Tag Archives: Brooklyn

I heart NYC

Why I Love New York City

“Living in New York must be so exciting,” friends from outside the city often remark. And they are right, it is exciting, even after 26 years residing here. I’ve lived in about a dozen apartments, moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back to Manhattan again. And, I’ve had twice as many jobs as apartments.

The view I am lucky to have in Manhattan!

Still I’m enthralled with New York City, thrilled by the frenetic energy, captivated the residents and our collective scrappiness in the face rent that is just too damn high, the artistic events on offer 24/7/365. I groove on the toughness–though not rudeness–of the folks I meet every single day on the streets, on the subway, in the stores, grabbing a cup in coffee shops and sitting next to me at live theatre, music, storytelling, comedy, and other events. These people, New Yorkers, are my people. I’ve been meeting more and more natives recently, but it’s also true a lot of folks come from elsewhere. Some come in search of fame and fortune, most come for a sense of freedom to express themselves in various ways that are not encouraged nor welcomed where they grew up, and most everyone I know likes the anonymity the city provides, at least sometimes.

Anonymity on the Cheap

Have we met before?

There’s definitely nothing like the “Big Apple” and taking a bite of it puts a spell on those who dare to do so. It’s the difficult lover you can’t leave, the too-expensive bling you buy anyhow, your eccentric aunt who dresses as she pleases and says exactly what she wants, or your outrageous, creative friend from high school who moved here to get out of their home town. And, even if you don’t have a friend like that, you will meet one here!

I’m so tired of those NYC v. LA lists! Even worse are those painfully angsty articles about people trying to “decide” to leave (really they’ve already decided, but want to get paid to write an article about it), or those who have left and want to burden us with how they are coming to terms with it and are oh, so glad they left.

I want to talk about what New York City means to me, someone who loves the place, with all of its flaws.

New York City Subway Platform

Please step aside and let the passengers off the train.

First, let’s talk about the subway. Sure, there are stalls and delays, and the weekends are all fucked up, and especially hard for visitors to understand. But, that’s because work is being done to improve the structure and therefore, the service. Of course, the price for a ride is too high, but folks, the NYC subway is so clean and runs so beautifully compared to just a few decades ago. And, may I remind you that the MTA is moving more than 5.5 million individuals around New York City and her boroughs EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. That’s a lot of people! And when a tourist asks directions on the subway, not only do they get an answer, they receive the assistance of many local riders, all of whom are convinced their route is the best way to get the visitor to their destination.

Building a a snowman in Times Square

Crossroads of the world.

On the day I am writing this, it happens to be snowing. Many New Yorkers seem to be afraid of snow, even though it snows here ever year. Activities today have been cancelled, and lots of folks who made plans with other folks are unwilling to fulfill them. But, other folks carry on, trudging through the slippery danger of un-shoveled sidewalks (there a law to do so, btw) and delighting in the white stuff.

There are the skyscrapers, the parks, the street art, the yellow (and green) taxis, and so much more! Local Expeditions has recently added several new tours to cover the bountiful urban beauty and rich history of this city. On our GATWAY: THE IMMIGRANTS tour we  walk through the Lower East Side, a district shows that within decades how the Irish Five Points became in turn the Jewish quarter, then Little Italy, now Chinatown and today’s Courthouse District. If you take the JACKIE ROBINSON’S BROOKLYN tour you’ll find out why no other major league team in 1947 was willing to sponsor a black man on the field–Brooklyn welcomed it! If you are appalled by the actions of our current 2017 POTUS like we are, you’d love our F@CK TR#MP: CHEAP ETHNIC EATS IN MIDTOWN foodie adventure where we’ll visit West African steam tables in Chelsea, food courts in Koreatown, Pakistani grills in NoMad, Indian buffets in Curry Hill, etc., etc. etc.  as long as your feet and stomachs hold out! And, if you are a romantic and like NYC love stories, check out the sneak-peek of our GOWANUS? YES, GO ON US!

And, there are the bodegas. And bodega cats. Both are staples of NYC life, especially in the boroughs. Recently someone posted a review on Yelp calling out a bodega cat. The response was swift, fierce, and very funny.

Photo of a cat

Everyone needs a job.

As a queer person, I love that NYC protects 31 gender identities. This is something that is extremely important in the current fascist political regime when our federal government, along with many states and cities, are passing laws allowing discrimination against transgender people, LGB folks, and other gender and sexual minorities.

Gender Identity Chart

Guide to NYC’s Protected Gender Identities

At the end of the day, New York City feeds my craving for living amongst like-minded creative folks. And, I don’t mean only artists and writers, but New Yorkers of all stripes who make it here despite all the obstacles.

To-Go Coffee Cup

No sugar? Say it twice. Say it loud. Say it clear. (The default is a “regular” which has two tablespoons and milk.)

That’s why I love New York City–it’s my one and only!

Secret Restaurants in NYC

Secret Restaurants in NYC

Looking for indescribably delicious eats and drinks? We’ve got the inside scoop on four of our very own favorites that we are willing to share. But, shhh, keep this information under your hat, as these restaurants are already garnering a lot of interest and attention. So #DoWhatLocalsDo and take the opportunity to visit them before they blow up!

Pho Bo, Pho Ga, Pho Chay and MORE is waiting for you in Bushwick.
Soup, Salad and Beverage

Yes, it tastes as good as it looks.

Michelin Guide Recommended, Zagat rated and Trip Advisor favorite, Falansai Vietnamese Kitchen in Bushwick is on a somewhat hard-to-locate corner in between the Morgan and Jefferson L train stops. But don’t let that stop you! With a comfortable minimalist interior that is a respite in cooler weather, the establishment’s outdoor seating is a wondrous setting. Boasting a gorgeous Lilly pond, colorful murals and a range of seating options spotlighted with strings of twinkle lights, when the sun goes down and the garden lights up, the actions at this original Brooklyn eatery are just beginning! And, an extra hot tip: they have an amazing happy hour!

Get it Local: Grilled Clawhammer Pork Sausage at Freemans.
Grilled Clawhammer Pork Sausage

Freemans Photography by Daniel Krieger, 2015

The delightful, upscale Freemans Restaurant is hidden inside an alleyway (Freemans Alley!) on the Lower East Side of Manhattan off Rivington Street between Chrystie and the Bowery. Freemans uses unexpected ingredients such as nettles on a fresh fish dish, wild mushrooms in a vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie and farro in seasonal salad. The bar at Freeman’s is lively and the eponymous Freeman’s Cocktail – with Rye, simple syrup, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, house orange bitters – is many locals’ choice.

Visit with the chef while you eat.
Chef in kitchen

He just bought the food at market the same day!

Yemeni, Egyptian or general Middle Eastern, some locals debate it, but in any case Kebab Cafe in Astoria is a tiny hidden gem. Lacking the charm of Freemans or Falansai, the excellent and inspired food makes up for that. Squeezed into the small restaurant space, customers partake in Chef-Owner Ali’s creations, often consisting of a daily special made of whatever ingredients are market fresh along with all kinds of kabobs, lamb in every configuration, those standbys, babaganush and hummus, and an outstanding mouthwatering mixed plate. The Kabob House has some vegetarian fare, but is not for feint-hearted eaters as organ meats are on the menu. However, for the more adventurous, this is just the place to sit down and go with the flow while visiting Queens.

Hand-pressed tortillas crafted with heirloom corn.
Margarita in Mexican Restaurant

It’s the Margarita de Remolacha!

Gran Electrica has a bar with the most original flavored Margarita’s in town – habanero-infused, red beet, pineapple, cucumber and other flavors. The intimate, minimalist dining space hosts an array of guests and the service is impeccable. Sitting on Front Street in DUMBO, Gran Electrica is a bit hard to find via subway, but you can easily walk there from Brooklyn Heights, take the B25 bus to the Front & York stop, just steps away from the restaurant, or sit down to dinner after one of our tours that end in DUMBO.

We hope you enjoy all of these secret restaurants in NYC!