Come hungry, because you won’t know where to start. Out the back of wine shop/deli, Despaña, is a moreish tapas joint; Tacombi serves Yucatan beach-worthy tacos from a converted campervan; Egg Shop is the place for, well, all things egg; Freemans does simple American fare to perfection, as does Jack’s Wife Freda, albeit with more of a Mediterranean twist. Cafe Habana is a local institution whose Cuban sandwiches are worth queuing for if you want some superior snacks when you’re on the move, or keep things Italian with pastrami on freshly baked bread from Parisi Bakery (a favourite of Frank Sinatra’s, back in the day). For Thai try Uncle Boons. Slurp noodles at Ramen Lab. Grab a slice at Prince Street Pizza. Go vegan (confusingly) at the Butcher’s Daughter. And if you’ve got any room at all for dessert, go for ice cream, sorbet or sundae at Morgenstern's.
Mr & Mrs Smith x Tokyobike
Discover New York's Nolita
Things New Yorkers love: pretzels, pastrami, pizza and portmanteaus. We’ll come back to the food, but regarding the latter: Nolita is one of their more inventive; referring to the area north of Little Italy (see what they’ve done there…) The Italian influence is still still apparent, but the neighbourhood has morphed over the years to become an unmistakably Manhattan (and surprisingly cycleable) mish-mash of high-end boutiques, modish restaurants, rough-and-ready bars and old-time elegance – creative enough, in fact, for David Bowie to call home until his recent death, so if it’s good enough for him…
This being New York, you’ll never be stuck for good coffee: Two Hands Cafe, La Colombe, Gimme and Happy Bones being some of our favourites. For something stiffer, Mother’s Ruin will sort you out with anything from an alcoholic slushie to an East Coast craft beer. Long-standing neighbourhood dive bar, Spring Lounge (known colloquially as the Shark Bar because, well, there’s a bloody great shark on its wall), plays host to the Early Morning Drinking Society from 8am, should you desperately need a bloody mary before your morning cycle. For cocktails, The Daily serves a menu of well-crafted creations that changes…daily.
The Nolita outpost of cultish Seattle store, Totokaelo is one of the most fashionable around – five floors of new designers, established labels and covetable accessories. NY favourite Rag & Bone has a womenswear boutique on East Houston Street; Vince, on Prince Street, takes care of men’s sartorial needs. Condor stocks a world’s worth of fashionable finds and artsy accoutrements. Bibliophiles, bookmark McNally Jackson: a two-storey indie bookstore with very-much-in-the-know staff and a cosy café for curling up with your latest purchase in. Flea market fans will feel at home at The Market where local creatives and craftsfolk come to sell everything from jewellery to paintings.
The International Centre for Photography is a forward-thinking forum for photography and visual art with a commendably socially aware agenda – its exhibitions span time and geography (from 1960s Seoul to modern-day Syria, currently) and are as arresting as they are artistic. The New Museum wears its art on its sleeve (it’s a museum for new art). The building deserves a mention too: it’s an imposing jumble of stacked white cubes which looms over the surrounding skyline.
Pack a picnic (see above for inspiration) and cycle to the cute confines of Elizabeth Street Garden: a statue-dotted park-cum-community-allotment which makes for a peaceful rest spot when the sun's shining. Take advantage of the relatively car-free streets (in New York terms, anyway) and bike your way from gallery to boutique to café – and don't miss the ever-changing Bowery mural.
The Bowery hotel stands as an exemplar of Nolita's transformation – especially in its dark wood-panelled, art-deco-inspired Lobby Bar: now a fashionable favourite of both visiting and local tastemakers and hipsters. The rooms have big windows (some offering spectacular view of the Empire State Building) and the corridors are moodily lit in the style of a classic New York apartment building. Effortlessly cool, but still with plenty of edge.
You'll find Tokyobike New York at:
1 Prince Street