New York City: Readings and Recommendations

New York City fascinates, stimulates and infuriates, often in the span of a couple minutes. It can be beautiful and it can be appalling. It can appeal to your best instincts and it can confirm your deepest cynicism. For these and other reasons, it has a tendency to overwhelm. But unlike some other major cities, you can hit the ground running here and even without a plan bump into something worth your while. That said, we probably don’t have to tell you that New York City’s general creative nexus has shifted to Brooklyn, which means most visitors these days are heading back and forth across the East River with some frequency. With all this in mind, here are some of our favorite things to do in New York City, along with deeper readings, book recs and more.


MAIALINO | Best breakfast in New York, in a leafy setting overlooking Gramercy Park. Cold brew is made with coffee ice cubes. 2 Lexington Ave | Gramercy, Manhattan.
LA COLOMBE | Big, beautiful, clanking, light-filled scene, with coffee that is taken very seriously indeed. Ripe for a morning of people watching. 400 Lafayette St. | Noho, Manhattan.
D’AMICO | Legitimately old-school, locally roasted beans without the hipster markup, served up in a spot run by the same family for three generations. 309 Court St. | Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Working Lunch:

ANNEX | If you want to be noticed and/or upend fellow patrons’ understanding of the world order, show up to this cafe with a non-Mac laptop. 753 Fulton St. | Fort Greene, Brooklyn
THE ACE HOTEL | The busiest, networkiest hotel lobby maybe in the world. 20 W. 29th St. | Flatiron District, Manhattan
61 LOCAL | Cavernous space with solid food and coffee, with an emphasis on the hyperlocal. 61 Bergen St. | Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Art and Museums:

PIONEER WORKS | The artist Dustin Yellin founded this 25,000 square foot arts space in a former iron works building. Experimental and community-driven. 159 Pioneer St. | Red Hook, Brooklyn
DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY | A major gallery showcasing today’s blockbuster artists. Feels more like a small (and free) museum. 525 W. 19th St. | Chelsea, Manhattan.
NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT MUSEUM | If for nothing else, go here to explore the antique subway cars on display in a decommissioned station. Boerum Place and Schermerhorn St. | Downtown Brooklyn.

Deeper Dives


JILL LINDSEY | This shop does Brooklyn better than most of them. Clothing, housewares, coffee, wine, workshops, a great backyard. 370 Myrtle Ave | Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
HOME OF THE BRAVE | Home store with beautiful inventory, an easy layout that encourages browsing, in an area that’s a treat to explore. 146 Franklin St. | Greenpoint, Brooklyn | Read More
LADY J JEWELRY | Jessica D’Amico crafts all of her line’s pieces on site, and also sells a small selection of clothing from local designers. 679 Classon Ave | Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
BROOKLYN FLEA | It’s a New York institution by this point and an orgy of vintage and handcrafted gems. Our favorite location is the original one in Fort Greene. 176 Lafayette Ave | Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Happy Hour:

BEECHER’S | Specials on beer, wine, and a nightly cocktail, plus the famous mac n’ cheese and other dishes, served in this basement lounge from 3-8pm every day. 900 Broadway | Flatiron District, Manhattan.
OLEA | The only place we know that has Lambrusco for happy hour ($6 a glass). Deals on the delicious Mediterranean food, as well. Mon-Thurs only, 4-7pm.  171 Lafayette Ave | Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
NIGHT OF JOY | A generous list of $6 cocktails every evening from 5-8pm. In the warmer months take them up to the fab rooftop. 667 Lorimer Street | Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


HENRY PUBLIC | Here’s what we daydream the olden days looked like. Instant nostalgia, fueled also by the meticulous cocktails. 329 Henry Street | Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
M BAR | Having a low-key, reasonably priced Midtown cocktail bar in your back pocket can be a key to happiness in this city. This one always does the trick. The Mansfield Hotel, 12 W 44th St. | Midtown, Manhattan.
DICK AND JANE’S | Tucked into a Fort Greene side street, this tiny cocktail bar spills onto the sidewalk in the warmer months. Try the Provence. 266 Adelphi Street | Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
GOLDIE’S | Things tend to literally sparkle in this gem of a nightspot in the far east reaches of Greenpoint, near McGorlick Park. 195 Nassau Avenue | Greenpoint.

New York Novels

Just Kids
by Patti Smith

The singer’s memoir takes readers to the Chelsea Hotel, Max’s Kansas City, and a slew of other long-gone landmarks from downtown’s edgy, arty heyday in the 1960’s and 70’s.

The Age of Innocence
by Edith Wharton

An ingenious takedown of the 19th century upper class, and a chronicle of the love affair that it dooms. And yet, the charms of New York’s drawing rooms are too much to resist.

Lush Life
by Richard Price

Price masterfully intermingles the myriad groups coexisting in the Lower East Side, creating a masterpiece of urban literature around the catalyst of a late-night robbery gone wrong.

The Fortress of Solitude
by Jonathan Lethem

In this highly autobiographical novel, a boy comes of age in 1970’s brownstone Brooklyn, back when no one else wanted to be there.

Dining Al Fresco:

COLONIA VERDE | A back garden that’s almost like the best of France and also almost like the best of the American South, and also that of Argentina. In other words: heaven. 219 Dekalb Ave | Fort Greene, Brooklyn | Read More.
MILK & ROSES | An explosion of greenery veritably dripping down the walls of this back garden, framing a smattering of picnic tables. 1110 Manhattan Avenue | Greenpoint.

Dining at the Bar:

ACHILLES HEEL | Feels like an out-of-the-way secret, even though it’s been heralded far and wide. Wood burning stove, and proof that sometimes simple food is the best food. 180 West St. | Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
WALTER’S | At its best from a seat at the bar in the early evening, taking in the blooming park across the street. 166 Dekalb Ave | Fort Greene, Brooklyn | Read More.

Casual Dinners:

GANSO | The most satisfying ramen, served in a space that’s full of soothing fung shui. 25 Bond St. | Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
LA PIZZA FRESCA | How this, the best pizza we’ve ever known, has flown so far under the radar, we’ll never understand. Better than in Italy. 31 E. 20th St. | Flatiron District, Manhattan.

Dinner as Occasion:

CARBONE | It’s been described as a red sauce joint on steroids: trippy, fantastical, wildly expensive steroids. Ostentation is somehow made attractive here. 181 Thompson St. | Greenwich Village, Manhattan
SAKAGURA | Through the lobby of a nondescript Midtown office building, down some stairs, through the florescent corridor, then open the door onto this Japanese culinary wonderland. 211 E 43rd St. | Midtown, Manhattan.
INSA | A sprawling Korean BBQ on a formerly industrial stretch, with karaoke rooms in the back and punch bowls full of cocktails all around. 328 Douglass St. | Gowanus, Brooklyn.

Deeper Dives

Flung's guide to the places we love most.