NYPress.com - New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more » Best of Manhattan http://nypress.com New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:32:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 City Living http://nypress.com/city-living/ http://nypress.com/city-living/#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2012 07:32:24 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=56966 Best Bike Lane
West Side Highway Bike Lane
Try as they might, no other Manhattan bike lane can hold a candle to the West Side Highway bike lane, which runs along the east bank of the Hudson River from Chambers Street all the way to 125th Street. A clear day affords beautiful views of the river, and in one afternoon you can pass through neighborhoods as varied as Tribeca, Hell’s Kitchen, and Morningside Heights. If your furious pedaling makes you hungry or thirsty, keep an eye out for a handful of small, casual cafés that dot the riverside along the bike path: the Boat Basin Café, located at West 79th Street, is a dependable spot for a cold beer and a grilled dog.

Best Church to Find a Program for Anyone
Rutgers Presbyterian Church
236 W. 73rd St. near Broadway,
rutgerschurch.org
In 1998, Rutgers celebrated its bicentennial and completed a full renovation of its sanctuary. Whether you’re single or a family, gay or straight, younger or older, a seeker or a believer, you’ll find this church to be a warm, hospitable community of faith with the programs you’re looking for. Whether you are someone seeking an all-inclusive place to worship or you are looking for children’s classes, adult classes, AA meetings, youth groups or community programs, you can find them all at Rutgers.

Best Cooking Experience
Eataly
multiple locations, lascuola@eataly.com or call 212.539.0204 Ext. 304
Even if they didn’t provide their own in-house experts to guide you, Eataly makes Italian food look good. What is better is that they teach you how to expertly and easily create dishes you love in your own kitchen. With a state-of-the-art cooking school, they offer classes that range from getting to know gnocchi to everything you ever wanted to know about olive oil. The space is specially designed so every student can see and hear each delicate detail. Classes are continually changing and always provide an ample meal.

Best Doggie Day Care
Wiggly Pups
152 E. 22nd St. near Third Avenue,
wigglypups.com
Billed as a “private canine club,” this Gramercy den for pampered pooches lives up to its promise. Paul and Kathy Compitus create a home-style environment for man’s best friend—if your home were well appointed with high-end doggie furnishings of your own design. After a temperament test ensures your pup will be a good fit with the in crowd (less than 20 dogs at a time), full-day care or shorter stays are available in their lounge Monday – Saturday. For $70 a night, your dog can snuggle overnight in their hotel, complete with turn-down service. Membership also grants access to “Wiggly Watch,” a password-protected portal to your puppy, allowing helicopter parents to keep an eye on their canine kids. Walking, transportation in a vintage Rolls Royce and positive reinforcement training are available for additional fees.

Best European Style
Salon with UES Flair
Aaron Emanuel Salon
307 E. 77th St., 212-422-3000
Expert stylist and salon owner Aaron Emanuel introduces a relaxing and pampering Upper East Side salon. Handpicked stylists, colorists and special-treatments experts make up the staff, which aims to create looks that surpass clients’ expectations. With a European styling foundation and today’s latest techniques, you’ll walk out feeling energized and looking beautiful!

Best Facelift of an Old Building
Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Ave.
A “facelift” sometimes means a complete transformation into something new—nothing like what was there before. But with the Park Avenue Armory, a landmark and cultural institution on the Upper East Side, the remodelers wanted to refurbish and enhance the building, while holding on to its historic features and character. New York state’s Seventh Regiment of the National Guard built the armory in 1881, and besides a military center, it also served as a social hall. The building’s renovations included cleaning and brick replacements on the façade, replacements of skylights on the roof and interior alterations on the third and fourth floors, to name a few. Still, the building has something of an antique atmosphere, and the amber- and copper-colored walls in the drill hall are decorated with portraits of soldiers from the past and plaques honoring their service. Today, the Armory also houses artistic and cultural events—and it endures as a place where New York’s past and present coexist.

Best Foot Massage
Foot Heaven
16 Pell St., 212-962-6588
Located in Chinatown, Foot Heaven is the perfect resource for New Yorkers, who spend so much of their day trudging up and down subway stairs and rushing along sidewalks. This clean, unassuming massage parlor offers just two services: back rubs and foot rubs. While both are top-notch, the foot massages are, true to the store’s name, heavenly. The best part? The price: 30 minutes of intensive, restorative massage will set you back only $25. (For an even $30, spend your remaining $5 on an order of soup dumplings at Joe’s Ginger, located just across the street.)

Best Free Education
New School
66 W. 12th St. near Fifth Avenue, newschool.edu
The cost of higher learning keeps getting worse, but for those who live near The New School, there is a wonderful opportunity to take part in some free or $5 classes and events. There is a continual stream of nighttime workshops, panels, screenings and talks happening in the West Village all year long, open to the general public, as well as the students. Bring your pen and paper, and join in on a live event—from meeting Mumbai’s Barefoot Researchers or meeting the Cave Canem Poetry Prize winners, there is always something interesting going on.

Best Gym
Reebok Sports Club
160 Columbus Ave. near West 67th,
thesportsclubla.com
If you are serious about changing your body, run, don’t walk to Reebok Sports Club. Open 24 hours, you can always find time to fit a workout into your schedule. Once you are there, everyone from the check-in to locker room attendant will greet you with a smile. On busy days, you can shower in their spotless locker rooms and make it to your desk on time. Amenities include a 25-yard pool, two basketball courts, and a rock climbing wall. If you want to socialize, bring your laptop and sit in their sidewalk café, complete with complimentary wi-fi.

Best Health Food Store
4th Street Food Co-op
58 E. Fourth St. near Second Avenue, 4thstreetfoodcoop.org
This little gem on Fourth Street is so tiny you might have passed it by, unconvinced of the virtues inside. Anyone can shop there, volunteers just get a good discount, but you can simply walk in and enjoy picking out your locally grown produce without fighting the elements or the elbows at an outdoor farmers’ market. Most everything in the shop is organic and carefully chosen, so it is only labeled when it isn’t up to those high standards. Flavorful dried fruits, plentiful grains, legumes and bulk herbs are some of the items you’ll discover along with ever-changing friendly service to tell you what the sorrel tastes like or give you a slice of the latest apple to try.

Best-Kept Banking Secret on the UWS
Lomto Federal Credit Union (180 Riverside Blvd. at 69th Street, 212-947-3380)
Originally incorporated to serve the needs of New York City’s Taxi and Limo drivers, Lomto FCU expanded its services a couple of years back to serve the whole community. Being located on the UWS means that anyone who lives, works or prays on the Upper West Side can take advantage of their wide array of banking services—which include some of the highest rates paid on CDs and money market accounts.

Best Hotel
Empire Hotel 4
4 W. 63rd St., empirehotelnyc.com
If you’ve ever watched Gossip Girl, you have probably caught a glimpse of the trendy 423-room hotel that character Chuck Bass owns. A stone’s throw away from Lincoln Center, the boutique hotel can be recognized by the bold neon sign that towers above the Upper West Side. Inside, you will be greeted by concierges Chris and Yuri and a lobby filled with beautiful people sipping drinks on leopard-print chairs. Not surprisingly, it is the official hotel of Fashion Week. There is a rooftop deck bar open to the public that is crowded every night of the week. If you are going for the food, the hotel is also the home to Ed’s Chowder House.

Best Jeweler
Murrey’s
1395 Third Ave., betw. E. 79th & 80th sts., 212-879-3690
Murrey’s Jewelers, a family business now in its third generation, has been serving loyal customers since 1936. Clients keep going back for purchases, repairs, appraisals and custom work because Murrey’s never says “no” to a project and always delivers. An added plus is that Murrey’s onsite workshop is locally and internationally acclaimed.

Best Local Author
Molly Jong Fast
Fast, who is the daughter of author Erica Jong and Jonathan Fast, somehow managed to become not only a fantastic writer, but a well-adjusted person. Born and brought up in Manhattan, her novels show the best (and often worst) sides of the Upper East Side.

Best Local
Clothing Company
Ann Yee Collection
Various locations, annyeecollection.com
Made in NYC isn’t a gratuitous throwaway line for Ann Yee, the rising Brooklyn-based designer who still manufactures her collections in New York’s garment district. Ann’s designs, which have garnered attention from publications like Nylon magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, feature architectural cuts juxtaposed with soft draping. With a blend of sophisticated uptown style and downtown edge, she’s committed to keeping her production local, but it won’t be long before her popularity spreads beyond New York.

Best Local Hardware Store
Scheman & Grant
various locations, schemanandgrant.com
Looking for a small-town hardware store smack-dab in the center of Midtown? Check out Scheman & Grant. The independently owned company has two locations right in the heart of Manhattan; Bryant Park on 39th and another close to Port Authority. The hardware store has a broad range of products ranging from paints to blinds, and they have crucial delivery and locksmith services available to city dwellers. With Middle American prices and helpful do-it-yourself staff, these are the best places to spruce up your NYC-sized life, or just fix the broken toilet your super ignores.

Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Waterfront Park
West Harlem Piers Park
Henry Hudson Parkway, at 131st St.,
nycgovparks.org
Piers Park, just off of Riverside Drive in West Harlem, is a shady, peaceful spot to catch up on people-watching. Bring a book to read, a paper to skim or a coffee to sip, and listen to the calming sounds of the East River. This destination is a popular passageway for leisurely bike-riders, mothers with children, couples, students and those aiming to catch a breath before or after a shopping trip at the nearby Fairway Market. You can also enjoy a clear view of George Washington Bridge to the north and the New Jersey coastline to the west.

Best Office Building to Move Up To
The Agora
at 87th Street and Third Avenue,
718-263-3800 or ross@muss.com
The Agora is the only first-class office building on the Upper East Side. It has two entrances and lobbies, one at 177 East 87th St. and the other at 1556 Third Ave., and is conveniently located one block from the Lexington Avenue Subway (4, 5 and 6 trains). Some notable tenants include Mount Sinai Manhattan Heart, Doyle Galleries and Duane Reade. Inquiries should be directed to Ross Spitalnick, senior vice president, Muss Development.

Best Place to Adopt a Pet
Bideawee
410 E. 38th Street, betw. FDR Dr. & 1st Ave., www.bideawee.org
Bideawee, which means “stay awhile,” in Scottish, is one of the country’s oldest and most respected animal welfare and pet adoption organizations. Founded in 1903, Bideawee has been cultivating and supporting the lifelong relationships between pets and the people who love them for more than 100 years. Bideawee provides an array of high-touch services including adoption centers, animal hospitals, pet therapy programs, and pet memorial parks that serve pets and pet lovers on their lifelong journey together. Bideawee is a not for profit 501(c) 3 humane animal organization and 100% of Bideawee’s funding comes from private sources. Bideawee operates one facility in New York City and two on Long Island, one in Wantagh, and one in Westhampton.

Best Place to Feel Like a Family
Make Meaning
329 Columbus Ave. near W. 75th St.,
212-362-0350
Remember when you were tricked into going with your friends to one of those pottery places where you had to make your own plate? It’s back—kinda. Make Meaning, with locations on the Upper West and Upper East Side, has managed to balance the twee with the sophisticated. The store has courses to teach you how to make items with glass, or you can try making candles, jewelry or fancy paper. They recently started cake decorating classes. What better way for families to spend quality time together?

Best Place to Find Your Faith
Marble Collegiate
at Fifth Avenue and West 29th Street,
marblechurch.org
Marble Collegiate does church the way you’ve always hoped it could be: diverse, inclusive, vibrant and fun. The spiritual house is a warm place of connection and community. Marble has been a part of the New York City landscape since 1854. There is truly something for everyone at Marble.

Best Place to Gussy Up Your Apartment
Haus Interior
250 Elizabeth St. near E. Houston,
hausinterior.com
It’s time to leave your Ikea cast-offs behind and decorate your big-kid apartment. Get your stuff together and your style on at this upscale pioneer-chic boutique. At Haus Interior, German-born design maven Nina Freudenberger offers what feels like her personal selections from all over the word. Expanding her interiors business into a tiny Nolita storefront, Nina curates fresh, modern pieces to fill out your space with natural and elegant lines. Not in the market for a complete overhaul? Haus Interior has enviable accessories: retro glassware, crisp Japanese linens and cozy throw blankets that easily can elevate the cool factor in your 700 square feet or your Hamptons dream home. The bevy of colorful pillows and unique wallpaper allow you to channel your inner pattern freak without committing to pieces of furniture. All beautiful, but obtainable on a budget. But if you’re that overwhelmed, Nina is for hire through the full-service design program.

Best Salon
Warren Tricomi Salon
at the Plaza Hotel, warrentricomi.com
When the Plaza Hotel was renovated, two major additions were hair gurus Joel Warren and Edward Tricomi. The cutting/coloring dynamic duo can be found there, transforming the look of everyone from Broadway stars
to diplomats. Among their accomplishments, they are the first stylist and colorist to create a hair product line together. A L’Oreal Professional salon, they are the pioneers of dry cutting and now specialize in frizz control. As befits the classic Plaza, the salon is decorated in the theme of old Hollywood glamour. Even if you don’t qualify to sit in their VIP area, the staff is sure to pamper you like you do.

Best Senior Health Care
Quality Healthcare
qualityny.com, info@qualityny.com,
718-338-8500
Quality Healthcare is a fully licensed and bonded home health care agency founded in 1994. For nearly 20 years, they have been providing exceptional home-care services in the New York area, with warmth and compassion. They specialize in striving to make the transition to home care as smooth as possible for the client and his family. Each member of our field staff has been trained, certified and has been screened and tested to ensure the highest level of service to our clients. Each client is assigned a personal coordinator who becomes familiar with their individual needs (physical, language, religious and cultural) and preferences and who is available each day to ensure that those needs are met. Someone will be with you every step of the way, with 24/7 availability.

Best Shoe Repair
John’s Shoe Repair
30 Irving Place near 15th St., 212-533-4110
John’s Shoe Repair in Gramercy is one of the few old-fashioned shoe repairmen left, and has been around for over 40 years. Owner Ariel Lopez does each and every one of the shoe repairs by hand, and works with old-fashioned leather cutting and threading machines. Lopez, who can do many repairs in less than one minute, takes pride in his work, and is capable of completely rebuilding a pair of ruined shoes. With reasonable prices and quick service, John’s Shoe Repair is a neighborhood staple.

Best Spa Experience
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental
80 Columbus Circle, mandarinoriental.com
Actress Sutton Foster calls this spa her favorite place in all of Manhattan. High above the city, you will be transported to an oriental-style home complete with bamboo floors and even a bento box meal. Their signature treatment, the oriental meridian massage, is tailored to your needs and lasts a whole hour and 50 minutes. Vitality pools, a fireplace, and an Oriental Tea Lounge add to the unique experience. Awarded five stars in Forbes Travel, it gives you a majestic view of the Hudson River—far from the tranquility of the Orient, but close enough.

Best Spiritual Getaway
Mount of Atonement
1350 Route 9, Garrison, N.Y.,
AtonementFriars.org, 845-424-3671
Among the rolling hills flanking the Hudson River is the Mount of Atonement, commonly called Graymoor, home to the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement. If quiet reflection is your goal, there are beautiful chapels, shrines and gardens. The nearby Appalachian Trail calls to hikers, and picnickers are welcome. The That Nothing Be Lost Thrift Shop is a treasure trove of vintage items; the Graymoor Book & Gift Center is the area’s largest ecumenical book store.

Best Unlikely Cool Neighborhood
Murray Hill
OK, stop laughing. Murray Hill is not just the place where snooty Cornell and Syracuse graduates live cheaply on their parents’ dimes. The rooftop parties at the Gansevoort Park may piss off the neighbors, but they’ve announced to the world this hood is a good-time destination. Joining them on the party circuit, POD 39 Hotel (opening soon) will boast a lounge and bar serving inventive tacos dreamed up by Chef April Bloomfield. With Milk and Honey’s spawn Middle Branch delivering classic cocktails with hand-cut ice and Terroir pouring Riesling down the throats of their disciples, the Hill has tipples for the discerning palate. Among cheap blow-outs, you can now find Aussie Greg Ruggeri’s new salon. Stop in for haute couture highlights while taking in his extensive art collection. Want to laugh without leaving your block? People’s Improv Theatre hosts edgy, hilarious performances seven nights a week. There’s a lot going on in Murray Hill—they’re getting a Fairway too!

Best Vacation Spot Within Two Hours
Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa
220 North Road, Milton, N.Y., 845-795-1310
Just a 90-minute train ride from Grand Central Station lies Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa, a picturesque 75-acre property in the Hudson Valley, with quaint accommodations, an eco-friendly day spa and a farm complete with llamas. Sample farm-to-table cuisine (literally, in this case) at Henry’s, but be sure to save room for the inn’s daily breakfast, which features cooked-to-order entrees and fresh-baked pastries. Unwind with a stroll around the grounds, get a hot stone massage or rent a car and go antiquing in neighboring New Paltz.

Best Vet
Amy Crain
Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital, 257 W. 18th St., heartofchelsea.com
When you’ve given your dog dramamine for a road trip and you’re convinced you’ve killed him and you’re counting his breaths, there’s only one person who can talk you down from your fear of puppy-cide. Dr. Crain at Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital is the best vet in town to calm your fears. She’ll answer all of your questions even if you think they’re insane. Animal owners wish she’d treat their maladies in addition to Fido’s—Dr. Crain is that incredibly patient and kind. She and the rest of the compassionate staff can handle anything from routine vaccines to dental to state-of-the-art radio surgery. This West Side office is a one-stop shop for your pet—even offering holistic care such as acupuncture and Chinese herbology.

Best Way to be Heard
Brilliant Senior Voice-Overs
brilliantseniorvoiceovers.com or
212-996-9732
We’re talking “heard” as in being the voice of a radio or TV commercial or perhaps heard as an audiobook narrator. This is the place to start. You’ll find classes, boot camps, demo production and their ever-popular, exclusive voice-over agent and casting-director nights. All students are men and women 55 and over, holding special appeal for boomers and seniors looking for a possible second career, improving speech and self-confidence and meeting great new people.

Best Way to Get Organized
Gotham Organizers
752 West End Ave. at W. 97th St.,
gothamorganizers.com
Is your studio apartment looking like it’s straight out of an episode of TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive? Do you have enough unread magazines and takeout menus piled up to create your own paper fort? Have no fear—Gotham Organizers are here to save the day. Specializing in organizing homes and businesses across New York City, the folks at Gotham Organizer will help you with everything from shredding your 2003 Con Ed bills to finding a better place to store your hairdryer than the kitchen cupboard. Consultation is free of charge.

Best Way to Keep Out City Noise
Cityproof
cityproof.com or 718-786-1600
Since 1960, Cityproof soundproof interior windows has been custom-manufacturing and installing interior windows that dramatically improve the quality of life in NYC home and work environments. Cityproof’s custom-designed Citywindows are installed on the inside of the existing exterior windows, creating a “buffer zone” of airspace that seals out noise. With Cityproof, there’s no need to replace or modify existing windows, since their Citywindows are often more economical and provide more noise reduction than replacing windows. They offer a free, on-site evaluation.

Best Way to See NYC
Experience the Ride
experiencetheride.com or 646-289-5060
More than a show and more than a tour, The Ride takes audience members on a nonstop entertainment experience through midtown Manhattan. Acting as the city’s only moving theater, with stadium seating and floor-to-ceiling glass, every audience member has front-row seats as the streets of New York become a stage. With performances around every corner, audience members are left guessing who’s a part of the show and who’s just along for The Ride.

Best Urgent Care That Feels Like a Spa
Medhattan
106 Liberty St. at Trinity Place, 646-461-2544
Medhattan Immediate Medical Care is Downtown NYC’s ER Alternative. Same-day appointments are available for you or your child with one of NY’s premier Board Certified ER doctors 365 days a year. With a spa-like décor, most capabilities of an ER and amenities you’d expect from a boutique hotel, Medhattan is just what busy but discriminating New Yorkers need. Since Medhattan opened its doors this time last year, they have cared for over 4,000 happy customers with everything from cuts and colds to fractures and kidney stones. X-ray, labs, sonogram, EKG, IV fluids, breathing treatments and casting are all offered on-site. Most major insurance plans including Medicare are accepted.

Best Yoga in Midtown
Sonic Yoga
754 9th Ave. near W. 51st, sonicyoga.com
Sonic Yoga is temporarily offering four months of unlimited yoga for $199 for new yogis. And you no longer have to worry about lugging your mat around town, because Sonic lets you store your mat at the studio for free. Don’t have a mat? No worries—they also let you borrow a freshly cleaned one for less than a cup of java. The intimate-yet-inviting studio is all hardwood and features changing rooms and cubbies for storing your stuff. Most importantly, Sonic’s instructors seem to really care about you—at the end of each session, they give mini-massages with calming lavender oil. is tailored to your needs and lasts a whole hour and 50 minutes.

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Arts & Entertainment http://nypress.com/arts-entertainment-2/ http://nypress.com/arts-entertainment-2/#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2012 07:27:30 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=56961 Armond White’s Best Picks

Best TV: Soul Food
Roger Mooking’s new show Man Fire Food on the Cooking Channel has solved the soul-food riddle that has perplexed television’s new foodie culture. Mooking, a Canadian with an inviting grin, takes his culinary skill and infectious humor on the road, searching for new ways that assorted cooks use to express their individuality and different backgrounds.

The Cooking Channel had previously tried placing G. Garvin into this Masterpiece Kitchen-on-the-road slot via Roadtrip with G. Garvin, launching the former TV One cooking host to national prominence among the Cooking Channel’s roster of chefs (curiously light on American soul-food flavor). Garvin’s peripatetic duties missed the camaraderie of Patrick and Gina Neely of the Food Network. Garvin’s bluster was like beer-based sauce, a tad overbearing.

But Mooking finds a good balance of casual friendliness, observing his guests’ methods with genuine interest and demonstrating taste that testified to his own skills. Just bring back Mooking’s old habit of playing kitchen DJ once his meals have plated, and the Cooking Channel might have another hit.

Best Film School
The Bronx-based Ghetto Film School—an ideal introduction to the practicalities of filmmaking, film history and movie aesthetic—continues to move forward.
With film noteworthies like directors David O. Russell and Spike Jonze on its board, GFS has become one of the leading film schools in the country by steering clear of the snobbery and careerism that taint film education at the university and now festival-circuit level, where students are taught to bow down to the entrenched system of commercial and egghead formulas.

AT GFS, students are encouraged to follow the unbeatable educator’s dictum: Film What You Know. The GFS movies are about the students’ lives; their experiences translated through film communication methods. GFS puts young cineastes on the right path.

Best Indiana Jones movie
The recently issued Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures on Blu-Ray comes at the right moment—with enough time having passed—that a reasonable assessment can be made of the entire series. Despite the impact that Raiders of the Lost Ark made in 1981, each sequel has surpassed it. The original now looks rather stodgy (even with the vivid Blu-Ray transfer) because Spielberg’s momentum improved—astonishingly—with each sequel.

Now it can told: Raiders is the least of the quartet, despite its early-’80s novelty, coming at the tail end of the ’70s American Renaissance, when filmmakers brought modernist revisionism to Hollywood genres. The widely disliked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is in fact richer, though it lacks the gorgeous lighting by Douglas Slocombe of the first three films. Kingdom builds on Raiders’ ideas and complicates them. Arriving two decades later, it is the series’ true sequel—refined and elegant.

The other films stand alone: Temple of Doom is a rambunctious comedy with some of the greatest action directing (that roller-coaster ride through the mines) that one can ever see. And The Last Crusade is the series’ masterpiece. Harrison Ford’s Indy finds his best ally in his dad (Sean Connery) and his perfect foil (Adolf Hitler giving his autograph). The overture sequence detailing Indy’s boyhood (played by the late River Phoenix) is a perfect example of relay-race ingenuity as well as a condensed history of cinema kinetics. It’s in The Last Crusade that Spielberg comes to grips with imperialism and the politics and ethics behind the anthropological urge. Manifest colonialism meets its spiritual destiny.
Read more about this in my book The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World.

Best Arts and Culture Guide
Culturadar.com
You love arts and culture, want to take advantage of the best deals and don’t have a ton of time. Sound familiar? Culturadar (pronounced “culture radar”) aggregates critics’ picks and event listings/reviews from publications including The New York Times, New York magazine, the New Yorker, the L and the Village Voice. It is a one-stop to explore what’s happening, share info, make plans and get discounts to institutions and events. A single click even retrieves all free events citywide, making it easy to experience arts and culture in NYC completely free of charge.

Best Big Movie Theater
Loews Lincoln Square
(1998 Broadway, amctheatres.com)
This Upper West Side multiplex bridges old and new, with Old Hollywood photos and theaters named after the screen palaces of yore as well as Manhattan’s best IMAX screen. This AMC theater boasts blockbusters and smaller art-house indies all at the same time. And its prime Broadway location, near the 1 train and across the street from Ollie’s? Now that’s a happy ending.

Best Burlesque
Slipper Room
167 Orchard St., betw. Allen & Essex Sts., slipperroom.com
Long the undisputed home for burlesque in New York—you can also sometimes catch comedy or a concert—the Slipper Room hosts the best performers in town, like Julie Atlas Muse, Dirty Martini and Billy the Blue Bunny. Now, it’s emerging with a facelift, with two floors, purple banquettes and improved sight lines for you to take in your tassels in style. It’s scheduled to be unveiled to the public in October.

Best Cast on Broadway
Grace
graceonbroadway.com
You get four powerhouse actors for the price of one ticket in Grace, Craig Wright’s seriocomic look at four lives colliding in Florida: Oscar-nominee Michael Shannon; his wife, Kate Arrington, a Chicago staple; film star Paul Rudd, returning to Broadway after 2006’s Three Days of Rain; and seven-time Emmy champ (a record for men) Ed Asner. With a show tackling themes as heavy and polarizing as religion, faith and destiny, you need a cast this strong to bolster the material.

Best Classical Music for Kids
The Little Orchestra Society
littleorchestra.org
The Little Orchestra Society takes you inside the music with spectacles of music and theater—beloved and new, classic and cutting edge. From the iconic rock musician and poet Patti Smith narrating her childhood favorite, “Tubby the Tuba,” to the indelible animation of Disney performed with our orchestra in “Disney Fantasia Live in Concert, to Victor Herbert’s holiday extravaganza “Babes in Toyland,” there is something for every member of your family. Also, young children can begin a lifelong love of music with the Lolli-Pops series, where colorful characters educate and entertain. Discover your inner musician!

Best Fall Show at a Museum
New York Historical Society’s WWII exhibit
170 Central Park West, nyhistory.org
Starting Oct. 5, New York Historical Society will house the exhibit WWII & NYC, which demonstrates the impact that the Great War had on the Big Apple. Aspects covered will include the mobilization of workers, shipbuilding, Civil Rights struggles and the ripple effect on the arts back home. The exhibit will also display more than 300 real artifacts, including documents pertaining to the Japanese surrender.


Best Indie Movie Theater

Elinor Bunim Monroe Film
Center at Lincoln Center
165 W. 65th St., filmlinc.com
The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s new state-of-the-art cinema just celebrated its first birthday, but it has already made a name for itself as a home for mature movies and serious watchers. The venue has a 150-seat and a 90-seat theater, ensuring intimate viewing experiences of small features and documentaries. EBM also plays host to special lectures, panels and educational programs.

Best Jazz Bar
Fat Cat
75 Christopher St., fatcatmusic.org
Tucked just below ground in the Village, Fat Cat is a massive, grungy live jazz lounge, bar and game hall with cheap drinks and game tables for miles. Be forewarned: On most nights, it’s near impossible to find a place to sit, let alone the pieces to the Scrabble sets.

Best Jukebox Selection
Manitoba’s
99 Avenue B, manitobas.com
While it’s true there are now internet jukeboxes that allow you to find almost any song ever produced—for extra money, of course—that’s still no substitute for a good jukebox of the old-fashioned kind. So leave it to “Handsome Dick” Manitoba, formerly of The Dictators and now owner of this great Ave. B dive, and his staff to select a range of picks—from obscure ’60s garage à la Nuggets to proto-punk and punk classics to newer indie gems—that can satisfy rock nerds of all stripes.

Best Karaoke
Sing Sing
various locations, karaokesingson.com
It’s still hard to beat this old Avenue A (with another location now on St. Mark’s) favorite, with its small rooms and eclectic song collection, where even the most jaded hipster can find something to belt out to his group of friends without feeling uncool. The small rooms may be spartan, but they are private and encourage disinhibition (necessary when you need to do a David Johansen rendition) as only an East Village dive can. Book in advance on a weekend.

Best Live Music Venue
Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen St. near E. Houston,
rockwoodmusichall.com
This intimate and hip LES space has two stages, both of which allow you to get up close to your favorite performers. With cheap admission and multiple bands (virtually every hour on the hour), it’s a great venue to discover a new act without dropping a lot of cash; tickets are typically around $5. Plenty of folky singer-songwriter acts along with a solid mix representing other genres including indie, alt-country and even bebop.

Best New Bookstore
192 Books
190 10th Ave., 192books.com
192 Books is a general-interest bookstore located at Tenth Avenue and 21st Street, which hosts regular readings, exhibitions and a vast selection of contemporary literature. The clean, bright Chelsea bookstore also boasts rare and out-of-print texts.

Best New Art Gallery
Recession Art at CultureFix
9 Clinton St. near E. Houston
culturefixny.com
CultureFix gallery on the Lower East Side has partnered with Recession Art to create a gallery featuring exhibitions specifically by emerging artists. RAC features truly unique exhibitions, regular events and performances, and an affordable storefront.

Best New York Art Fair
The Affordable Art Fair
affordableartfair.us
The Affordable Art Fair, which takes place in April on West 34th Street, lives up to its name. It sees 10,000 visitors every year, according to its website, and provides a wide variety of unique art for affordable prices. The fair also offers art classes and events for visitors of all ages.

Best NYC Film Festival
Big Apple Film Festival
bigapplefilmfestival.com
Many of the “indie” film festivals have gradually shape-shifted into showcases for artsy Hollywood projects or weeklong marketing sprees for Miramax. But Big Apple Film Festival, which this year runs Nov. 14-19 at Tribeca Cinema, remains dedicated to self-financed projects produced outside the mainstream. Now in its ninth year, it serves especially as an outlet for small films that take place in the five boroughs or are made by New Yorkers.

Best Off-Off Broadway Show
Red Dog Howls
nytw.org
Alexander Dinelaris’ new show marks the return of acclaimed Manhattan actress Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America, Wit) to New York Theatre Workshop. She plays, Rose, a mysterious Armenian woman who leads Michael (Alfredo Narciso, star of The Ugly One and one of New York’s greatest talents) to unearth a buried family history. Florencia Lozano (Last Easter) also stars. Given NYTW’s recent history—their homegrown children Once and Peter and the Starcatcher swept this year’s Tonys—Howls may just have plenty to sing about.

Best Outside-the-Box Classical Music
American Symphony Orchestra
americansymphony.org
Whether they’re telling you the story behind your favorite piece of classical music or performing a rarity that you’ve never enjoyed before, the American Symphony Orchestra is never just giving you the same old orchestra concert. The ASO is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season with concerts unlike any other. At Symphony Space, Music Director Leon Botstein will explain a series of works with a Mahler connection. And the concerts-on-a-theme at Carnegie Hall will explore everything from vampires to John Cage to whipped cream. Best of all, most seats are just $25 or $35.

Best Performance Venue
ABC No Rio
156 Rivington St., betw. Clinton & Suffolk Sts., abcnorio.org
When ABC No Rio was redesigned in 2007 with help from the city, there were some that feared this former Lower East Side squat would drop its dedication to promoting radically hip collaborative arts and readings. But it didn’t. So whether it’s hosting a noise-punk outfit or an avant-garde poetry reading, the space is now just about the last bastion of old-school bohemia.

Best Place for Comedy
(That’s Not Upright Citizens Brigade)
The Pit
123 E. 24th St. near Park Avenue, 212-563-7488
According to comics fed up with the stale stand-up circuit, this is the venue to check out. From such acts as the deadpan Stone Brothers—two twins who look like buttoned-up lawyers and finish each other’s stories and talk over each other to Shakespeare send-up Jester’s Dead—this is the place to experience some new laughs.

Best Place to Write a Novel
Paragraph NY
35 W. 14th St., paragraphny.com
Paragraph NY, open 24/7, 365 days a year, was created “by writers for writers,” according to the organization’s website. Located near Union Square—but removed from the hustle and bustle—the quiet, eclectic and comfortable writing space “away from the hurry and obligation of urban life” is a member organization that takes applications from those wishing to access the space. Paragraph NY has everything from wifi to cozy couches and coffee makers for members.

Best Reading Series
KGB
85 E. Fourth St. near Second Avenue,
kgbbar.com
This cozy Soviet-themed bar tucked away in the East Village has been the home to Monday-night poetry readings for over a decade. The renowned series, which features free evening readings by major contemporary poets throughout the fall and spring, is joined by readings of other genres most nights of the week. Get there early to snag a seat for the popular readings.

Best Tabletop Sport at a Bar
Ace Bar
531 E. Fifth St. near Avenue A,
acebar.com
While not quite a dive or yuppie bar, you can definitely peg this watering hole as a great place to play a host of tabletop games. Two cool pinball machines, pool tables, darts and, best of all, skeet ball! Not to mention a great selection of tap beers. If you get bored playing pinball or skeet ball, you can always lose some time examining their nonpareil vintage lunch-box collection or a game of Big Buck Hunter.

Best Under-the-Radar Museum
NY Transit Museum
130 Livingston St. at Boerum Place,
Brooklyn, mta.info/mta/museum
Sure, you could catch a Kandinsky or de Kooning at your pick of local museums. But where else can you find out how New York’s rail system is powered? NYTM, housed in a historic Brooklyn Heights subway station, is the largest museum in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history. Visitors can learn about the history of the subway system as well as enjoy a look at New York City’s trolleys and buses. The museum also includes an after-school program for students on the autism spectrum.

Best Used Bookstore
The Strand
multiple locations, strandbooks.com
The Strand bookstore near Union Square is well-known among local and far-reaching offbeat literature-lovers for its quaintness, book selection, decent prices and eager employees. The Strand is not for the faint of heart, though—at peak hours it’s all about survival of the fittest on the store’s crowded main floor. While the second floor is spacious and labyrinthine, the basement (nonfiction section) could use a little work.

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Eats & Drinks http://nypress.com/eats-drinks-2/ http://nypress.com/eats-drinks-2/#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2012 07:13:00 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=56953 Best Bagels
Mile End, Mile End Sandwich
mileenddeli.com
H&H is dead. We’ve all grieved its passing, and rightfully so, but it’s about time to move to the final stage of mourning—acceptance—and crown a new bagel empire to take its place. More dedicated writers than us have tried and failed to crown an objective champion in this contentious battle, because every individual’s bagel needs are intensely personal. That’s why we’re not even going to wade into the New York bagel battle; for us, Mile End’s Montreal-style beauties are where it’s at. They’re smaller, denser and sweeter than the dough monsters this town has become overrun with—one of these never needs toasting to improve its texture. The salt of lox plays off that honeyed sweetness perfectly, but it’s a truly satisfying meal on its own, with just a little cream cheese. Go ahead, start sending your letters.

Best Bar/Restaurant in a Hotel
NoMad
1170 Broadway, 347-472-5660,
thenomadhotel.com
Located in the “it” hotel of the moment, the NoMad Hotel, the aptly named NoMad comes courtesy of Daniel Humm and Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park fame, so it’s fitting that the red-and-black interior, service, and Swiss and French-inspired fare are all flawlessly executed. Unfortunately, all that quality buzz comes at a price, and with appetizers priced at up to $24 and entrees priced at up to $78, it’s a high one. Alas, that is the price of dining next to the likes of Katie Holmes and President Obama.
Best Bar for the First Date
Peels
325 Bowery, 646-602-7015, peelsnyc.com
First dates are tricky. You don’t want to pick an overly trendy or overly foodie spot lest you come off as trying too hard, nor do you want to pick a place that’s too affordable or, given the risk that your date could turn out to be a dud, too pricey. Peels is that rare gem that offers a menu of comfort-food classics at moderate prices and an always-hoping scene that’s neither too pretentious nor so loud that conversations are impossible. Better yet, Taavo Somer (of Freeman’s fame) offers the likes of fried chicken and red quinoa salad in a room set under what is arguably the most complexion-flattering lighting in all of New York City.

Best Bar for Microbrews
Idle Hands Bar
25 Ave. B, downstairs, idlehandsbar.com
It can be hard to convince non-beer-loving friends to accompany you on your latest saison scavenger hunt. That old saw about beer being an acquired taste? Only true of the good stuff. Try to get someone who’ll guzzle PBRs all night long to venture into hoppier territory, and watch the night dry up before your eyes. That’s why Idle Hands is the perfect bar for cross-cultural drinking. Their taps rotate weekly, showcasing hard-to-find seasonal brews sourced locally and from around the country, and 50 cans and bottles on hand at all times. But they also feature one of the most extensive bourbon lists in the city (80 and counting, including their very own Evan Williams barrel) and play varieties of rock music you don’t ever hear without digging deep into the Internet jukebox. The bartenders will offer suggestions without a whiff of judgment; they’ll even make a vodka-soda without batting an eye. It’s like the U.N. of booze—bringing people together, one drink at a time.

Best Breakfast
The Breslin
16 W. 29th St., thebreslin.com
First, let’s be clear. This is breakfast we’re talking about, not brunch. There are a thousand nice brunches in this city, and 10 times more that rate at passable or waste of time. But a real breakfast? You know, served before 9 a.m., on weekdays? That’s a rare gem. That’s why we love The Breslin. It’s secretly a hotel restaurant, which means it’s open from 7 a.m. for business travelers off to a full day in the office, but it’s cheffed by April Bloomfield, the nouveau-Brit champion best known for Village gastropub The Spotted Pig. Breakfast runs the spectrum from a refreshingly light grapefruit with ginger and mint to hearty meals like poached eggs with curried lentils and yogurt or a full English breakfast. Whatever you do, don’t skip the baked goods—Bloomfield’s pastry chef makes miracles with butter and sugar, turning classic British treats like hot cross buns and cinnamon toast into manna from heaven.

Best Coffee
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
18 W. 29th St., stumptowncoffee.com
Now that the joke of the hipster coffee shop (Fedoras! Tasting notes! Those hilarious brewing contraptions!) has faded into cliché, it’s about time we all settled down and realized one very basic fact: All that seemingly excessive care makes some damned good coffee. Case in point: Stumptown. This Portland import is ripe for jokes just by its provenance; add in the baristas’ requisite headwear and the carefully rough-hewn dark wood interior, and it’s all you can do to stop your eyes from rolling. But have a cup. Their espressos are thick and rich, expertly pulled from their own Hair Bender blend, but the real revelation is the regular joe. French press-brewed from a different bean every day, this cup is sweet and fruity, hearty and aromatic without needing a drop of milk or sugar. You’ll find you only need a small cup to get you going in the morning; looks like the last laugh’s on those suckers chained to their vat of Starbucks.
Best Coffeehouse
Blue Bottle Coffee
450 W. 15th St., 510-653-3394,
bluebottlecoffee.com
Originally hailing from the Bay Area, this fast expanding mini-coffee empire still stays true to its original mission of delivering high-quality coffee, all of which is less than 48 hours out of the roaster so that it can be enjoyed at its peak flavor. To boot, all of the coffee is made from organic, pesticide-free, shade-grown beans, and the space’s streamlined seating area and décor make it the perfect spot to take a breather as you wait for your coffee (which can take a good five minutes to be prepared) and pastries. As an added bonus, the crowd at this coffee shop—heavy on fashion and design types—is always impeccably dressed.

Best Comfort Food
Congee Village
New York has been overrun by down-home faux-Southern just like mama (whose mama, exactly? Not mine) used to make “comfort food” restaurants that are so predictable you could set your watch by their menus. Mac and cheese. Burgers. Fried pickles. So on. While we love a good gut-buster every once in a while, there’s nothing particularly comforting about rolling down the street clutching your belly. Comfort, to us, comes in the form of something simple, warm and soothing, the kind of food that gives you the strength to go back out into the world. That’s what congee does. The Chinese porridge is simple in the extreme—just rice cooked down with lots of water until it gives up its shape and becomes a silky soup, doctored up with whatever meats you like and served with enough sliced ginger and scallion on top to clear any head. It sticks to your ribs in a way that’s not overwhelming—just like millions of mamas used to make.

Best Cupcakes/Sweets
Sant Ambroeus
259 W. Fourth St., 212-604-9254,
santambroeus.com
An oldie, but a goodie, Sant Ambroeus constantly delivers the most exquisite sweets in New York City. While there are a number of New York City spots to pick up butter-cream-heavy confections of delight, none melds sweet perfection with refined sophistication the way that Sant Ambroeus does. Whether you’re going for chocolate mousse cake, a hazelnut sponge finished with hazelnut butter cream, gelati, a selection of cookies or one of their fruit tarts, it’s impossible not to be completely at peace knowing that every calorie was well worth it.

Best Diner
Coppelia
207 W. 14th St., coppelianyc.com
New York City’s diner tradition is a grand one, from the 20th-century invention of the “quick lunch” restaurant to the wave of Greek immigrants who took over the scene in the ’50s and forced an institutional diversity in an era of less-than-tolerant Anglo-Saxon homogeneity. While there are still hundreds flourishing (many with the same Greek owners) across the five boroughs, many are now trying to do it different and better. Unfortunately, fancying up diner classics doesn’t make the cut; the only new diner worthy

of the name is the 24/7 Cuban-American Coppelia, where Latino comfort food meets New York classics in mac and chicharrón, burgers with yucca fries and all-night steak and eggs with rice and beans. Oh, and a dulce de leche milkshake. Bonus: Cubans know their coffee—none of that weak diner stuff here.

Best Deli
Katz’s
205 E. Houston St., katzsdelicatessen.com
Sometimes the classics are classics for reasons that are no longer relevant: institutions that have coasted on their reputations for decades, buoyed along by tourists who visit once, are disappointed, but tell all their friends about it anyway. Those friends go when they’re in town because they don’t know they have options, and so on for years. Katz’s is not one of those places. Yes, the lines are atrocious. The When Harry Met Sally sign is kitschy at best, and the celebrity photos on the walls are from a heyday that hasn’t heyed in about 20 years. But there’s no arguing with the pastrami. Or the chopped liver. Or the pickles (full sour, half sour and green tomatoes, of course). Take a friend, sit at a table-service spot along the sides, order a Dr. Brown’s, a reuben and a chopped liver, and forget you’re surrounded by Meg Ryan enthusiasts.

Best Destination Wine and Liquor Store
Warehouse Wines & Spirits
735 Broadway, 212-982-7770
For over 30 years, Warehouse Wines & Spirits has been the ultimate liquor store to get the most bang for your buck. The store is stocked to the rafters with a dizzying selection of wine and liquor, with prices as enticing as the selection. They always have several great multi-pack promotions on the shelves. The staff knows their stuff and will always point you in the right direction. Stocking up is the thing to do there. In this economy, Warehouse Wines is the go-to shopping spot.

Best Dive
The Distinguished Wakamba Cocktail Lounge
543 Eighth Ave., 212-244-9045
The word “dive” gets thrown around a lot these days. Too often, people use it to describe a bar that doesn’t serve anything fancier than Heineken, is poorly lit or has some ripped upholstery. A real dive bar has an element of danger to spice up the cheap, crummy drinks and dirt—the term, after all, is said to have originated from bars where patrons had to dive under the tables whenever trouble broke out. That’s where Wakamba wins. Not only are the beers cheap, there’s a good possibility that the next bottle the bartender pulls out of the ice could be broken. Not only is the place dingy, it’s decorated with the remnants of the ancient tiki fad, moth-eaten thatch hanging over the bar and red lighting adding that “Satan’s grotto” touch. You will get stared down and sized up by everyone in the room when you walk in. But they’ll leave you alone if you observe proper dive etiquette: Keep your head down, keep drinking and always be prepared to hit the floor.

Best Dumplings
Lam Zhou HandMade Noodle
144 E. Broadway, 212-566-6933
This subterranean hole-in-the-wall in the deepest recesses of eastern Chinatown seems like it doesn’t pull any punches. The name, after all, appears to say it all. And the noodles are great; in varying thicknesses, either pan-fried or in soup. But that’s not, in fact, all they do. The minute you walk in the door, the first thing you’ll likely see is not the eponymous noodles (those are pulled in the rear kitchen) but a woman seated at one of the Formica tables, filling dumplings and laying them out in ranks on an enormous sheet pan. And the waitress, before you order anything else, will make sure you’re ordering dumplings. They come in one variety (pork and chive), and you want them fried, the underside seriously crispy while the top of the wrapper stays supple and the filling stays juicy. It’s a standout above all of the single-minded dumpling shops in town.

Best Expanding Restaurant
The Smith
55 Third Ave., 212-420-9800,
thesmithnyc.com
There are few spots in Manhattan that can deliver a killer scene minus exorbitant prices, so it’s little surprise that East Village favorite The Smith is continuing its expansion. After opening a Midtown sister location less than a year ago, the downtown hot spot has announced that it will be taking over the Upper West Side spot formerly known as Josephina. It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and is expected to be as large as its Midtown location. Expect the same mild prices, comfort-food classics and bar snacks (think fish and chips and chicken and waffles). And, no trip to The Smith would be complete without a slice of their Birthday Cake, a yellow cake served with fudge frosting, vanilla ice cream and a candle.

Best Food Trend
Small plates
Tapas-style eating has been getting a lot of flak recently, with New York Times critic Sam Sifton leading the charge against “the myth of small plates meant for sharing.” We love Sifty, but this is one point on which we’re going to have to disagree. For the chronically indecisive, the miniature of appetite or the purely gluttonous, the wealth of new restaurants who put just as much care and attention into small, three-bite plates as oversized entrees is an answered prayer. Can’t decide between the lamb terrine and the prawns? Get both! Want to have both a salad and a pasta but don’t want to have to leave most of both on the plate? No problem! Want to try one of everything because each dish looks better than the last? Do it. Finally, a cause both overeaters and undereaters can get behind.

Best French Fries
The Harrison
355 Greenwich St., theharrison.com
When all you want is a serious bowl of fries, The Harrison looks like the absolute wrong place to be. The elegant Tribeca restaurant is candlelit and twinkling, all cozy nooks and white tablecloths. Steered there by a friend, your first thought is likely to be “I’m going to have to order a steak to get these fries, aren’t I?” But never fear. The Harrison is run by Jimmy Bradley, of Chelsea’s Red Cat, a longtime gallery-goer’s favorite for intensely friendly, comfortable fine dining. And those fries are featured all by themselves—“schmaltz fries with malt aioli,” to be precise. They’re double-fried in duck fat and canola oil; thicker than we usually like, the process makes them as dark and crispy as shoestrings, with an added creamy potato interior. And the side sauce is an unholy marriage of the best in European accompaniments—British malt vinegar and Dutch mayonnaise—that is intensely sweet, tart and complex. Sitting at the bar with these and a beer from their surprisingly extensive list is the absolute right place to be.

Best Frozen Yogurt
16 handles
2600 Broadway, 646-422-7022
16 Handles is the ultimate frozen yogurt shop with a social consciousness, serving the best yogurt with delicious toppings and sauces. It’s a great place to hang with friends, family or on your own, and with 16 flavors and over 50 toppings, the options are endless. Plus you can flaunt your yogurt creation and feel good about that huge dish of deliciousness by knowing that every purchase supports their mission of being green and giving back to the community. They also do private parties!

Best Italian Restaurant
Dopo Teatro
345 E. 62nd St., 646-484-6548
With so many Italian eateries in New York City, it can be difficult to find an “authentic” one—offering 100 percent home-cooked food and an ambience that transports diners to Italy, if only for an hour or two. Dopo Teatro East, which opened on East 62nd Street between First and Second avenues at the end of June, does just that. The manager, Albi Mecaj, and chef, the Italian-born Salvatore DiBella, are very attentive to diners and help them to pick the exact kind of meal they are looking for, from the main course to the beverage to the dessert.

Best Line Worth the Wait
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza
328 E. 14th St., 212-228-2004, brandonlinker7.wix.com/artichokepizza
No city has people more time-crunched than New York, so if you’re going to give a spot that’s playing hard to get your time and money, you best be sure it’s worth the wait. Artichoke Basille’s Pizza is one spot that’s sure to never disappoint. Even in a city where pizza places are a dime a dozen, this frill-free joint’s mouthwatering pizzas are worth the wait, which can often stretch down the block. Luckily given that celebrities like Sophia Vergara have been known to queue up alongside us plebeians, waiting for that delicious slice of artichoke pizza can be all the more worthwhile.
Best Meal for $10 or Less
Kalustyan’s
123 Lexington Ave., kalustyans.com
The curry hill spice shop has been the stuff of legend for years. Need a pound of Thai bird chilis? They’ve got it. Looking for black garlic, red quinoa or fresh green turmeric? Easy. While it’s easy to get lost in the main-floor cornucopia, carry on upstairs, where behind a deli counter sit buckets of olives and fresh cheese, piles of samosas and six trays of some of the best Middle Eastern food around. There’s always mujadarra, an intensely flavored pilaf of caramelized onions, lentils and rice; depending on the day you’ll also find buttery eggplant salad, stewed curried chickpeas and more. A platter of three choices plus salad, pita and olives will set you back $7—grab a mango lassi from the fridge behind you for dessert and perch at one of the tin tables by the window, looking down on the neighborhood like its king. You’ll be eating like one.

Best Pizza
Patsy’s Pizzeria
2287 First Ave., thepatsyspizza.com
People will tell you that the only real New York pizza is found in Brooklyn, in the outer reaches of Staten Island or in Queens. Manhattan, they say, has been overrun by upstart Neapolitan-style restaurants, where toppings like arugula and burrata trump pepperoni and mozzarella; where a small pie feeds one, not six, and costs twice as much. We will contend that this is not necessarily a bad thing, and that there is room in our hearts and our borough for many different pizzas. But when you want a simple slice, big enough to fold in half with a crust supple enough to bend without snapping, there’s nothing like Patsy’s. It’s the coal oven that does it, delivering spots of deliciously bitter char without baking the crust to a crisp, countering the sweet tomato sauce and slightly salty dry mozzarella just right. There are no bad slices of pizza, but this one is better.

Best Place to Become a Wine Expert
Casa Oliveira Wines & Liquors
98 Seventh Avenue South, 212-929-0760
Located in the heart of the West Village, one block south of the Christopher Street/Sheridan Square subway station, Casa Oliveira offers free tastings on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. The store carries a full selection of wines and liquor. All white wines, champagne and other sparkling wines are available chilled. They open daily at noon (1 p.m. on Sunday), and are open on Friday and Saturday night until 11:30 p.m.

Best Place for Breakfast with the Crew/Best Fried Clams and Calamari
Jeremy’s Ale House
228 Front St., 212-964-3537
Jeremy’s has the coldest beer and freshest seafood, at prices everyone can afford. Its fried clams and calamari have consistently been voted the best in town. When you’re there, you also have to try the seafood stew. The bowl is big enough for two and is only $12.95. Early risers or all-nighters can try their Monday-thru-Friday eye-opener from 8 to 10 a.m. The staff is friendly, and the informal atmosphere and nine flat-screens make it the perfect place to watch your favorite sporting event.

Best Place for Late Night Snacks
H-Mart
25 W. 32nd St., hmart.com
So you’ve been lured into another K-Town Tuesday night of boozing, karaoke and self-esteem destruction. You’ve finally found your way out of the bar, skipping one last round of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and are tottering unsteadily toward the Herald Square subway station when you realize you’re going to need some starch in your system now to avoid another hungover commute in the morning. That’s where H-Mart comes in. Going to a restaurant is too daunting a task; besides, most of your friends are still at the bar communing with their inner Bonnie Tylers. At this, the only Manhattan location of this Korean supermarket chain, let your inner 8-year-old revel in the wide variety of insanely flavored snacks and sodas, plus a small but well-done selection of prepared foods like kimbap, sticky rice cakes and japchae, stir-fried clear noodles. Take your tako chips (yes, that’s octopus flavor) on the subway and start soaking up the soju. Just don’t fall asleep and miss your stop again.

Best Pub Food
Peter McManus Café
152 Seventh Ave., 212-929-9691
This Classic New York Institution has been slinging food and drinks the same way since 1936. Great cheeseburgers and corned beef sandwiches highlight the menu, all with the same smiling service. Open till 4 a.m., it’s a great place for lunch, last call and any situation in between. A must visit in Chelsea.

Best Whole Pie
Lombardi’s Pizza
32 Spring St., 212-941-7994
In 1905, Lombardi’s became America’s first pizzeria, and to this day it is regarded as not just culturally significant but one of the best pizzerias in the country. Their traditional pie is a mouthwatering blend of fresh mozzarella and a special San Marzano tomato sauce topped with romano and basil, spiced to perfection. You can’t buy a slice here, but that’s OK, because when you taste it, you will want to eat the whole thing!

Best Wine Store on the Upper West Side
Martin Brothers
2781 Broadway, 212-222-8218
In 1985, brothers Orlirio and Roberto Martin converted Las Antillas Market to Martin Brothers Wines and Spirits. After 26 years, Martin Brothers still resides on the corner of Broadway and 107th Street, managed now by second-generation Martins, daughters Carrie and Elizabeth. They offer outstanding customer service and a selection that has not been matched on the UWS, plus loyalty to their neighborhood and all who shop there.

Best UES Wine Shop
Vinyl Wine Shop
1491 Lexington Ave., 646-370-4100
Vinyl Wine features an extensive selection of off-the-beaten-path wines and craft spirits that you won’t find at most other shops. They’re known for a laid-back atmosphere where wine geeks and newbies feel equally welcome. So stop by, taste some wine, and listen to whatever they’re spinning on our old turntable that day. Free deliveries go out daily to most areas of the Upper East Side and East Harlem.

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Best of Manhattan: City Living, Arts & Entertainment, and Eats & Drinks http://nypress.com/more-of-best-of/ http://nypress.com/more-of-best-of/#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2012 06:54:13 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=56950 Ongoing feature will uncover the best of our neighborhood

Whether it’s pounding the pavement for the best slice of pizza or highlighting the most promising up-and-coming artists, “Best of Manhattan” has been an indispensable guide to city dwellers for the past 25 years.

A quarter of a century also seems like a good time to look back at where we’ve been and forward to where we want to go. Starting with this issue, readers will no longer have to wait a year to find out the best that our city has to offer. We’re launching an ongoing feature that will pick everything from the best places to grab a warm cup of joe to the most luxurious spa services in our neighborhoods.

By doing this, we hope to keep readers better informed than ever and to search out the best and brightest of the greatest city in the world.
Readers with “Best of” suggestions that they would like to see us cover in a future issue can e-mail the editor at ahouston@manhattanmedia.com.
We hope you’ll find something unexpected within the pages inside.

Here’s to another 25 years.

Sincerely,
Allen Houston
Executive Editor

 

Best of City Living

 

Best of Eat and Drink

 

Best of Arts and Entertainment

 

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Best of the Dollar Stores http://nypress.com/best-of-the-dollar-stores/ http://nypress.com/best-of-the-dollar-stores/#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2012 06:47:29 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=56944 By Laura Shanahan

Less Less is gone gone. Cheese ’n’ crackers! I’d long been meaning to scope out the West 24th Street Less Less, ever since I heard it was a family-type operation with service and ambiance well beyond what one may typically associate with a discount novelties/staples store. I finally dusted off my MetroCard, and after a quick online search that strongly suggested LL was still a viable business, I sallied forth—only to be met with a storefront whose darkened interior was clearly stripped of stock.

Gaaah! “When did this place close?” I demanded of a passing dog-walker who seemed a trifle scared of my intensity. “Maybe a month ago,” he said. Well, better that I made the trip a month too late than too early, when I may’ve reported about a store that you would then find shuttered.

Besides—here’s good news—it turned out I didn’t make the trip for nothing. The dog walker, throwing me a bone (ho-ho!), perhaps to appease me lest I begin wailing and rending his garments, suggested a great 99-cent store nearby.

Indeed, 99 Cent Creation, at 244 W. 23rd St., is one of the premier shops of its ilk. Top o’ the pyramid, I’d have to say, is Jack’s on West 32nd Street (we really should do an update on it and the upper level Jack’s World). At the bottom of the hierarchy are the smaller, drearier versions with the predictable stock. But the indie 99 Cent Creation is darn near top of the food chain, with a large, surprise-filled cornucopia of goods.

Sure, virtually every such discounter has plastic flatware; here you can pick up actual metal spoons and forks tagged at 3/99 cents. Where else do you see that? While you can find many of your fave national brands here—Scott (89 cents a roll), Tide, Campbell’s and so forth—there’s also the thrill of more, um, exotic labels. Consider the three-packs of spiffy patterned men’s boxers by Xuehuaging for $5.99 (c’mon, you can’t hold them to 99 cents for that), and the three-packs of Dalan Golden Tropics soap for $1.29.

Ah, the soaps. What an exotic collection awaits clean freaks like me—and you? Consider Dettol, whose labeling is written in every conceivable language—except English. No matter; the color-coded bars indeed do give a single descriptor that requires no translation: Pink is “skincare,” blue is “active,” lighter blue is “cool,” and so forth. (I didn’t say the descriptors would always make that much sense—but who doesn’t like to unwrap a mystery—especially at only $1.09 per?)

Zounds, here is Zote! This is a traditional Mexican brick of laundry soap, weighing in at a hefty 14.1 ounces. If you’re wondering how you can wash clothing with solid soap, picture the corrugated washboards of yore, or simply a board-free hand wash. “Zote is a high quality soap and can be confidently used for washing your family’s clothes,” the wrapper states. What about washing non-family member clothes? Hmmm, doesn’t say. However, consider: Zote fans have posted that the product can also be used for baiting catfish—could I make that up?—so it seems one way or the other, folks get their money’s worth; just $1.49.

Is it a skin tonic, cologne or linen refresher? Florida Water, a distinctive mix of orange, cinnamon and floral extracts introduced in the early 1800s, is all of the above and more.
This hard-to-find classic sits here in its fancifully labeled elegant bottle, variously sized, awaiting your selection; $1.29-$1.99.

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How to Celebrate Labor Day Weekend NYC-Style http://nypress.com/how-to-celebrate-labor-day-weekend-nyc-style/ http://nypress.com/how-to-celebrate-labor-day-weekend-nyc-style/#comments Fri, 17 Aug 2012 17:00:54 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=54735

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons

The end of the summer’s nearly upon us New Yorkers, and you don’t want to be caught at home on the couch, or futon, or…seat cushion on the floor. Don’t forget the City’s beaches close after Labor Day, so you might just want to take this time off from the rat race to relax and soak up a little Labor Day weekend sunshine. If you’re looking for a little more action though, check out a couple of these exciting Labor Day festivities going down around New York City:

-Labor Day 5k and 10k On Roosevelt Island

If you want to get moving this Labor Day, in a different kind of race, NYCRUNS will be hosting a 5k and 10k race on Roosevelt Island, complete with post-race breakfast. The action begins Monday morning at 10 a.m, and pre-registration is available on the NYCRUNS website.

-Unicycle Festival on Governor’s Island

Yes, you heard that right. Unicyclists will unite this Labor Day weekend on Governor’s Island to show of their wheel(s). All sorts of spectacles guaranteed to transpire. Helmets are strongly encouraged.

-Electric Zoo Festival

The Electric Zoo music festival is happening all Labor Day weekend in Randall’s Island Park. Featured acts include David Guetta, Benny Benassi, Skrillex, Knife Party, the Bloody Beetroots and tons more. Electric Zoo is an all-ages electronica festival, guaranteed to get you dancing so hard you’ll need Monday just to recuperate.

-Wasabassco Burlesque

On Friday, The Bell House in Brooklyn is celebrating Labor Day with “Take This Job & Shove It,” which includes “work-related burlesque and go-go.” Admission is $12, but the show is free if you dress all in white. There will be pickleback drink specials and burgers on the grill. We’re thinking this sounds too good to pass up!

-Improv Show Ft. 30 Rock Comedians 

Scott Adsit and John Lutz, of 30 Rock fame, are going to combine their improv chops for the first time ever this coming Labor Day. It’s going down at the Upright Citizens Brigade  comedy club in Chelsea. Head over to the UCB to get your laugh on before/after checking out…

-Food & Drink Specials All Around Town 

NY Mag has provided an extensive list of food and drink specials around the City, including everything from Oyster eating competitions to deep fried Oreos. They’re even making it easy and giving you a map, in case you’re stumbling around in a food coma come Labor Day weekend.  Check it out here.

Summer’s wrapping up, so don’t miss this exciting action! Let’s face it, New Yorkers, we could all use it.

—Compiled by Alissa Fleck

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Sports Geek and The Shameful Debate: Who’s Better, The Dream Team or 2012’s Club? http://nypress.com/sports-geek-and-the-shameful-debate-whos-better-the-dream-team-or-2012s-club/ http://nypress.com/sports-geek-and-the-shameful-debate-whos-better-the-dream-team-or-2012s-club/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 21:42:24 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=54530 One NY Press writer dives into the much-hated question

by Nick Gallinelli

Many sportswriters and fans would scoff at my mention of this. In fact, most of them would probably lose respect for me and tease me until I cried. ‘Which team had Michael Jordan?’ is what most of them would say, and that’d probably be sufficient and effective argument, but it’s at least worth speculation.

I’m not sure about you, but I was merely four years old when The Dream Team was assembled. I could have been a late mental bloomer or something traumatic might have happened when I was four, but I don’t remember anything from that age. I have a few hazy pictures and memories, but I’m beginning to think that’s just me putting stories from my parents into picture form and calling them memories. What grade are you in when you’re four? Are you even in a grade?

“Who’s got this guy?” – photo from Wikimedia Commons

To most people, especially my idol sportswriter, Bill Simmons —who wrote an awesome, 752-page tome titled ‘The Book of Basketball”—, even making an argument that this year’s men’s National Basketball team is comparable to the 1992 team is sacrilege. I understand. I’m not even saying that it is comparable, but that’s what you do when you talk about sports. We love comparing things. There are simply too many “what if”s. What if Michael Jordan didn’t have Scottie Pippen? What if Babe Ruth played today? What if the Knicks actually tried to stop Wilt from scoring 100? What if Chris Webber knew how many timeouts there were? What if Mark Sanchez could throw a football? It’s all just guessing. Just like looking forward and projecting the future is speculation, looking to the past and changing scenarios is just speculation. It’s fun, for me at least. Especially because it’s hard to accept that you missed the best basketball team ever.

And even if you’re calling me stupid in your head, know I’m with you— I think it all the time. But let’s just speculate.

(Warning: If you’re not much into basketball, leave now. We’re about to get geeky.)

When I wrote my (shameless plug) article “The 9.5 Best Moments from the 2012 Olympics” the men’s basketball gold settled in at number four (although the list wasn’t in any specific order). I’ll start with the point I made there.

The 1992 Dream Team played Croatia in its gold medal game. They crushed them. In the U.S.’s first Olympic team that boasted NBA players, they won their gold medal game by 32— 117 for the U.S., 85 for Croatia. A slaughter? Relatively, no. This was actually the closest game the U.S. team played in the entire Games. In its prior games it won by 68, 33, 43, 44, 41, 38, and 51 for an average margin of victory of 43.75. The Gold game was not close, although it was the closest.

But this Croatian team, of a roster of twelve, only had two current NBA players on its roster— Dražen Petrović* and Stojko Vranković (although others would eventually make the NBA).

Competition back then was, simply, not as competitive.

This year’s team won its games by 54, 21, 40, 6, and 22, or an average of 32.1. However, the Spain team they played for gold had five NBA players on its roster, including stars like the Gasol brother, Pau and Marc.

So how many NBA players on a roster equal a margin difference of 11.65? Wish I could calculate that.

Also, if Croatia were the silver medalists in the 1992 games, that’d probably mean it’s a pretty good basketball country, right? Actually, no.

As basketball has gained popularity throughout the globe, Croatia has s(t)unk in quality. In fact, Croatia’s basketball team didn’t even qualify for the Olympics this year. ’92’s silver medalists didn’t even have a chance at a medal this year.

So that’d mean that Croatia isn’t a good basketball country, but was just more exposed to basketball than most countries in 1992, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t the quick leap from other countries and quick demise of Croatia imply that Croatia isn’t good at basketball, but, sort of, just happened to play the most at the time?

David Robinson – photo from Wikimedia Commons

And they were the best team in the world other than the U.S. in ’92. The competition disparity is undeniable— this year’s team played tougher competition, and it showed.

More “what if”s. So what would 1992’s team have done against 2012’s competition? Well, we don’t know, but we can dive further into speculation.

The Dream Team had some of the biggest names in basketball history, proven by 11 of its 12 players eventually entering the Hall of Fame (Laettner the only exception). Yes, you read that right, 11 of 12. They had two of the best centers of all time, David Robinson and Patrick Ewing, the point guard with the most assists ever, John Stockton, a maniacal Barkley, a doesn’t-need-to-be-explained Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and the best player ever, Michael Jordan. Every player was a household name. They still are. But one of the reasons every single one was a household name is because of how old they all were. The Dream Team’s average age was 29.9 years old, which is a pretty ripe age in NBA terms.

According to a study by Southern Utah University made popular by the Wall Street Journal, ‘NBA players peak at 24 years old and basically stay at that level until they turn 25, at which point they start declining.’ This is in contrast to other sports like baseball, where the peak age is generally accepted to be around 28. Basketball is demanding, especially when you add in Olympic games. After a long season it’s tough to continue without a break, especially when Jordan, 29, Pippen, 34, and Drexler, 30, all played through the NBA Finals. The Finals end one month before the Olympics begin, but don’t forget Olympic practices.

2012’s team, dubbed the ‘Keep Dreaming Team’ by Bill Simmons, is, on average, 25.8 years old— if you’re bad at math, that’s 4.1 years closer to SUU’s peak age than the Dream Team. They had four players who played through the NBA finals, champion Lebron James, 27, Russell Westbrook, 23, Kevin Durant, 23, and Rich Harden, 22, all better suited age-wise than the DT’s Finalists.

The age might be insignificant, though, when you take into account utter competitivenes. The Dream Team was stacked with tenacious competitors— Patrick Ewing (aka The Warrior), Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, nutty Charles Barkley, and Michael Jordan, who Bill Simmons notes might be the most competitive person of all time, in anything, ever.

The Keep Dreaming Team was fierce, too, but also wasn’t. LeBron James, who doesn’t only play to win but to say “eff you” to every of his many naysayers, Kobe Bryant and Tyson Chandler (didn’t play much) are of the most competitive in the NBA, but that’s pretty much it. They also had duds like Carmelo Anthony (there are actually videos about his laziness) and seemingly money-hungry Deron Williams.

You could argue that they’d all hustle their butts off in the Olympics regardless of the way they play in the NBA, but wouldn’t someone with true innate competitive ferocity show it all the time? Jordan sure did.

If you’ve gotten this far into the article, then you probably know that this year’s team and its dearth of powerful

A familiar scowl in NY – photo from Wikimedia Commons

big-men forced them to play what you’d call “small ball”. They had to rely on speed, quickness, passing, and three-pointers (which can be fickle). The team’s biggest weakness was exploited in Sunday’s gold game vs. Spain, when Pau and Marc Gasol dominated the U.S.’s big guys and kept Spain in the game all the way through the third quarter. So it would only make sense that if the DT played the KDT, the DT’s all-time-great centers, Robinson and Ewing, wouldn’t have much trouble shaking and bumping the KDT’s LeBron and Kevin Love. And guess what, (super analysis time) shots taken from close go in more often than shots taken from afar. With even mediocre perimeter defense from the DT’s guards, they’d be able to ride Robinson and Ewing past the KDT.

Ultimately, it’s probably impossible to convince anyone that this year’s team is better than 1992’s, and probably impossible to dissuade believers that 1992’s team isn’t better than 2012’s. There’s a reason most people don’t even give the debate a thought. They don’t care that 1992’s assistant coach, Mike Krzyzewski, was this year’s head coach, therefore imparting all his years of knowledge onto the KDT, or that Lebron James is combating Jordan for ‘best player ever’. The stone is set, understandably so.

You’ll continue to hear pundits mock the “idiots” who make the comparisons, but it’s something worth looking at and thinking about. It’s simply entertaining, even if it does irk 1992’s club. To avoid derision, I’ll admit the DT’s superiority. After all, ‘which team had Michael Jordan?’

…And so I cry, because I’m too young to remember the best basketball team ever.

*Petrovic died in a car crash at 28-years-old, but ESPN’s page says he’s now 46. I’m confused.

]]> http://nypress.com/sports-geek-and-the-shameful-debate-whos-better-the-dream-team-or-2012s-club/feed/ 13 Where to Get Fit in the City: Best (and Cheapest) Gyms in NYC http://nypress.com/where-to-get-fit-in-the-city-best-and-cheapest-gyms-in-nyc/ http://nypress.com/where-to-get-fit-in-the-city-best-and-cheapest-gyms-in-nyc/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 15:19:03 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=53726

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Some city gyms have all the bells and whistles, while others take the no-frills approach. Then there’s the whole continuum in between. You can find just about anything you can dream up in NYC, but ultimately what you want from a workout is a personal choice. Furthermore, what may seem thrilling at signup, can quickly devolve into more of a burden than a blessing when you just want a quick lunch hour workout. Below is a variety of hot NYC gyms from the over-the-top extravagant to the stripped-down, bare bones, in-and-out experience, all for a reasonably good deal for what they offer.

(by Alissa Fleck)

1. Ludlow Fitness ($49/mo, LES)

One major perk to Ludlow is it’s open 24/7 on weekdays, which cannot be said for many City gyms. The size is small, but the crowd (generally young) moves quickly, and a recent expansion makes for more open space. There’s lots of equipment, clean amenities and a variety of classes, which gym-goers describe as “intense,” but in a good way. Staff is reportedly very friendly and helpful. One major bonus according to a Ludlow reviewer: “non-pretenious yoga classes.”

2. Yoga Vida ($110/mo/unlimited yoga, Union Square)

We thought we should include an alternative type of gym on here, particularly because Yoga Vida is such a popular choice among local yogis. Yoga Vida continuously has great deals on classes for people looking for all sorts of yoga-related experiences. Deals on unlimited yoga are always changing, and Yoga Vida offers great startup packages for people just looking to get their toes wet first. A variety of classes target every skill level in a beautiful, relaxing setting.

3. The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers ($160/mo, Chelsea) 

Okay so this massive gym is on the expensive end, but we couldn’t pass it up with all the stellar reviews it’s garnered (it seems to have something of a cult following). The Sports Center is definitely for the “sportier types,” as it has just about everything you could possibly imagine in a gym. There are tons of classes, a boxing ring, an eight-lane swimming pool, a climbing wall, a food and juice lounge, a sundeck, etc. Most classes do not cost extra and the weight room reportedly does not get overly crowded. Sports Center members also report the “beautiful” gym is regularly kept very clean, and there are tons of complimentary amenities. “The only problem with Chelsea Piers is that it will ruin every other gym for you,” writes one reviewer on Yelp.

4. Blink ($20/mo, NoHo)

Blink is the ideal gym for the less hardcore crowd. Owned by Equinox, it’s the less roomy, cheaper offshoot, with fewer extravagances, but which gets the job done nonetheless. The amount of cardio equipment is reasonable for a large crowd, but weight availability may be more limited, particularly during peak workout hours. Locker rooms are small and do not offer the amenities available at larger, pricier gyms. Unfortunately it sounds like Blink’s offer is almost too good to be true, as members report it’s only getting more and more crowded (with possible new locations to open soon, unless that’s wishful thinking).

5. Mid-City Gym ($20/mo, 42nd St., 49th St.)

Mid-City Gym does not boast the amenities of many other gyms—there is no TV for instance—but customers report for price and location, the gym is a deal. It’s never too crowded, say gym-goers, and the facilities are clean. Weights, free and not, are plentiful. “No-frills whatsoever,” but everything you’d need in a gym, describe users. It’s also welcoming to everyone on the workout spectrum.

 

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Bang for Your Buck: Best Banks of NYC for the Average New Yorker http://nypress.com/bang-for-your-buck-best-banks-of-nyc-for-the-average-new-yorker/ http://nypress.com/bang-for-your-buck-best-banks-of-nyc-for-the-average-new-yorker/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 15:15:22 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=53618

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Where you choose to store your money is ultimately a personal decision, and will rely on a number of personal factors and individual needs, but below I’ve reviewed the pros and cons of a couple NYC personal banking options.

Bank of America

Bank of America has been around for a long time, and you can’t travel far in the City without stumbling across several BofAs, making it one of the most easily accessible and visible banks in NYC. One benefit, according to many, is personal checking at Bank of America has no minimum account balance requirement. The Bank’s “Keep the Change” program (which rounds up to the dollar on credit purchases and transfers to savings) also makes it easy to mindlessly and automatically accumulate savings. Additionally, it only takes about 5-10 minutes to enroll in an account, which immediately allows you to begin depositing funds online. A drawback to the Bank is, being such a large corporation, it can feel faceless, intimidating and difficult to navigate. Many report the Bank’s customer service is not ideal (it consistently ranks very low in this category amongst consumers) and monthly charges (i.e. for debit card, maintenance, etc.) can feel like deceptive, hidden fees. Overall, based on user reviews, it ranks low in fee fairness but high in variety and satisfaction with services provided.

Chase

Chase also has a ton of locations in the City, and is a longtime, established bank. Chase provides a ton of free services for personal banking (i.e. debit card, Quickpay, etc.)—and many services in general—which banking customers consider a major competitive advantage. It’s also fairly easy to avoid the monthly service fee on a checking account, but when fees are accrued they’re higher than comparable institutions, say Chase bank users. Additionally, reward programs are not great according to customer reviews. While their interest payments are low, they do have a debit card that provides rewards similar to a credit card. Chase has also received many customer service complaints, which is to be expected with a large bank. Customers say the quality of online banking is good, even if their rates are not that competitive.

Capital One

Capital One has fewer branches than other comparable banks and has not been around nearly as long as larger institutions, though it does boast better rewards. Customers like the bank’s prompt online transactions and services, but larger deposits get held longer than at other, bigger banks. Capital One is reportedly good for customers who don’t have the best starting credit, and are looking to rebuild. Unfortunately this might mean more fees than other banks and limited benefits, resulting in credit limits not being very high. The bank’s customer service ranking has been on the climb in recent years though.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo recently took over Wachovia, and has been somewhat in flux in recent years. Branch and ATM locations were reportedly less widespread than other banks on the list, formerly, but since the merger, Wells Fargo is very easy to find in the City.  Online banking services consistently score high reviews, and the bank has averagely ranked financial health. Customer service at Wells Fargo ranks low, and customers report the bank is consistently changing procedure in a manner that seems confusing even to employees. Fees are allegedly high; their overdraft fee is higher than the national average, as are the majority of their other fees. Wells Fargo charges a fee for members to receive online bank statements, which many other banks do not, as well as a debit card fee. Interest rates are also ranked poorly. Wells Fargo also charges a fee to view your account balance at non-Wells Fargo ATMs.

TD Bank  

TD Bank is a good option for New Yorkers who do not foresee themselves needing more than fairly basic banking services. For one, they do not offer as many loan types as other banks. Similar to other banks listed here, however, their establishments are prevalent throughout the City. Their customer service is rated average, and also provides fewer service options than competitors. TD’s overall financial health is considered to be good. Interest rates and fees are ranked averagely compared to the national average. TD is considered trustworthy by overall customer standards, and again, a good option for those who prefer no-frills banking.

HSBC

HSBC operates out of New York City and has over 400 branches located here. At HSBC you can open an online savings account with very little money down, and transfer money between another checking account and HSBC for free on HSBC’s end. You can link an ATM card to this account, which has a higher yield than many other comparable banks. Interest rates are ranked average at HBSC, according to national standards. Some fees are higher at HSBC than national averages, but there is no fee for inactivity, and the “stop payment” fee is much lower than the national average. HSBC ranks strong in financial health. HSBC’s customer service was recently ranked very low, however.

—Compiled by Alissa Fleck

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What Made Them So Great? The 9.5 Best Moments From the 2012 Olympics http://nypress.com/what-made-them-so-great-the-9-5-best-moments-from-the-2012-olympics/ http://nypress.com/what-made-them-so-great-the-9-5-best-moments-from-the-2012-olympics/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 14:59:02 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=54342 The most memorable and controversial moments surrounding this year’s Olympics

by Nick Gallinelli

There are many things about the Olympics that come and go. Many of the athletes are transient. They become popular for the month preceding the competition — answer Qs and As for profiles about sports most people know nothing about— are popular during the competition, and then live their legacy through Vitamin Water endorsements and stale Wheaties boxes. During the off-year between the Summer and Winter Olympics, nobody really misses them or even gives them a thought. Except for the prepping athletes, the rest of us are content with our MLB and NFL and NBA and get our athletic drama from the gripes of Dwight Howard and interceptions of Mark Sanchez.

But that said, there are always moments that people never forget. Even people who hate hockey (guilty) have heard about the Miracle on Ice, and people who hate the NBA still respect the Dream Team. Kerri Strugg still plasters opening Olympic montages and Michael Phelps really never disappeared.

Michael Phelps was the center of attention again this Olympics – photo by Flickr Commons

There are moments bigger than others, more memorable than most. During the Olympics many of us are glued to our TVs to watch, live, our country match up against the rest of the world in a symbol of worldwide unification, NBC tape-delay notwithstanding. During the memorable moments we’re caught up in the drama and in the pride we vicariously feel for the athletes from our homeland. Even aside from the minor sense of patriotism we inevitably feel, the simple perseverance regularly observed is simply inspiring. We like to think of it as a reflection of us.

And it’s not just athletes winning things and shiny pendants, it’s a temporary cultural change. If you went on Twitter at any point during the Games, you were probably flooded with a stream commenting the media-driven storylines, the exhaustion of spending 6 hours per day staring at Bob Costas, and NBC’s terrible dismemberment of what used to be efficient and effective Olympic coverage. (Seriously, NBC, what the hell?)

For at least a month, we love everything about it.

And this year the Dream Team was rivaled, the first gold medal ever won by a black gymnast was won, and Michael Phelps stuck his stake in the “best Olympian ever” debate.

If you were even remotely attentive to this year’s London games, you’ll probably remember at least a few of these biggest moments. And if you didn’t see them, I’m sure your water cooler told you. And if Mr. Cooler didn’t, this list serves as an Olympics-for-dummies— an overview so you can sufficiently follow any imminent bar conversations. It’s also a list containing an annoying amount of links.

Here, along with a few odd observations from one fervent follower, are the best moments and stories from the 2012 London Olympics:

1 The sub-surface tension between swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte

Perhaps the biggest storyline leading up to the Olympics, Phelps’s success and Lochte’s tacit jealousy made for quite-the-epic aquatic scenario.

Since the 2004 Summer Olympics, Phelps had won 16 Olympic medals prior to the 2012 Games, which, even aside from Lochte, spurred an interesting-enough story to gain attention: Would Phelps pass Soviet gymnast Larisa Larynina to become the winning-est Olympian of all time? What would the most medals even mean?

All Phelps needed was three medals to catch the feat. If he swam any way like he did in 2008, he was golden (get it?). But then along came Ryan Lochte, fellow American. Lochte was the Olympic neophyte who posed the biggest threat to Phelps’s success. Lochte had actually beaten Phelps in the 2010 Pan Pacific Championship’s 200 metre individual medley, an event that excited and confused many swimming fans. And guess what? The two would race that same race in the Olympics.

The two were going to compete for medals (the mentioned 200 metre individual medley and 400 metre individual medley) but also for pride.

“Who is the best swimmer in the world right now?” ESPN asked Phelps before the Games began, spurring a debate between fans and sports analysts countrywide.

“Time will tell,” Phelps answered with a smirk.

“If I ask Ryan, what will he say?”

“I know what he’ll say. I’m not going to say it but I know what he’ll say. He’s not going to say me, that’s for sure.”

The two always spoke about a close but competitive relationship, but Phelps’s responses in his interview aren’t very convincing.

When asked if he believes he’d be Ryan’s friend if they weren’t swimming buddies, Phelps prevaricated, and never gave a straight answer.

Instead, he left it in the pool.

In the 2012 Olympics Phelps did indeed break the medal record. He settled at a final 22 total Olympic medals, shattering Larynina’s previous record of 18. Phelps won the 200 metre I.M., getting vengeance, but lost to 1st-place Lochte in the 400 metre while finishing fourth.

It’s tough to argue against Phelps as the best swimmer alive and best swimmer of all time, but Lochte will surely be all V for Vendetta in 2016 Rio.

2 The sweet moment for the Fab Five gymnasts

One of the best things about gymnastics in the Olympics is that it always seems to be on TV. There are just too many events. Vaults, Uneven Bars, Floor, Cool Streamer Waving Around Thing, it’s all awesome.

I never turn on the TV to watch gymnastics like I would the gold-medal basketball game, but never turn it off when I see it. This is what happened on Tuesday July 31.

While frivolously texting a girl I’ll probably never get, yet being happy with my success in avoiding all spoilers throughout the day, I turned on NBC for some Olympics action. What was on was the team competition in women’s gymnastics, and what was about to happen was almost tear-jerking.

After crushing the Beam and Vault, the U.S. girls were in the middle of the Floor, the last leg of the team competition that stood between them and gold. All Jordyn Wieber had to do was give an average Floor display and the U.S. girls were golden (did it again). A routine routine, and they’d all have gold medals.

What followed was history.

After her Floor display, Jordyn Wieber ran to her teammates, Gabby, McKayla, Kyla, and Alexandra with an uncontrollable smile and joyous tears (you could even see her smiling before she finished her routine). The five hugged and cried and stared at the scoreboard in anticipation of their official score, and when their winning score of 183.596 (which embarrassed second-place Russia) was posted they exploded. During interruptive NBC shots of the genuinely sad Russian gymnasts and a few glances to see if that girl had texted me back, the five laughed, smiled, jumped and kneeled in celebration of their victory. They had won gold together, which is always better than winning alone. I hadn’t even watched the whole event, but was already deeply invested in the fate of the U.S. girls. Unfortunately, they also won an agonizing interview with Bob Costas.

Despite my texts to said girl proving futile, this was my favorite night of the Olympics. The wild celebrations of the teenage girls will always tug your heart-strings a bit harder than Lebron James winning gold, smiling, and revealing this mouthpiece.

3 The Spice Girls at the closing ceremony

I don’t need an explanation here. And if you think I do, listen here. I’ll be waiting.

Back? I knew you’d listen to the whole thing.

4 New Dream Team?

Many will fulminate at my even bringing this up. I say to you: “I was four during your Dream Team and don’t remember it so this is my Dream Team so leave me alone!” and then burst into unconfident tears.

But it does pose an interesting question.

In 1992, the United States put together what many think is the best basketball team ever assembled. They had, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, and David Robinson. They were coached by Chuck Daly who was assisted by THE Coach K. That list of players and coaches alone is awesome.  And oh yeah, they also had Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.

“Hey! Remember us?!” – photo by InSapphoWeTrust

They’re the most storied basketball team ever. They make the 2012 Miami Heat look like an ice cube. But this year’s team deserves its own story, and perhaps a longer one. It was just as successful, and played against better competition.

Boasting Kobe Bryant, the best scorer of our generation, and Lebron James, who some think rivals MJ as the best player of all time, and Coach K as its head coach, this year’s team beat a Spain team that boasted five NBA stars: brothers Pau and Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Jose Calderon, and Serge Ibaka.

In 1992 the Dream Team beat a Croatian team that had two NBA players on its roster. There are five players from each team on the floor at a time— at any point, it could have been exclusively NBA players versus exclusively NBA players. I could write a whole new article about this, but NY Press probably wouldn’t like if I did.

Basketball’s become a worldwide sport, not just an American backyard hobby. I know that in ’92 basketball was stretching around the globe, but it’s undeniably bigger now. Does the increased quality of competition count for nothing?

4a Carmelo Anthony hustling on a basketball court

Because we never see it in New York.

5 Seeing Usain Bolt, the fastest human to ever walk the Earth

I know, I know. How can I realllllllllllly know if he’s the fastest human to ever walk the Earth? Was I alive forever? Have I seen every human in history run? Blah blah. I get it.

But I also don’t get it. Between modern science and increased competition, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve luckily been fortunate enough to see the fastest human being ever. Ever.

The dude is kinda, sorta, faster than gravity!

We’re the dominant species, and he’s the fastest of all of us. If we were all running from an Apocalyptic flood, he’d be the last man standing— unless Phelps rides the wave.

The first Olympics, held in sixth century B.C. to honor Zeus, had one event: foot racing. Bolt is the best of all time at the oldest Olympic event.

So unless Hermes existed, or the gods actually physically aided humans like in the Iliad, we’ve seen the fastest human being to ever walk the Earth.

He might even be the best athlete to ever live, just ask Usain.

6 NBC’s tape-delayed events

This one piqued quite a few people.

It’s pretty impressive when you think about the abundance of events occurring during the Olympics and the Olympic Committee enduring the painstakingly tough task of efficiently scheduling all events so they can fit into a somewhat-reasonable time schedule. I mean, it was even hard to explain it.

Also, if you didn’t know, London is in a different time zone. And if you knew London was in a different time zone, you also probably knew time zones can be quite a pain in the butt. (Don’t even get me started with daylight savings)

The annoying mixture of these two things posed quite the quagmire for ratings-hungry NBC. This probably happened in a conversation among NBC executives during the 2008 Olympics:

“I can’t wait for women’s pole vault this morning.”

“Me neither, what time is it at?

“Around 5 a.m.”

“LOLZ YEAH RIGHT”

“I’m serious.”

*sobs*

So how could NBC overcome the dearth of viewers available to watch big-time events during normal day hours? Well, they decided to instead tape all the big events and show them at night. Who would care anyway?

Certainly not me! I loved blacking myself out from the internet for entire days at a time and avoiding text messages and phone calls! All I had to do was bury myself in a pit, live off bugs, and hide until nightfall!

Besides! Sometimes watching something is better when you know what’s going to happen. I loved watching Phelps race while knowing he’d win! It made the race so much cooler!

7 Grantland’s Olympic Coverage

This one only applied to fanatical fans.

Bill Simmons, creator and editor-in-chief of Grantland, flew to London to first-handedly cover the 2012 Games and provided his readers with six lengthy, hilarious, and informative pieces about them.

He taught his readers about the odd sport of Handball, dissected the rivalry between gymnastics and swimming, and even honored Great Britain.

Every day I checked the site to see if Simmons had posted another piece of his Olympic journal, and had a terrible start to the day when he hadn’t— his coverage was great.

I’m not sure if NY Press likes this free press, but Grantland is simply awesome. If you spend way too much of your time (I mean way too much) watching sports, TV, and movies, I’d join the Grantland fan base. Simmons is a funny, well-versed database of a sportswriter, and should be read by all.

Just don’t forget NY Press!

(That should make them happy)

8 Alex Morgan

I’d go on a sycophantic rant, but will save that for the World Cup. Great things are looming and I could be in love.

9 The US of A cleaning house

Like I mentioned before: The Olympics are a minor, and for some, major, source of patriotism. They’re a test of which group of people, represented by the same government and working together, contains the most physically adept and athletic specimens. Even if patriotism is too extreme, it’s surely great to gain some bragging rights.

It’s only sports, but for people like me, it’s really not only sports. The English Premier League might be the best soccer league in the world —the league where all footballers aspire to play— but the U.S. has most of the other leagues where players of that sport aspire to play. The MLB, NFL, and NBA are best leagues in their respective sport.

To defend itself as the ‘athletic capital of the world’, the United States, by medal standards, won the Olympics.

We finished with 104 total medals— 46 gold, 29 silver, 29 bronze. We beat second-place China by 16 medals, and Great Britain by 39.

Go us.

The Olympics weren’t one big jumble of sports greatness. That’s impossible. It could have been better, maybe it should have been better. Maybe Ryan Lochte should have beaten Michael Phelps and run a victory lap around the pool, only to trip, fall, be out for the rest of his races, and Phelps replace him and add to his medal total. That would have made for some great Olympics and a huge ‘eff you’.

While perusing more Olympics coverage this morning, I learned that the United States didn’t even compete in table tennis, precluding the chance of Miracle on Table.

Practicing to change that is what I’ll be doing for the next four years.

See you in Rio.

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