New York rental crib sheet
So you're new to New York City? Welcome! How are you? How was your trip?
That was us easing you in gently. If you're from some small town where moms chat in the supermarket car park and it's definitely safe to take candy from strangers, prepare for a culture shock. New York isn't like that. At all. Elevator trips are for periods of silent reflection; sidewalks are for typing into cellphones; supermarkets are for trolley-maneuver skills that mean you don't have to say 'Excuse me' to anyone; strangers are for avoiding. So yeah - good luck getting a neighbor to tell you about the best local restaurant or place to get your groceries.
We're not like that though, so we've put together a New York crib sheet for you, to help you settle into your new neighborhood.
Upper East Side
The good: Museum Mile, friendly, laid-back (especially on weekends).
The bad: yappy dogs, heavily perfumed old ladies, young women in spandex, poor transportation links.
Good supermarkets: Fairway (like a food market); Dean and Deluca (expensive, specialist food, good olives).
Good restaurants: Jackson Hole (jukeboxes and burgers); JG Melon (expensive, crowded and snobby, but worth it).
Good coffee: Joe the Art of Coffee (great cappuccino, great staff, small); Little Brown (lots of chocolatey stuff).
Good bar: The Bullpen (sports bar, low-key atmosphere, cheap drinks).
Upper West Side
The good: big fluffy dogs everywhere, beautiful brownstones, happy and smiling families everywhere.
The bad: too many happy and smiling families everywhere, hard to get downtown quickly.
Good supermarkets: Trader Joe's (amazing prices, friendly staff, excellent food); Zabar's (specialist food, pricey but worth it, get the cheese and smoked fish); Fairway (like a food market).
Good restaurants: Jacob's Pickles (great pickles, great chicken 'n' waffles); B Cafe (get the duck sandwich and all the appetizers).
Good coffee: Irving Farm Coffee Roasters (not too busy, order a pour-over if you've got an hour to kill - it takes a while to make).
Good bars: Blondies (sports bar, amazing wings); Bourbon Street (sports bar, rowdy, slutty, BYOF).
The good: The High Line, art galleries in awesome warehousey buildings, pretty cobbley streets of the Meatpacking District, proximity to the rest of Manhattan.
The bad: mostly ugly, busy streets.
Good supermarket: Trader Joe's (amazing prices, friendly staff, excellent food).
Good restaurants: Johnny's Luncheonette (cheap, great sandwiches); Kun Jip (amazing Korean, huge portions, order the casserole or barbecue).
Good coffee: Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Co (crazy busy on a Sunday morning, get the cold brew); Cafe Grumpy (best cappuccino in NYC); Joe the Art of Coffee (second best cappuccino in NYC, friendly staff).
Good bars: Biergarten at The Standard Hotel (open air drinking in summer, toasty enclosed glass in winter); Billymark's (divier than a leap into water), Smithfield (if it's not on one of their TVs, it's not a sport).
West Village/Greenwich Village
The good: villagey and community-like feel, great transport links.
The bad: WV can be quite snobby and GV can get overrun with students; meal options are generally expensive.
Good supermarket: Agata & Valentina (expensive, specialist food); Associated Supermarket (run-of-the-mill, not too pricey for NYC).
Good restaurants: Benny's Burritos (get a frozen margarita, crowded, free nachos); Corner Bistro (famous burger & fries, insanely busy); Johnny's Luncheonette (diner experience, fab sandwiches); La Lanterna di Vittorio (Italian, beautiful patio area, live music in the bar next door).
Good coffee: Grounded (insanely busy, fun vibe); Think Coffee (excellent cold brew, very big).
Good bars: Amelia (intimate, dark, get some food too); McSorley's Ale House (divey, cheap, a bit touristy, fun).
Midtown/Hell's Kitchen/Midtown East
The good: Easy to get anywhere - so it doesn't matter too much what you think of the area.
The bad: Busy, touristy, overpriced.
Good supermarket: Stiles Farmers Market (incredibly cheap, great produce); Gristedes (run-of-the-mill, for anything you can't get at Stiles).
Good restaurants: Sushi Yasuda (pricey but worth it, sit at the sushi bar); Lali Restaurant (insanely cheap and hearty Dominican food).
Good coffee: Gregory's Coffee (looks Starbucksy but with better coffee).
Good bar: Jimmy's Corner (fun and friendly dive bar, relatively tourist-free).
The good: loads of shops, great Union Square market, buzzy atmosphere, Madison Square Park, amazing transport links.
The bad: not much of a neighborhood vibe.
Good supermarket: Garden of Eden Gourmet (great hot/cold buffet, expensive); Trader Joe's (amazing prices, friendly staff, excellent food).
Good restaurants: Grimaldi's (no slices, no reservations, no credit cards, perfect pizza); Eataly (posh indoor market, lots of dining options); 2nd Ave Deli (famous kosher deli - no longer on 2nd Ave).
Good coffee: Birch Coffee (best cold brew in NYC, great "library area" upstairs); Stumptown Coffee Roasters (takeout only, busy, good regular coffee).
Good bars: Raines Law Room ("hidden" speakeasy, creative cocktails, dark); Shorty's (sports bar, get the cheesesteak).
Lower East Side
The good: great food and drink choices, exciting, very 'nighttimey' (which could be good or bad, really).
The bad: monotonous gray buildings, bit dull during the day.
Good supermarket: Key Food (huge choice, cheap).
Good restaurants: Zucco Le French Diner (tiny, French, no ketchup, amazing baguette sandwiches); Remedy Diner (open 24/7, don't go at 3am on a Saturday, worst toilets, best Can sandwiches).
Good coffee: Cafe Grumpy (best cappuccino in NYC); Atlas Cafe (OK coffee but fun decor and nice staff).
Good bars: Welcome to the Johnsons (dive bar, crazy cheap, friendly once past the bouncers); The National Underground (good happy hours, live music every night).
The good: real community feel, heaps of bars and restaurants (with loads of budget options); proximity to the rest of Manhattan.
The bad: lots of nighttime noise.
Good supermarket: Key Food (huge choice, cheap).
Good restaurants: Lil' Frankies (exposed brick, candle light, etc., great pizza); Hane Sushi (top end of EV, huge and fresh sushi rolls).
Good coffee: Everyman Espresso (two locations in the EV; traditionally small sizes); Mud Spot (fun and friendly, lots of food options too, best regular cup of coffee in NYC); Ost Cafe (European feel, good cappuccino, classical music).
Good bars: The Ugly Kitchen (props for the inventive and potent cocktails); Belgian Room (generous happy hour, great selection of beers on tap, good wine choice).
The good: great park with lots going on, fun shops and bars, everyone's happy and charming.
The bad: smug hipsters, organic overload, occasionally nightmarish trains.
Good supermarket: Khims Millennium Market IV (open 24/7, loads of organic stuff).
Good restaurants: Chimu (Peruvian, get the ceviche to start); Juniper (tiny and cute, get the truffle burger).
Good coffee: Blue Bottle coffee (standing room only, roast their own beans on the premises); The West (loads of tables, big outdoor area, good for day or night).
Good bar: Pete's Candy Store (tiny, jolly, live music, spelling bees, quiz-offs, readings...).
The good: leafy and pretty, more spacious than Manhattan, good transport links.
The bad: can feel a bit left out if you prefer Manhattan, lots of overly smug families
Good supermarket: Key Food (huge choice, cheap)
Good restaurants: Kaz An Nou (cute, French-Caribbean, BYOB); Pur Bird (amazing roast chicken, better for takeout); Bogota (Latin-American/Colombian, super-friendly servers).
Good coffee: Cafe Grumpy (best cappuccinos in NYC); Gorilla Coffee (great cappuccinos, fun branding, awesome music); Red Horse (cool music, reasonable coffee).
Good bars: Tea Lounge (fun atmosphere, generous happy hour, good coffee place at daytime); Bar 4 (year-round fairy lights, happy servers, pub-like and not too loud).
The good: quiet, cool, laid-back.
The bad: a bit dull on evenings and weekends (most places are closed), easy to get lost due to weird street layout.
Good supermarket: Whole Foods (relatively pricey but decent selection); Food Emporium (run-of-the-mill).
Good restaurants: Saluggi's (inventive, huge pizzas); Sophie's Cuban Cuisine (fast and tasty, get the fried pork sandwich, diner decor).
Good coffee: La Colombe (minimalist with lots of empty space, good cappuccino).
Good bars: B Flat (trendy jazz bar, inventive drinks); Brandy Library (quiet, classy, get a tasting flight).