Monday, April 26, 2010

Mary McMullen's Guide to New York City

Growing up in the suburbs of Northern California, "The City" meant San Francisco. Now it means New York City. Though it is 288 miles away from DC (where I live now), it is The City in my own mind. Some might say the New City. Get it? Anyway, in my time spent in The City I have gathered a collection of places worthy of visiting. Some are really really great, others are better than average and all will leave you wanting more.

And don't worry, my next post is going to be "New York City's Guide to Mary McMullen" as I am going this weekend. Hopefully that means I will update this list soon.

Here it is:

General Basic Overview

Frommers gives you a concise guide of what to do, how to orient yourself, blah blah blah. For a first time visitor it is quite useful and includes some good links and phone numbers.


Bike Rental

$20 for 4 hours of bike rental. Great way to tour the city. You can google various self guided bike "tours" and trails (like the Hudson River). Turns out I don't (know how to) ride bikes... but, it seems magical and fast.

Central Park Summer Stage

Various cultural shows/concerts- free and in central park, one of my top five favorite places in the world, duh.

Staten Island Ferry

Lower Manhattan

Free. Just take the subway down to the Whitehall stop... the ferry takes about a half hour each way... but is a great view of the statue of liberty and of the skyline. People often just take it for the ride, and then you must disembark, but there is nothing to see on Staten island, so just turn around and go back to the city. Once in lower Manhattan you can tool around Battery Park and/or Wall Street if you want.

St. Patricks Cathedral

My second favorite Cathedral in the City, first being St. Johns . Sunday Mass is interesting & don't worry they are used to (read: rely on) tourists stopping in just to look is acceptable.

St. John Devine

Old. Neat.

TKTS Day-of Discount Broadway Shows (Times Square)

You stand in line, and they release non-sold out show tickets for half price.

Top of the Rock (Observation Deck)

Like the top of the empire state, but has a better view AND no lines. You get tickets in advance, or the day of and they are time stamped. This also means they limit the number of people so it is far less crowded. $21 for adults.

The Met

East side of Central Park. I like this place because of the variety. They also ask for a suggested donation of $18, but if I am not going to really delve in, I only pay partial.

The Natural History Museum

$15- worth it... but the Natural History in DC is by far my favorite... so I am biased.

The Guggenheim

Modern Art housed in a building that is more more interesting then the MoMA, but the MoMA has a way way better store.


Banh Mi Saigon

Vietnamese Sandwiches sold in the back of a jewelry store. Must get it to go. I suggest the spicy chicken, it's hot. $4 and a little adventure. 138 Mott St (between Grand St & Hester St, Little Italy/Chinatown/Asian Jewelry District)

Becco Italian

Home made pastas, they offer a great all you can eat family style meal. Reservations recommended. Theater District/Hell's Kitchen.

DhaBa (Indian)

They offer a lunch buffet that it fresh and tasty and perfectly spiced. 108 Lexington Ave (between 27th St & 28th St, Flatiron)

The Dumpling Man

I call these "pot stickers". I also call these "tasty". Technically they are also called "Dim Sum" or an appetizer, but order enough and make a meal out of it. 100 Saint Marks Place (The East Village)

The Garage

American- Often has live jazz, always has good food in a cool space. 99 7th Ave S (between S 7 Ave & Barrow St, The West Village)

Best Gelato Italian Ice Cream Ever

Best in America.. literally, it was voted on... and I have pretty much tried them all anyway and agree. Once I was at a fancy Italian restaurant and paid like $15 for a TINY scoop of gelato. I was very impressed and asked them who their supplier was. I chucked when they said "Laboratorio Del Gelato". Don't worry their storefront isn't that pricy. 35 Orchard Street Lower East Side (walkable from Little Italy, but not in Little Italy)

Halal Street Cart

Get the chicken platter- add white sauce. the hot sauce is FIERCE, just fyi. 53rd & 6th at the Ave. of Americas

Haru Sushi & Japanese

Excellent Sushi... and reminder, I am from SF bay area, so I would know. 205 West 43rd Street, Times Square

La Bonne Soupe

French- casual- no reservations needed for lunch- I have only gone there for brunch, get the quiche- I love it and I hate eggs. 48 W. 55th MidTown East (near 5th Ave)

Magnolia Bakery

Seriously, get the banana pudding. Do not waste your time with the cupcakes. Soho & Midtown locations.


American Cafe- prob my favorite brunch spot of all time. My faves: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes or the Goldi Locks omelet. Various locations

Peanut Butter & Co

P'butter is my favorite food & I am recommending this place, so there you go. 240 Sullivan Street, Greenwhich

Pomodoro Ristirante Pizza

Creamy, perfect pomodoro tomato sauced pizza. 51 Spring St, Nolita

And if you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, I am truly sorry, but will offer up two small glimmers of hope:

Ana Maria's (Brooklyn Pizza)

Pizza by the slice. No frills establishment. 179 Bedford Avenue in BROOKLYN, Williamsburg

Baked (bakery)

Get thee a p'butter candied rice krispy treat. Thank me later. 359 Van Brunt Street in BROOKLYN, Red Hook


Moderate priced accommodations with good locations and most of all, they are CLEAN.

The Pod (European Style, meaning bathrooms/showers are single people, lockable, one person at a time, but they are shared among four or five rooms)

230 E 51st St

New York, NY 10022

(212) 355-0300

The Paramount NYC (note: beds are low, like, on the floor)

235 West 46 Street

New York, NY 10036

(212) 764-5500

Friday, April 9, 2010

Just Beiber & The Olive Garden

Justin Bieber's on the cover of People Magazine this week with the caption "World's Biggest Pop Star"; when I read that I immediately thought "worlds best publicist". I too run around declaring all sorts of grandiose things about myself, and let me tell you... I can make a cupcake that rivals Georgetown. I shock myself regularly with how good I am at my job. And the list goes on and on and on. But that doesn't make any of them true (they are though). The point is people buy it, usually just because they want to.

This doesn't mean I don't have Bieber Fever. I do. Let me tell you why. And, go ahead, allow yourselves to love that kid (because you do anyway).

It seems everyone has Bieber Fever. As they should. He has all the ingredients of a greatness: just your average kid who happens to be talented and beautiful with a charming personality and discovered on youtube with the exact look that is bottled up and sold to the masses of middle class american teens with disposable income.

I love him for the same reason I love the Olive Garden. Please, don't pretend you don't love the Olive Garden. The reason that restaurant is so popular is because people go there. Is the Olive Garden the best restaurant in America? (Nope, Per Se is). Is Justin Bieber the worlds biggest Pop Star? (Nope, Michael Jackson still is- and for arguments sake, Lady Gaga is at the top of the Billbard Pop charts, not Justin).

The Olive Garden has over 700 restaurants in the US, including some of the most sought after retail locations. They are not this big or popular because they sell gross food no one wants. They got where they are because they offer food people buy. People buy it, not because it is the best, but it is exactly what they want and a lot of it.

Justin Bieber is not the best singer. My favorite music video of his is the one he is singing to another teenage girl, something about having "one less lonely girl tonight" in the world. She is at a laundry mat, going about doing adult like errands, as if she is some 35-year-old-single-cat-lady. It's just absurd. It's also calming the fear of every woman in the world. It's also catchy.

Here you go:

Ha, ha. Yeah "How many start overs and shoulders have you cried on?" he asks her. Let me tell you, probably one, right after that embarrassing breakup on the playground during recess last year in 6th grade. Other than that, she is fine.

Anyway, I still love it. It's not only greatness, but it is a lot of greatness. Over the top and in a large dosage. Justin is exactly what we need want.

BIEBER FEVER Fever fever!