Delancey and 125 Sts.
Uptown you'll find jazz, dreadlocks and Bill Clinton; while downtown, it's java, drinking haunts and Clinton Street..
St. Mark's and East 7th St.
Bohemians still lurk in the cafes and shops of St. Marks Place, while East 7th Street claims some of the city's cheapest—and grungiest—bars.
Lafayette Street and the Bowery
Two singles bar crawls for a night we can't quite guarantee you won't forget.
Woodside and Woodlawn
Two Irish enclaves that offer plenty of off-the-beaten-path pub-hopping.
Parallel Lives
Delancey and 125th Sts.
Both are main arteries that run parallel in historically rich districts of Manhattan. Both end in bridges. And both are gentrifying rapidly. But uptown, you'll find jazz, dreadlocks and Bill Clinton; while downtown, it's java, drinking haunts and Clinton Street.
Meat market: The shops of the Essex Street Market.
Spaced out: The tiny Progressive Unlimited is packed.

Progressive Unlimited
Seductive smells of incense and oils beckon passersby into this unmarked sliver of a store, which is jam-packed with African-influenced art, clothing, jewelry and home accessories. Owner Chink Pope makes sure her boutique appeals to long-time area residents—but she's also trying to attract affluent transplants and visiting tourists. She hand picks every item herself and carries a large selection of low-priced works crafted by local artists, including trendy wall sconces shaped like trees and sophisticated silk suits stenciled with tribal patterns.
(14 E. 125th St. between Fifth and Madison Aves.; 212-427-7084; Hours: Mon.-Sat. 12:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.)

Pull up a chair: The Zebra Room at Lenox.

Lenox Lounge
Sharply dressed patrons devour Southern-styled soul food along with jazz in this legendary supper club. Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and John Coltrane all played here. From the vibrant multicolored tile floor in the front bar to the Art Deco-appointed Zebra Room in the back, this classic club is rich in music history. Of course, all this vintage glamour comes at a very modern price: Entrees and music cover charges start at $15 per person.
(288 Lenox Ave. between 124th and 125th Sts.; 212-427-0253;

The Studio Museum
Featuring works by contemporary artists of color, The Studio Museum, in its new digs since 2001, is continuing to expand its two floors of galleries, artist studios and outdoor sculpture garden. The museum store—with art by Harlem Renaissance photographer James Van Der Zee—is one of the best museum gift shops in the city.
(144 W. 125th St. between Lenox Ave. and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.; 212-864-4500,; Hours: Wed.-Fri. noon - 6 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sun. noon - 6 p.m.; closed Mon. - Tue.)

The Apollo Theater
You can't write about 125th Street without mentioning the Apollo. Since opening in 1934, this stately theater has attracted performers of all creeds and colors—from Ella Fitzgerald to The Beatles. Now in its 70th year, it's home to performers like Lauryn Hill, The Strokes, the American Ballet, and the theater's signature amateur night (Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.). The Apollo is in the final stages of a much-needed facelift.
(253 W. 125th St. between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Frederick Douglass Blvds.; 212-531-5301;

M&G Diner
You'll want to kiss the grits at this gloriously greasy old-school soul food haven, just prepare to enter a time warp: the counters are Formica, the walls are wood paneling, the waitresses wear hairnets and the jukebox doesn't play any tunes post-1970. Fried whitefish, meatloaf smothered in gravy, buttery collard greens and artery-clogging macaroni and cheese scare the Atkins' crowd, and office neighbor Bill Clinton reportedly loves the cornbread.
(383 W. 125th St. between Morningside and St. Nicholas Aves.; 212-864-7326; Mon.-Fri. open 24 hours, Sat. and Sun until 11 p.m.)

Essex Street Market
So many pushcart peddlers littered the Lower East Side in the 1930s that Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia created this indoor market to get them off the narrow streets. Following a recent $1.5 million renovation, this multiculti mall is still bustling with 24 food, clothing and tchotchke stands reflecting the 'hood's primarily Latino population. Looking for spices and canned goods? Drop by Batista Grocery, which specializes in hard-to-find ethnic items. Luis's Meat Market proffers choice cuts of protein, including more esoteric selections like rabbit, goat, duck and oxtail. If you prefer making reservations to making a meal, we recommend the "Liquid Brunch" at Essex Restaurant—it comes with three complimentary cocktails. Finally, fill up on culture at the Cuchifritos Art Gallery, which features the work of local artists.
(120 Essex St. between Rivington and Delancey Sts.; 212-312-3603 or 212-388-0449;; Hours: Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. although individual vendor hours may vary.)

Lansky Lounge
Don't let the leftover Ratner's sign hanging above the Delancey door fool you; this ain't your grandmother's old-time kosher restaurant. Lansky's owners gave the place a swanky makeover, moved the official entrance to Norfolk Street and now mix milk with meat. Every night, flush hipsters of all creeds fill up on rib-eye steak and drinks named after famous Jewish mobsters before heading to the basement for an underground DJ party that would make your grandma plotz.
(104 Norfolk St. between Rivington and Delancey Sts.; 212-677-9489;

Buzzed: The coffee bar at Alchemy 106

Alchemy 106 / Lan Labs
Forget those old-school, hole-in-the-wall arcades packed with prepubescent boys playing Pac-Man. This ultra-mod, two-story cyber café caters to 21st-century gamers with multiple Xbox and GameCube consoles hooked up to plasma TV screens, and caffeinated concoctions guaranteed to triple your heart rate. Downstairs, troglodytes sip espressos while checking their e-mail. Upstairs, hardcore geeks do virtual combat in a darkened room blasting techno. If you think Halo is something saints have over their heads, you're best off sticking to the ground floor.
(106 Delancey St. between Essex and Ludlow Sts.; 212-358-8574; Hours: Mon.-Wed. 8a.m. - midnight; Thu.-Fri. 8 a.m. -3 a.m., Sat. 9 a.m. - 3 a.m., Sun. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.)

Motor City Bar
This Detroit-themed dive attracts leather-clad hipsters with its hardcore jukebox, cheap drinks and laid-back attitude. Unlike the trendier haunts popping up in the LES, the watering hole boasts a gritty, rebellious vibe reminiscent of the district's days as an immigrant haven. Of course, today's neighborhood newbies are more likely to hail from Pennsylvania than Poland.
(127 Ludlow St. between Rivington and Delancey Sts.; 212-358-1595)

Table talk: Upstairs balcony at the Bowery

Bowery Ballroom
Completed in 1929 just weeks before Black Tuesday sparked the Great Depression, this Beaux-Arts building was home to a haberdashery, jewelry boutique and shoe store before being reinvented as a state-of-the-art concert venue in the late 1990s. With superior sight lines, impeccable acoustics and two impressively well-stocked bars, Bowery Ballroom hosts some of the hottest concert gigs in town: indie up-and-comers like The Raveonettes, legends like Patti Smith and bigwigs like Metallica looking for street cred. But, if you know music, you knew that already...
(6 Delancey St. at Bowery; 212-533-2111;

Published May 3, 2004



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