Neighborhood Tours: Flatiron/Gramercy Park/Union Square

Monday, June 10, 2013

What's a girl to do with a completely free, beautiful 75-degree New York Sunday?  Shop, of course,  And eat, obviously.  I jumped the 1 train downtown for wandering in one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city.  I think I say that about all the neighborhoods, but who cares.  I also have a dissertation proposal to defend on Wednesday, but who cares about that either.  This was much more fun.  There will always be dissertation work to do.  There will not always be Sundays in the city.  

So the day started with Doughnut Plant.  Because all days should start with Doughnut Plant.  At 23rd and 7th, it wasn't quite in my neighborhood for the day, but close enough to justify it.  It's right at the corner, next to the Chelsea Hotel.  Plus, they have square doughnuts.  I chose the cinnamon sugar cake and the coconut lime, which was good enough to make me consider not moving to Kansas.


So the Flatiron Building is at 23rd and Broadway/5th Ave, right at Madison Square Park.  Union Square is Broadway from 14th to 18th, and Gramercy Park is 21st and Lexington.  Technically they are separate neighborhoods, but all within a ten block radius and easy Sunday walk.  Here are some of my favorite restaurants...

Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at 15th and 5th Avenue.  Gourmet, eclectic Southwestern fare.  Try the sweet corn shrimp tamales and the burger, for sure.  Chief and I went there in a blizzard recently.  Also, we love love love the one in Vegas.  


Rosa Mexicano on 18th between 5th and Broadway.  Skip the entrees and just go for the world's second best guacamole (next to mine) and churros with dipping sauces.  Yum yum.  It is conveniently located right across the street from Soul Cycle...and you all know how much I love Soul Cycle.



ABC Kitchen on 18th east of Broadway.  Just the best place ever.  My favorite special occasion restaurant in New York.  The place Chief and I had dinner with Piers Morgan and Diane Von Furstenberg.  For more on my ABC Kitchen love, check out these blog posts... King of New York and A Tale of Two Evenings.  If you go, take extra money.  Also, make your reservation 30 days in advance.  No more, no less.


Friend of a Farmer is one of Chief's favorites.  It's on Irving Place, my favorite street in all of New York.  Comfort food at it's finest.


Not pictured, but equally delicious, are Eataly (Mario Batali's grocery store and restaurant complex, complete with rooftop garden views of the Empire State Building) and Shake Shack in Madison Square Park (delicious burgers and cheese fries).  Both are located at 23rd and Broadway.  And obviously, there is Max Brenner, the chocolate restaurant...no explanation needed.

So shopping.  This is a great place for it.  Not as crazy as the classic part of 5th Avenue, but still great New York trends and such.  

There's Kate Spade.  Hello, lovely.


Blue Mercury, an upscale Sephora type store for all you upscale Sephora types...


Fish's Eddy.  I love love love Fish's Eddy.  Everything kitchen and china related you could possibly imagine, and then some.  Check it out...



 Whisk, for all the other kitchen type things you could every need...




Old Goode Things on 16th between Broadway and 5th.  You know all that industrial trendy stuff at Restoration Hardware and World Market and everywhere on Pinterest?  This is where you buy the original, not the reproduction.  Bring money.  I love love love the original train sign so much.  It was $750.  Hello, DIY in Kansas.  I also plan to buy the knockoff of that drafting table at World Market soon.




All along 18th street between 5th and 6th are art stores.  Seriously, an entire block of paper and markers and camera supplies.  It's like my dream.  I am embarrassed to admit how much money I spend on unnecessary things on that block.


And The Strand (12th and Broadway).  Oh, The Strand.  I spend hours on end there.  Something like 18 miles of books.  Cheap books and rare books and out-of-print books.  Heaven on Broadway.


So this is new and entirely New York.  Window shopping.  Actual window shopping.  Kate Spade's new line, Saturday, has set up a window-front store.  No actual store.  No workers.  Just window.  Items on display for purchase.  You step up to the screen and press to start.  It's at that point that bells ring and lights flash, slot machine style.  You pick your items, input your address, and wait for same-day delivery.  Pay the delivery man and you're good to go.  So easy it doesn't even count as spending money.  And it will never ever work in any city but Manhattan.



Now, finally, if you're in the mood for a good garage sale, this is how New Yorkers do it.  Set up shop on the sidewalk.  This kid was selling her toys.  Go figure.


Now, after that much shopping you will need a snack.  Mine was the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in Madison Square Park...






You could try Ralph's Italian Ice on 24th and Lex.  I also had that snack yesterday.  You know, for demonstration purposes only.  It is better than it looks.  Have the graham cracker crunch, for sure.  Trust me.  I also threw in the coconut to keep it interesting.




Finally, you'll end up at Gramercy Park.  My New York dream is to one day go inside Gramercy Park. You see, as New York's last remaining private park, this one-square-block park is accessible only by key.  Think, Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in Notting Hill.  You only get a key if you live immediately surrounding the park or stay at the very expensive hotel.  Thus, I will one day by a home on Gramercy Park.  Problem solved.  



Happy wandering, friends.  It's a great big city out there.

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