The Strand (above). Ah, the joy of a bargain. At this overstuffed and just slightly overhyped used bookstore, you will most likely find the book you’re looking for with a minimum of sifting through tomes that maybe shouldn’t have seen the light of day in the first place. Our advice: Try the tables of half-off reviewers’ copies near the front first. And stay away right after work – it’s more packed than the subway you just got off of. 828 Broadway (473-1452).
University Mews. Nudged in between Eighth Street and Washington Square North, this narrow, historic cobblestone street is lined with oddly low-riding brownstones – they almost look like dollhouses, or at least homes for midgets. Eerily, we’ve never seen anyone emerge from one. Suprisingly, the gates leading to the street are always open. Cross through on your way east or west, and salivate over their free parking.
Peacock Cafe. This cavernous Greenwich Avenue cafe seems to exist out of time, the quarter-century charm as undisrupted as the dust. The effect is heightened by the place’s quietude. Its patrons are always alone, contentedly spending the afternoon with no distractions, happy to be pouring over linear optimization equations or their latest sonnet. 24 Greenwich Ave. (242-9395).
On Broadway and surrounding streets between Union Square and Astor Place, you’ll find a quantity of antique stores to rival Boreum Hill’s legendary Atlantic Avenue. Quality, of course, is another matter; try Abe’s Antiques for the least Bombay Company-esque wares.
Eighth Street Shoe Stores. Feeling sexy? Mod? Sporty? Shoe fetishes of any shape can be sated on the strip of Eighth Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues: Dozens of boutiques offer knock-offs of the greats (Gucci, Nike, Prada) at killer prices.
Arturo’s. For coal-oven pizza, Lombardi’s in the East Village might be better (cheaper, tastier, larger) but the far more atmospheric Arturo’s is, hey, right in the hood. The front booths are big enough to accommodate eight, but will often be filled with parties of two – call first to reserve, because the windowless back room is a woodpaneled 50s rec room nightmare. 106 Houston St., at Thompson St. (677-3820).
Bigelow’s Pharmacy. One of the few old-school drugstores left in Duane Reade country, this pretty 150-year-old store offers one-stop shopping for a particularly arcane female: it’s got scissors, brushes, mirrors and all that, plus beaded evening bags, wicker baskets, dried flowers and – in a strange attempt to update – metallic mini-backpacks (?). 414 Sixth Avenue (793-5433).
Fridays at E&0. Reviews on the food at this relatively new pan-Asian restaurant are less than stunning. But the Eastern-decorated basement bar is jammed on Friday nights with a clean-cut, cute, bankerly crowd, most of whom are game for dancing to an 80s mix of hits and misses. 100 Houston St., between LaGuardia Place and Thompson St. (254-7000).
Dean & Deluca. Can you imagine the real estate ad for this place? Loft-like corner space with 15-foot ceilings (gorgeous, elaborately-carved plasterwork), best block, sunny all day, two bathrooms … . The great thing is, you can lease it all day, if you want, for the price of a cup of coffee. And the front stools are hands-down the best street-watching around. Watch out for the prices on some of the fancy drinks, though: $3.99 for apple juice is not our idea of a good way to greet the day. 75 University Place (473-1908).
Warehouse Wines and Liquor. This nearly block-long store is simply indispensible. Shop a few days ahead of time, though, if you need it delivered: you know how Villagers like to party! 735 Broadway (982-7770).