The Guys’ Guy’s New York – Part I
Like America, New York is a concept. The city, like any great brand, has a life of it’s own. After thirty years and 240 blog posts I thought it was time for your Guy’s Guy to share with you his favorite places in this great, elusive city. When I began my list, I quickly realized that the city changes so quickly that half of the places I was considering have closed. That doesn’t mean that these venues had something inherently wrong with them, it simply means that the city continues evolving. And, I don’t except that to change anytime soon.
To be fair, this list was inspired by the New York Post’s Sunday feature highlighting the go-to haunts of some beloved New Yorkers. I may not be beloved just yet, but after surviving thirty years in the Big Apple, I have a few nuggets to share. Of course, this is just the tip of a massive iceberg of great places New York, and it skews heavily to Manhattan because that’s where I work and spend most of my time. Of note, being a Guy’s Guy list, the vibe is positive and casual. Cheers.
1. Business Lunch – A long career in marketing and advertising includes lunches with media reps, colleagues, and people selling something. Depending on what area of Manhattan I was working in at the time, I always kept a few go-to places up my sleeve. I loved my rare launches at high-end iconic restaurants like Il Mulino, Daniel, and Gotham, but my all-time favorite business lunch spot is the Union Square Café. The atmosphere is bubbly; the service friendly and impeccable, and the blue fin tuna burger is out of this world.
2. Drinks on a Second Date – You met her online and shared a Chardonnay at a bustling wine bar. The vibe was fresh and sexual tension filled the air. Now what? The Temple Bar on Lafayette Street just north of Houston Street. It’s sedate, seductive, and clandestine. The martinis are excellent and the atmosphere sublime for sealing the deal. You can even satiate your nervous energy with the little bowls of free popcorn that the servers bring out.
3. Where to Meet Beautiful Women – The real answer is everywhere and anywhere, but for pure percentages, you can’t beat the SoHo House. You need a membership or an invite, so this screens out a lot of people. You will see and meet lots of people, and especially women, in the fashion, film and media businesses. Everyone here dresses sharp and seems to go out of their way to be as “friendly” as they can be in this city. The drinks are great, there are a number of rooms and bars to choose from, and they have a pool on the roof chock-full of hotties on any summer day or evening after work. And who knows, you might meet that connection and finally sell your screenplay.
4. A Great Burger – Although I’ve been a pescatarian for the past seven years, I still love wrapping my meaty paws around some hot buns. Ha! Of course, these days the burgers are not made with meat, but if a burger joint can make a great salmon, tuna, or veggie burger, they usually make a kick-ass beef burger. Just sayin’. There have been loads of burger places on my list over the years, but my new fave is Bare Burger. There are a number of locations in the city now, but I’ve usually eaten at the one on La Guardia Place. The environment is casual, not too loud, and I have my choice of a few non-meat versions of the American classic. The rings and fries are awesome, and they come with a variety of toppings.
5. Tavern – There have been so many favorites over the years, but when I scratched my head for this post the first bar that popped into my mind was Swifts Hibernian Lounge on East Fourth Street. They vibe is cozy, the crowd is in good spirits, the bartenders are friendly and capable, the food is good enough, and the music is cool so you can hear yourself having a conversation. One note, there is no television, which if you can suck it up, you’ll find to be a very good thing. They pour an incredibly smooth Guinness and on weekends you might stumble in and hear some real Irish folk music being played at the seats directly across from the bar.
6. Pizza – Yes, I know you can get incredible pizza if you ride the M train for an hour to Midwood. In Manhattan, the best place to sit down and enjoy a pie is Lombardi’s on Spring Street. It is constantly jammed and usually filled with tourists now, but if you stop by at an off-hour or midweek, you’ll get a table and a fabulous coal oven baked pizza pie. For slices, I like Bleecker Street Pizza and Joe’s on Sixth Avenue near Bleecker. Both have fresh zesty sauces and crisp chewy crusts. Because of the high rate of sales, the slices are always hot and fresh out of the oven.
7. Cheap, Tasty, Nutritious Dinners – I love Koreatown. It’s located primarily along East 32nd Street and chock full of great places to eat at any time of day or night. Once you get the taste of Korean food, it becomes intoxicating. Although there are a few new places I haven’t tried that have great reviews, my favorite restaurants for hot, spicy squid, seafood tofu soup, or even barbecue are BCD and Kun Jip, both on East 32nd between Fifth and Broadway. The service is fast and furious and the soup is still bubbling when it gets to your table. Yum.
8. Brunch – I’m not into brunch. Why pay fifty bucks for eggs benedict? I don’t even like eggs benedict. And, I don’t like mimosas. And, I rarely drink before 5pm anymore, so you can keep that Bloody Mary. If I’m drinking early it’s got to be a margarita. But that’s me. So if my arm gets twisted to go to brunch (by my wife), I opt for El Toro Blanco on Sixth Avenue just south of Bleecker. It’s a nice place to sit outside during the warmer months. The avenue is wide and never too noisy. The service is very good, the guacamole is excellent, and their margaritas are sneaky strong, smooth and tart.
We’re off to a good start. There are no great surprises here, but these are all solid choices and they all fit a Guy’s Guy lifestyle. This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Carlos Herrera, who invented the margarita in 1938. Maybe he wasn’t in NYC, but that’s a real Guy’s Guy.