Thursday, April 23, 2015

NYC in May

One of the most distressing things about New York City is our airports. JFK, LaGuardia and Newark are ranked among the worst airports in the country. I arrived back in New York, JFK airport (from Israel) last week. Because I have a Known Traveler pass and I don’t ever check any luggage, I was off the plane and out the door in about 8 minutes. Then I spent an hour and a half on the taxi line. So here is a tip which I stupidly didn’t follow myself: Book a private car to pick you up at the airport. I find Carmel ( very reliable but you need a working cell phone so they can locate you in the chaos of New York’s airports. And of course, though pricey, Uber always works!

Once you have survived the chaos of JFK, it is a joy to be in New York in May; the weather is great, the Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom all over the city and you no longer need a winter coat. The most lovely are the blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. 

Luna Park in Coney Island has reopened which is a wonderful place to spend the day with children. To get there, you can take the D, N, F or Q trains to the end. Ruby’s, the oldest bar on the boardwalk is a simple, casual place to eat. The Thunderbolt, a 115 foot tall roller coaster, opens on Memorial Day weekend. A stroll along the board walk is an experience every New Yorker should have. And for younger children, there is always the Aquarium.

In the evening, one of my favorite things to do is go to the Comedy Cellar on MacDougal Street between West 3rd Street and Bleecker. You must make reservations on line and once you arrive, stand on line to get in. Its worth it. Quite often, very famous comedians appear as an added attraction. And since the weather is so lovely, you won’t mind the wait on line. 

The neighborhood has both casual and elegant restaurants. Right above the Comedy Cellar is the Olive Tree Cafe and Bar with decent Mediterranean food. You also have Mamoun’s next door for pretty good falafel. Directly across the street is Minetta Tavern which opened in 1937 and was bought and refurbished by the famous restauranteur, Keith McNally. The food, like all of his restaurants is excellent, albeit expensive. And you can go after the show because its a late night hot spot! For coffee, a few doors down is Cafe Reggio, a crowded little cafe with excellent espresso and cappuccino. 

The night life in Manhattan really doesn’t start until about 11:00 pm and continues until 4:00 am unless you are lucky enough to find an after hours place. Max Fish at 178 Ludlow Street, a hipster dive bar is considered one of the best pick-up places in the city. 1 Oak at 415 17th Street, although difficult to get into, is full of celebrities but doesn’t really get lively until 2:00 am. Kiss and Fly in the Meatpacking District is on the wild side but can be entered by giving money to the doorman. 

One of the best dance clubs is Santo’s Party House with cheap drinks and a place to party hard.” Beatrice in on West 12th Street is probably the hardest club to get into unless you are absolutely gorgeous. Cielo on Little West 12th Street has a $25 cover charge but you can sometimes get on the guest list through their Facebook page. Le Bain at 444 West 13th Street has fabulous views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. You must be very well dressed and there are always long lines. Culture Club at 20 West 39th Street is more nostalgic with music from the 80’s and 90’s but has a $25.00 cover charge. The Sullivan Room has the best house music of any of the clubs but doesn’t get started until 1:00 am. 

If you wish to venture to Williamsburg in Brooklyn, try Bembe where women get in free and men pay a $5. to $10 cover charge. Muscially, it is culturally diverse including salsa, samba, reggae and calypso. They serve coconut drinks in real coconuts. The other Williamsburg dance club is Output at 74 Wythe Avenue. Its probably the finest dance club in the city without a VIP section.

All of these clubs are primarily for the under 40 set. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Yorkers are some of the most judgmental people on earth; we like to criticize everything we come across and to point out how fabulous our own experiences have been. However, when someone judges in an unfairly harsh manner, New Yorkers come out in droves in opposition. Such was the case with Guy Fieri’s new restaurant in the theatre district.

In all fairness, we know that Times Square is a culinary wasteland filled with mediocre chains that charge exorbitant prices for forgettable meals. However, it is worth our time to at least give new, original places a chance. The vicious review of Fieri’s lovely new spot, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, located in the prime Broadway location seemed more like a personal vendetta than an objective review. I went there with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised. Yes, Fieri is a TV superstar chef but he doesn’t deserve to be vilified by Pete Wells. New Yorkers reacted by coming out in droves to support Fieri and give him another chance.

First, the tortilla soup was excellent. Go, just to try the soup. And this might be the only place in the district that doesn’t over salt the food. Ask your waiter to pace the meal according to your own schedule. If you are in a rush, getting everything at the same time makes sense. If you prefer a leisurely meal, tell your waiter that you want your dishes served accordingly. The food is certainly far superior to its ghastly neighbors and if you insist on eating near your theatre, this is the place to go. Its marvelously fun, has great attitude and has a TV charm that blows the nearby restaurants away.

And while on Broadway (really not exactly that address…the district is called “Broadway”) go see Rock of Ages. Its light, you can sing along to all of the tunes and it too is fun. I read the scathing reviews of this fabulous musical and had a grand time, as did three of my children, ages 17, 19 and 20. After being dragged to Shakespeare for years, they appreciated the humor, the cadence and the simple pleasure of music we all recognize.

On a practical note, buy your tickets from They are cheaper, don’t have ridiculous surcharges, and make it extremely easy to select your own seats.