Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists (2016)
Map 34. Hoboken
Map 35 ✵ Jersey City
Outer Boroughs ✵ The Bronx
Don’t be afraid of the Boogie Down Bronx. Decades of entrenched poverty and poor urban planning once frayed many neighborhoods, but the borough today is no longer the burning wreck your parents warned you about years ago.
Belmont’s Arthur Avenue (3) is still an authentic Little Italy even though many businesses now belong to Albanians. Woodlawn (9) is home to many Irish immigrants and it’s got the pubs to prove it. With 15,372 units, towering Co-op City (13) is rightly called a city within the city; it even has its own mall! The Mott Haven (14) and Longwood (15) historic districts boast beautiful homes, but “The Hub” (16) features the grand architecture of the past conveniently filled with the discount shopping of today. For antiques, visit the cobblestone corridor of Bruckner Boulevard (17) at Alexander Avenue. Some of the city’s grandest homes sit in the wooded environs of Riverdale (4), while City Island (12) resembles nothing so much as a New England fishing village crossed with a New Jersey suburb.
The New York Botanical Garden (8) and the Bronx Zoo (10) are justly famous, well worth whatever effort it may take to get there. For a beautiful view of the Hudson and the Palisades beyond, choose the botanical garden and historic estate Wave Hill (5) or the quirky Hall of Fame for Great Americans (2) featuring 98 bronze busts of notable citizens in a grand outdoor colonnade. Explore your inner Goth at historic Woodlawn Cemetery (7) or Poe Cottage (18), the American poet’s final home. Bronx Museum focuses on 20th- and 21st-century art by African, Asian, and Latin American artists, and it’s completely free (and open late on Fridays).
New Yankee Stadium (1) is not so new anymore, and Old Yankee Stadium is a distant memory, except for its field, which has been preserved across the street. Get the cheapest ticket you can find and just spend the game walking around the concourses, which have the best views of the field. Van Cortlandt Park (6) offers playgrounds, ballfields, tennis and basketball courts, hiking trails, stables for horseback riding, and one of golf’s classic courses, “Vanny.”
The restoration of the Bronx River (19) coincides with the improvement of green spaces throughout the borough. Pelham Bay Park (11) is the city’s largest at 2,764 acres, offering many recreational opportunities in addition to the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary, two nature centers, and immensely popular Orchard Beach.
✵ Dominick’s, 2335 Arthur Ave, 718-733-2807. Famous old-school Italian-American where there are no menus and no set prices.
✵ Full Moon, 602 East 187th St, 718-584-3451—Wonderful pizza and calzones.
✵ Roberto’s Restaurant, 603 Crescent Ave, 718-733-9503. Classic fare; it’s that good.
✵ Trattoria Zero Otto Nove, 2357 Arthur Ave, 718-220-1027. Best high-end pizza in the borough at Roberto sister restaurant.
✵ Arthur Avenue Retail Market, 2344 Arthur Ave. Get all the right ingredients for home-cooked Italian meals.
✵ Johnny’s Reef, 2 City Island Ave, 718-885-2086. Local favorite for fresh, inexpensive seafood.
✵ An Beal Bocht, 445 West 238th St, 718-884-7127. Café/bar/coffee shop hangout for the hip, young, and Irish.
✵ S &S Cheesecake, 222 West 238th St, 718-549-3888. Forget Junior’s, this is the city’s best.
✵ Ebe Ye Yie, 2364 Jerome Ave, 718-563-6064. Hearty Ghanaian meals.
✵ Feeding Tree, 892 Gerard Ave, 718-293-5025. Delicious Jamaican food close to Yankee Stadium.
✵ El Economico, 5589 Broadway, 718-796-4851. Homestyle Puerto Rican meals.
✵ Com Tam Ninh Kieu, 2641 Jerome Ave, 718-365-2680. Best Vietnamese in the Bronx; order the pho.
Louie & Ernie’s, 1300 Crosby Ave, 718-829-6230. Thin-crust casual pizza that rivals best in the borough.
✵ Taqueria Tlaxcalli, 2103 Starling Ave, 347-851-3085. Authentic Mexican dishes.
1 Yankee Stadium
2 Hall of Fame for Great Americans
3 Arthur Avenue
5 Wave Hill
6 Van Cortlandt Park
7 Woodlawn Cemetery
8 New York Botanical Garden
10 Bronx Zoo
11 Pelham Bay Park
12 City Island
13 Co-op City
14 Mott Haven
16 The Hub
17 Bruckner Boulevard
18 Poe Cottage
19 Bronx River
20 Bronx Museum of the Arts
Outer Boroughs ✵ Brooklyn
The Great Mistake of 1898, Brooklyn is no longer its own city, but that little technicality hasn’t kept the Borough of Kings down. As Manhattan becomes prohibitively expensive and middle-Americanized, Brooklyn’s popularity is at an all-time high. Scores of recent college grads, immigrants, ex-Manhattanites, and even celebrities are calling Brooklyn home, whether in a row of brownstones, a pre-war house, or a brand-new loft. Along with the residential boom, Brooklyn has firmly arrived as a cultural and entertainment mecca, and it boasts some of the hottest bars, astounding cultural diversity, and stellar parks. Atlantic Yards is now a reality after much protest, but Brooklyn won’t let go of its unique character that easily.
As the largest borough by population (over 2.5 million!), Brooklyn holds a special place as one of the nation’s most remarkable urban areas. As many as one in four people can trace their roots here! In Brooklyn, you can find pretty much any type of community—for better or worse. As gentrification marches deeper into Brooklyn, the borough is changing fast. Neighborhoods most likely to see their first baby boutiques open soon include Red Hook, East Williamsburg, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and Crown Heights.
The first thing you notice when looking at Brooklyn on a map is the sheer size of it. Yet much of Brooklyn is largely unknown to most New Yorkers. Yes, Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg, and Park Slope are nice communities that are fun to explore. However, if you’ve never ventured further out into Brooklyn than the obligatory trip to Coney Island, you’re missing some fantastic neighborhoods. For instance, Bay Ridge (4) has beautiful single-family homes along its western edge, a killer view of the Verrazano Bridge, and a host of excellent shops and restaurants. Dyker Heights (6) is composed of almost all single-family homes, many of which go all-out with Christmas light displays during the holiday season. Brighton Beach (8) continues to be a haven for many Russian expatriates. The quiet, tree-lined streets of both Ocean Parkway (10) and Midwood (11) can make one forget all about the hustle and bustle of downtown Brooklyn, or downtown anywhere else for that matter. Finally, Bedford-Stuyvesant (12) has a host of cool public buildings, fun eateries, and beautiful brownstones.
No, the Dodgers are never coming back. This is still hard for many older Brooklynites to accept and accounts for much of the nostalgia that is still associated with the borough. If you can get beyond the fact that Ebbets Field is now a giant concrete housing complex, then you will enjoy spending a fine summer evening watching the Cyclones at Coney Island (7). But really, Brooklynites need to get over it: The Barclays Center (15) already captured one major professional sports team (the Nets) and soon another will begin playing there (the Islanders). Elsewhere, Kensington Stables in Prospect Park (1) provides lessons for wannabe equestrians.
Coney Island’s (7) redevelopment is well underway but has left untouched the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, Nathan’s, Totonno’s pizza, movies at the Coney Island Museum, the beach, the freaks, and The Warriors. Close by is the Aquarium (13). Nature trails, parked blimps, views of the water, scenic marinas, live events and overnight camping all make historical Floyd Bennett Field (9) a worthwhile trip. For more beautiful views, you can check out Owl’s Point Park (3) in Bay Ridge, or the parking lot underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (5) (located right off the Shore Parkway). The Verrazano might not be New York’s most beautiful bridge, but it’s hands-down the most awe-inspiring. Both Green-Wood Cemetery (2) and Prospect Park (1) provide enough greenery to keep you happy until you get to Yosemite. Finally, Brooklyn Heights (14) is the most beautiful residential neighborhood in all of New York. Don’t believe us? Go stand on the corner of Willow and Orange Streets and find out for yourself.
Here are some restaurants in some of the outlying areas of Brooklyn:
Bay Ridge: Casablanca Restaurant, 484 77th St, 718-748-2077—Highly recommended Moroccan.
Midwood: DiFara’s Pizzeria, E 15th St & Ave J, 718-258-1367—Dirty, cheap, and fresh as hell.
Sunset Park: Nyonya, 5223 Eighth Ave, 718-633-0808—Good quality Malaysian.
Sheepshead Bay: Russian Bath of NY, 1200 Gravesend Neck Rd, 718-332-1676—Delicious Russian food after a schvitz.
1 Prospect Park
2 Green-Wood Cemetery
3 Owl’s Point Park
4 Bay Ridge
5 Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
6 Dyker Heights
7 Coney Island
8 Brighton Beach
9 Floyd Bennett Field
10 Ocean Parkway
13 New York Aquarium
14 Brooklyn Heights
15 Barclays Center
Outer Boroughs ✵ Queens
The most diverse borough in the city, people from all over have been “discovering” Queens for years, making it home to some of the city’s best ethnic restaurants and neighborhoods. Flushing’s Chinatown is rivaling Manhattan’s as the center of New York’s Chinese community. Queens also has some of the city’s best open spaces with everything from forestland to surfing beaches. And at a time when Brooklyn real estate prices push higher and higher toward Manhattan extremes, Queens is a great alternative for those who are willing to explore a little.
From the stately Tudor homes of Forest Hills Gardens (28) to the hip-hop beat of Jamaica Avenue (11), Queens has it all. Eastern Queens tends toward suburbia, while the communities along the borough’s southern border often include active industrial districts. All things Asian can be found in Flushing (20), the city’s largest Chinatown. Sunnyside (21) and Woodside (22) are home to Irish and Mexican immigrants alike, making it easy to find a proper pint and a fabulous taco on the same block. Jackson Heights’ (6) 74th Street is Little India, while 82nd Street is packed with South and Central American businesses. Corona (23) blends old-school Italian-American delis with Latino dance clubs. Elmhurst (24) has attracted Asian, Southeast Asian, and South American immigrants to set up shop on its crowded streets. Island Broad Channel (12) feels like a sleepy village, while the Rockaways (13) offer the only surfing beaches in the city.
Fans of contemporary art have long known P.S.1 (4) is the place to be, especially during its summer weekend WarmUp parties. Then head over to the Sculpture Center (31), to see what new exhibit they’ve cooked up for us. The Noguchi Museum (3), dedicated to the work of the Japanese-American sculptor, and neighboring Socrates Sculpture Park (2), a waterfront space with changing exhibitions, attract visitors from far beyond the five boroughs. The Fisher Landau Center for Art (25) features a world-class collection of modern art (and is free, to boot). Movie buffs should look for repertory screenings at the Museum of the Moving Image (5). The delightfully kitschy Louis Armstrong House (26) is a must-see for jazz lovers. In Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the New York Hall of Science (8) beckons the geeky kid in all of us with its hands-on exhibits while the Queens Museum of Art’s (9) scale model of the entire city will wow even the most jaded New Yorkers.
In 2009, the Mets inaugurated a brand new place to make memories of exquisite disappointment, Citi Field, just in time for the team’s ownership and its corporate sponsor to lose proverbial shirts. The U.S. Open takes place right across the street at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (7). Check out girls gone wild when our local ladies, The Queens of Pain, compete in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league. See the ponies and fritter away your hard-earned cash at the Aqueduct Racetrack (14). Hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach (13) for swimming and surfing or paddle out in a kayak on loan from the Long Island City Community Boathouse (27). Astoria Pool (1) is the city’s largest with room for 3,000 swimmers. For bowling, all-night Whitestone Lanes (18) is the place to be.
Gantry Plaza State Park’s (29) spacious piers attract strollers and urban fishermen alike with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, and a major park expansion will eventually connect the waterfront from Anable Basin to the north all the way down to Newtown Creek. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (15) in Gateway National Recreation Area is internationally known for bird-watching. Queens Botanical Garden is a peaceful refuge with its own bee hives out in Flushing. Fort Tilden is becoming more popular, but it’s still one of New York’s prettiest, natural, non-commercial beaches. Flushing Meadows Corona Park (30) is designed for active recreation, but Alley Pond Park (16) and Forest Park (17) have wooded trails perfect for wandering.
Entire books have been written on where to eat in Queens, so these are just a handful of suggestions:
Corona: Leo’s Latticini (a.k.a. Mama’s), 46-02 104th St, 718-898-6069—Insanely good Italian sandwiches that pair well with dessert from the Lemon Ice King, 52-02 108th Street, 718-699-5133, just a few blocks away.
Rego Park: Cheburechnaya, 92-09 63rd Dr, 718-897-9080—grilled meats are the speciality at this Kosher Uzbek gem.
Sunnyside: De Mole, 45-02 48th Ave, 718-392-2161— Fresh, simply prepared Mexican food in bistro setting.
Bayside: Uncle Jack’s, 39-40 Bell Blvd, 718-229-1100—Mayor Bloomberg’s favorite steakhouse serves up fine flesh.
Flushing: Spicy and Tasty, 39-07 Prince Street, 718-359-1601—The name of this Sichuan place is entirely accurate.
Woodside: Sripraphai, 64-13 39th Ave, 718-899-9599—Easily the best Thai food in the city; La Flor, 53-02 Roosevelt Ave, 718-426-8023—Fantastic neighborhood café with Mexican-inflected dishes.
1 Astoria Pool
2 Socrates Sculpture Park
3 Noguchi Museum
4 P.S. 1 Art Museum
5 Museum of the Moving Image
6 Jackson Heights
7 US Open/National Tennis Center
8 Hall of Science
9 Queens Museum of Art
10 Citi Field
12 Broad Channel
13 The Rockaways
14 Aqueduct Racetrack
15 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
16 Alley Pond Park
17 Forest Park
18 Whitestone Lanes
19 Queens Zoo
25 Fisher Landau Center for Art
26 Louis Armstrong House
27 Long Island City Community Boathouse
28 Forest Hills
29 Gantry Plaza State Park
30 Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Outer Boroughs ✵ Staten Island
Staten Island, of thee we sing! Don’t let the sight of jabronis with fake tans and gelled hair hold you back from exploring, lest you miss out on heaps of excellent pizza, the wild flower meadows at Mount Loretto, the windows on the past at Historic Richmond Town, the small-town charm of minor league baseball at St. George, and the striking design of the Chinese Scholars’ Garden at Snug Harbor. It’s high time you pulled your head out of your borough and hitched a ride on the ferry, if only to eat at one of SI’s “holy trinity” of pizzerias.
1 Snug Harbor Cultural Center, 1000 Richmond Ter, 718-448-2500. A former sailors’ home transformed to a waterfront arts complex, Snug Harbor’s 83 acres include classrooms, studio spaces, performance venues, galleries, three museums, and a truly noteworthy botanical garden. Call to learn about cultural events and exhibits on site.
2 Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, 338 Lighthouse Ave, 718-987-3500. A world-class collection of Tibetan art, courtesy of former New York art collector Edna Coblentz, who had the surprising French pseudonym Jacques Marchais.
3 Historic Richmond Town, 441 Clarke Ave, 718-351-1611. Get back to old-timey times visiting restored homes from the 17th to the 19th centuries, most populated by costumed guides. Great for kids and adults who want to learn how to churn butter/forge metal.
4 Wagner College, 1 Campus Rd, 718-390-3100. Wagner’s tranquil hilltop location rewards visitors with beautiful views of the serene surroundings, but its best feature is the planetarium.
5 Staten Island Village Hall, 111 Canal St. Last remaining village hall building in Staten Island, a reminder of the borough’s rural past.
6 Alice Austen House, 2 Hylan Blvd, 718-816-4506. Alice Austen was an early twentieth-century amateur photographer, and now she’s got a museum and a ferry boat named after her. Go figure. Some of her 8,000 images are on view at her house, which has a great view of lower New York Harbor.
7 Staten Island Greenbelt, 200 Nevada Ave, 718-667-2165. This 2,800-acre swath of land (comprising several different parks) in the center of the island contains a golf course, a hospital, a scout camp, several graveyards, and plenty of wooded areas that remain relatively undeveloped and can be accessed only by walking trails. A good starting point is High Rock Park. Panoramic views abound.
8 Blue Heron Park, 222 Poillon Ave, 718-967-3542. This quiet, 236-acre park has a fantastic Nature Center and plenty of ponds, wetlands, and streams to explore. Noted for bird-watching, hence the name.
9 Great Kills Park, 718-987-6790. Part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Great Kills boasts clean beaches, a marina, and a nature preserve.
10 Mount Loretto Unique Area, 6450 Hylan Blvd, 718-482-7287. Flourishing wetlands, grasslands, and beaches all rolled into one serenely beautiful waterfront park. Mysterious sculptures dot the beach.
11 Conference House Park, 7455 Hylan Blvd, 718-984-6046.The historic house is worth a look, but watching the sunset from the restored waterfront pavilion is a must. You’ll also find NYC’s very own “South Pole” on the beach here.
12 Clove Lakes Park, Clove Rd and Victory Blvd, 311. Who needs Central Park? Check out these romantic rowboats on the lake in season.
13 Freshkills Park, off Route 440. Former landfill, now a park. Sorta. They’re working on it over the next 30 years. Free tours by appointment.
14 110/120 Longfellow Road. Celebrate one of the greatest American films without having to schlep to Sicily. This address is where the Corleone family held court in The Godfather.
15 Ship Graveyard, at Arthur Kill Rd and Rossville Ave. These ships of the damned make a perfect backdrop for Goth photo shoots.
16 Staten Island Zoo, 614 Broadway, 718-442-3100. Kids will go wild here, near the stunning Clove Lakes Park. Be sure to bring them to the vampire bat feedings.
New Asha, 322 Victory Blvd, 718-420-0649. Great Sri Lankan food on the cheap. Spicy!
Denino’s, 524 Port Richmond Ave, 718-442-9401. Some of the best pizza in town.
Lee’s Tavern, 60 Hancock St, 718-667-9749. Great bar with great pizza—get the fresh mozzarella.
Nunzio’s, 2155 Hylan Blvd, 718-667-9647. More great pizza. Notice a theme here?
Egger’s Ice Cream Parlor, 7437 Amboy Rd, 718-605-9335. Old time ice cream and sweets. Kids love it.
Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn, 4254 Arthur Kill Rd, 718-984-1202. Historic German beer garden and eats. JÃ¥!
Joe & Pat’s, 1758 Victory Blvd, 718-981-0887. Completing SI’s “Holy Trinity” of pizza.
Nurnberger Bierhaus, 817 Castleton Ave, 718-816-7461. German beer and food.
Pier 76 Italian Restaurant, 76 Bay Street, 718-447-7437, What Joe & Pat begat; walking distance to ferry.
Driving In / Through Staten Island
To visit Staten Island, one must either drive/take a bus/take a cab over the Verrazano Bridge (and its ruinously expensive toll) from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, or catch the ferry from Lower Manhattan. If you elect to do the latter, you’ll find myriad buses departing from the St. George side of the ferry as well as the terminal of the Staten Island Railway, ready to whisk you all the way down to Tottenville and back with one swipe of the Metrocard. To reach New Jersey via Staten Island, take the Verrazano to the Staten Island Expressway (Route 278) to Route 440 to the Outerbridge Crossing, and you’re almost halfway to Princeton or the Jersey shore. However…the Staten Island Expressway often gets jammed. Two scenic, though not really quicker, alternatives: one, take Hylan Boulevard all the way south to almost the southwest tip of Staten Island, and then cut up to the Outerbridge Crossing; two, take Richmond Terrace around the north shore and cross to New Jersey at the Goethals Bridge. Remember, neither is really faster, but at least you’ll be moving.