The Best in the Big Apple

The Best of the Big Apple

New York City’s top concierges reveal their favorite places to eat, drink, shop and be entertained.

New York By Rail surveyed members of the New York City Association of Hotel Concierges to find out what’s trending in the city. Here are the current hotspots from those who tell others here to go, exclusively for readers of New York By Rail:

The Best of the Big Apple | Illustration by Michael Mantel

Illustration by Michael Mantel

Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at:

#1 Columbus Circle

A big clearing that provides the best view of the balloons. Some restaurants around there also have views, so you can avoid the cold.” 

2018 | Legends – One World Observatory
2017/2018 | Saratoga County Chamber
2018 | Residence Inn – Albany Airport
2017/2018 | Great Northern Catskills of Green County

One of the few spots where you won’t have the limited space of a narrow sidewalk or a building behind you. You also have the added advantage of watching the floats coming down Central Park West and making the turn onto Central Park South.” 

Since you are closer to the start, the parade ends early so you won’t be in the cold for too long. ” 

Get there early and dress according to the weather report. Don’t forget to take care of Mother Nature’s needs prior to going. There are no facilities.” 

Honorable Mentions

Blue Bird of London
“In the Time Warner Building. It has the best view of the parade as it turns onto Central Park South. It’s three stories up, the best height to watch it all. Get an aerial view of Columbus Circle and great prices.” 

American Museum of Natural History
“Forego the actual parade and watch the balloons get inflated the night before! On Thanksgiving Eve around 5:00 p.m., watch Charlie Brown, SpongeBob and Spiderman come to life!” 

Herald Square
“Always stands out as the best place to watch the live performances. You can really feel the full effect of the parade.” 

50’s off Sixth Avenue
“The sidewalks are wider, and access is easier, as several of the buildings have large courtyards. You are not as penned in as you would be further south.” 

Wayfarer
“A fabulous brunch on Thanksgiving morning with a great view of the parade.” 

The Best of the Big Apple | Illustration by Michael Mantel

Illustration by Michael Mantel

Sip the Tastiest Cocktails at:

#1 The Negroni
at Dante

The cocktail of the moment! In the West Village, Dante features every possible combination of the bitter drink one can imagine, plus great Italian cuisine. Try the Negroni Bianco!”

Honorable Mentions

The Whiskey Business at Dear Irving, a former speakeasy.” 

The Smoking Jacket at The Polo Bar, a sophisticated beverage with the right amount of kick.” 

A Bellini at Harry Cipriani, just a classic place with a classic cocktail.” 

“Any martini at Bemelman’s Bar, an Upper East Side staple.” 

Green House Cocktail at Jams Restaurant made with Dorothy Parker gin, cucumber, kale, celery, citrus and bee pollen.” \

Disco Inferno at the Honeywell in Upper West Harlem, one of the many signature drinks at this cozy, laidback basement bar that serves handcrafted cocktails and cool bites inspired by the 1970s.” 

“Any drink at The Polynesian, a rooftop tiki bar (They also serve great food).” 

Attaboy serves creative cocktails built from what you like.” 

The Aviary NYC and The Office NYC. These two new spots, by renowned chef Grant Achatz, offer over-the-top, unique cocktails. Request a drink reminiscent of a place or emotion, and they’ll craft a beverage from a host of ingredients then serve it in a vessel that is all their own.” 

Rye Manhattan at Peppi’s Cellar (at Nolita). Let Fish make you the best Rye Manhattan on the planet.” 

Gin Gin Mule at Pegu Club, the recommended starter drink at this upscale, SOHO cocktail institution, hailed as the epicenter of mixology.” 

Besos Caliente at Employees Only, a West Village landmark for the cocktail and great American cuisine. They’ve won numerous awards for their cocktail program. This one will warm your palate.” 

Irish Coffee with a Scotch Egg at Dead Rabbit. On the Seaport waterfront, have a drink in an Irish pub/cocktail lounge that has won more awards than most. Dead Rabbit has an impressive whiskey menu.” 

Lantern’s Keep, a specialty cocktail bar that offers drinks inspired by the prohibition era.” 

The Best of the Big Apple | Illustration by Michael Mantel

Illustration by Michael Mantel

Hippest Place to Shop:

#1 10 Corso Como
in the Seaport District

A concept shop imported from Milan with men’s and women’s cutting-edge fashion, a book shop, art gallery, garden café and restaurant with a hip lounge feel and a buzzy European vibe.”

Uber trendy restaurant and shop from Milan, a cross between Barney’s, Jeffrey’s and Assouline Book Store. They have amazing coffee table books, candles, fragrance, avant-garde designer clothing, and shoes.”

Honorable Mentions

FAO Schwartz. Recently reopened in Rockefeller Center with the latest toys, the famous BIG piano and a rocket elevator.”

Nordstroms Men’s Store, in midtown. Nordstrom’s first and flagship store in NYC. The latest men’s fashions, barbershop and bar/lounge. Order a cocktail while you’re shopping. Look for the women’s store, opening this fall – 6 stories, restaurants, a shopping experience! ”

 Mackage in SoHo. Men’s, women’s and kid’s outerwear and handbags.”

Artists and Fleas in Chelsea. Something for everyone, including vintage items, art, jewelry, soap, you name it. It’s the perfect place to buy gifts or treat yourself. If you get hungry, you are at Chelsea Market with food options galore.”

The Real Real. The bricks-and-mortar version of the online secondhand and vintage retailer, chock full of Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Cartier. Brand authenticators are on staff. It’s truly an education in what to look for when purchasing luxury goods.”

Acker Merrall & Condit, Astor Wines+Spirits and Sherry Lehman. The bourbon trend is red hot, and New York has some of the best resources to secure a rare bottle. These three have made bourbon hunters very happy.”

Chop Suey Club, on Hester Street, brings Chinese art and design to NYC.”

November 19 Shop in Hell’s Kitchen, for creative houseware and vintage clothing.”

PIQ. The cutest, fun, little knickknacks.”

Tictail Market. New Lower East Side location on Orchard Street. An ever-evolving selection of clothing and accessories from up-and-coming designers.”

Fivestory, in a gorgeous townhouse on the Upper East Side. A curated selection of established designers in a comfortable setting, by a well-connected millennial socialite.”

Dover Street Market on Lexington at 30th Street. A fantastic gallery-like space with high-end streetwear and designers that offer in-store experiences.”

C21 Edition in Century 21 off Church Street, downtown. Week-long, single-label events in a two-story space. Who knew you could get a discount and brand-name labels?”

The Best of the Big Apple | Illustration by Michael Mantel

Illustration by Michael Mantel

Where to Go at 2 A.M.:

#1 The Box

 The shows go usually until sunrise and gets naughtier as the night goes on.” 

A burlesque show with more than you bargained for.” 

For fun and craziness.” 

Unique, great crowd. An NYC staple.” 

Hottest party in NYC.” 

This place is an absolute after-hour spot. The show will leave you speechless. New York is all about being different, and this place will definitely surprise you.” 

Honorable Mentions

L’Express. On Park Avenue South in Gramercy Park, classic French bistro fare in a Parisian Cafe setting. It’s buzzy with a great late-night vibe, and the steak frites are not to be missed.” 

Empanada Mama. Open 24-hours. Many delicious Empandas and great Sangria.” 

Lavo Niteclub. A young, vibrant scene with electronic and pop music.” 

Peculier Pub. A casual pub with in the West Village with an awesome selection of brews from all over the world. Pay as you go. Cash only.” 

The 18th Room. A lesser-known speakeasy with amazing cocktails and a great atmosphere. “Haswell Green for sing-along live music. Yell out your request.” 

Terra Blues. Live blues music on Fridays and Saturdays. A Greenwich Village gem.” 

Sarge’s Delicatessen in Murray Hill. Expansive deli menu including some of the best corn beef in the city. Everything is delicious and fresh!” 

Nurse Bettie on the Lower East Side. Great music, killer cocktails and maybe a burlesque show.” 

Bembe in Williamsburg, for live drummers and DJs spinning Brazilian beats and World music.” 

Odessa in Alphabet City, for pirogies, disco fries and chocolate chip pancakes.” 

Sing Sing. A popular karaoke bar with private rooms.” 

Insomnia Cookies. Warm cookies delivered wherever you are for instant pleasure.” 

Hide-Chan Ramen on East 52nd Street. Nothing beats the cold-weather blues like some fresh, hot ramen.” 

Crimson Tide in the Lipstick Building. Finish off with a highly crafted cocktail at this Michelin-starred establishment.”

The Best of the Big Apple | Illustration by Michael Mantel

Illustration by Michael Mantel

Watch the New York City Marathon at:

#1 Central Park

“Easy to get to and near the finish line.” 

“Picturesque, close to the finish line.” 

“Loeb Boathouse, inside Central Park. There’s nothing like being inside the park and feeling the energy of the runners while having quiet from the outside streets.” 

“The finish line in Central Park, because you don’t have to wake up so early.” 

Honorable Mentions

2nd Avenue and the 59th Street Bridge. The runners cross the quiet bridge, then the impact of the cheering crowds, the bands and music greeting them.” 

Central Park South. The runners go through here before entering Central Park to the finish line. You get a good view of the marathon and, since it’s the last stretch of the race, you don’t need to get up early to see it.” 

By the Ritz Carlton or Plaza Hotel, because it is near the end of the course.”

Running it! 

Greenpoint, Brooklyn near the Pulaski Bridge. Half-way point. Lots of viewing space.” 

Outside of Manhattan. Select a spot with the added appeal of shopping or dining when you’ve grown tired of watching the runners. You gain a perspective of another borough and an energy that might not otherwise be available if you were to visit that neighborhood on any other Sunday. Take the subway, as opposed to a taxi, and carry some form or encouragement for the runners like a sign or a banner. You’ll be a local within 10 minutes of standing shoulder to shoulder in that neighborhood.” 

Park Slope in Brooklyn. People dance, play music, cook on the sidewalk, and you’ll see the most creative motivational posters. Bonus points if you have a friend with a rooftop along the route.” 

1st Avenue at 60th/61st Street. As the runners come off the downhill from the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge on the final stretch uptown.” 

110th Street at 5th Avenue for that final stretch into Central Park and the finish line.” 

4th Avenue in Brooklyn. You can have a beer and enjoy the race at the beginning when people are super energetic.” 

Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. This is mile 21 where people need support the most. As a seven-time marathon finisher, support towards the end of the race is what the runners need.” 


 Founded in 1987, the New York City Association of Hotel Concierges® is a not-for-profit organization modeled after Union Internationale des Concierges d’Hôtels (Les Clefs d’Or International), the international professional organization of hotel concierges, and Les Clefs d’Or USA, its U.S. chapter. Its 200 members are professional lobby-level concierges throughout the New York metropolitan area, representing over 24,000 hotel rooms. nycahc.org 

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