Like all the other bookstores around Christopher Street, Three Lives has a large selection of gay and lesbian fiction. Unlike the others, it also has a selection of new hardcovers picked by someone – actually, a middle-aged lesbian couple, both of whom manage in the store – with a keener eye than any other bookseller in the city now that Books & Co. is gone. The display shelves buttressing Three Lives’ red French doors hold any books written this year worth reading, plus tons of pulpy thrillers, piquant self-help books, and the city’s best selection of books about writing. 54 W. 10th St. (741-2069).
12 & 13
Though natural restaurants in the area are sparse, Lifethyme and Healthy Pleasures, two of the city’s most extensive health food emporia (Healthy Pleasures appears much larger, but the vitamin and produce sections of both are roughly comparable in quality products) are just a couple of blocks away from each other. Although the shoppers rarely look as well as they should, these supermarkets offer everything you need to bone up your body, though not necessarily get slim. Have you ever read the calorie count on one of those carob bars? Please. Lifethyme, 410 Ave. of the Americas (420-9099); Healthy Pleasures, 93 University Place (353-3663).
Though the food is execrable, the Cedar Tavern’s pretty oak bar and wide-ranging beers make University Avenue’s only bar worth a drink every so often, which is the way most residents think of the place – you don’t get the sense that anyone in there is a regular. Mostly, your drinking partners will be sullen NYU grad students deriving a minimal amount of pleasure by watching undergrads with Fake IDs get turned away at the door. 82 University Place (741-9754).
Newsstands. More per avenue than any other residential neighborhood we’ve seen. Which means, of course, that you can get New York Magazine just about anywhere.
ATM Machines – less than there should be. A lot less. And only two Citibanks in the whole neighborhood. It’s a conspiracy to get NYU kids to eat in cafeterias. The upside? More money, more problems, as Biggie always says. It’s nearly impossible to make stupid purchases: By the time you find a bank, you’ll have come to your senses about that fuzzy taupe off-the-shoulder bolero jacket.
Hipster Alert! The anointed movie theater of the style-conscious, the Angelica plays sanctioned-by-critics art-house flicks in dank basement theaters that are almost always sold out, largely because they’re so small. The real show is outside, though, on the theater’s steep front steps – thank god you wore your new DKNY leather jacket! 18 W. Houston St. (995-2000).
Balducci’s. It’s the downtown Zabar’s – some whisper even better than Zabar’s – for good reason. A piece of fruit in the winter from this bustling, lavish gourmet mart truly transports – you’re in a Winterfresh commercial. (Suddenly the white-jacketed clerks start stripping, and they’re hot. Paradise attained.) Anyway, that piece of fruit is truly, truly so expensive that it’s decadent. And don’t even ask about the brie. But it’s New York: roll with the punches, buy some fancy pastries. One last thing: Beware of walking outside the southern side of the store. At night, Balducci’s lets out a smell best described as beef farts. Gross. 424 Sixth Ave. (673-2600).
The Cornelia Street strip seems to have five comparable restaurants, all lively, quaint – and quickly becoming hipper than necessary – but, in restaurants as in life, and let’s admit there’s often a clear front-runner. The bite-sized Home is almost pornographically homey: rickety plank-wood floor, rustic knick-knacks, rubbed steel chairs, lemonade-rum-punch in real lemonade pitchers. All-American dinner is scrumptious, but brunch in clement weather is better, because the teensy, packed garden gets sun all morning long. 20 Cornelia St. (243-9579).
Laina Jane. Shopping in this lingerie boutique is about as difficult as lacing up a nineteenth-century trollop’s undergarments. Top-shelf bras, panties, and garters are all elaborately attached to each other with a demure yellow ribbon in an extremely successful attempt to deter no-cash-will-carry shoppers. Slender Asian clerks will dutifully help you extract your choices – perhaps hoping to pressure customers with a healthy guilt complex to buy something for their trouble. 35 Christopher St. (727-7032).