Even in a city where the hierarchies of taste are often determined by what’s brand-new, nothing provides more satisfaction than a classic that delivers, year after year. Is there anything more heartening than a Sunday-afternoon bagel and lox from Russ & Daughters? Do notes ever sound more intimate than when they’re coming out of a sax at the Jazz Standard? Is any other symbol more evocative than the interlocking N and Y on a Yankees cap? Here, a collection of the city’s perennial winners. Some are decades old and still delivering; others are newer but destined for glory.
BLACK AND WHITE COOKIE
William Greenberg Jr. Desserts
1100 Madison Ave., nr. 82nd St.; 212-861-1340
The perfect blend of cake and cookie, WGJ’s version of this New York yin-yang icon is unbeatable—and the icing is never crusty.
116 E. 27th St., nr. Park Ave. S.; 212-576-2232
Rather than booking weeklong residencies, this club programs more acts for shorter runs. Even if you don’t know who’s playing, you know you’ll hear jazz in the present tense.
PLACE TO BUY A YANKEES HAT
9 E. 4th St., nr. Broadway; 212-533-2277
The cap company’s East Village flagship carries more than 200 variations of the timeless, love-it-or- loathe-it Bombers hat.
Frank’s Chop Shop
19 Essex St., nr. Hester St. 212-228-7442
Chic, affordable cuts in an environment that appeals equally to financial types, gays, graffitos, and nearly every other genus of the New York City male.
Priti Organic Spa
35 E. 1st St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-254-3628
Tuesdays and Wednesdays mean $40 eucalyptus-and-spearmint mani-pedis at this all-organic (down to the biodegradable slippers) house of beauty.
Empire Coffee and Tea Company
568 Ninth Ave., nr. 41st St.; 212-268-1220
Carefully selected, freshly roasted beans and a friendly café-with-a-sofa demeanor that reminds us what life was like before Starbucks.
25 E. 1st St., at Second Ave.; 212-473-9842
Filthy, vile, barely held together by glue and graffiti, this quarantine zone for the most diseased minds of the East Village is beloved (and rightly so) as the last resting place of the neighborhood’s once-famous squalor.
PIZZA, BY BOROUGH
Una Pizza Napoletana
349 E. 12th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-477-9950
For quality ingredients, no other pizza comes close.
295 Flatbush Ave., nr. Prospect Pl., Park Slope 718-230-0221
Andrew Feinberg is a virtuoso doughman.
108-26 Ascan Ave., nr. Austin St., Forest Hills 718-263-1126
They coax a beautifully charred pie out of a specially designed gas-powered oven.
Zero Otto Nove
2357 Arthur Ave., nr. E. 186th St.; 718-220-1027
With a serious pizzaiolo at the helm, this Salerno-inspired joint has become a local institution.
Joe & Pat’s
1758 Victory Blvd., nr. Manor Rd., Castleton Corners; 718-981-0887
Denino’s has its fans, but we’ll take J&P’s for its superior crust and balance of flavors.
AFTER-THEATER DINNER (WITHOUT TONS OF TOURISTS)
777 Seventh Ave., nr. 51st St.; 212-582-1310
Elegant, affordable, and understated, this market-driven Italian restaurant is really too tasty to be called post-theater food— you’ll want to stop by even if you’re not already in the district.
Chef’s Tasting Menu at Le Bernardin
155 W. 51st St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-554-1515
An eight-course iteration of all the classics (lobster, caviar, Kobe beef) prepared in astonishing ways and, with wine pairings, absolutely worth the $320.
Hudson River Park, nr. W. Houston St. 212-627-2020
The West Village’s sprawling field is protected from Hudson River squalls, but not from land-hungry developers. Play now, while you still can.
East River State Park
90 Kent Ave., at N. 8th St., Williamsburg 347-297-9470
From across the river at sunset, this raggedy, underused, two- block-long park provides a humbling reminder of the city’s beauty.
20 Seventh Ave. S., at Leroy St.; 212-929-4360
Their recipe: two parts gin, one part vermouth (from a small bottle), Cerignola olives, and cracked ice. Stirred.
400 Bleecker St., at W. 11th St.; 212-807-8655
As deftly curated as the Marc Jacobs stores down the street. Current Biography staff picks: Oliver Sacks’s Musicophilia, Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games, and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
CENTRAL PARK HOTEL
Jumeirah Essex House
160 Central Park S., nr. Seventh Ave. 212-247-0300
The glitzy new South Gate restaurant, with its floor-to-ceiling views of the park, ensures this prime real estate isn’t wasted—and you can still see the hotel’s neon-red sign shining from Sheep Meadow.
ROOM IN A MAJOR MUSEUM
Jackson Pollock Room in the Museum of Modern Art
11 W. 53rd St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-708-9400
Eight canonical works by the quintessential New York artist that leave viewers dazzled and dizzied.
9 E. 13th St., nr. Fifth Ave. 646-486-7313
Japanese nationals make it authentic, NYU students keep it rowdy. And everybody sings more than one song a night.
BAR FOR GROWN-UPS
72 W. 36th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-947-3636
Extraordinary selection of scotch, great house ale, old-school bartenders, a portrait of Miss Keens overlooking the bar, and free boiled eggs. Plus: mutton chops.
The Chrysler Building
405 Lexington Ave., at 42nd St.
This marble-granite-and-chrome lobby, with stunning lights and a thirties ceiling mural, is just as Art Deco–fabulous as the building’s exterior.
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 N. 6th St., nr. Wythe Ave., Williamsburg 718-486-5400
The rare new venue that’s small enough to feel intimate yet large enough to draw legitimate bands. Plus the sound and sightlines are unequaled.
111 E. 29th St., nr. Park Ave. S.; 212-685-5585
A brilliant mix of high (house-ground patty made from hanger steak, beef cheek, and pork fatback) and low (a squishy supermarket-style bun), with plenty of fat to keep things juicy.
220 Smith St., at Butler St., Cobble Hill 718-797-3774
Perfect jeans, hard-to-find labels, vintage-looking dressing rooms, and a sweet, helpful staff.
2nd Avenue Deli
162 E. 33rd St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-677-0606
Its loving reincarnation, and the knowledge that New York’s legendary chopped liver and chicken in the pot are but a cab ride or phone call away, makes us all sleep a little better at night.
TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR COFFEE SHOP
144 Second Ave., at 9th St.; 212-228-9682 The ever-flowing coffee, the abundant pierogi, and the murmuring of innumerable drunks all contribute to the feeling that this 54-year-old night owl opened yesterday.
BAGEL AND LOX
Russ & Daughters
179 E. Houston St., nr. Orchard St. 212-475-4880
The bagel: hand-rolled and boiled. The cream cheese: all-natural and double-whipped. The salmon: speaks for itself.