Your parents (aunt and uncle/grandparents/naive young cousins) are visiting what I call "The Real Sin City." They're coming from Iowa/Louisiana/Texas/Hong Kong/Venezuela. Where to take them that's authentically New York, fairly unscandalous, and still not a snooze for you.
Economy Candy is a Lower East Side Candyland, complete with British candy bars like Lion, licorice, chocolates, peppermints, Lemonheads, mary janes, and odds and ends like Turkish pistachios by the pound.
This is as luxe and grand dame as it gets in Manhattan department stores, but head to the 5th floor to unwind, where you can browse younger brands like Alexander Wang and Phillip Lim and shoes by Margiela. Housewares on 7 often has sales on beautiful crystal tumblers and prettily-scented candles.
You're in for a wild old Moscow night at RVR. The pianist takes birthday requests, the flavored vodkas range from lemon to spicy chile, and the night goes on and on in this dark, intimate space.
My room in this Midtown business hotel was small but efficient, with a spinning television that lets you watch in bed or in the sofa/office area. My favorite part was the rooftop pool for quiet early-morning laps and the trips to Norma's for brunch and Burger Joint for lunch. Their coffee and tea cafe is lovely for an afternoon with a book, and concierges are excellent in recommending plays and wine stores.
This remarkable respite from rain is the perfect spot for a meal, shopping or just gawking. Though tourists abound, they are muted somehow by the utility and industrial loveliness of this market full of spices, cheeses, coffee, gelato, wine, pasta, seafood, sample sales and kitchen supplies.
Buy fresh eggs, beautiful beets, rare mushrooms, local farm-raised meat, fresh seafood, baked goods, plants, herbs, and anything out of the local earth you can imagine at this chef-frequented five-star farmer's market.
Cheese is king at this large, brassy bistro, where it's not too much to have gougeres, a cheese plate AND fondue. A perfect spot for a fun Sunday brunch or loud, lively dinner. The cheese cave is the place to reserve for a special dinner, and don't forget about their ubercheese picnic baskets to go. A retail shop on the side of the restaurant allows you to supplement what's in the picnic baskets or pick out a perfect gift. The servers are professionals, and the sommelier will patiently pick out a bottle or glasses from the excellent wine list with each member of your party.
Chef Galen Zamarra helms this immaculate West Village jewelbox, where service is perfect and the food follows a cultivated, rustic style. Sourcing from farmers markets and local farms, Mas features black trumpet mushrooms, farm-raised chicken, and Vermont cheeses. The servers are professionally knowledgeable about food and wine to the extreme, with background information about the farms and vinyards items are sourced from. Wines focus heavily on France and biodynamic, organic vinyards.
The beautiful view and sweeping architecture aside, this urban mall provides haute cuisine (Masa and Per Se) and high fashion (Sephora, Hugo Boss, C Wonder, Tumi, Wolford, Giuseppe Zanotti and more).
The hot chocolate is delicious, but if you're feeling ready to switch over to nighttime drinks, try the Double Chocolate Stout and ask for a scoop of ice cream.
The most breathtaking park in Brooklyn hosts views of the East River, the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. You'll see wedding parties, couples strolling, dogs, babies, old folks, young folks -- the gamut of human life comes here. Romantic, with film screenings in the summer and Narnia-like views in the winter of lampposts against a wintry endless wonderland. Ride Jane's Carousel to complete the magic experience, and then return to yummy reality with pizza at Grimaldi's or ice cream at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
Follow the upward spiral of this building to room after room of intriguing exhibits. The Guggenheim once had a "Scent Opera" and is taking a more avant-garde direction as of late.
Long lines curve around the soccer field for pupusas, tortas, tacos, ceviche, agua fresca, elote, and platanos at this food cart heaven.
How sweet it is to live in New York. We make abandoned elevated rail lines into strolling parks wonderful for meditative walking and talking. The views are fantastic -- take your tourists and guests here. Grab food at Delaney Barbecue on the High Line near the 14th Street entrance.
It's smoky and dark, but I can't help loving this subterranean food hall. Pick from duck pastrami gyros, sushi and pizza, then stroll the many dessert and chocolate stalls.
The first time I stumbled upon Brooklyn Winery, there were actual grapes hanging on a vine not too far from the entrance. It felt like ... viticultural serendipity. All signs pointed to this large, beautiful space, with a large back patio, multiple rooms, a photo booth with costumes, an impressive selection of wines, and a host of classes, from tasting to making. And then someone told me AC/DC made wine there together. That's it, Brooklyn Winery. You're a magical place.
Beecher's, which handmakes its own cheese, is also a purveyor of Mast Brothers chocolate and McClure's pickle chips. Try a delicious cheesy sandwich from the deli upstairs or head downstairs for a strong cocktail and a plate of mac and cheese.
The beast of Atlantic Avenue is home to the playoffs-bound Brooklyn Nets but also stages concerts for beloved luminaries like Leonard Cohen. Food is better than the average arena food, with Habana, Elbow Room, Fatty Cue and Calexico.
Every small food vendor worth her salt and butter is at this weekly Williamsburg food market, where giant turkey legs that could be found at Beowulf's feast are gobbled by bearded men who look equally medieval. From truffled sausage to cold mazemen to tender ribs, this is a street foodie dream.