

✵ City Hall Park Greenmarket ✵

Chambers St & Broadway

Tues & Fri 8 am-5 pm, Jun-Dec

image Nightlife

✵ Apotheke ✵

9 Doyers St [Bowery]


Flaming expensive Euro-cocktails in a (supposedly) former opium den.

✵ Capitale ✵

130 Bowery [Grand St]


Formerly the Bowery Savings Bank. Cool space.

✵ Experimental Intermedia ✵

224 Centre St [Grand St]


Experimental art/performance art shows involving a variety of artistic media.

✵ Fontana’s ✵

105 Eldridge St [Grand St]


A big, band-playing, art-hanging LES slice in borderline Chinatown.

✵ M1-5 Bar ✵

52 Walker St [Broadway]


DJ bar that hosts lots of private events.

✵ Randolph Beer ✵

343 Broome St [Elizabeth St]


Lots of wood and even more beer.

✵ Santos Party House ✵

96 Lafayette St [Walker St]


Eclectic music is the rule at this terrific venue.

✵ Southside ✵

1 Cleveland Pl [Broome St]


Models, bankers, wealthy hipsters…you know the drill.

✵ Tropical 128 ✵

128 Elizabeth St [Broome St]


Polynesian theme, billiards, and lots of dudes.

image Restaurants

✵ 69 Bayard Restaurant ✵

69 Bayard St [Mott St]

212-227-1173 $$

Old-school, American-Chinese delights: chow mein & chop suey.

✵ 88 Palace ✵

88 E Broadway [Forsyth St]

212-941-8886 $$

Dim sum madness under the Manhattan Bridge.

✵ Aux Epices ✵

121 Baxter St [Canal St]

212-274-8585 $$

Sweet little Malaysian spot doling out gourmet plates.

✵ Banh Mi Saigon ✵ 198 Grand St [Mulberry St]

212-941-1541 $

The best Vietnamese sandwiches. Ever.

✵ Big Wong King ✵

67 Mott St [Bayard St]

212-964-0540 $

If you’re gonna be a king, that’s the kind of king to be.

✵ Billy’s Bakery ✵

75 Franklin St [Broadway]

212-647-9958 $

Yummiest treats this side of homemade.

✵ Birds and Bubbles ✵

100 Forsyth St [Broome St]

646-368-9240 $$$

Haute-Southern highlighting revelatory champagne-fried chicken pairing.

✵ Bo Ky ✵

80 Bayard St [Mott St]

212-406-2292 $

Chinese/Vietnamese hybrid. Killer soups.

✵ Breakroom ✵

83 Baxter St [White St]

212-227-2802 $$

If you need a burger or a taco in Chinatown, this is the place.

✵ Buddha Bodai ✵

5 Mott St [Worth St]

212-566-8388 $$

Veg heads dig this place.

✵ Chee Cheong Fun Food Cart ✵

Elizabeth St & Hester St


Try a pork steamed rice roll (“chee cheong fun”) for breakfast.

✵ Cong Ly ✵

124 Hester St [Chrystie St]

212-343-1111 $

Most interesting pho in the city. Plus grilled pork!

✵ Cup & Saucer ✵

89 Canal St [Eldridge St]

212-925-3298 $

Where NFT eats when sick of Chinese food. Well, just Rob.

✵ Despana ✵ 408 Broome St [Centre St]

212-219-5050 $

Excellent Spanish take-out/gourmet grocery, complete w/ bull.

✵ Dim Sum Go Go ✵

5 E Broadway [Catherine St]

212-732-0797 $$

New, hip, inventive dim sum; essentially, post-modern Chinese.

✵ Excellent Dumpling House ✵

111 Lafayette St [Canal St]

212-219-0212 $

Excellent dumplings, really.

✵ Ferrara Café ✵

195 Grand St [Mulberry St]

212-226-6150 $

Classic Little Italy patisserie.

✵ Food Sing 88 ✵

2 E Broadway [Chatham Sq]

212-219-8223 $

Outstanding beef soup with hand-pulled noodles.

✵ Fried Dumpling ✵

106 Mosco St [Mulberry St]

212-693-1060 $

Five for a buck.

✵ Fuleen Seafood ✵

11 Division St [Catherine St]

212-941-6888 $$$

Chinatown gem; amazing lunch specials.

✵ Golden Unicorn ✵

18 E Broadway [Catherine St]

212-941-0911 $$

Dim sum—great for medium-sized groups.

✵ Great NY Noodletown ✵

28 Bowery [Bayard St]

212-349-0923 $

Cheap Chinese soups and BBQ and deep-fried squid. At 2 am.

✵ Jing Fong Restaurant ✵

20 Elizabeth St [Canal St]

212-964-5256 $$

Large Hong Kong-style dim sum house.

First stop: the crab soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai. Second stop: the salt-and-pepper squid at Pho Viet Huong. On from there, classic Thai at Pongsri Thai, dim sum at Mandarin Court, 88 Palace, or Dim Sum Go Go. In a hurry? Get a kebab at street cart Xinjiang. Too much Asian? Head to SoHo gem Despaña for Spanish sandwiches.

✵ JM Family Noodle ✵ 19 Henry St [Catherine St]

212-571-2440 $

Killer shrimp wonton soup. Very cheap.

✵ Joe’s Shanghai ✵

9 Pell St [Bowery]

212-233-8888 $$

Crab Soup Dumpling Mecca. Worth the wait.

✵ La Mela Ristorante ✵

167 Mulberry St [Grand St]

212-431-9493 $$$

Family-style Italian dining.

✵ Le Pain Quotidien ✵

100 Grand St [Mercer St]

212-625-9009 $$

Excellent breads. Communal table. Euro vibe.

✵ Luna Pizza ✵

225 Park Row [Pearl St]

212-385-8118 $

Pizza-maker back; go for the grandma pie.

✵ Mandarin Court ✵

61 Mott St [Bayard St]

212-608-3838 $$

Consistently good and frenetic dim sum.

✵ Margherita NYC ✵

197 Grand St [Mulberry St]

212-226-8391 $$

Very good pizza returns to the heart of Little Italy.

✵ Mei Li Wah Bakery ✵

64 Bayard St [Elizabeth St]

212-966-7866 $

Sweet pastries, savory buns, tea, and noodles.

✵ New Malaysia ✵

46 Bowery [Canal St]

212-964-0284 $$

A hidden gem that’s literally hidden. Try the specials.

✵ Nha Trang ✵

87 Baxter St [White St]

212-233-5948 $$

Excellent Vietnamese. Pho beef satee is good.

✵ Nha Trang Centre ✵ 148 Centre St [Walker St]

212-941-9292 $

No-frills Vietnamese.

✵ Nice Green Bo ✵

66 Bayard St [Mott St]

212-625-2359 $

Amazing Shanghainese. Nice alternative to Joe’s.

✵ Nyonya ✵

199 Grand St [Mulberry St]

212-334-3669 $$

Malayasian when you’re sick of Chinese.

✵ OK 218 Restaurant ✵

218 Grand St [Elizabeth St]

212-226-8039 $

Perfect name for this average Chinese spot.

✵ Old Sichuan ✵

65 Bayard St [Mott St]

212-227-9888 $

Spicy and delicious, get the fish stew.

✵ Parigot ✵

155 Grand St [Lafayette St]

212-274-8859 $$$

Possibly the cutest/quaintest of all the French spots in the city.

✵ Pho Pasteur ✵

85 Baxter St [White St]

212-608-3656 $

Excellent soup. Pho sure.

✵ Piacere ✵

351 Broome St [Elizabeth St]

212-219-4080 $$$

Decent ‘za, especially for Little Italy. Go figure.

✵ Ping’s ✵

22 Mott St [Mosco St]

212-602-9988 $$

Eclectic Asian seafood. And we mean “eclectic.”

✵ Pongsri Thai ✵

106 Bayard St [Baxter St]

212-349-3132 $$

Ever wonder where district attorneys go for cheap, tasty Thai?

✵ Sanur Restaurant ✵ 18 Doyers St [Bowery]

212-267-0088 $

Amazing, super cheap Malaysian.

✵ Sau Voi Corp ✵

101 Lafayette St [Walker St]

212-226-8184 $

Great banh mi. And Vietnamese music tapes too!

✵ Shanghai Asian Cuisine ✵

14 Elizabeth St [Bayard St]

212-964-5640 $

Great soup dumplings return to Manhattan’s Chinatown.

✵ Shanghai Asian Manor ✵

21 Mott St [Mosco St]

212-766-6311 $$

You can’t have too many soup dumplings or scallion pancakes.

✵ Shanghai Cafe ✵

100 Mott St [Canal St]

212-966-3988 $

Killer soup dumplings and spicy garlic broccoli.

✵ Shing’s Food Shop ✵

Catherine St & Madison St [Madison St]


Tasty $1.25 lunches from a street cart; perfect for surviving on an NFT salary.

✵ Smile To Go ✵

22 Howard St [Crosby St]

646-863-3893 $

Deliciously fresh veggies, small sandwiches, and baked goods, tiny space.

✵ Sofia’s of Little Italy ✵

143 Mulberry St [Grand St]

212-219-9799 $$$

A cut above the other tourist traps around here.

✵ Super Taste ✵

26 Eldridge St [Canal St]

212-625-1198 $

Beginners: Try the spicy beef noodle soup.

✵ Taiwan Pork Chop House ✵

3 Doyers St [Bowery]

212-791-7007 $

Fried chicken leg and spicy wontons are excellent.

✵ Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles Inc. ✵

1 Doyers St [Bowery]

212-791-1817 $

Stop by for a bowl on your post office run.

✵ Vegetarian Dim Sum House ✵

24 Pell St [Mott St]

212-577-7176 $$

Cheap lunches for those who don’t eat animals. Tip: Snow pea dumplings.

✵ Wah Fung ✵

79 Chrystie St [Hester St]

212-925-5175 $

Succulent BBQ pig for stunningly cheap prices.

✵ Wah Mei Fast Food ✵

190 Hester St [Baxter St]

212-925-6428 $

Linoleum floors, fluorescent lights, and an amazing pork chop over rice.

✵ Wo Hop ✵

17 Mott St [Mosco St]

212-962-8617 $

Chinatown mainstay. Best when drunk.

✵ Xi’an Famous Foods ✵

67 Bayard St [Mott St]


Hand pulled noodles and tasty lamb burgers.

✵ Xinjiang Kebab Cart ✵

Division St & Market St


Charcoal grilled chicken hearts anyone? Get them spicy.

image Shopping

✵ Aji Ichiban ✵

37 Mott St [Pell St]


Load up on free samples from the huge selection of Asian candies and snacks.

✵ Alleva ✵

188 Grand St [Mulberry St]


Killer Italian import shop.

✵ Bangkok Center Grocery ✵

104 Mosco St [Mulberry St]


Curries, fish sauce, and other Thai products.

✵ Catherine Meat Market ✵

21 Catherine St [Henry St]


Fresh pig deliveries every Tuesday!

✵ Chinatown Arcade ✵

48 Bowery [Canal St]

Bizarre indoor mall/passageway. Check it out.

✵ Chinatown Ice Cream Factory ✵

65 Bayard St [Mott St]


Take home a quart of mango. Oddest flavors in NYC.

✵ Civil Service Book Shop ✵

38 Lispenard St [Church St]


Specialty—civil services.

✵ Clic ✵

255 Centre St [Broome St]


Art books and an art gallery.

✵ Di Palo Fine Foods ✵

200 Grand St [Mott St]


Delicacies from across Italy. Excellent cheese.

✵ Downtown Music Gallery ✵

13 Monroe St [Catherine St]


Independent labels and artists.

✵ Empire Apparel ✵

384 Broadway [White St]


Sporty clothes and gear, affordable sneakers.

✵ Fay Da Bakery ✵

83 Mott St [Canal St]


Chinese pastry and boba like nobody’s business.

Rule Number One: Stay away from tourist trap Canal Street, unless you're in the market for poorly made knockoffs whose proceeds probably help fund all manner of badness. Do hit New Beef King for homemade jerky, Di Palo Fine Foods for Italian imports, K & M Camera for shutterbug stuff, and papabubble to watch candy-making magic happen.

✵ Forsyth Outdoor Produce Market ✵

Forsyth St & Division St

Cheapest veggies and fruit in Manhattan. Long lines.

✵ Fountain Pen Hospital ✵

10 Warren St [Broadway]


They don’t take Medicaid.

✵ Harney & Sons ✵

433 Broome St [Crosby St]


Awe-inspiring tea selection. Sampling encouraged.

✵ K & M Camera ✵

385 Broadway [White St]


Good all-around camera store; open Saturdays!

✵ Lendy Electric ✵

176 Grand St [Baxter St]


Great bastion of the electrical supply world.

✵ Lung Moon Bakery ✵

83 Mulberry St [Canal St]


Chinese bakery.

✵ Madewell ✵

486 Broadway [Broome St]


Always-packed, casually cool J.Crew offshoot.

✵ Muji Soho ✵

455 Broadway [Grand St]


Why is Japanese design so functional and cute?

✵ New Beef King ✵

89 Bayard St [Mulberry St]


Serious jerky for serious jerks.

✵ New York City Store ✵

1 Centre St [Chambers St]


Great NYC books and schwag you can’t get anywhere else.

✵ New York Mart ✵

128 Mott St [Grand St]


Solid Chinatown grocery, lots of produce, roast duck to-go.

✵ No 6 ✵

6 Centre Market Pl [Grand St]


Notable selection of carefully selected original American and European vintage.

✵ Ocean Star Seafood Market ✵

250 Grand St [Chrystie St]


Cantonese market with fresh fish and veggies.

✵ OMG ✵

408 Broadway [Walker St]


Inexpensive jeans, t-shirts, and casual urban basics.

✵ Opening Ceremony ✵

35 Howard St [Crosby St]


Expensive hipster threads for tiny bodies.

✵ papabubble ✵

380 Broome St [Mulberry St]


Candy labratory. Willy Wonka would be proud.

✵ Piemonte Ravioli ✵

190 Grand St [Mulberry St]


Old-school and homemade.

✵ Putnam Rolling Ladder Co. ✵

32 Howard St [Crosby St]


If your apartment can accommodate one of these, we’re jealous.

✵ Spin Ceramics ✵

13 Crosby St [Grand St]


Insanely elegant Chinese designs tucked away on Crosby Street.

✵ Sun’s Organic Tea Shop ✵

79 Bayard St [Mott St]


Inexpensive loose leaf teas, knowledgeable staff.

✵ Western Spirit ✵

395 Broadway [Walker St]


Belt buckles, bolo ties, Navajo turquoise jewelry, and Texan kitsch.

✵ Yellow Rat Bastard ✵

483 Broadway [Broome St]


Filled with young street clothes and skate gear.

✵ Yunhong Chopsticks Shop ✵

50 Mott St [Bayard St]


Super-cute chopstick shop in C-town.