If you’ve got some time to kill in the Big Apple, you’re lucky. New York City is one of the top business trip destinations and one of the best cities to explore, even if you only have a few hours. Here are our top five suggestions.
New York has some of the best food in the country, if not the world. All celebrity chefs come to the city to try out their latest creations on this island outpost of foodie heaven. You can go sample the 15-course, deconstructed $200 prix fixe meals, but why would you want to when the traditional food that the city serves up best — pizza and steak — is within reach. Check out Grimaldi’s Pizza (accept NO imitations…and there are many), the original of which is under the Brooklyn Bridge, for the best thin crust pizza this side of Pisa. No need to get fancy here: order the plain pie with mozzarella and revel in its low-maintenance perfection. And know their rules: no credit cards, no reservations, no slices, no delivery. Get there right when they open or you’ll be waiting on line, but thankfully, it does go fast.
For steak that you’ll be dreaming about for years to come, head to Peter Luger Steakhouse, which is also in Brooklyn, side-by-side with the Willamsburg Bridge. Don’t expect fine linen or expensive stemware. It’s butcher paper on wood tables, authentic (a.k.a slightly surly) waiters, and a menu that would make a vegetarian run to the nearest wheat grass detox stand. Get the sliced tomatoes and onions as an appetizer and then for dessert, savor the schlag (homemade whipped cream that’s as thick and creamy as your German grandmother used to make). But don’t bring your traditional credit cards. They only take cash and their very own Peter Lugar credit card.
East and West Side Art
Walk about Manhattan and drop into some of the lesser-known museums and art galleries. You could spend four days at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and barely make a dent in your visit. Or, you can spend 40 quality minutes and see all the splendid German and Austrian Expressionist at the Neue Gallerie, just this side of the East side at 1048 Fifth Ave (at 86th Street). Then take the cross town bus or cab it to the latest art galleries in “West Chelsea” (the SOHO art scene is so last millennium). The galleries are on the mid 20’s just west of 10th Ave. After, spend a half hour with the über-hip on The High Line, an former elevated train platform that is now an urban forest.
Go Off Broadway
Go and see an off or off-off Broadway Show. Tickets to the big, popular Broadway shows cost $200 and beyond, and sell out quickly. So, check out the off and off-off Broadway plays for around $20. See an up-and-coming actor try a new part or a new playwright breaking some taboos. You’ll be in good company in 50-seat theatres that are sometimes housed in the bowels of random buildings.
If it’s nice outside, head for the hills — the Central Park hills that is. Go to New York food haven Zabars at 2245 Broadway (at 80th Street), get your picnic supplies, drop by a coffee shop and then head east to Central Park. There are lovely areas to sit, have a picnic and watch the strollers, the joggers, the bikers, the dog walkers and even the occasional horseback rider. This is where New Yorkers get out of their shoebox apartments, take in some fresh air and feel their blood pressure drift away.
You know what? Fuhgettaboutit. Forget all the suggestions written above, turn left out of your hotel and get lost (literally speaking, that is). Walk until your soles wear out and your soul gets rejuvenated. New York is a walking city and there’s a surprise at every corner. You’ll discover some of the best places in the world to view art, eat at a pop-up restaurant, listen to some lively bar talk, ride a bike, go shopping, or simply sit down and watch the universe go by.
Photo attribution: pensiero