leisure 03.3.04

10 Great Things - Part 1

We asked some of our favorite NYC bloggers (that is, bloggers who write primarily about New York) to come up with a list of 10 Great Things about the city. Choices could be people, places, or things - whatever they're glad is here.

LOCKHART STEELE, lockhartsteele.com
1. Frank Prisinzano
Keith McNally, sure. Steve Hanson, fine. But where would the dining world below 14th be without Frank, Supper, Lil' Frankie's, and Hue? Boggles the mind to even think about it.
2. Time Warner Cable
Rivals Listerine Breathstrips as the technology breakthrough of the decade - for about the same price.
3. Riviera Cafe
Divey West Village haven for Red Sox fans. Be there April 16, when Pedro uncorks the first pitch to Lofton. 225 W. 4th [7th Ave. S.] 212.929.3250
4. New York Press
5. Il Laboratorio Del Gelato
Life-altering black grape sorbet. Assorted other flavors available at retail locations around town, including Dean & Deluca. 95 Orchard [Broome] 212.343.9922
6. Blue Hill
Reflexive answer to query, "What's your favorite restaurant in New York?" 75 Wash Pl. [6th/Wash. Sq. W.] 212.539.1776
7. She Loves New York
8. Chipotle
Love or hate this fast-spreading, McDonald's-owned addition to the city's Mexican dining scene (I tend to the former), the website is well-nigh psychedelic.
9. Magic Hour
Any bar, any day, 2am-4am.
10. The Lower East Side

ANDREW WOMACK, themorningnews.org
1. St. Helen Cafe
This little coffee/breakfast-y nook in Williamsburg is both cozy and dramatic with its moody murals and wood paneling. The heavy modern graphic-design elements on the menus, matchbooks, and frequent-flier stamps bring to the forefront a relaxed, yet thorough attention to detail. Recommended if you like: elk in your artwork. And I do. 150 Wythe [N. 7th/N.8th] Bklyn 718.302.1197
2. Soho
Before moving to New York, I only saw it as the menacing '80s backdrop to "9 1/2 Weeks" and "After Hours," but Soho has become my favorite neighborhood in Manhattan. I like the streets, I like the stores, but mostly I like the constant shade the whole area provides. (I especially appreciate it on balmy summer afternoons.) Soho also happens to be the location of the only worthwhile celebrity sighting I've ever had. Seeing David Bowie, a FedEx envelope tucked under his arm, walking really quickly toward… I guess a FedEx drop box… has put the cap on what I consider to be A-plus spottings.
3. Rocks in Your Head
Also in Soho, Rocks in Your Head is one of the best record stores I've ever been to, because the guy who works there epitomizes great record-store shopkeeps. He'll play anything you want to hear, and he knows everything that's going on in music that I want to know about. That said, I'm somewhat of an age-ist when it comes to record-store people: Anyone over a certain age who works at a record shop is way, way past the point of doing it just so they can sneak merchandise out the back door; they're doing it out of pure love. And that's just the kind of shopping experience you can forget about at the Virgin Mega Store - but exactly what you get at Rocks in Your Head. 157 Prince [Thompson/W. Bway] 212.475.6729
4. Woody Allen
I once heard that at one point Woody Allen and Mia Farrow had apartments directly across Central Park from each other. This was told to me when I had no idea of the vastness of the park itself, and I imagined this to be done for some very lovely, romantic reason instead of a desire to keep some distance between them - but still retaining the good park views. No matter what anyone says about the man, his cinematic love affair with New York paints the city in a way that only makes you love it more, even when the ConEd guy is jackhammering outside your window at three in the morning.
5. Lansing-Dreiden
Call it an art collective or a band or a corporation, Lansing-Dreiden is creating some of the most groundbreaking video and music work - anywhere - right now. It would be easy for the casual observer to dismiss the work as mere dabbling in a bit of music, a bit of art, and so on, but if Lansing-Dreiden is the next step in New York music, then we're all going to be the better for it. Think of Brian Eno spinning the Beach Boys at a discotheque designed by Edward Gorey and you're getting closer.
6. Northsix
Going to music shows anywhere else is never quite right after you've had the pleasure of retreating to the high-school gymnasium stands at Northsix in Williamsburg. For when you don't want to be slapped up against the stage front, your forehead dangerously close to the bassist's crotch, or when standing through the lackluster support band's set sounds unappealing, you can bet there's somebody saving a seat for you in the back. I don't know how many great shows I've been to here, nor how many other okay ones I've happily, uncomplainingly sat through. 66 N. 6th [Kent/Wythe] 718.599.5103
7. Minamoto Kitchoan
Whenever I'm by Rockefeller Center, which is never, I always hit up the kind folks at the Japanese bakery/confectionary/sweet shoppe Minamoto Kitchoan for a tasty morsel of something I don't recognize. I don't know if I've just been served a palm-sized bit of jellied soy syrup or a fistful of key lime mung beans, but everything I've had there has been absolutely tasty and, to this palette, mind-expanding. Ignorance has never been more adventurous bliss: If I don't know what I'm getting, I may never get the same thing twice. 608 5th [49th] 212.489.3747
8. Fresh Turkeys from Jefferson Market
If you stay within the city environs for your Thanksgivings, here's the place to go for when you want a turkey that was purportedly strutting the grounds of a New Jersey ranch while you were still trying to ditch work early on Wednesday. Why fresh turkey? I have no idea, but I'm not asking any questions. All I know is that I don't care for the typically dry, chalky flavor of turkey, but the Jefferson Market bird proved succulent, through and through. If you want one, make sure you order it a day or more ahead of time. 450 6th [10th/11th] 212.533.3377
9. Pizza
I've never had a bad slice of pizza anywhere in the city, and that's either pure luck or just a sign that finding bad pizza here is practically impossible. Which says a lot when you consider how many pizza joints there must be in the five boroughs, all combined. On a more urban-survivalist note, I find it very comforting that pizza in New York can provide - if necessary - a constant, yet amazingly delicious food source.
10. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Cherry Blossom Festival
The Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in April is an utterly beautiful, eye-popping experience. And I'm well-prepared for it this year, since for some reason right now I've got five or so huge cherry-blossom branches in my living room that poke me in the back every time I try to slip by. The Festival, though far more pleasant, is equally sense-grabbing. 1000 Washington Ave. Bklyn 718.623.7200

REMY STERN, newyorkish.com
1. Video Stores
Video stores like Two Boots, Kim's Video, and TLA that offer a selection you'd never, ever find at a Blockbuster in Boise.
2. Coffee
All the fantastic coffee outlets not affiliated with multi-national corporations bent on world dominance. The MUD trucks have been serving great street coffee for years, but now they've opened up a cute little cafe, too, 307 E. 9th [2nd]. For coffee brewed at home, we're lucky to have places like Porto Rico, 201 Bleecker [6th/MacDougal] 212.477.5421.
3. Community Gardens
Those tiny, funky parks and community gardens you unexpectedly stumble upon walking down a side street. Thanks to groups like the New York Restoration Project, we can take a momentary break from the urban jungle.
4. Hotel Bars
The five-star hotel bars where you can spend the monthly salary of a Third World worker on a single glass of Champagne. You feel richer and more important just sitting at the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis, 2 E. 55th [5th/Mad] 212.753.4500 or, if the weather is nice, the Pen-Top Bar at the Peninsula, 700 5th [5th/6th] 212.247.2200.
5. Hot Dogs
The hot dog resurgence that is bringing new honor to a proud NYC tradition. At places like F&B, 269 W. 23rd [7th/8th] 646.486.4441 and Crif Dogs, 113 St. Marks [1st/A] 212.614.2728, there aren't any papaya drinks on the menu, but the hot dogs will make you regret ever touching a Sabrett floating in murky liquid.
6. Sunday in Chinatown
The ability to spend half of Sunday wandering around Chinatown. One possible itinerary: dim sum at Ping's, 22 Mott [Bayard/Pell] 212.602.9988, followed by a shopping expedition to Pearl River (the original at 200 Grand, not the new one at 477 Broadway) even is some of the stuff might fall apart by the following morning.
7. Independent Bookstores
All the wonderful independent bookstores that dot the city. The (new) Coliseum, 11 W. 42nd [5th/6th] 212.803.5890 and St. Mark's Bookshop, 31 3rd [9th] 212.260.7853, are outstanding; for mystery/crime buffs (and a more homey experience), there's Murder Ink/Ivy's Books & Curiosities, 2486-2488 Bway [92nd/93rd] 212.362.8905.
8. Bialys
Possibly the only store in the world dedicated to bialys, Kossar's, 367 Grand [Essex/Norfolk] 212.473.4810, proves that the ubiquitous bagel will never compare to a steaming bialy right out of the oven.
9. Movie Theaters
The movie theaters in town that show more than the latest Hollywood release. How incredibly lucky are we to have places like the Film Forum, the Quad, the Angelika, the Lincoln Plaza, the Sunshine, and the Anthology Film Archives?
10. Tourists
Finally, what would NYC be without the non-stop flow of tourists in Times Square? And if they weren't here, who else would we get to push around and snarl at without fearing for our lives?

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