New York, New York

CityPass: New York
New York For Families
Secret Hotels

Vegetarian dining

New York's Secret Hotels . . .
and the Neighborhoods Are Fabulous 



New York Tourist Tip:
    Eat in neighbourhood coffee shops, (in midtown, East side, close to the United Nations, these are on First and Second Avenues, where breakfast is $3 for two eggs, potatoes and toast, not $12 or more in the hotel tourist traps. There's a 24 hour supermarket on the corner. Walk to First Avenue between 53rd and 54th Street and you'll find all the Sutton Place regulars tucked into the comforting diner booths at the  

all nighter Madison coffee shop, or a few clicks down at Tal Bagel, where the tofu scallion spread on an Everything Bagel is actually just as delicious as the cream cheese. And so good  for you.


You don't want to stay in a cheap cheap hotel in New York. Ever. But if you can be clean, safe and private, in an excellent neighbourhood, why pay more? Three of the best are here, and they're gems. more


The Pickwick Arms Hotel 
A great clean, recently renovated cheap hotel on the East Side (230 East 51st Street) in a snazzy midtown residential neighbourhood. Walk home, singing and dancing, from the Broadway shows. The rooms won't win any design awards, but it's all immaculate, safe, and you've got a TV and a sink in the room. High rollers can book the rooms with private baths or showers. Budgeteers can use the sparkling showers just steps down the hall. More Pickwick info?


The Excelsior Hotel
We have a big soft soft for the old Excelsior Hotel. It's on Central Park, so there's air there, too. What a concept! Unsurprisingly, Jerry Seinfeld, Tony Randall, and lots of celebrities, if you care about that sort of thing, live nearby. The Excelsior is located directly across 81st street, opoosite the new Planetarium, which looks stunning and awesome on the outside and is crushing and horrible on the inside (more on that disappointing debacle later). Just stay in celestial splendour at the historic Excelsior, where galaxies of wonderful sweet space scientists wander around in circles, jabbering to themselves, gawping at the beautiful blue ball glow eerily at night. There's a good coffee shop, and a subway and bus stops on the corner.
Righteous, and still under 200 clams per night! 
More info here


The Y
You get more than a room when you stay at the Y. You'll find recreation, a concierge /tourist desk, swimming pools, and fitness facilities. And a cheap hotel. In New York City: Yes! Y not? 
Wise guys use Ys.
You can stay at the Y in Hong Kong, Delhi, Athens, Bangkok, London and even New York.
Get a free brochure by writing to:
The Y's Way International 
224 East 47th St.
New York, NY 10017
tel 212 308 2899. And lest we forget, click here

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Cool Gift: CityPass New York

!    We love City Pass!

Do you know somebody who's planning to come to New York? Sure you do. Every week! We love to watch your eyes go boingggg boingggg when they see our tall buildings and sense the excellence and intelligence of America's only truely international, grown-up city. We love to watch your auras explode when you taste our gorgeous food.

But what New Yorker wants to take a big-eyed, breathless first-time visitor up the Empire State Building for the 37th time at 8:00 a.m.? No, no, no, no, no. No more!

So here's what you do: you buy your friend a CityPass. And when you take your friends for din-dins that evening they can tell you all about the rubber King Kong pencils they bought up there at the tippy top. No waiting on line either...with CityPass, your guests just waltz right in. Well, most of the time, anyway. The Empire State Building's a special case. It gets crowded up there, and King Kong's got a CityPass too. Your CityPass will get also you free admission to the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum, American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim Museum & MoMA, and more! So do it.

Click here for the CityPass website.

New York For  Families



Many visitors to New York assume it’s an adult playground. That’s true, but that’s also a myopic view of America’s most interesting city. Manhattan is a wonderland for kids. You can take the family to the usual sites—the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and the Empire State Building—but for a truly family vacation, branch out. The choices are infinite, but here are a few to spice up your itinerary.


No city in the world has better theater than New York. So head straight for Broadway musical "The Lion King" at the New Amsterdam Theater, 42nd and Broadway.  "The King" is an artistic triumph, the music, set design and costumes are a feast for the eyes and ears. It’s safe to say you’ve never seen anything like it. 


After the theater, treat your kids to a New York staple: ethnic food. Most cuisines—from Ethiopian to Greek—are available, but Chinatown is of special note. Once you find Mott and Canal Streets, just walk. There are hundreds of restaurants, shops and an active street life. Chinatown bursts with an energy all its own. Once you’ve had lunch or dinner, head across Canal Street to Mulberry Street and Little Italy. Here, you’ll find cafes with desserts to die for


Of course, no visit is complete without a visit to a museum. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd Street, 212/721-1234, has a TV studio, courtesy of Time-Warner, and a wealth of interactive exhibitions, while the Forbes Magazine Galleries, 62 Fifth Avenue, 206-5549, has a fleet of over 500 toy boats and an army of 12,000 toy soldiers. Admission is free, and since it’s in Greenwich Village, you can introduce your kids to the city’s bohemian section. Older kids will appreciate the Anne Frank Center USA, on Broadway between Houston and Prince Sts. 212/431-7993. If the weather is clement, head to the South Street Seaport. Board the clipper ship, the Peking, and the Ambrose, a former light ship, to appreciate what life at sea was like.—Fern Siegel



New York Dining

About  Indian Restaurant

Sixth Street (aka Little India)

If you haven't yet run the gauntlet, you really must take a walk along Sixth Street from Second Avenue to First Avenue, Manhattan's “Little India.” Peer into the restaurants, as you are “invited” by the many restaurant owners to step inside their wildly lighted establishments.

The food's pretty much the same — better than average, at least — in all of them. Some folks favour Ghandi, some prefer the always reliable Mitali East. And those who don't know any better get sucked into Banjara, perhaps because it's more expensive, and many people in this country (including, unfortunately, the  Zagat and New York magazine reviewers) don't know Indian food very well and can't tell good from the average.

If you want a thoroughly delightful Sixth Street experience, turn to the right when you reach First Avenue, and walk a few steps, where now you will see four - count them, four! - Indian restaurants, two up, two down, all good, and festooned with the wildest flashing lights of all, some of them, winking, blinking red chilli peppers in endless rows.

And four men will be standing outside, smiling, calling, egging you on, egging you in, aggressively waving you into their doors. You probably haven't felt so sought-after since you took your shirt off on the balcony on Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras. Well, you're going to have to break three hearts. And the food's lovely  in all these places. But one place has a hidden surprise:  

The Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant
93 First Avenue (between 5th and 6th Streets)
Ny NY 10003

Surprise, surprise...this one features a cool, sparkling, lighted, canopied, mysterious, magical secret garden, so pretty - and funky, too - it will transport you instantly into a romantic, gentler world. A great place to delight your friends, have a party, or throw one of those buy-your-own-damn-dinner parties that are becoming increasingly popular these days. The vegetable main dishes are $4.95 and $5.95, and you'll be spoilt for choice. Coconut soup is $1.25! And the food's lovely.

       Lunch special, noon to 4 pm will get you a pappadum, soup, samosa, banana pakora bhujia, eggplant  pakora, a vegetable curry, rice, dhal, and dessert!

Another Must-See, Must-Do New York Indian Experience:

Curry in a Hurry
119 Lexington Avenue
NY NY 10016
tel 212 683 0900 and 683 0904 and 683 5856 and 683 5944
fax 212 685 6385

This world famous pit stop (since 1976) for taxi drivers, film stars, Indians families, homesick diplomats and obsessed nutcases like your reviewers who once in awhile wake up and must have the full smorgasbord of   Indian dishes for breakfast at 10 o'clock in the morning  is not to be missed. In you come, look at the Big Board above, and point to all you want. They load it all onto a tray and then you teeter up the narrow stairs, where, waiting for you is a room full of tables and another buffet. We're not talking high gourmet dining here, but the pakoras are stunning and the dishes are the real thing, home cooking, perhaps, just like Rama used to make.

Travel tip: Get take-away samosas for a picnic on the plane, or to stash in your mini bar for a jet-lag snack.

Luxury Indian Dining

Northern Indian Cuisine

Bombay Palace 
30 West 52nd Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
NY NY 10019

BP on the Web

You can always count on Bombay Palace to serve you a delicious, superior excellent almost guarantees excellence in every dish. If you need to take someone to a special lunch at a moment's notice, the cooking will never let you down .The rooms are constantly being renovated and glitzed up and convey a casual sense of occasion. People feel flattered to be asked to join you here. Bombay Palace is an international chain. The up side to this is it has extremely high standards.

Nice stop for Fifth Avenue shoppers or midtown execs. I like to "test" Indian restuarants by ordering difficult, variable dishes: Mattar Paneer is a case in point. The peas should be bright green, not army coloured. The paneer should be large, plump, rectangular, soft and taste of rosewater. Bombay Palace's always passes the paneer test, where hardly anyone else does. They sell their own cookbook: a must have.

      Unlike Madjhur Jaffery's and other 'earth toned' flavours,  the Bombay Palace's approach has a brightness and confidence and gourmet swagger, a genuine polish that makes you want to eat these foods every day. We've got three copies, and whenever we go into the hinterlands, the book goes with us. (Want to buy the book?) Go here.

Pricey a la carte and at night, your  best bet is  the glorious (but limited, compared to Diwan's sumptuous lunchtime spread) seven days a week lunch buffet. The good old BP has been in business for ever, and perhaps the only complaints we might have about it are the ever-changing three selections of vegetarian dishes on the daily buffet. They don't always think about how it must feel having a choice of three dishes that are lentils, peas and potatoes, and chick peas: beans, bean, beans! To be fair, they will offer to bring you another dish, but this always embarrasses us. We don’t like to make a fuss. Phone before you go and ask what's on today. If you're lucky it might be mattar or sag paneer, cauliflower, and black dhal, or kofta, or veg jalfrezi. 

Baluchi's (a chain)

If you've got to have an Indian meal right away, you could do worse. The cooking has a harshness to it, and some dishes are too oily.

Two tricks here: 1) Diners are entitled to a free basket of pappadums, but you have to know to ask for them, or you're out of luck. 2) At lunch everything on the menu is 50% off the listed price. This seems a silly practise - why bother going there for dinner? Tips: Paneer Tikka makes a great starter, The veg kurma tastes good, though the sauce is thin and runny; the veg jalfrezi is too sharp. Veg kofta is terrific, and those pappadums are worth fighting for...they're very nice, washed down with a salt lassi.

Please don't waste your time with:
Pretty room, disappointing and, at times,  lukewarm food,  frosty service. The rich people in the Lincoln Center area will think it's swell; they're all on diets, anyway.

Unexceptional food and unfriendly service.  Huge bright room, full of suits.

Bay Leaf
Above average. Nice room. And then our two reviewers went home and were violently sick. 

Jewel in the Crown
A zircon not worth going out of your way for.




Big Apple Goes Veggie


New York Vegetarians are celebrating the arrival of a new hang-out: Veg City Diner. 

It looks like a normal diner. It even almost smells like a normal diner. But there are no disgusting cards pushing Buffalo burgers in the booths, and the rooms don't stink of old grease. That's because these diners serve clean food---vegetarian and also vegan only. You can get Jell-O that isn't gelatin based. They have fries, pot pies, organic eggs and tofu club sandwiches. In other words, normal food...without the meat. Be patient here: the service is wildly erratic: the main dish came first, followed by the salad. Much later, bread arrived. But give them a little time. It's worth a trip just to get Scorned Beef Hash for breakfast. 
55 W. 14th St. at Sixth Ave. 212.490.6266
Open seven days a week.6 AM-1AM


Best American Vegetarian 
Food in Town:

Organic Harvest Cafe

Well, it's a hole in the wall. But it's a light, bright, clean, cheerful , airy little space, a few steps up and opposite the bland, desultory salad bar fare at Bunchberries. There are only three tables here Sit down anyway. The food is fresh and bursting with flavour; you can practically taste the vitamins jumping into you.

If you must eat your vegetables,---and there are always good daily dark greens somewhere on the big menu---they will steam them or jazz them with garlic for you. They char-grill your vegeburgers, tofu, seitan, etc. Our fave is the Big Daddy Seitan Steak Dinner ( $10.50), with mashed potatoes and gravy and veg. Excellent salad dressings and juices are a sure sign that the chef takes great care over every detail of the simple but righteous fare. You can choose from a selection of sides, too, if you prefer to keep things simple: soba noodles, cornbread, brown rice, carmelized onions, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, grilled tempeh, grilled or steamed tofu, garlic bread, etc. Because it's so small, they do a huge business in deliveries to the nearby Citicorp and Lipstick buildings. Time Out and Zagat missed this place...again. Which is a shame on them, because this place has some of the best vegetarian food in town...and none of the stingy portions, cramped conditions or passive-aggressive New Agey 'tude of the uncomfortably metallic and draggy Candle Cafe uptown. You can eat vegan or macrobiotic here too. But we'll take the exquisite, simple Vegetarian Dumplings with ginger shoyu sauce ($5.95) anytime. 

Organic Harvest Cafe 
235 East 53rd Street
 (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) 
New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212 421 6444 Fax: 212 421 5255

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