The crowd of vacation goers happy to snap photographs within the line for the Empire State Building lift, go on a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, or put up with a Sex And The City Location tour will always be there in spades, propping up many an steeply-priced venture. The TGI Friday’s in Times Square will almost allways be full, hocking $30 soups to willing partakers, and many a holiday-maker will be left to wonder “how does anyone live life here as expensive/crowded/inconvenient as it is?”
Answer: Hardly anybody does.
Well a few individuals do. The Wall Street crowd can afford it, and dwell how we may think they do in the movies (or if you’re a fan of Ted Danson’s George Christoper on Bored to Death), and a huge amount of people reside in steadily worsening rent-controlled apartments. Everyone else paid Manhattan rent for a while, then we heard about the outer boros. Men and women without (and, progressively, with) extraordinary wealth, but who are familiar with the city, are inclined to go to Brooklyn and Queens. What am I saying? The best dining places, bars, shopping, and neighborhood culture – indeed, the best things to do in NYC – have moved with them.
A new generation of travelers is progressively getting aware of this.
North 11th Street in Williamsburg, home of Beacon’s Closet – perhaps Brooklyn’s most famous second hand shop – as well as Vice.com head office, is overrun with tourists for the duration of week-ends. DUMBO, home of Food Network’s Bobby Flay and backdrop fordon’t make me say it againSex And The Cityhas turned into a bit like “Brooklyn Disney Land”.
These spots are worth going to, and there are a lot more you haven’t heard of.
Want the most bona fide Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean food beyond the borders of Asia? Check out Flushing, Queens, a 20 minute journey on the Long Island Railroad, and a solitary train stop from the Mets’ City Field.
Enthusiastic about the next up-and-coming cool neighborhood, like Williamsburg but devoid of the travelers? Look no farther than Prospect/Crown heights, the home of an amazing and ever-changing variety of eateries, coffee houses and taverns, and perhaps the very best pizza in The Big Apple.
A little to the north of Williamsburg, where you can find the most overlooked brunch restaurant, Pizza joint, and steakhouse, respectively, is Greenpoint.
How come the outer boros? Precisely the same reason it’s preferable to stay with friends in a foreign place than to rely exclusively on a guide book: you’re getting a taste of the city from the standpoint of local people. Sure, Soho has fantastic (if crowded/overpriced) shops, you ought to check out the East Village before you die, and Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall can be worth a trip provided you can get tickets. But New Yorkers are both bargain-crazy and innovative to-a-fault. Williamsburg’s Barcade, where you can get a pint from one of the best taps within the city for an average of $6 and enjoy vintage video games for the original rates all night, is more our speed. In the outer boros, particularly if you ask a local, you’ll find-
-Authenticity – from Bushwick’s taco restaurant run out of the rear room of a genuine tortilla factory to Woodside’s SriPraPhai, commonly recognized to be probably one of the greatest Thai Restaurants in america (think you’ve tasted Thai food? maybe), to Carroll Gardens’ generations-old salami merchants on Court Street, the outer boros are replete with destinations in the magical post-popularity-with-the-locals, pre-tourist-mecca niche.
-Beauty – Prospect Park, and Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and the roadways of Cobble Hill, Park Slope, and Brooklyn Heights, are amongst the most photogenic urban landscapes in The United States, and in contrast to the Statue of Liberty and Central Park, they’re less crowded than you’d expect. Williamsburg, Crown Heights, and Bushwick – rugged places tagged with street art -are another kind of eye-catching, but no less “real”.
-Vibrance – it’s correct that some of the most daring eateries, like David Chang’s Momofuku, Masaharu Morimoto’s Masa, and Wiley DuFresne’s WD-50, in addition to a few of the “expense account” spots like 11 Madison Park and the Grammercy Tavern, continue to call Manhattan home. Many others, like Carroll Gardens’ Buttermilk Channel, Park Slope’s Al Di La, Williamsburg’s Fette Sau, as well as a rotating/ever-expanding cast of daring, chef-driven spots are happy to call Brooklyn home. The outer boros thrive with business joie de vivre as restauranteurs and business-owners take advantage of their lower rent and expanding consumer base.
-Higher Value – You night spend a lot for a meal in Brooklyn (though you certainly don’t need to) but be assured your hard earned money are getting more. A luxurious evening can be found at Buttermilk Channel for approximately $150 for 3, including wine – less than a third the price of a comparable Manhattan destination. And there’s a dizzying selection of wonderful meals under $20. (Prospect Heights’ The Islands, in reality high-priced by Brooklyn standards, nonetheless serves up an brimming plate of jerk chicken for approximately $10, on the low end of the cost of an average Manhattan food truck.) Don’t even speak about the bars, where great varietals of ale are accessible for between $4 and $10 a mug and decent wine bars start at approximately $8 a glass. (It’s true, you can find decent pubs in Manhattan, but when they’re not divy or overpriced, they’re crowded, like the West Village’s Blind Tiger Ale House – fantastic, but standing-room-0nly any time after 4pm, 7 days-a-week.)
To get a bit of all 3, have a look at the indoor flea market at One Hanson Place (except during spring and summer), also known as the Williamsburg Bank Building (not to be confused with Williamsburg the neighborhood unless you want an expensive and bothersome trip on the G train). A couple of hundred small crafts entrepreneurs make this flea market their home every Saturday and Sunday, and a talk with just a few of the razor-sharp, tech-savvy, artsy shopkeepers will fill you with the outer boros character for weeks to come.
Whether you’re planning a trip to New York City and looking to avoid the crowds and high price tags, or a Manhattanite prepared to look past the East River – whether Yelp, the advice of a good friend, or (we hope) our site is your guidebook, give the outer boros a try, and get ready to enjoy the real New York.
Finally, if you’re interested in the best things to do in NYC , including comprehensive articles about Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods, restaurants, and attractions, check out the Beyond Manhattan Blog.