Nicky Charman’s ultimate guide to NYC
“All of the places you’ll find on this list I have been to and love… you MUST have the lobster soup dumplings!”
When it comes to reservations in NYC, bookings are key so jump on Open Table or download the app – it makes planning so much easier. When you’re out, be sure to sit at the bar where you can get the inside goss on where to go for the next drink! And remember to tip!!! It’s 20% of what the total is – some of these poor waiters are on $5 an hour, so they’re dependent on it. Even though NYC is a big city Mondays can be quiet – you might like to stay in at your hotel, and have a drink there.
My favourite list of dinner spots
Bond Street – this is by far the best Japanese I have ever been to. You must order the tuna tartare wheels – the absolute bomb! Save room, you might want to order them again for dessert (I did). There is a bar downstairs where you can start before you make your way up to the restaurant.6 Bond St, New York
If you can’t get in to Bond Street – go to the Japanese underneath the Trump Soho, by far the best service I have ever had in New York and the food is also amazing.246 Spring Street, New York
Another cool Japanese restaurant that is open late is Blue Ribbon Sushi on Thompson Street in Soho – the best damn dragon rolls ever! Sometimes I’ll go here after a Broadway show as it’s not so busy
119 Sullivan Street, New York
Red Farm in West Village is gorgeous modern Asian food and you must have the lobster soup dumplings! Crazy good – then head over to Employees Only afterwards – as you leave Red Farm it’s up on your left across the road a few blocks!
If you are going to head over to Brooklyn, you must have dinner in Williamsburg, and you must go to St Anselm – this is by far the best steak place my husband Jamie and I have been to in New York!355 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
Cosme in the Flatiron District is the newest Mexican restaurant that everyone is talking about! It is not traditional Mexican, it is a sexy Mexican restaurant. Dimly lit, interesting take on their food, amazing local wines. For something different I would definitely go here.35 E 21st Street, New York
No trip to New York is complete if you haven’t been down to the underground La Esquina restaurant. What looks like a snack bar is actually a fun cool restaurant downstairs – head inside and there will be a guy at a door (I think it’s green!). Be confident and say you want to sit at the bar for a snack – when you get down there you can negotiate a table. Really hard to book over the phone or online so this is the best way!114 Kenmare St, New York
For something a little more intimate book a place at the bar at I Sodi – this small little Italian restaurant is quite romantic and you might meet some interesting folk. The pasta is amazing, as is their wine selection. You can also head over to their sister restaurant Via Carota – a more relaxed folksy neighbourhood vibe and also good Italian.105 Christopher St, New York 220 Bowery Street, New York – Between Prince and Spring Streets
Blue Hill is an amazing farm to table experience – really tasty fare – can’t go wrong here!75 Washington Place, New York
Gramercy Tavern has been around for 20 years and still claims to be one of NYC’s best restaurants. This is about as serious as I like my restaurants – not too serious, but still very special! Sit at the bar and chat to the bartenders so they can tell you where to eat or drink next!42 E 20th Street, New York
We also like Il Buco – this is across the road from Bond Street. It’s a great quaint Italian restaurant with very rustic food. Solid selection of reds!47 Bond St, New York
We recently went to Shuko in the East Village. You would never know it’s there – a local told us. The lighting is dim, it’s a very sexy space with RNB music blaring – definitely a scene! It is a 12- 17 degustation of Japanese cuisine with lots of sashimi – and we think it’s close to being the finest sashimi we have ever had anywhere!47 East 12th Street, New York
Indochine is another favourite of mine. The food is French Vietnamese – definitely a people watching place, a lot of the fashion pack go here – bumped into one of the designers that I sell at Calexico – lots of FUN!430 Lafayette St, New York
Forgot about another amazing Japanese restaurant – Morimoto! The old chef from Bond Street is here – sexy restaurant right around the corner from The Standard – which is a great spot for a drink! The most amazing Alaskan crab!Chelsea Market, 88 10th Ave, New York
For lots of atmosphere and more gastro pub kind of food – go to The Spotted Pig in West Village for their delicious chicken livers on toast! You could also go for a hangover brunch! Brilliant Bloody Mary’s!314 W 11th Street, New York
Buddakan is definitely worth a visit – its been there for ages but it never fails to disappoint! Tasty asian food in an amazing setting! If you’re travelling with females they will be happy to know that the Sex and the City movie was filmed here! Beautiful dumplings, and sushi too!75 Ninth Ave, New York, NY 10011
The best spots to grab a great breakfast in NYC are…
Go to Egg Shop in Nolita – cool relaxed vibe, simple and yummy brekky.151 Elizabeth St, New York
Balthazar on Spring Street in Soho – the most traditional French brasserie in the city – great simple menu. Also good for lunch and dinner – I have spent a NYE Eve here – sit at the bar and do some serious people watching!80 Spring Street, New York
I do like Cafe Cluny in the West Village as well for brunch – great Lox (aka salmon bagels) and a very local feel – saw Sarah Jessica Parker just outside!284 W 12th St, New York
Clinton Street Bakery for the most perfect pancakes you will ever have in your life! Be warned… you may have to line up and they only take cash!!!4 Clinton Street, New York
Buvette on Grove Street in West Village – very traditional French brasserie. Jamie loves the steamed eggs while I love the mini croissants with jam – and they also do great coffee. It’s a little bit of a scene, but the people watching is excellent!42 Grove Street, New York
Destinations for lunch (when you don’t know what you want)
Eataly – this is Mario Batali’s Italian food mecca. From gorgeous meats to pizzas everything associated with Italian food is here – and there is SO MUCH to choose from! We sat at a bar and ordered some snacks and a glass (or two) of Italian red. Upstairs on the top level is the Beer Hall. I have been here for dinner – lots of atmosphere!200 5th Avenue, New York
Chelsea Market – lobsters, crepes, oysters, dumplings… you name it, it’s here. They have it all. There is also a place called Ninth Street Espresso where the closest thing to Australian coffee is served.75 9th Ave, New York
ABC Kitchen is a MUST!! I have been here for both lunch and dinner but I prefer lunch – they do a pre fixe menu so you can try a bit of everything. Try the gnocchi, the calamari and the pizza! OMG! AMAZING!35 E 18th St, New York
Excellent places for drinks and bars
Go to the Rose Bar in the Gramercy Park Hotel – opens late and the best music! It’s behind a curtain in the bar to your left when you go in.2 Lexington Avenue, New York
Jane Hotel – this place starts late too, it is just on the outskirts of the Meatpacking District. Maybe go early to get a good lounge – one minute it’s quiet and calm, then the next people are dancing on the tables!113 Jane Street, New York
ACME – go underneath the restaurant for fun, drinks and dancing – we hung out with Baz Lhurman – go later in the week.9 Great Jones St, New York
The foyer of the ACE Hotel is super fun for a drink – you can then head to the Breslin or John Dory Oyster Bar which are restaurants close by for a relaxed meal.20 W 29th St, New York
Miss Lily’s – this place is also owned by an Aussie from Melbourne, very fun cool vibe – it’s Jamaican.132 West Houston Street at Sullivan Street New York
The Nomad is definitely worth going to for a late cocktail but it is also an amazing place for dinner – it’s a very cool hotel too!1170 Broadway, New York, NY
PDT – Please Don’t Tell – you have to step inside the phone booth to call this place to get let in – they serve amazing hot dogs here!13 St Marks Pl, New York
If you’re looking for something romantic
For bars look to Little Branch or Wise Men (they do have a gay night, so you might like to check which night you’re going!). The Top of the Empire State Building and The Boathouse at Central Park are scenic. And if you’re in the West Village just walk around – then pop into Magnolia Bakery for a cupcake. Grand Central Terminal is well worth a look, and you MUST go to the High Line – you can check out the new Whitney Museum too!
Shops I love for men
John Varvatos, great service and there’s just so much to choose from. Barneys – you have a whole department store with cool guys to help you buy everything!!! Scotch & Soda have stores all over, and they’re excellent value. Billy Reids (54 Bond Street, New York) is super cool, as is Steven Alan and Saturdays who have surf orientated dressing down pat – as well as great coffee (34 Crosby Street, New York). Scoop NYC is a go to for casual smart gear (for girls too) – the one on West Broadway in Soho is my choice.
My pick of NYC shops for women
Intermix is my favourite store as they have everything under one roof. Barneys, Bergdorfs and Saks have the best shoe selection in the city. And I love Steven Alan and Curve Boutique. Jeffrey is another excellent smaller department store that have a great edit of shoes and bags (449 W 14th Street, New York.)After years experiencing different cities and cultures, the owner of powerhouse Australian boutique Calexico, has long enjoyed bringing home her favourite finds and recommendations for clients. An avid traveller, fanatical foodie and lover of a good lifestyle offering, we’re thrilled to feature Nicky Charman’s travel guide to NYC on Pepper Passport.
The New York City Writer
Thinking of moving to follow your literary pursuits? Australian born and Brisbane raised Lucy Brook did. And as the contributor to many cult magazines she’s well placed to share it’s an experience like no other.
An Australian Expat’s suggestions for New York City
Lucy Babbage is our go-to girl when it comes to what’s cool and good in New York City. Previously based in Brisbane, she made the leap to the ‘Mecca of opportunity and adventure’ a near two years ago, and it’s only been good things since. Her guide to NYC of where to eat, shop and explore features a mix of local favourites, and those ‘must dos’ for visitors to tick off the list.