NEW YORK: 6 tips from a local

New York is great, but in this amazing city it is for a tourist hard to get of the beaten track. I am very lucky to have a friend that lives there. He showed me his favorite places, sometimes just around the corner from a huge tourist attraction. Let me share some of his precious tips with you.

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Eating lobster like Belgians eat waffles: Chelsea Market

The picture you see above is from the amazing High Line, a park that was created on the old tracks of a train. If you go there (what I definitely recommend you to do), you can have lunch in the Chelsea Market. Chelsea Market is a food hall with more than 35 vendors, so enough choice for everyone. Fun fact: this building used to be the factory of the famous ‘Oreo’ cookie.

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What hit me most here are the fish stands. Not only can you eat great sushi here, you can also order a lobster for the go. In Brussels, where I live, lobsters are only served in very fancy restaurants and cost you an arm. In New York you even find food trucks on the corner selling lobster. But anyway, Chelsea Market is a great place to lunch!

Chelsea Market: 75 Ninth Avenue, New York.

Your Starbucks alternative: Blue Bottle Coffee

If you’re craving for some coffee but looking for something more original than Starbucks, try Blue Bottle Coffee. They operate in three American cities and have seven stores in New York. When you enter a Blue Bottle Coffee store you’ll notice the difference immediately: people here take coffee very serious.

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Blue Bottle Coffee looks more like a lab than like a regular coffee bar, but that’s because they insist on doing everything on the spot. Roasting, grinding, packing, these kind of things. The gear they use is vintage and the bags are compostable. And before I forget: the coffee is great.

Blue Bottle Coffee, on several locations in New York. Check the website.

Introduce yourself to soup dumplings: Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant

When you’re in New York, you will probably visit the MoMA: one of the most wonderful modern art museums in the world. But looking at art makes you hungry, doesn’t it? Good news! Joe’s is only two blocks away. The outside as well as the interior don’t look very special. Only the fact that very often people are queuing to get in betray this place really is very special. Not for good design or friendly staff, but for great food.

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Have you ever heard of soup dumplings? Probably not. It happens to be the signature dish of Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant. It is a starter, but as you can see on the picture it is quite a lot. So share a main dish if you take these soup dumplings. But what are these things? Well, it is like an ordinary dumpling, but filled with soup. Is that dangerous? Yes. Ask someone to demonstrate how you should eat it. It’s not easy but I promise you: it is delicious!

Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant: 24 West 56th Street, New York.

Cocktails with a view: the Americano Hotel

Thanks to al this skyscrapers in New York, you have several great rooftop bars. But unfortunately, most rooftop bars are posh, expensive and serve bad cocktails. The Americano Hotel is not like that. You have a great view, simple but beautiful design and good drniks.

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One more thing about rooftop bars: don’t worry about the weather. Off course, when it’s raining cats and dogs a rooftop terrace is not the perfect place to be. But when I visited New York in February it was extremely cold, yet still it was great to visit this rooftop bar.

Americano Hotel: 518 West 27th Street, New York.

Visit Broadway like a local

Going to a Broadway show really is part of a visit to New York. Even for people who usually don’t like musicals: Broadway is just… Broadway! But it is rather expensive to buy tickets for a Broadway show. My advise is to enjoy an extra cocktail in the Americano Hotel and save some money on your Broadway ticket. There is a very convenient website to help you find cheap tickets for Broadway shows: www.broadwayforbrokepeople.com. You’ll find a list with all shows that play right now and the cheapest way to get in. Don’t mind the lay out of this website.

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For many shows you’ll see that there is a so called ‘lottery’. A few hours before the show starts (the exact time depends from show to show but is explained on broadwayforbrokepeople.com) they come out with all unsold tickets for the performance. They note down the names of people who’re there. Thirty minutes later, they play the lottery to decide who will get the tickets. If your name comes out of the box, you can buy a ticket for the show for only 30$. For most shows a regular ticket costs over 100$, so the lottery is a good deal.

The underground Broadway: Hardware

In New York you have to do things you don’t do at home. So why not visit a drag queen bar? Hardware is a tiny bar near Times Square. Every night at 10pm a drag queen show starts. And it’s not just a bad dressed dude acting like Cher. No, at hardware a show can take up to two hours and is more like a mix between cabaret and stand up comedy.

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When I was there, the performance was really great. The artist spoke about 30 languages and was very smart. So it is not a cliché at all. The show is funny, but not just all for laughs. So: turn off your stereotypes and visit this place.

Hardware: 697 10th Avenue, New York.

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