A local’s guide to what to eat and do in New York City

City Guide

A local’s guide to
Manhattan

It's a city of 8 million, yet New York City can feel small. From brownstones to boutiques, tattoo parlors to yoga in the park, whatever your style, Manhattan has a place for you.

Meet local Adrienne Jordan, who has lived in New York City since 2015. See her favorite places to eat and things to do in the city.

Where to eat breakfast

Hole in the Wall Cafe

breakfast

Hole in the Wall Cafe

If you have a dog, then you and your pet can plop down in the casual, outdoor seating at Hole in the Wall Cafe. Inside, the restaurant decor is shabby-chic, with exposed Edison bulbs, a neon sign welcoming guests with “Hello Gorgeous,” abstract framed photos and pothos plants dangling from a peg board. The venue serves favorites including avocado toast, a pulled pork Benedict, chili scrambled eggs and whipped waffles with salted caramel.

BTW: If you go for breakfast on the weekends, try to arrive before 9:30 a.m., as the neighborhood starts to wake up around then and tables can book up fast.

15 Cliff St. New York, N.Y. 10038

212-602-9991

Website

Where to eat breakfast

Bar 314

breakfast

Bar 314

A casual, music-themed spot with old trombones and record players mounted on the walls, this Morningside Heights venue serves brunch on the weekends with fun items like huevos pizza and waffles with Nutella and vanilla ice cream. On a sunny day, the entire restaurant storefront is open and you can catch a breeze and people watch. Much of the staff is from Italy, and you may hear your waiter speaking to you in an Italian accent while serving up your dishes.

BTW: To burn off some of those calories, take a stroll around the corner to the 30-acre Morningside Park, which has craggy rock outcroppings thought to be around 30 million years old.

1260 Amsterdam Ave. New York, N.Y. 10027

646-682-7645

Website

Where to eat lunch

Bourke Street Bakery

lunch

Bourke Street Bakery

Jessica Grynberg opened Bourke Street Bakery to bring a fusion of cuisines into a warmly lit 50-seat venue. Grynberg was inspired by the multiculturalism of the people from her hometown of Sydney, and because of the diversity in the menu, you’ll often see locals in line outside waiting to take away items like lox sandwiches, fennel-infused pork shoulder sandwiches and fattoush salads. If you return for the after-4 p.m. menu, you’ll find a menu of natural wines.

BTW: A couple of blocks away, the Ace Hotel is a great spot to sip a coffee in the design-focused lobby, popular with locals getting things done on their laptops or catching up after work.

15 E. 28th St. New York, N.Y. 10016

917-675-6394

Website

@bourkestreetbakerynyc

Where to eat lunch

Upside Pizza

lunch

Upside Pizza

Find this standing-room-only, corner storefront for a cheap slice of pizza ($3-$5) but with higher-end ingredients than the usual New York pizza joint. The place is owned by Noam Grossman, who partnered with Eli and Oren Halali, the guys behind the 2 Bros. Pizza chain known for its $1 slices around New York. The organic ingredients include sourdough wild yeast starter and mozzarella stretched from curd every day.

BTW: There is always one seasonally rotating pie.

598 Eighth Ave. New York, N.Y. 10018

646-484-5244

Website

Where to eat dinner

Ed’s Lobster Bar

dinner

Ed’s Lobster Bar

A 35-foot-long bar takes up most of the New England-style oyster bar, with a few seats in the back of the narrow, railroad-style restaurant. The decor is mostly white brick and white walls, evoking a seaside restaurant rather than a city joint. The long, communal bar invites conversation between locals and owner Ed McFarland, who is usually behind the bar overseeing the oyster-shucking and lobster-roll making, while fish plates come from the kitchen.

BTW: The staff share responsibilities in bartending, serving food and playing host. Make eye contact with someone behind the bar so that you get seated quickly.

222 Lafayette St., New York, N.Y. 10012

212-343-3236

Website

@edslobsterbar

@edslobsterbar

Where to eat dinner

Tsion Cafe

dinner

Tsion Cafe

Located on the ground floor of an apartment building in Sugar Hill, you can eat and drink Ethiopian food and beer inside the cozy restaurant or in the little backyard. Pick from dishes that longtime Harlem residents love, like doro wat, mushroom tibs, and the smoked salmon and avocado salad. Be sure to try the injera, a flatbread commonly served with Ethiopian dishes, and tej, an Ethiopian honey wine that is popular at North African weddings.

BTW: A few doors down, visit the Harlem Natural Hair Salon on the second floor of a brownstone. It specializes in locs, twists and blowouts in a historical architectural setting.

763 St. Nicholas Ave. New York, N.Y. 10031

212-234-2070

Website

@CafeTsion

@tsioncafe

Where to eat late-night

Dublin House

late-night

Dublin House

Dublin House is a classic dive bar. The Irish-owned Dublin House was a popular spot frequented by sailors docking at the 79th Street Boat Basin in the 1930s. Now, it’s a hangout for Upper West Side residents. It attracts those looking for cheap drinks, like the Dublin House ale or a standard selection of beers from Coors to Bud Light. Catching an NFL game here is a normal occurrence, as are the bros playing darts.

BTW: If the bar looks familiar, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” filmed scenes here for its period setting.

225 W. 79th St. New York, N.Y. 10024

212-874-9528

Website

Where to eat late-night

Patent Pending

late-night

Patent Pending

In the Radio Wave Building, where Nikola Tesla lived and did experiments, there is now a coffee shop. At night, a hidden door disguised as a large menu opens into a hallway lit by candles to reveal a speakeasy. Seating is first come, first served in the Tesla-themed bar, where you sip cocktails called “The ’Twain,” “Light Me Up,” and “Hit By a Taxi.” There is even a taxidermy pigeon hanging from the ceiling; Tesla had an obsession with the bird.

BTW: Seating is limited and reservations are not accepted, so your best strategy is to go with a small group or on a date.

49 W. 27th St. New York, N.Y. 10001

212-689-4002

Website

@patentpendingnyc

What to do

The Assemblage

The Assemblage

If co-working and yoga had a baby, then the Assemblage would be their love child. The main, communal space is decked in greenery — from the towering, 19-foot plant wall to the collection of yarn and mixed materials hanging above a private alcove. The wellness-themed co-working space hosts events every month that are open to the public — some free with RSVP and some with ticket purchase. The events include leadership talks, introduction to meditation, yoga and sound experiences, and paired Thai yoga massages.

BTW: You can purchase one, three, and five-day traveler passes that can be used over a 30-day period, or a week-long pass.

114 E. 25th St. New York, N.Y. 10010

646-849-9861

Website

@AssemblageNYC

@TheAssemblageNYC

What to do

The Cage

The Cage

Watch a pickup basketball game on the iconic West Fourth Street Courts, called “the Cage,” where NBA players like Anthony Mason, Smush Parker and Stephon Marbury played before entering the league. You can find players from sunup to sundown challenging each other — from the 15-year-old neighborhood kid hoping to cut his teeth in a match to an NBA coach from the San Antonio Spurs just passing through.

BTW: You’ll find food trucks and fresh fruit vendors parked around the courts on a nice day.

320 Sixth Ave. New York, N.Y. 10014

212-639-9675

What to do

Library Way

Library Way

East 41st Street between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue is known as “Library Way,” where you can look down at the sidewalk to read inscriptions on 100 bronze plaques with famous literary quotes from authors including E.B. White and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “The knowledge of different literatures frees one from the tyranny of a few,” by José Martí is inscribed on one of the plaques. After reading a few, visit the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the city’s main public library, to take in the sweeping architecture built in 1895.

BTW: Check the library website at nypl.org to see the schedule of free events, which range from toddler story time to docent tours and rotating artist talks.

East 41st Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018

What to do

Chelsea Music Hall

Chelsea Music Hall

In the basement of the Chelsea Market, debaucherous dance parties, drag shows, comedy sets and various types of theater performances unfold in an intimate space that’s on a mission to revive what some say has gone missing from the Chelsea neighborhood: a raw, underground nightlife scene. There’s a little something in this venue everyone: Events in 2019 have included regular bookings of the Glenn Crytzer Orchestra, beloved for blasting big-band music to lindy-hopping dancers, and an Instagram-centric blind-dating show that puts two strangers in front of a live audience.

BTW: If you are hungry before the show, visit the ground-level Chelsea Market, where you’ll find outposts from shops like Los Tacos, the Lobster Place and Very Fresh Noodles.

407 W. 15th St. New York, N.Y. 10011

646-609-1344

Website

What to do

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

The Leslie-Lohman Museum in Chelsea is the only art museum in the world wholly dedicated to exhibiting and preserving artwork focused on the LGBTQ experience. The first museum space in 1969 was in the SoHo loft of couple Charles Leslie and “Fritz” Lohman. During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, the couple rescued work of dying artists that might have been destroyed. Now the museum displays erotic and LGBT art in several mediums, including sculptures, black-and-white photographs and portraits of LGBT icons. They have six major rotating exhibits per year.

BTW: A donation of $9 is suggested, but admission is free.

26 Wooster St. New York, N.Y. 10013

212-431-2609

Website

@LeslieLohman

What to do

Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park

Named after President James Madison, the park is between East 23rd and 26th streets near the Flatiron Building. If you like just doing nothing, then set up a picnic blanket or grab a table and people-watch. The park is popular for art installations and rollerblading, and was where the first public Christmas tree in the United States was displayed in 1912. You’ll find food vendors around the edges of the park (not to mention the first Shake Shack, inside it) and a dog run area. Kids can take part in the Madison Square Kids concert series that happens every summer.

BTW: Check the park’s website daily to see whether the various lawns are open.

Fifth Avenue and East 26th Street, New York, N.Y. 10010

212-520-7600

Website

@MadSqParkNYC

John Sampson for The Washington Post

By The Way is a new travel destination from The Washington Post. Check us out at bytheway.com for more detours with locals and travel tips you can trust.