Giving out-of-town guests a unique New York experience

7 May

One of best services you can provide for friends and relatives visiting the city is to be a resource for off-the-radar places. Chances are, if you’ve lived here even 30 days, you’ve found some gems. Write them down and save them in your e-mail: That hole-in-the-wall where your friend had his birthday? Send them there! Tourists want to hit the highlights (you know ’em), but they treasure — AND feel cooler on account of — a local’s recommendation.

I’ve touched on some of my favorite places before, but these are all new.

If they want … send them to …

A killer night of theater … “In the Heights,” Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St.
What it is: This delicious Broadway musical, inspired by life in the northern Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, is not is not based on a movie or a Disney character. Did I mention it won the Tony in 2008 for Best Musical.

A sweet treat while on your feet … La Delice Pastry Shop (no Web site), 372 Third Ave.
What it is: One of those bakeries whose sign just screams, “We’ve been here forever.” Best horseshoe macaroon (about $2.50) you’ve ever tasted. Takeout only (no tables or chairs). Old and set in its ways — ipso facto, no credit cards accepted.

Funky gifts that aren’t from a souvenir shop … Pylones, Grand Central Station and 69 Spring St., among others
What it is: A French gift shop with everything from cheese graters that look like milkmaids to staplers that look like fish. Not the cheapest, but definitely unique. Even kids will be entertained while shopping here.

An overlook escape from sirens and horns … The Cloisters Museum & Gardens, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Ft. Tryon Park
What it is: Affiliated with the Met Museum, this serene uptown getaway is perfect for a stroll, even if you’re not into Medieval art (which it houses). The interior garden is a gorgeous lunch spot for families or couples. Take the A train there, and — for a great tour of northern Manhattan — the M4 bus back.

Improv comedy that’s both edgy and bathroom humor-free …  Freestyle Love Supreme
What it is: FLS are a freestyle rap group who often performs at Comix, but are appearing next at Le Poisson Rouge on 5/17.

A view of the Empire State Building that’s not Top of the Rock … Top of the Strand (purposely not linked — it spoils the view!), 33 W. 37th St.
What it is: A new, overpriced rooftop bar with an amazing view. (Hey, you can always order a soda.) Good for an early-ish drink, as it doesn’t get hopping until late.

An ubertrendy, dark bar … Shalel Lounge, 65 W. 70th St.
What it is: A perfect date spot and horrible family spot, this Moroccan-inspired basement bar will make you feel like a local in no time.

Cheap beer, great bluegrass … Banjo Jim’s, 700 E. Ninth St.
What it is: One of those dives that has music going from dinnertime to late, every night. Small bar, no real stage — just a couple of amps and requisite dive-bar stale smell.

All-you-can-drink mimosas with something besides eggs benedict … Yerba Buena, 23 Avenue A
What it is: An unpretentious Spanish brunch where reservations are a must. Don’t go to the Perry Street location; they don’t have the unlimited mimosas (even when you ask really really nicely and are blonde) and the vibe’s not as good.

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