eat. shop. love. nyc.

Downtown NYC walk, shop & eat circuit

[tweetmeme]Some girlfriends are coming in from out of town and they are staying with another mutual friend in Union Square. I have plans to ride my bike to Brooklyn with other friends after brunching with them, so I wrote up an e-mail with suggestions of where to go and what to eat given that their home base is Union Square. What emerged was what I think is a great rough itinerary for a weekend day when all you want to do is eat, shop, and fall in love with NYC. My perfect Saturday (or Sunday – or any day you don’t have to work, I guess):

I’ve taken the liberty of drawing a walkable downtown Manhattan shopping map for you (with words). We can start with brunch in the East Village, the earlier the better bc then we won’t have to wait for hours. I would like to go to Cafe Orlin at 10 am so we can get in before the 11 am brunch rush, or we can do Cafe Mogador if you want slightly more ethnic (Moroccan and Mediterranean), but if they’re too busy, Paprika can be our backup backup. After brunch, I’ll be leaving you, but here are a few suggestions:

Recommended shopping (that you can’t get in DC)

East Village – walk down East 9th St. (very close to brunch) between Second Avenue and Avenue A to find a sweet collection of boutiques, clothing and otherwise. I like Cadillac’s Castle for jewelry and I picked up a gently used Alexander Wang dress there for $88. I like Think Closet as well and I think they’re having a sale, and there’s Roni and so many other stores on that stretch that are so cute but I don’t remember all their names. A great area to spend a few hours shopping. If you’re hungry after, head over to E 7th St between 1st and Ave A where there’s Luke’s Lobster for a lobster roll, Porchetta for a slow roasted pork sandwich, and Butter Lane for the most amazing FRENCH (not the American) vanilla buttercream on vanilla cupcake that you have ever had – seriously, the frosting is so good I want to rub it all over my body. I rarely feel this way about vanilla. One block up on St. Mark’s is Crif Dogs for a deep fried hot dog – I like the Chihuahua – or Xi’An Famous Foods for a lamb burger and some hand-pulled noodles. So many choices, so little time…

If you want a quick break from shopping and eating, swing by Tompkins Square Park on Ave A and 7th/9th. Usually there are musicians or sometimes concerts and festivals. You can just hang out on the green for a bit and rest your feet if you like, or just cruise on through.

From East Village, you can make your way down south to LES past Houston, stop by Szeki on Rivington (she’s a doll!), Honey in the Rough, Pixie Market, Miks, Yumi Kim (sale section in back of the store), Foley & Corinna… If you want jewelry there’s also Hillary Flowers on Clinton St. By this point, you’ll probably be ready for a snack. I would recommend swinging by Baohaus to try the pork belly or beef brisket bao, or just get a Straight Frush between the three of you to share. If you are in the mood for sweets, go to Sugar Sweet Sunshine for a $1.50 cupcake and some bomb-ass banana pudding. Or swing by Meatball Shop for a $4 homemade ice cream cookie sandwich – ginger snap cookie with vanilla ice cream is the best.

From LES, go south into LES/Chinatown border, and when you hit Orchard and Broome, there is an Earnest Sewn and several other stores. There’s a cute place on Broome that is not too expensive… and boutiques like Pilgrim (love!) and others in between art galleries and the like. Barrio Chino has great cocktails and snacks if you happen to be hungry in this ‘hood.

Make your way west again towards SoHo, walking down Broome, and you’ll eventually hit Broadway. Definitely stop by Erin Brynie (one of my faves), Topshop, Uniqlo – if only bc you can’t find these stores elsewhere. Uniqlo is having a great sale – I got a Jil Sander J+ trench there for way less than the price tag, and the cashier told me most everything is on sale in the store, and it’s not that pricey to begin with. Atrium is having a summer sale – that’s on Broadway and Bond St, I think. On Broadway, there are also the fast cheap fashion stores that can be fun – my favorite guilty pleasure is Mystique. Don’t be deterred by the porn star mannequins in the window. I bet they were the cheapest mannequins they could get. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.

You can then start making your way up to Damien’s by just walking north on Broadway towards Union Square. If you are in the mood for it, stop by Strand’s Bookstore to pick up some gently used reading. I really really really love this bookstore. I can spend hours here alone. That’s on Bway and 12th or so. If you want something to drink, now would be the time to go to Saint’s Alps for some bubble tea.

Now you’ll be hungry again, and I would recommend getting to Ippudo (one block east of Bway on 4th Ave around 10th St) before you’re completely famished since the wait is going to be kinda long. If you find yourself waiting, eat a pork hirata bun. Delicious, and it will hold you over until you get seated. When selecting your ramen, check out the specials. If it doesn’t speak to you, try the akamaru ramen with the soft boiled egg (not the onsen tamago – too runny).

If you are big bag hags, you can catch the tail end of the Lauren Merkin sample sale. That’s around Chelsea, I think (sorry – could be wrong here, it’s too far west and north of my usual stomping grounds) 8/10–8/14 Handbags, clutches and accessories are up to 70 percent off at Lauren Merkin’s sample sale. 231 W 29th St., near Seventh Ave., Ste 201, (212-239-2459); T–F (11–7), S (11–4). It will still be $100+ for handbags, but I heard there are lots of clutches under $100.

Sometimes I get too excited and my e-mails run a little long.


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