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Valentine’s Day

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Neighborhood News, 07/01/2013

Newsstands for the Ages

Tough times for newsstands, right?  While there is no official census, we have seen more than a few newsstand closures over the last couple of years.  But we are convinced that those remaining are the keepers, the ones that will survive because they are geniuses at identifying and stocking the titles that could never be replicated digitally.

So when you must find a copy of Uppercase or Vogue Japan, here are a few suggestions.

Handy

If you are staying at the hotel and need a magazine fix of titles beyond the top 50, where to go?  Bodegas usually stock a few, and there are several places on Seventh Avenue in the 20s, but why not hop on the High Line, head south, and enjoy the pleasant West Village ambiance where both Casa Magazines and World News & Smoke Shop are found within the same block?  (And, in case you are wondering, World News & Smoke Shop does indeed have plenty of smoking supplies.)
World News & Smoke Shop
54 Eighth Ave. (at Horatio)

 

Casa Magazines
22 Eighth Avenue
(212) 645-1197

 

Grand

Massive and well-staffed, the Hudson News at Grand Central stocks 3,000 titles, so you are likely to find something to pass the time, be it on a train or while waiting for your date to join you for drinks at The (spectacular) Campbell Apartment, conveniently located up the steps on the Vanderbilt side of GC.

Hudson News

Grand Central Terminal, Main Floor
(212) 697-1302

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Neighborhood Notes, 04/15/2013

Made in Chelsea

There has been ample press on the renaissance in American manufacturing. In New York City, Brooklyn gets a lot of attention for rampant artisanal manufacturing.  But don’t count Chelsea out. While many workshops have been edged out by art galleries, it is still possible to shop super local.

The Good Home Company

Photo courtesy of The Good Home

The Good Home Company closed its retail store, but the company still calls Chelsea HQ, and you can find the Company’s fragrant home products (scented clothespins!) at Foragers on Eighth Avenue. Lavender is always a dependable choice, but don’t miss Summer House and Beach Days.

Foragers City Grocer
300 West 22nd (at Eighth Ave)
(212) 243-8888
www.foragerscitygrocer.com

Les Toiles du Soleil

Photo courtesy of Les Toiles Du Soleil

Les Toiles du Soleil is a travel warp to the French Riviera. Lined with bolts of vivid French striped fabrics, this tiny boutique stocks home furnishings, totes, iPad covers, and accessories for your home. Almost anything can be custom made at the store, except for espadrilles, which are only made in France. And you can literally glimpse manufacturing in action, as Les Toiles’ seamstress creates masterpieces behind the wide wooden counter.

Les Toiles du Soleil
261 West 19th St. (between 7th & 8th Aves)
(212) 229-4730
www.lestoilesdusoleilnyc.com

Three Tarts

Photo courtesy of Three Tarts

This bakery and tart shop offers some of the best sweets in Chelsea, and their house specialty is—mmm-marshmallows! Vanilla, yes, but try the passion fruit or the yuzu for something off the beaten path.

Three Tarts
164 Ninth Avenue (at 20th St.)
(212) 462-4392
www.3tarts.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 04/01/2013

Ninth Avenue Rising

For a decade or two, Eighth Avenue was Chelsea’s Main Street. But there’s a new kid in town: Ninth Avenue is giving Eighth Avenue a run for its money.

Eighth Avenue is still the utilitarian home of groceries, drug stores, shoe repair shops, pizza joints and strategically spaced Starbucks, and many locals do their everyday shopping along its sidewalks. But Ninth Avenue is making a claim as a cool-kids cultural hub, no doubt thanks to the influx of visitors pouring into West Chelsea to partake of the High Line, the art galleries, and the burgeoning Chelsea Market.

Ninth Avenue’s renaissance began about a decade ago, when a handful of French shops & cafes staked a Little France sort of claim on the blocks in the low 20s (some of those, like Le Bergamote & La Grainne, still exist, albeit in new forms). Other trendsetters like 192 Books, Three Tarts, and Bombay Talkie followed.

What’s happening now? A stampede of sorts! Below, a few of the latest newcomers.

Photo courtesy of Pastai

Pastai, a new artisan pasta joint, offers fresh pasta all day.

200 Ninth Avenue (between 21st & 22nd Streets)
www.pastainyc.com

The Meatball Shop opens a new branch, serving up its now-famous fare. Check the website for daily specials (note that the day-after-Easter special was “Bunny Balls.”)

162 Ninth Ave. (between 22nd & 23rd Sts.)
www.themeatballshop.com

Cull & Pistol, a new oyster bar from the people who brought you the ever-popular Lobster Place, is coming soon to Chelsea Market.  If you know how to shuck oysters, they are hiring.

75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th & 16th Sts)
www.thelobsterplace.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 03/15/2013

A Field Guide to Pizza

What could be more quintessentially New York than grabbing a slice? You can argue over what makes the pizza so good here in the city—is it the water or the ambiance?—but you simply can’t argue that it tastes amazing, whether for a proper sit-down meal or a slice-on-the-run after a night of clubbing.

Here is a rundown of Chelsea’s pizza hotspots.

SLICES

Pizza Suprema. Looks like every other slice shop (ok, maybe cleaner), but the crust is marvelously crisp all the way through.

New York Pizza Suprema
413 Eighth Avenue (at 31st Street)
212.594.8939
www.nypizzasuprema.com

Rocco’s. Dependable and friendly.

Rocco’s Pizza Joint
162 Seventh Ave. (between 19th & 20th Sts.)
(212) 633-9995
www.roccospizzany.com

OLD SCHOOL

Patsy’s. Descendant of one of the original coal-fired pizzerias that planted the pizza flag in NYC in the early 20th century.

Patsy’s
318 West 23rd (between 8thh & 9th Aves.)
(646) 486-7400
www.patsyspizzeria.us

Don Giovanni. Stop in for pizza or pasta.  West Chelsea locals order pizza delivery from here, not from Domino’s.

Don Giovanni
214 Tenth Avenue (between 22nd & 23rd Sts.)
(212) 242-9054
www.dongiovanni-ny.com

NEW SCHOOL

Donatella. Neapolitan-style thin pizza in wood-burning oven (pictured). Secret passageway to D Bar on 19th St.

Donatella
184 Eighth Ave. (between 19th & 20th Sts.)
(212) 493-5150
www.donatellanyc.com

Ovest. Right across from the Americano. Try the classic Bufalo pizza.  Fried artichokes also worthy of attention.

Ovest Pizzoteca
513 W. 27th St. (btwn. 10th & 11th Aves.)
(212) 967-4392
www.ovestnyc.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 3/01/2015

The Brooklyn-ness of Brooklyn

All sorts of things are going on in the galleries and theaters not far from the Americano (see “Culture”), but if you take one “field trip” during your visit to NYC, make it Brooklyn.

Why?  Because Brooklyn is weird.  Yes, it now has a professional basketball team and an increasing number of chain stores, but it also has a constantly renewing collection of eccentrics that keep the borough true to itself.

Here are a few places that make the locals roll their eyes and mutter, “Only in Brooklyn.”

Step Aside, Hellman’s

Photo courtesy of Empire Mayonnaise

Empire Mayonnaise is—get this—a store that only sells mayonnaise.  Exotically flavored artisanal mayonnaise, mind you, but mayonnaise nonetheless. The NYC Mix includes Empire’s first three flavors from opening day in 2011: Smoked Paprika, Black Garlic, and Lime Pickle ($20 for three 4 oz. jars). Empire’s recommendation: mix them all up for the ultimate French fry dipping sauce.

If that doesn’t make you trade in the mustard for some mayo, maybe these flavors will: Bacon ($9), Blue Cheese ($7), and Red Chili ($7).

Empire Mayonnaise

564 Vanderbilt Ave. (between Dean & Bergen St.)
(718) 636-2069
www.empiremayo.com

Above the Fold

Photo courtesy of Taro's Origami

With a life-size origami husky dog and giant golden origami dragon staring out from the second-story store front window, Taro’s Origami Studio promises to be a magical place. Taro’s offers drop-in visits and “try out corners” for those intrigued by this curious workshop, as well as classes, summer camp, and party space rentals. Kids (and adults) of all ages can scan a wall full of colored paper and learn how to fold from personal tablets installed with software that demonstrates step-by-step folding techniques. After you choose what you want to make and learn how to fold it, you can decorate your origami creation with stickers, stamps, and markers.

$10 for 30 minutes and unlimited paper.

Taro’s Origami Studio

95 7th Ave., second floor (between Union & President St.)
(718) 360-5435
www.tarosorigami.com

The Best of Both Worlds

Photo courtesy of Take Root

Take Root may be the highest-concentrated dose of Brooklyn you can fit into one space. This restaurant serves seasonal, hand-crafted local food, and, er, yoga classes. Yep, this is two of the best Brooklyn clichés in one. Come for one of many different styles of yoga workshops during the week and stay for dinner, and on weekend nights experience the tasting table dinners. The ever-changing menu ($85/per person) currently serves dishes like Goat’s Milk Ricotta Tortellini with Red Beet Vinaigrette and Foie Gras Butter and Olive Oil Cake with Chocolate, Grapefruit, Yogurt, and Puffed Rice.

Take Root

187 Sackett St. (between Hicks & Henry St.)
(347) 227-7116
take-root.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 2/15/2013

Pastie Parties

A burlesque show is the perfect date: sexy, entertaining, and daring. Show your companion you’re not worried about the competition–au contraire, you love it! These ladies (and gents!) may know how to wiggle, but you’ll be watching them for their, ahem, personalities.

Burlesque Dance Party

Photo courtesy of nycgrindhouse.com

Shaken & Stirred is a night-long burlesque extravaganza, with three sets at 10:30, 11:30, and 12:30 (and sometimes a bonus set at 1:30 for the late-partiers). But don’t take your seat assuming you’ll be a quiet spectator taking in a raunchy debacle, because you will be part of it.

Prepare yourself for a wild night: this is a dance party, hosted by the famously vivacious Miss Runaround Sue, and with DJ Jess spinning new wave, disco, and rock n’ roll. And the shows are free, so your money goes towards more drinks (on top of the free shots that are doled out after select sets).

The Delancey

168 Delancey St. (between Clinton & Attorney)
(212) 254-9920
www.sugarshackburlesque.com

A Spanking Good Time

Photo courtesy of Paper & String

“Spanking the Lower East Side” is hostess Calamity Chang’s self-described “fetish-y and S&M-y”burlesque show extraordinaire. The fifties pin-up themed bar, Nurse Bettie, is intimate (read: tiny), so get there early to claim your spot near the stage. The show teases you with Go Go dancing (tips accepted in bustiers and panty lines), and then finally gives you what you’ve been waiting for: the sexy/cheeky performances by the Southern belle Cherry Brown and the Asian Sexsation herself, Miss Calamity Chang (pictured).

Nurse Bettie

106 Norfolk St. (between Rivington & Delancey)
(917) 434-9072
nursebettie.com

Something in the Air?

Photo courtesy of Slipper Room

The Slipper Room should be described as a vaudeville venue rather than a burlesque venue, because the performances range from dance to comedy to aerial acrobatics to Tigger!, the Original Godfather of Boylesk. You can ooh and aah at him and other tantalizing characters like professional hula-hooper Pinkie Special and “Nerdlesque” performar Dangrr Doll at The Slipper Room Show every Friday night at 10pm ($15).

The Slipper Room

167 Orchard St. (between Orchard & Allen)
(212) 253-7246
www.slipperroom.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 02/01/2013

Chocoholic-a-Thon

Ah, February. Would we rather be lounging by the pool on the roof of the Americano? Sure. But until summer returns, we are going to embrace the whole winter thing. To wit: we keep a list handy of the best hot chocolate in the city so we are never more than a few blocks from liquid chocolate goodness.

Stick Shift

Photo courtesy of Popbar

Popbar is known for its delicious gelato-based popsicles, but in twenty-degree weather cold treats are the last thing on our minds. But it turns out that Popbar offers another stick-based treat: a block of chocolate, plus a cup of steamed milk, so you have total control over the level of chocolate in your hot cocoa ($3.50).

Popbar

5 Carmine St (at Bleecker St.)
(212) 255-4874
pop-bar.com

Lonely Chocolate Seeks Flavorful Companion

Photo courtesy of City Bakery

February is the gloomiest month, but it’s also the 21st Annual Hot Chocolate Festival of Flavors at The City Bakery. Each day of the month brings a brand new hot chocolate flavor, from Lemon to Spicy Caramel to Ginger ($5). The hot chocolate is thick and crazy good—kind of like falling into the vat at the chocolate factory.

The City Bakery

3 W. 18th St.
(212) 366-1414
thecitybakery.com

Hot Chocolate, All Grown Up

Photo courtesy of Cocoa Bar

Cocoa Bar is the 24-hour hang out spot for chocolate lovers: coffee bar by day, bar by night, chocolate all the time. Read a book and sip on your choice of mint, dark, white, cinnamon, or spicy hotchocolate ($4.59), or the special Funky Monkey banana flavored hot chocolate ($4.82). If it’s evening, try the cocktail version, aka French HotChocolate: dark hot chocolate with Graham’s Tawny  Port and chocolate shavings around the rim ($12).

Cocoa Bar

21 Clinton St. (between Houston & Stanton)
(212) 677-7417
cocoabarnyc.com

Hot Not-Chocolate

Photo courtesy of Serious Eats

OK, we get it: there are those who find hot chocolate too rich, sweet, or, dare we say, chocolatey. For those less chocolate-obsessed than we are, the white-chocolate based Bianca hot cocoa ($5) at Vosges Haute Chocolat will toy with your taste buds without torturing them. Scented with lavender flowers and a hint of Meyer lemon for a citrus after-taste, this vanilla-flavored white chocolate drink is subtle and just the right amount of sweet.

Vosges Haute Chocolat

132 Spring St. (between Wooster & Greene)
(212) 625-2929
vosgeschocolate.com

Double Delicioso

Photo courtesy of DNAinfo

At Bar Jamon, you don’t drink the hot chocolate–you drench cinnamon-sugar coated churros in the thick, fudge-like syrup. This traditional Spanish-style hot chocolate is the richest of the rich, and you’ll be sopping up every last drop.

Bar Jamon

125 E. 17th St. (between Irving Pl. & 3rd Ave.)
(212) 253-2773
casamononyc.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 1/15/2013

Up and at ‘Em!

When days are short, coffee seems more critical than ever.  Here is our rundown on the best spots in the neighborhood to grab a cup when you are on the go.

Best for a Conversation

Café Grumpy is a descendant of coffeehouses in Europe that served as informal clubs for regulars. While the baristas turn out plenty of to-go cups, just as many people grab a seat with a friend in the newly expanded space and carry on civilized conversation. Afternoons, the cafe is jammed, and there is nary a computer in sight: Grumpy has no wi-fi and asks patrons to leave their laptops at home.

Grumpy roasts its own in Brooklyn, and offers pastries from its own bakery on the Lower East Side.

Café Grumpy
224 West 20th Street (between 7th & 8th Aves.)
(212) 255-5511
www.cafegrumpy.com

Best for Coffee Equipment

Joe the Art of Coffee was one of the early players on the NYC coffee scene and recently expanded to Philadelphia. The company, operated by siblings Jonathan and Gretchen Rubinstein, opened a headquarters-cum-“pro shop” location on West 22nd Street which is the place to go for gear the pros use.

Joe Pro
131 West 21st Street (between 6th & 7th Aves.)
(212) 924-7400
www.joetheartofcoffee.com

Best Excuse to Eat Really Yummy Cookies

Empire Cake makes over-the-top cakes, but they are also Eight Avenue’s best kept coffee secret. While others stand in line at the major chain a block away, insiders stop by Empire for light-roast small-batch coffee, a freshly baked scone, and, when feeling naughty, a cookie or twinkie-like concoction from the pastry case.

Empire Cake
112 Eighth Avenue (between 15th & 16th Sts.)
(212) 242-5858
www.empirecake.com

Best Facsimile of Brooklyn or, um, Tokyo

Photo courtesy of Blue Bottle Coffee

If you want to see the artisanal food movement in action without leaving the island of Manhattan, stop by Blue Bottle. Starting at 11 each day, you can climb the stairs to the Japanese-style siphon bar, where single source coffees are prepared with lots of theatrics.

Blue Bottle Coffee
450 W. 15th St. (between 9th & 10th Aves.)
www.bluebottlecoffee.net

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Neighborhood Notes, 1/1/2013

Ice Ice, Baby!

Happy New Year. We are off to a cold start, and what better way to enjoy the city in winter than a turn or two around the ice? Here is everything you need to know about New York City’s outdoor skating rinks. Don’t forget to warm up afterwards with a little hot cocoa.

Gr8 Place to Sk8


Pressed for time? Do your skating and your banking at CitiPond! Ok, just kidding about the banking part, but the Pond does have a lot to offer: you can get your skates sharpened ($20), rent skates ($14), take a lesson (varies), or just skate (free). And when you run out of steam, warm up under outdoor heaters with hot chocolate on the adjacent Celsius terrace.

CitiPond at Bryant Park

Between 40th & 42nd St., 5th Ave. & 6th Ave.
October 26, 2012 – March 3, 2013, Sun.-Thurs. 8am-10pm; Fri. & Sat. 8am-midnight
http://www.bryantpark.org/things-to-do/pond.html

A Winter’s Tale

If there is a classic New York place to skate, it is Wollman Rink. In the middle of Central Park, with the city rising all around you, it’s an ice oasis. The rink, which is a five-minute walk from the south entrance of the park at West 59th Street & Sixth Avenue, offers lessons for all levels, including figure skating, synchronized skating, and hockey. See admission fees below. Skate rental is $7, and Wollman is cash only.

Wollman Rink at Central Park

Five-minute walk from the south entrance of W. 59th Street and 6th Avenue
Mon. & Tues. 10am-2:30pm; Wed. & Thurs. 10am-10pm; Fri. & Sat. 10am-11pm; Sun. 10am-9pm
Adults: $11 Mon.-Thurs.; $17 Fri-Sun
Children: $6 Mon.-Sun.
Seniors: $5 Mon.-Thurs.; $9 Fri.-Sun.
http://www.centralpark.com/guide/attractions/wollman-rink.html

Play N(ice)

Lasker Rink, another Central Park offering, is where the serious skaters hang out. Lasker hosts both youth and adult hockey leagues, but in between games, the public is welcome to enjoy the rink (see hours below). Skate rental is $6.

Lasker Ice Skating Rink at Central Park

Entrance just south of park entrance at 110th St. & Lenox Av.
Open Friday, November 4, 2011 through Sunday, March 18, 2012.
Mon. 10am-3:45pm; Tues. 10am-3:30pm, 8pm-10pm; Wed. & Thurs. 10am-3:45pm; Fri. 10am-5:15pm, 7pm-11pm; Sat. 1pm-11pm; Sun. 12:30pm-4:30pm
Adults: $7.00
Seniors (60 & older): $2.25
Children (12 & under): $4.00
http://www.laskerrink.com/

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Neighborhood Notes, 12/15/2012

New York at Night

New York is not a summer city. Yes, New York has lovely summer moments, when the humidity lifts, the air is crystal clear, and the traffic is sufficiently calmed to allow audible conversation while seated at an outdoor table. But July and August are never New York at its New Yorkiest—indeed, many of the city’s residents flee at that time of year, taking at least some of the city’s energy with them.

So much of New York life takes place indoors that one might argue fall and winter are the times of year that expose the city’s soul. New York may be at its best at dusk on a late fall eve, when it is just dark enough for the interiors of stores and restaurants to reveal the creative activity, commerce-driven buzz, and sheer drama that takes place within.  Below, the Meatpacking District on a December evening.  (It is mere blocks from the hotel, so consider creating your own early evening tableau.)

Ninth Avenue at Dusk

 

Vitra, design, 29 Ninth Avenue

Manahatta, restaurant & bar, Gansevoort St.

Apple Store, 9th Ave. & 14th St.

Pastis, restaurant, 9 Ninth Avenue

Warby Parker pop-up store, 819 Washington St.

Hector’s, 44 Little West 12th St.

 

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Neighborhood Notes, 12/1/2012

NEIGHBORHOOD

For the last few years, most of Chelsea’s retail offerings have been utilitarian (groceries and hair salons) and located along the neighborhood’s most central main drags (7th & 8th Avenues).  In West Chelsea, there are scattered pockets of retail joy (Chelsea Market, Ninth Avenue between 19th & 23rd), but most of the action has been elsewhere.

That seems to be changing: Tenth Avenue has started to roar with retail innovation, just in time for holiday shopping.  Here are a few new offerings:

Shopping in Narrative Form

Story began its existence about a year ago as a “startup store,” featuring products made by local startups like Quirky & Joor.  Its hook was that the curtain would go down every 4-6 weeks and, when lifted, would reveal a new theme and new merchandise within the store.

One year in, Story has kept the theme rotation but, as near as we can tell, lost the startup focus. This month’s theme is “Home for the Holidays,” and the “stage” is set up as a series of “rooms” bursting with merchandise for everyone on your holiday shopping list. A digital fire burns on a big screen to your right as you enter, setting a cozy tone as you shop for Her. Items for Him are in the back (and pictured above).  Great stuff for kids, too, and a well-stocked “Everyone” section in the dining room as well.

Story

144 Tenth Avenue (at 19th St.)

(212) 242-4853

www.astartupstore.com

Paris on the Hudson

Assuming you are not furnishing a house (in which case Muleh is an excellent stop for unusual lighting and accent pieces), visit Muleh to shop for a sophisticated woman in your life. Here, let’s get the obligatory listing of brands over with: Vivienne Westwood, 3.1 Philip Lim, Hache, and Maline Berger. But what drives the collection at Muleh is an eye for well-structured clothing with subtle but surprising features¾a classic collar made from an unusual fabric, a knife-pleat skirt with a contrasting loose kick-pleat, slim trousers in a bold silk. Muleh is the type of refined boutique one might find on a side street in Paris. Lucky us, here in Chelsea.

Muleh

500 West 22nd Street (at 10th Ave.)

(212) 525-0220

www.muleh.com

Give Good

Support women-owned businesses by shopping at Give Good on December 1st.  The event showcases thirty-five women-owned vendors with holiday-ready wares including handbags, ornaments, scarves, and baskets.  11a-8p. Additional details via link below.

Give Good

Starrett-Lehigh Building

601 West 26th Street (between 10th & 11th Aves)

www.givegoodmarket.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 11/15/2012

We Are Back

Mostly, that is. Our neighborhood, Chelsea, was hit hard by Sandy the Superstorm. Many businesses west of Tenth Avenue have finished bailing and pumping and drying out but are still replacing damaged equipment and filling out insurance forms. We hope you will visit the ones that are open and cheer them on. Also, you can help the art-related businesses in particular by joining us for cocktails in the hotel on Friday, November 16.  Details here.

Thanksgiving, Before and After

Will you celebrate Thanksgiving in NYC? If you are cooking, bravo! If you are dining out or have been invited to feast with friends or family, you may want to consider a few of these activities for burning a few calories before or after the big meal.

Walk the Walk

Photo courtesy of Paper & String

The High Line, NYC’s elevated park, draws about 3 million visitors each year.  Fortunately, they do not all appear on the same day, making the park a perfect venue for a pleasant stroll replete with ample people-watching and a fair amount of flora.  The High Line is only about a mile in length, so consider starting at one end and making a round trip (two miles!) to get the blood really moving.

To make your pedometer really buzz, walk from the Americano to the tip of Manhattan along Hudson River Park, located along the westernmost edge of the island. By the time you reach Battery Park, you will have logged about three miles and captured some great views of downtown along the way.

 

The High Line

Enter at Tenth Avenue at 26th St.

(212) 206-9922

www.thehighline.org

 

Hudson River Park

Enter at 23rd Street & the West Side Highway

www.hudsonriverpark.org

(212) 255-5051

 

Ice, Ice, Baby

It may be crowded, but that’s part of the experience. Skating at the Pond at Bryant Park (now known as “CitiPond” thanks to its sponsor, Citibank) is becoming as classic a New York experience as skating in Rockefeller Center. Skating is free, and skate rental is $14.
Bryant Park

42d St. & Avenue of the Americas

(212) 661-6640

www.bryantpark.org

Runtime


There is much to be said for checking the box on exercise early in the day, and this may be doubly true on a holiday when spending time with others is at a premium. City Running Tours hosts an early morning run on Thanksgiving¾and gives a tour of the West Village along the way. The fun gets started at 7am. Preregistration is preferred but one can also register at the meeting spot.

City Running Tours

Meet at the Arch at Washington Square Park

(877) 415-0058

www.cityrunningtours.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 11/01/2012

Rebuilding

Ordinarily, this space is devoted to letting all Americanos know about the splendid goings-on of the neighborhood surrounding the hotel.  Of course, as your correspondent posts this, some very un-splendid things have taken place.  Sandy was particularly hard on Chelsea: she filled basements with water and knocked out the power for a disconcertingly long time.

Should you wish to pay a kindness to the Americano’s neighborhood in the aftermath of Sandy, you may want to visit some of the valiant small businesses that have pumped basements dry, tossed ruined merchandise and food, worked by flashlight, and managed to greet customers with a smile when the lights finally went on.  Here are a few of our nearby favorites.

One of a Kind


Warning: Do not enter unless you have time to spare.

What: There is no other store like Printed Matter. A non-profit dedicated to books by artists (not about artists—think about it) Printed Matter has also has original zines, T-shirts, limited edition monographs, flip books, handmade oddities by big and small names alike, rare and out-out-print books, and works on the printed page that will please both collectors and the curious.

Tip: If you are looking for a particular, obscure title, search the Printed Matter online database, which is updated regularly. But always stop into the store. You will never fail to be delighted and surprised at what you find.

Factoid: Started by Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, Edit DeAk, and other art world heavyweights in the 1970s, Printed Matter also consults to artists and libraries. It also originated the annual NY Art Book Fair as a way of keeping NYC at the bull’s eye of the art book-publishing scene.

Printed Matter
195 Tenth Avenue between 21st & 22nd Sts.
(212) 925-0325
www.printedmatter.org

Sweet Tarts

 

 

Three Tarts offers some of the best treats in Chelsea.  Meticulously crafted, the bakery’s petit fours, mini-tarts, tiny parfaits, and brownies are desserts for design lovers. The bakery also makes marshmallows from scratch in flavors like rosemary-chocolate, cinnamon, and mango—a lightweight gift to throw in one’s carry-on bag as colder weather/hot-cocoa season looms.

Three Tarts puts a spin on seasonal drinks each year.  In summer, each week brings a new flavor of lemonade (Juniper Fizz, anyone?); in winter, it’s the same for hot chocolate (Orange Spice is quite nice).
Finally, Three Tarts has great little gifts: clever coffee mugs, a book about the High Line, sexy aprons, and New York-themed merchandise for the little ones.

Three Tarts
164 Ninth Avenue (at the corner of 20th St.)
(212) 462-4392
www.3tarts.com

Seeing Stripes

 

Les Toiles du Soleil is a travel warp to the French Riviera. Lined with bolts of vivid French striped fabrics, this tiny boutique stocks custom home furnishings, totes, and accessories for your home.

The company began as an espadrille fabric factory 150 years ago in southern France. Popularity grew, and the factory was eventually sold in the 1990s to the Quinta family, who now offers a range of products made from this cheerful, yet highly durable cotton. Almost anything can be custom made at the store, except the original espadrilles, which are only made in France.

New York now houses one of the three boutiques worldwide, offering local shoppers a first-hand look at this “cloth of the sun.” Great small gifts include notebooks, iPad covers, aprons, or oven mitts or customized pillows that will brighten any sofa.

Les Toiles du Soleil
261 West 19th Street (between 7th & 8th Aves.)
(212) 229-4730
www.lestoilesdusoleil.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 10/15/12

Tricks and Treats, New York-Style

For denizens of New York City, there is a long list of questions asked by curious visitors that one learns to field.  How do you do your grocery shopping without a car?  How can your dog stand to be cooped up in your apartment all day?  How can you afford paying that much rent?

October’s question is often, Where do children trick or treat in New York City?  As it turns out, Halloween is quite delightful in the city, for kids and grown-ups.  A quick tour below.

Sca-a-a-ry!

Let’s dispense first with the question of trick-or-treating for children.  While it is true that certain children in this city troll for treats within the sanitized hallways of large apartment buildings, in Chelsea, the neighborhood in which the Americano is located, the locals do things right.

First, two brownstone blocks in West Chelsea organize a fabulous, if crowded, trick-or-treat extravaganza for the kiddies.  Children assemble in C.C. Moore Park at dusk to compare costumes and enjoy apple cider and doughnuts.  Then they head around the corner to collect treats at ghostly old homes.

One frequent attendee tells us, “People decorate their brownstones in a really over-the-top way…One guy paints his face white every year and spends the evening in a coffin propped against his stoop.  He ‘wakes up’ and scares the tinies every few minutes.”

Another sure bet: Chelsea Market, which goes all out every year on spooky décor and offers indoor refuge when cold or rain strike on October 31.

C.C. Moore Park
Tenth Avenue between 21st & 22nd Sts.
No website

Chelsea Market
75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th & 16th Sts.)
www.chelseamarket.com
Hollyween at the Hotel

Photo courtesy of Hotel Americano

There is no question that the city holds more Halloween treats for adults than children.  Just don’t tell the kiddies and it will all be fine.

If you are staying at the hotel on October 31, lucky you – you need not leave the premises to get your treats.  The Americano has a special prix fixe dinner menu, and an afterparty in the Bar Americano and El Privado with DJ Coleman Feltes.  Attire is “cinematic,” so choose your favorite Hollywood decade for inspiration.

Hotel Americano
518 West 27th Street (between 10th & 11th Aves.)
(212) 216-0000
www.hotel-americano.com

I Love a Parade

Hard to say which is more fun: watching the NYC Halloween Parade or marching in it.  The parade consists of music, dancers, artists, and more campy drama than you have ever seen in one place.  The costumed line up on Sixth Avenue between Canal and Spring Streets between 6:30 and 8:30p in preparation for the big surge northward.

More details here: www.halloweennyc.com/parade

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10% Off A Sexy Bistro in Chelsea

In honor of the Affordable Art Fair this weekend (10/4-10/7), chic Bistro la Promenade in Chelsea is offering 10% off to any Hotel Americano Affordable Art Fair clients and hotel guests. Dig into a succulent Steak Frites accompanied by rosemary-dusted fries or the Whole Branzino with sautéed spinach and lemon olive oil.

Photo courtesy of La Promenade

You may make a reservation on Opentable (http://www.opentable.com/bistro-la-promenade) or by phone. To receive the discount, write “Americano” in the guest notes on Opentable, or mention “Americano” when making your reservation by phone.

Bistro la Promenade
461 W. 23rd St. (nr. 10th Ave.)
(212) 255-7400
www.lapromenadenyc.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 10/01/12

Happy Days
Some may find the end of summer a bit depressing, but we hope that you greet the arrival of autumnwith spirits lifted. The city is humming with activity, the local harvest makes the chefs go crazy, and thecrisp weather means getting out of doors is a pleasure. Really, what is not to like?
Herewith, a few nearby experiences to inspire happiness.

Thinking Happy

The Rubin Museum of Art is exploring happiness through a series of conversations that matchfamous creative personalities with philosophers, psychotherapists, and scientists. JulianneMoore, Michael C. Hall and Neil LaBute (among others) converse with happiness expertsthroughout the fall.
Upcoming events:
Artist Josh Melnick in Conversation with Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness
Salzberg wrote of Melnick’s portraits of train commuters, “The Buddha said that all beings want tobe happy. And he said that we are all vulnerable to loss, to change. I sensed the truth of that, watchingthose unpretentious faces, and felt how close we all actually are, and how close we should rightly feel.”Wednesday, October 3, 7 PM, $25
Author Sheila Heti in Conversation with Aimee Mullins, athlete, actress and model
Mullins was the first double amputee to compete in NCAA Division 1 track & field, and she had a key role asthe Leopard Queen in Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle. Look for an interesting conversation with Heti, whowrites novels as well as books of “conversational philosophy.”Wednesday October 10, 2012, 7:00p, $20
The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street (at Seventh Ave)
(212) 620-5000
A Perfect Bakery Breakfast
Well, for starters, there is more than one perfect breakfast to be found in the Americano’s dining room.Good chilaquiles, for instance, are nigh on impossible to find elsewhere in the city.But if you must wander off in the morning, do not miss the most excellent bakery this side of Paris. Hereis our recipe for a perfect bakery breakfast:1. A chunk of just-baked baguette, created by master baker Jim Lahey, neatly and recently slicedlengthwise, with just a bit of butter and jam on the side.2. Zen-like surroundings with rustic wood paneling, flowers, and a large oven constantly in use.3. Cappuccino, small, in which the milk does not overpower the coffee.4. Attentive service by friendly counter folk.5. Not too many people. And low voices. It’s still early.
The most important ingredient, of course, is #1. There’s bread and then there’s bread. And then thereis Sullivan Street Bakery: guaranteed happiness.
Sullivan Street Bakery
236 Ninth Avenue (between 24th & 25th Sts.)
(212) 929-5900
www.sullivanstreetbakery.com
Birds-Eye View
What else to inspire happiness? Well, happy hour, of course! And, truly, on a crisp October evening,there is no finer spot for cocktails than the roof of the Hotel Americano.

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Neighborhood Notes, 09/15/12

Fashion Passion

Whether you were in town for Fashion Week or not, it is difficult not to catch the fashion bug when visiting NYC.  To take advantage of the city’s fashion wealth within the vicinity of the Americano requires nothing more than a short walk and a healthy wallet.

Enter the High Line just south of the hotel on 26th Street.  Exit the High Line on 14th Street and wander in and around the Meatpacking District and the West Village.  We provide the following list of smashingly good fashion for you to peruse before you go:

Jeffrey

The store that started it all.  Jeffrey Kalinsky was the Meatpacking District pioneer, launching a store on 14th Street in 1999. It made for an adventure for the chauffeur-driven crowd, who braved the slaughterhouse stench to check out Jeffrey’s collection of very high-end designer apparel and footwear.

Jeffrey
449 West 14th Street
(212) 206-1272
www.jeffreynewyork.com

Ten Thousand Things
Can jewelry make you calm? The simplicity of the designs at TTT defy trends and soothe the soul. Not for the bling lover.

Ten Thousand Things
423 West 14th Street
(212) 352-1333
www.tenthousandthingsnyc.com

Marni
Marni is tucked inside a glassy triangle on Gansevoort.  The store includes slightly less expensive Marni Edition as well as the Marni line.

Marni
1 Gansevoort Street
(646) 532-6015
www.marni.com

Trina Turk
This Jonathan Adler-designed retail store is the perfect setting for Trina Turk’s designs, which, no matter what the current theme (“English Eccentric”), seem to be delivered through the lens of classic Hollywood/Southern California style.

Trina Turk
67 Gansevoort Street
(212) 206-7383
www.trinaturk.com

Ted Baker
Ted Baker just arrived in the neighborhood, and our menfolk in particular are awfully happy to see him.

Ted Baker
34 Little West 12th Street
(212) 647-0991
www.tedbaker.com

Christian Louboutin
The store is tiny, but the red-soled shoes are pretty huge.

Christian Louboutin
59 Horatio Street
(212) 255-1910
www.christianlouboutin.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 09/01/12

Blink and You’ll Miss It

There is nothing like the waning days of summer to remind us not to miss the good stuff. Below, a few fleeting moments worthy of your indulgence.

Extra Crabby

Few regional specialties are more distinctive than the blue crabs of the Chesapeake Bay.  Steamed in spicy crab boil, they require a fair amount of wrangling with nut-crackers, crab picks and other small tools. But the prize – tender crab meat – is well worth the effort.

If the Mid-Atlantic coast is not in your plans, don’t miss the Hammer & Claws Blue Crab Feast, September 7th to 9th.  All you can eat blue crabs.  All you can drink beer and wine. And we are pleased to see Old Bay, maker of that spicy crab boil, is among the sponsors. Tickets are $89 per person, $45 for kids 6- 12, and kids under 6 are free. There are four seatings over the course of three days.

Hammer & Claws Blue Crab Feast
269 Eleventh Avenue (between 24th & 25th Sts.)
hammerandclaws.com

Here’s Looking at You

Walk round the bend of the northbound High Line at 18th Street and come face to face with the latest installation in the HIGHLINE BILLBOARD project. Photographer Elad Lassry created the work, titled Women (065, 055) and, trust us, it’s pretty arresting.

In your face until September 7th.

The High Line
Tenth Avenue at 18th Street
(212) 206-9922
www.thehighline.org

To Market, To Market

It is harvest time, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the Union Square Greenmarket, the grande dame of New York City fresh-air markets. Don’t miss heirloom tomatoes, beans, grapes, early apples and other fresh-from-the-farm bounty.

Union Square Greenmarket

Union Square (aim for Broadway at East 17th Street)
Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
www.grownyc.org/unionsquaregreenmarket

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Neighborhood Notes, 08/15/12

Wander-ful

If you are staying at the Americano, you really must visit a few galleries.  See the Arts & Culture tab for our suggestions.

While you are wandering about Chelsea’s ever-growing assortment of galleries, consider these stops should you require a break in the action.

First Snack of the Day

Years ago, after studying bread-making in Italy, Jim Lahey founded Sullivan Street Bakery and blew New Yorkers away with his game-changing pane.  Since 1994, the faithful trekked to Sullivan Street in Soho for pane pugliese and pizza of the day.

Lahey has brought more pane to the people via a recent expansion into Chelsea.  Stop in for a cappuccino and a bomboloni (Italian doughnut) when your feet get tired.

Sullivan Street Bakery
236 Ninth Avenue (between 24th & 25th Sts.)
www.sullivanstreetbakery.com

Souvenir

Printed Matter, one of the best sources of books and ephemera in the city, is holding a bootleg t-shirt event this Saturday, August 18 from 5-7p.  Printed Matter has partnered with a number of artists to create limited-edition t-shirts, and it is safe to say that one should arrive early.  Artists include Peter Sutherland, Matt Connors, Benjamin Critton, Mungo Thompson, Chris Castillo, Shannon Michael Cane, Eliza Koch and Marc Hundley.

Printed Matter
195 Tenth Avenue (between 21st & 22nd Sts.)
(212) 925-0325
www.printedmatter.org

Second Snack of the Day

You have visited 12 galleries and walked for hours. Time for a bigger snack.  Pop into Ovest Pizzoteca across the street from the hotel and sample the fried artichokes.  If you’re in the mood for pounding pasta, consider the pesto gnocchi; for pizza, try the classic Bufala with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil. Bonus: Italian Happy Hour from 5-8p, Monday-Friday, in which food is complimentary with the purchase or cocktails (beer, wine, and so on).

Ovest Pizzoteca
513 W. 27th St. (btwn. 10th & 11th Aves.)
(212) 967-4392
ovestnyc.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 08/01/12

Strange Brew

Summer is a delightful time to see the sights in New York City.  Take in the panoramic view from the top of the Empire State Building on a clear day.  Walk the High Line early in the morning.  Take the ferry to Brooklyn and get a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline.

Locals tend to take those activities for granted.  Indeed, locals often seek out activities that don’t seem very New York-y at all, like test-driving a fast car or hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range.

We are confident you can find your way to the city’s magnificent but well-trodden tourist destinations.  If you are seeking something more neighborly and offbeat, consider the selection below.

Electric Company

We have written before about Tesla, the ambitious electric car company founded by Elon Musk (of recent rocket-ship fame).  If you have any interest in fast cars or electric cars or electric fast cars, here are two reasons to drop by the Tesla dealership, which is steps away from the Americano:

  1. The world is hardly awash in Tesla dealerships.  In fact, there are only 19 Tesla locations in the US, according to the company’s website.  This may be your only chance.
  2. There is a new Tesla, the Model S.  It has inspired some of the best car reviewer prose in recent memory (see the Wall Street Journal Review here, subscription required).  This baby goes zero-to-sixty in 4.4 seconds.

Oh, yes: don’t forget to buckle up.

Photograph Courtesy of Tesla Motors

Tesla

511 West 25th St. (between 10th & 11th Aves.)

212.206.1204

www.teslamotors.com

Good Sports

It is not unusual in Chelsea to see someone crossing the street with a) a hockey stick and a big bag of gear, b) three or four golf clubs clutched in one hand, or c) a soccer ball and cleats.  Where could they be going?  You are in the middle of Manhattan, are you not?

Chelsea Piers is a massive sports complex built on piers overlooking the Hudson.  No doubt it seemed a folly when it was built in 199X, but it has become a much-beloved megalith where toddlers tumble, triathletes train, and weekend warriors have access to sports that most would think only exist in the suburbs.

A few ideas for a Chelsea Piers adventure:

  1. Get a day pass to the Sports Center for $50 and enjoy access to pool, track, boxing ring, sundecks and 20,000 square feet of cardio & training equipment.
  2. Hit golf balls in the massive caged driving range overlooking the Hudson (club rental starting at $4, ball cards starting at $25) .
  3. Try the batting cages in the Field House.  $2.75 gets you 10 pitches.

Or, just walk around the piers and admire the various watercraft before a nice riverside lunch at one of the cafés.

The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers

Pier 60: 20th Street at Hudson River Park

212.336.6000

www.chelseapiers.com/sc/

The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers

Pier 59: 18th Street at Hudson River Park

212.336.6400

http://www.chelseapiers.com/gc/

The Field House at Chelsea Piers

Between Piers 61 & 62: 23rd Street at Hudson River Park

212.336.6500

http://www.chelseapiers.com/fh/

Time Warp

If you have never heard of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, you are showing your age (hey there, youngster).  If you have never seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show, you are a “virgin” in RHPS parlance, and you can remedy your little problem by attending the show at midnight on a Friday or Saturday night at the Chelsea Clearview Cinemas on 23rd Street.

Let’s face it, most movie-going experiences are purely passive.  You settle into a cushioned seat, slurp away at high fructose corn syrup, and stay pretty much immobile for two hours.

Not so the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which has been playing in movie theaters longer than any other film in history.  You are not just watching the movie – you are acting in it.  It’s an uber-campy tale of a young couple (Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick) who stumbles upon a castle filled with oddballs, led by creepy-kinky overlord Dr. Frank-N-Furter, played marvelously by Tim Curry.  Did we mention it’s a musical?  Get ready to jump out of your chair to dance the Time Warp.

Diehards arrive in costume and with supplies (rice, toilet paper).  It’s a friendly bunch, though, eager to inculcate a new generation of fans, so don’t be intimidated.

Chelsea Clearview Cinemas

260 West 23rd Street (between 7th and 8th Aves.)

(212) 777-FILM

http://www.clearviewcinemas.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 07/15/12

Where Am I?

Greetings, Americano, and welcome to New York.

Your correspondent often writes of neighborhood goings-on in this space.  But you may be wondering: what exactly is this neighborhood I am visiting?  How can I get my bearings?

Here, from a local, is the lay of the land.

You are in Chelsea.  Outside of the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, Chelsea is one of the geographically larger neighborhoods in Manhattan. It is, as you will see, large enough to have several sub-neighborhood zones which differ in architectural complexion and activity.  Chelsea stretches from Sixth Avenue to the Hudson River (east to west) and 14th Street to about 30th Street (south to north), although it depends on whom you ask.

Gallery District.   The Hotel Americano is situated in the heart of the Gallery District of Chelsea, which is mostly west of Tenth Avenue between 22nd and 30th Streets.  The first galleries made a pioneering move from Soho to Chelsea in the late 1990s, and others followed en masse, attracted by the large open spaces and relatively cheap rents of old light-industrial buildings.  Now, of course, it’s the geographic heart of the New York art world – and the Americano is the only hotel smack in the center of it.

Chelsea Market.  In recent years, Chelsea Market and the surrounding area has become its own zone, characterized primarily by large quantities of people milling about.  Chelsea Market is an old Nabisco factory that occupies the full city block bordered by Ninth & Tenth Avenues and 15th & 16th Streets.  It contains a really lovely collection of local merchants, most of them purveyors of high-quality foodstuffs, as well as some offices and a subterranean bar.  Because it is right next to several entrances to the High Line, it is often jammed with visitors to the city looking for a bathroom and a place to have lunch.  It is also across the street from the old Port Authority Building, a massive structure that houses Google and other tech companies.

Chelsea Historic District.  In between the Gallery District and the Chelsea Market zone are several residential blocks lined with brownstones that date from the 1840s.  This is where it all started for Chelsea, which was named for Sir Thomas More’s estate in London.

Chelsea Lofts.  As you walk east from the Americano you enter what used to be a commercial district filled with furs and flowers.  You may still find the odd wholesale florist shop or two, and you may see signs for a furrier, but for the most part this area is converting to residential.

Chelsea Center.  Eighth Avenue north of 14th Street has long been the commercial main drag of Chelsea.  Never precious, occasionally tawdry, it is a rotating strip of convivial restaurants, men’s clothing boutiques, mom-and-pop florists and other retail flotsam.  A few chains – The Gap, Chipotle – have entered the scene, but for the most part Eighth Avenue is homegrown.  Just off the avenue are some gems – head east on 16th through 22nd Streets to find a smattering of boutiques and restaurants among the otherwise residential blocks.

Chelsea Riviera.  Last but not least, the Chelsea Riviera (our name for it).  Walk along the Hudson River from 14th Street northward and enjoy the increasingly fascinating mix of architecture along the vast waterway.  Notable: Frank Gehry’s IAC Building, Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue, Annabelle Sellfdorf’s 200 Eleventh Avenue, the Starrett-Lehigh Building at 26th Street.

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Neighborhood Notes, 07/01/12

One Stop.

Here on a short visit? Perhaps you have only an hour or two to get your New York fix. Museum? Lunch at an interesting restaurant? A bit of shopping?

How about all three?

The Rubin Museum of Art is a jewel of a museum in the old Barney’s building right here in Chelsea. We have written before about their exhibitions, but they have recently opened a restaurant and revamped their unusual museum shop, and it is a calm and lovely stop in a hot and busy city.

The museum is dedicated to Himalayan art, and what is on display is unparalleled: the museum showcases selections from its own collection of over 2,000 works of Himalayan art in addition to hosting traveling exhibitions. Even if you are not into Himalayan art, it is worth a visit just to experience the zen-producing design of the museum itself, which features a large central spiral.

What’s new as of this spring is the opening of the Serai, a combination dining/shopping space. While the menu offers hearty fare like Malabar Shrimp Curry and a NY Strip Steak, the small plates like Octopus Salad and Himalayan Spiced Vegetables make for a light and healthy lunch on a hot day. Don’t miss the Momos: steamed dumplings stuffed with edamame or chicken & veggies that come with two sauces, soy-vinegar and Tibetan hot sauce.

The shopping is unusual and inspired. White silk sarongs with just a strip of pale color along the edge, bold woven-wool pillows, leather-bound accounting books, and some clever gifts for children are all from the Himalayan area.

Not least, of course, are the current exhibitions: Modernist Art from India (through October 16) explores the impact of the modernist movement on post-independence India. Illuminated features religious art in which precious metals are integrated – a practice used across many religions to indicate sacredness of texts and devotional items. More details available at the website.

The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street (at 7th Ave.)
(212) 620-5000
www.rmanyc.org

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Neighborhood Notes, 6/15/12

Your West Village Guide to the Best Restaurants and Shopping

New York is a great city for walking but sometimes, after a day traipsing through throbbing Times Square or the ever crowded Lower East Side, the tree lined, cobblestone streets of the West Village can feel like an oasis. But don’t be fooled by the low-key vibe; this neighborhood is home to
some of the best restaurants and shops in town. Take a stroll down Hudson, Bleecker, or Washington Streets and find designer fashion from NYC’s finest — Diane Von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs or Ralph Lauren — as well as wares from lesser-known stores such as Improvd and Nida.

Below is a beginners guide to the West Village. There is much, much more, so bring a map and don’t be afraid to use it. Here, streets are named, not numbered, so navigation is challenging even for locals.

EAT

Whitehall. Gastropub. Simple menu. Killer cocktails.

Kingswood. Australian. Excellent mussels. Fun bar.

5 Ninth. Lovely outdoor garden. Flamenco on Saturdays.

Murray’sCheese. International cheese emporium. Vast.

Meatball Shop. The trendiest food of the minute. Seriously. Go immediately.

Buvette. Great French. Great vibe. Great wine. Just great.

Shop

TracyReese. Flirty women’s clothing. Lots of colors.

LaMaison Supreme. Lovely dinnerware and home décor.

Calypso. Beachy women’s clothing.

ElizabethCharles. Funky women’s clothing with a sophisticated twist.

Nida. Lesser-known brands for women. Upscale.

Teich. Bags, jewelry, and clothing made by local NYC designers.

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Neighborhood Notes, 06/01/12

High Times

Fine times on the High Line these days, no?  The gardens are abloom, the fountains offer a bit of relief if the day is warm, and the people-watching is moving into high season.  The zen aspects of walking the Line are as appealing as ever, but if you want to shake things up with an activity or two, we offer these suggestions.

Hiya Venus!

One does not often think of astronomy in the midst of Manhattan – bright lights dim the upward view, after all – but there is a small but dedicated coterie of enthusiasts who turn their gaze skyward every week and manage to see more than a few celestial sights.  The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York meets at sundown every Tuesday on the High Line (hint: they are the ones with the telescopes), and they are happy to allow passersby a sneak peak of what’s on the menu up above.

No doubt the AAA can tell you a bit about the upcoming Transit of Venus, when Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun on June 5th (which happens to be a Tuesday, the group’s regular meeting day, although that particular gathering will start at 4p so as not to miss the action).

Amateur Astronomers Association for New York
High Line near 14th Street or just south of 13th Street
www.aaa.org/highline

Bow-wow-wow

Nothing says New York like a dirty water dog on a smushy bun with yellow mustard.  Brooklyn-based Bark, however, is putting the average street cart to shame with quality hotdogs, unusual toppings, and tasty sides.  Bark’s new food cart recently arrived on the High Line, just north of 14th Street, where you can enjoy your lunch on one of the shady nearby tables.  Their private-label hotdogs have robust casings and arrive perfectly grilled.   Add a side of homemade, not-too-sweet bread & butter pickles and a lemonade, and you just redefined the classic street-corner lunch.

Bark
High Line between 15th and 16th Streets
barkhotdogs.com

Big in Japan

You file into the bar, take your seat, and receive a menu.  You make a selection or two, then keenly observe the drink-making process taking place before you.  That process involves more than a little equipment and activity, and it is seven to ten minutes before your beverage arrives.  You sniff before taking a sip and then succumb to a first smooth taste of – coffee?!

If you take coffee seriously, do not miss a chance to visit the siphon bar at Blue Bottle on 15th Street, steps away from the High Line.  The process echoes the perfection-driven coffee bars of Tokyo: you have a front-row seat as baristas gracefully extract the essence of single-origin beans and decant the results into your cup.  N.B.: the excellent brioche toast with butter and jam takes the caffeine edge off.

Blue Bottle Coffee
450 West 15th Street
www.bluebottlecoffee.net/locations/chelsea

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Neighborhood Notes, 05/15/12

Humble Pie

We Americanos do not generally use this space to mention our own accomplishments – our goal, after all, is to offer you a timely, if idiosyncratic, guide to neighborhood offerings.  But we feel obliged to mention a single item that might be worthy of your notice.  We are awfully thrilled about it, and hope you will indulge us.

Graphic Impact

Our friends at Pandiscio Co. are very clever designers.  So clever, in fact, that their design for The Americano, our restaurant, has won a most prestigious award.  Yes, that’s right: you can view the work of the recipient of the James Beard Foundation 2012 Award for Outstanding Restaurant Graphics right here at the Hotel Americano.  And on this website (click Food & Spirits).  And on an iPad (you will find one in each of our rooms).

Make Mine Crafty

Back to your neighborhood channel…and, indeed, May is a good time to be out and about in Chelsea and environs.

On May 19, Etsy, online marketplace of all things handmade, brings its caravan of crafts to West 21st Street.  Spring Crafts in Chelsea will feature handmade goods from Etsy New York artists and artisans.  The festival benefits a local elementary school. May 19th, 11am – 4pm.

Crafts in Chelsea Spring Festival
West 21st Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues

Vintage Glam

If you enjoy live music performances in not-too-large theaters, don’t miss the Highline Ballroom, just a stone’s throw away on West 16th St.  Coming soon:

Thursday, May 24, 8p.  Nikka Costa (Anya Marina opens)
Saturday, May 26, 8p.  David Johansen (of New York Dolls fame)
Thursday, June 7, 8p.  Graffiti6.
See the website for a complete schedule.

Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 414-5994

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Neighborhood Notes, 05/01/12

Tiny Time

Tennessee Williams called them no-neck monsters. Kinder souls refer to them as little shavers, squirts, and striplings. In any case, they seem to be everywhere, and if you have one chez vous, you might consider arriving home with a Little Something for your Little Darling.

You needn’t go far.  Here are a few fairly portable gems.

Lucky Charms

The hippest babies and toddlers get dressed at Lucky Wang. Lucky Wang’s signature product, tiny kimonos in florals and stripes ($32-36), make unusual baby gifts, and the store has a well-chosen assortment of infant toys and board books, too.

Cooler still are the t-shirts for toddlers. Bring a little levity to the terrible twos by clothing your toddler in a retro tee ($38) featuring the Beatles, the B-52s, or Ted Nugent (“Monster of Rock”).

Lucky Wang
82 Seventh Avenue (at 15th Street)
(212) 229-2900
www.luckywang.com

Vroom Vroom

This just in at Posman Books: truly the most gorgeous toy seen in recent memory.  British designer-cum-toymaker Julian Meagher has created sleek race cars and aeroplanes that may remind you of your last turn at the billiard table.  Or the Monte Carlo racetrack.  The race car ($34.99) available at Posman’s is sure to be a hit.

P.S. We won’t tell if you buy one as a desk toy.

Another possibility: these Pick Your Nose Party Animal cups ($7.95 for 24). Your tot will undoubtedly enjoy masking the prominent part of her silhouette with that of a beaver, chameleon, leopard, shark, toucan or zebra.

Posman Books
75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th & 16th Streets)
(212)627-0304
www.posmanbooks.com

Match(box) Maker

While Three Tarts is known for petit-fours and gourmet marshmallows, they also have a smattering of gift items for children in their corner store on Ninth Avenue. There is no suitcase that doesn’t have room for this gift: a tiny mouse complete with matchbox bed, pillow and blanket ($29). Choose boy/blue or girl/pink.

Oh, and enjoy a marshmallow when you stop by. Vanilla is fine for purists, but consider expanding your taste horizons with yuzu or strawberry-basil.

Three Tarts
164 Ninth Avenue (at 20th Street)
(212)462-4392
www.3tarts.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 04/15/12

Footlights

No doubt many guests of the Hotel Americano enjoy visual art. After all, here you are in the midst of some of the best galleries in the world. But ten bucks says that you enjoy performance art from time to time, too.

If you are visiting the city, Broadway may beckon, but the city is full of other outstanding performance venues. Below are a few right here in Chelsea.

Hehehe

While the odd chuckle with friends or colleagues usually gets you through the day, you occasionally need stronger medicine: the full-on belly laugh. For this, head to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.

Years ago (1999 if you must know), your correspondent saw Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch perform at UCBT, and laughed so hard that the rest of the audience averted their eyes. UCBT has been a go-to spot for good cheer ever since, and it’s good value, too: most performances are around $10. Check out the website for the schedule (“ASSScats” is good for beginners) and tickets.

Upright Citizens Brigade Theater
307 West 26th Street (just west of 8th Ave.)
(212) 366-9176
www.ucbtheatre.com

Re-Joyce with the Ballet Hispanico

The Joyce Theater is a temple of modern dance. It manages to span both cutting-edge and traditional, and it has created its own traditions in the city: the return of Pilobolus to the Joyce every summer, for example, is a spectacle akin to swallows returning to Capistrano.

Ballet Hispanico performs from April 17 – 29, and they are debuting a new creation, Espiritu Vivo, choreographed by Ronald K. Brown and set to the music of Latin Grammy winner Susana Baca.

The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at 19th St.)
(212)691-9740
www.joyce.org

Irish Times

From Oscar Wilde to Eugene O’Neill to Samuel Beckett, the Irish have a storied tradition of great theater. How fortunate, then, to be so near to the Irish Repertory Theater, an institution devoted to keeping that tradition vibrant by performing works of both Irish and Irish-American playwrights.

George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman kicks off on April 26th. Written in 1903, M&S is both a comedy and a meditation on the work of Nietzsche. Tickets start at $55.

Irish Repertory Theatre
132 West 22nd Street (btwn. 6th & 7th Aves.)
(212) 727-2737
www.irishrep.org

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Neighborhood Notes, 04/01/12

Taking It with You

Perhaps you have seen the headlines about New York City’s new status as a tech startup wonderland.  And it is true: NYC is home to Foursquare, Tumblr, Etsy and AppNexus, among others.

But there is another type of startup even more pervasive here in the city: the Artisan.  Whether making chocolate or handbags or jewelry, there is a vibrant DIY scene alive in New York.  Some of these producers have a retail presence, but others sell only online; thus, if you are a visitor to the city, you may access a bit of NYC from the convenience of your own home.  Below, our favorite artisanal offerings.

Wrap It Up

Lucy Sisman is the genius designer behind MiddleBlue.  Lucy founded Paper Magazine, and she designed brands for companies like DKNY, Boots, Victoria’s Secret and Diesel.  With MiddleBlue, she is designing “everyday things,” and we particularly like her far-from-everyday multi-purpose sari wraps.

These gigantic wraps, made from beautiful recycled saris, make great throws, skirts, shawls, or table covers, and we like to layer one over the end of a bed for a little punch of color.

Lucy runs MiddleBlue from the Garment District.  The sari wraps are $120 each, come in a variety of hues, and support a small community of seamstresses in India.

MiddleBlue
www.middleblue.com

Cuddly and Studly

It is a truism of busy lives that you can never have too many tote bags.  Why, you may wonder, are we still carrying so much stuff when the world has shifted to digital?  We don’t know.  We just keep buying tote bags.

Yet another genius designer (there are a few of them in New York, it turns out), Soho-based Andrew Kibble, has created a new line of tote bags that are practical but also pack a little surprise.  While the exterior of the “Stud” bag (pictured) is pragmatically rugged, the interior has a cute print.

The Stud is $64 and other totes range up to $98.  All the totes are 100% cotton canvas.

Cuddly Monkey
www.cuddlymonkey.org

Think Ink

Kids need tattoos too.  And not the dorky kind you get as party favors for birthdays – NYC kids are way too cool for that.  Tina Roth Eisenberg, founder of the popular design blog Swissmiss, has created Tattly, a website where kids, with help from their parents, can order temporary tattoos that don’t embarrass anyone.  We liked the ferris wheel (pictured, $5 for a set of two), and there a lot of cool animal tats, too, that reflect Tina’s Brooklyn vibe.

Tattly
www.tattly.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 03/15/12

Get Your Zen On.

Perhaps, Americano, you are here in New York on business. Your day is a sprint from one meeting to the next, and dinner is a hectic pitch to a potential new client in a restaurant thronged with noisy trend-followers. Your day has been long, you realize as you pay the restaurant bill, and you are eager to return to the calm of your Americano room.

As you drink in the sleek design, your blood pressure falls. You wonder: is there anywhere else in New York that can offer you such serenity?

Possibly not. But here are a few nearby spots where you might attempt to extend the Americano zen…

Get High

It is everywhere and nowhere in West Chelsea. If you are on it, you see everything; if you are below it, you might not even notice it is there. The High Line park is one of Chelsea’s major attractions – to locals and visitors both – but there is hardly a soul upon it when it opens at 7am.

If you seek a bit of peacefulness at an early hour, a slow walk on the High Line is the perfect nature fix. And it will help you face the hustle and bustle of your day ahead. Indeed, science backs us up on this one: “Performance on memory and attention tests improved by 20% after study subjects paused for a walk through an arboretum. When these people were sent on a break to stroll down a busy street in town, no cognitive boost was detected (Wall Street Journal, 8/30/11).”

Photo Courtesy of the NY Times

The High Line
Enter on 28th Street (one block south of The Hotel Americano)
www.thehighline.org

Get Even Higher

Where better to get a little zen than at a museum devoted to Himalayan art? The Rubin Museum of Art is a gem hidden in plain sight in what used to be a Barney’s. Its 70,000 square feet displays some of the 2,000 Himalayan treasures donated by the Rubin family, and it is a lovely oasis of peace and quiet.

Consider a walking meditation as you ascend seven stories via the dramatic spiral staircase. Or study some of the sculptures of the Nyingjei Lam Collection, on display through mid-July.

Photo Courtesy of the NY Sun

The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street (at 7th Ave.)
(212) 620-5000
www.rmanyc.org

Bring it Down(ward)

If you have a chunk of free time, free your mind with a yoga class. The Integral Yoga Institute has classes pretty much all the time, and you can sign up online here. A single class is $17, and mats are available.

Directions: Walk down the High Line from the Americano and “exit” at the 14th Street staircase. Walk a couple blocks east and one block south and start breathing deeply.

If you are a hot yoga enthusiast, Yoga to the People on 27th Street has six 50-minute classes each day. Fees are $8 for a class, $2 for mat rental. Directions: head west from the hotel, south to 27th Street, left on 27th until you see the “HOT YOGA” sign just before Sixth Avenue.

Photo Courtesy of Aerobic.we

Integral Yoga Institute of New York City
227 West 13th Street (between 7th & 8th Aves.)
(212) 929-0585
www.iyiny.org

Yoga to the People
115 West 27th Street (between 6th & 7th Aves.)
(917) 573-9642
www.yogatothepeople.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 03/01/12

Hit the Java Trail

Not so long ago, most of the coffee available in Chelsea was generally delivered with a bright green medallion on the outside of the cup. Times have changed, however, and Starbucks’ dominance is waning amidst a growing number of purveyors of exceptional-quality joe.

Should you be in need of caffeine, we highly recommend hitting the Chelsea coffee trail at any – or all! — of these fine establishments, listed from north to south.

Hello, Joe!

Joe the Art of Coffee was one of the early players in the NYC coffee scene and now has eight locations. Joe is coffee central for London Terrace, the massive 1928 residential building that occupies an entire block between 23rd and 24th Street. It is a good place to stop for an espresso charge on the way to hitting golf balls at Chelsea Piers.

Joe the Art of Coffee
405 West 23rd Street (between 9th & 10th Aves.)
(212) 206-0669
www.joetheartofcoffee.com

Port of Call

Ports opened last year and filled a high-end coffee void on one of Chelsea’s main thoroughfares. Ports serves Stumptown and Handsome coffees, baked goods from Scratch, and it has a great artisanal vibe – it feels like the Etsy of coffee-stops. Mast Bros. chocolate appears in various forms, and hard-to-find Monocle and Lucky Peach magazines are on sale.

Ports Coffee & Tea Company
251 West 23rd Street (between 7th & 8th Aves.)
(646) 290-6151
www.portsnyc.com

Frowns All Around

Kudos to Café Grumpy for their social engineering: the café’s no-laptop policy creates an atmosphere in which people read quietly or carry on a conversation. As a result, Grumpy has a magnetic pull – it is hard not to hang out on a stool with some of the regulars or on one of the benches outside. Grumpy roasts its own in Brooklyn, and offers pastries from its own bakery on the Lower East Side.

Café Grumpy
224 West 20th Street (between 7th & 8th Aves.)
(212) 255-5511
www.cafegrumpy.com

Grotto

Within the cavernous Chelsea Market, not far from the clamorous fountain, Ninth Street Espresso turns out espresso shots pretty much as fast as the baristas can pull them.  Morning perfection is a freshly baked pastry from neighboring Amy’s Bread accompanied by an excellent NSE cappuccino.

Ninth Street Espresso
75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th & 16th Sts.)
(212) 228-2930
www.ninthstreetespresso.com

Hitting the Bottle

Chelsea now has its own branch of Blue Bottle Coffee, the esteemed San Francisco-based café/roaster. Blue Bottle’s motto appears to be “better living through chemistry” – coffee geeks will marvel at the siphon-prepped joe on the upper level. Stop here as you work your way down the High Line from the Americano to the West Village.

Blue Bottle Coffee
450 W. 15th St. (btwn. 9th & 10th Aves.)
www.bluebottlecoffee.net

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Neighborhood Notes, 02/15/12

Give Me a D!

Doughnut Day is just around the corner. Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), falls on February 21st this year. Since you are celebrating in New York, not New Orleans, consider following the tradition of taking in a bit of fat before the big fast begins. Below, our guide to nearby doughnut offerings (note: pancakes are fair game, too).

Ye Olde Doughnut

A few decades ago, you could not walk far in our fair city without encountering a Chock Full o’ Nuts. The chain was lauded for its coffee, but the doughnuts were nothing to sneeze at either.

Chock is back, with a prototype store in Chelsea. The unusual whole-wheat doughnuts are back, too — and what a treat. Crunchy on the outside, not too sweet — you will be chock full o’ doughnuts in no time.

Chock Full o’ Nuts
25 W. 23rd St. (btwn. 5th & 6th Aves.)
(212) 924-3663
www.chockfullonuts.com

Power Doughnuts

Whatever a laboratory is for mad scientists, consider the Doughnut Plant the equivalent for mad pastry chefs. Blink while looking at the menu, and you may think you have stumbled on a dessert listing for a popular restaurant.

Tres Leches doughnut? Check. Blackout? Check. Coconut Cream? Yum. Don’t miss the square doughnuts, too.

Doughnut Plant
220 W. 23rd St. (btwn. 7th & 8th Aves.)
(212) 675-9100
www.doughnutplant.com

The Essential Doughnut

Your correspondent took more than a little satisfaction from the closure of the pink mega-chain doughnut shop on 14th Street not long ago, particularly because she is certain the mom-and-pop Donut Pub kicked their butt all the way to the suburbs.

The Donut Pub is classic. When you need a jelly doughnut fix, this is the place (if jelly is not your thing, try the chocolate glazed, a lion among doughnuts). Late night? The Pub is open 24/7, and there is nothing like a doughnut (or two) to soak up too good a time. Prove your fandom by sporting a Donut Pub hat or mug on your way home.

The Donut Pub
203 W. 14th St. (btwn. 7th & 8th Aves.)
(212) 929-0126
www.donutpub.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 02/01/12

An Important Reminder

Let’s drop by the Relationship Hall of Shame. The first exhibit: forgetting one’s anniversary. Second: completely missing your sweetheart’s birthday. A not-distant third: ignoring Valentine’s Day.

Now, it could be that you are a visitor to New York during this important pre-Valentine period. Consider that an opportunity: here are three can’t-miss options for bringing home something special for the 14th.

Looking For Mr. Chocolate

Let’s begin with the classic. A giganto, 50-piece box of scrumptious Jacques Torres chocolates ($66) is a knockout gift for the Day of Love. If the object of your affection prefers chocolate with a twist, try “The Spanker” ($14), a sizable white-chocolate lollypop. More modest (but just as tasty): a heart-shaped truffle box ($12).

Jacques Torres
75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th & 16th Streets)
212.414.2462
www.mrchocolate.com

Lace It Up

If revving up the engines is a little more your Valentine’s style, stop by lingerie expert Sugar Cookies. This lacy negligee from Mimi Holiday (pictured, $144) has been attracting lots of attention in the Sugar Cookies front window. Cosabella thongs ($20), available in black, white, red, yellow, and gray, might earn you at least a kiss. And for a bit of cheesecake, check out the Playful Promises Pin-Up Pants ($30): your choice of ruffles or embroidery (“Call Me”) is packaged in a tin that fits neatly into your carry-on.

Sugar Cookies
203 19th Street (between 7th & 8th Avenues)
212.242.6963
www.sugarcookiesnyc.com

Shaken & Stirred

Sometimes the best gift for Valentine’s is the gift that keeps on giving. One option, particularly for Valentine’s of the male persuasion: The American Cocktail (pictured, $20), a compendium of drink recipes from the editors of Imbibe Magazine that one can enjoy all year long.

You might consider extending the theme with ingredients for one of the more interesting recipes: Sinister Proposal (Cynar & peach amaretto), perhaps? Or how about Murasaki Geisha (Chambord raspberry liqueur, nigori sake, and gin)? At this rate, this year’s Valentine’s could be extra special.

Three Tarts
164 Ninth Avenue (between 20th and 21st Streets)
212.462.4392
www.3tarts.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 01/15/12

Smelly Chelsea.

There are plenty of guides to the sights, sounds, and certainly the tastes of New York, but your correspondent believes the scents are sorely underrepresented.

New York is a fragrant city. Indeed, many a visitor has fled from the reek of a late garbage pickup in mid-July. But winter is a time to savor only the loveliest scents as they escape through storefront ventilation systems. Here are a few notable nose experiences not far from the HA.

Flora, I Adore Ya

First, head east from the Americano to the flower district on 28th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. There is something almost jarring about encountering deep woodsy scents or a floral burst in the middle of the city, and the flower district is one sensory surprise after another. And that, my friend, is just while walking down the street. Pop indoors to any floral purveyor and get blown away by the variety of scents from highly unusual flora.

The district caters to wholesale buyers, but retail customers are generally welcomed.

Flower Distrcict
W. 28th St. (btwn. 6th & 7th Aves.)

The Best Vices are Slices

It is difficult to avoid the aroma of New York pizza while visiting the city; it is far more difficult to find truly excellent New York pizza as the source of the scent, however.

If you are in search of great pizza, let me tell you how lucky you are. You are a few short blocks from Pizza Suprema, which not only smells divine but happens to be really quite superb. In all honesty, it looks pretty much like your average New York slice, but the crust is just killer – somehow crunchy even when reheated in the very busy pizza ovens.

Pizza Suprema
413 Eighth Ave. (at 31st St.)
(212) 594-8939
www.nypizzasuprema.com

Yes, Whey

It is a short segue from a discussion of pizza to a discussion of cheese. We will avoid the controversy of stinky cheese (does it smell good simply because it tastes good?) and focus on the magnetic aroma of grilled cheese sandwiches at Lucy’s Whey in Chelsea Market.

It is a challenge to pass the tiny Lucy’s Whey shop (in the center of the market, not far from the fountain) at lunchtime without stopping to take in a noseful of melty cheddar. Lucy’s offers three grilled cheese sandwiches each day. One is always the delicious and dependable cheddar with fig spread, a bargain lunch at $6.

Lucy’s Whey
75 Ninth Ave. (btwn. 15th and 16th Sts.)
(212) 463-9500
www.lucyswhey.com

In The Round

Trek to Magnolia Bakery in the Village if you must, but Chelsea offers tour group-free cupcakes at Billy’s Bakery – and, boy, do they smell good. Park yourself on the bench out front one morning and enjoy the scents of cakes and cupcakes just out of the oven. It is a lovely place for cake and coffee in the afternoon, too.

Billy’s Bakery
184 Ninth Ave. (btwn. 21st and 22nd Sts.)
(212) 647-9956
www.billysbakerynyc.com

It’s a Real Grind

One last scent to savor: urban coffeehouse. Café Grumpy’s coffee is outstanding – they roast it themselves on the Lower East Side – and Chelsea knows it. The place is generally jammed with regulars who come to converse with other real live people (laptops are outlawed) or get a bit of reading done. The volume means the smell of coffee is generally wafting out the front door, and on a pleasant day it is a lovely thing to sit on the bench out front and have a chat while sipping cappuccino.

Café Grumpy
224 W. 20th St. (btwn. 7th & 8th Aves.)
(212) 255-5511
www.cafegrumpy.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 01/01/12

O Pioneers.

Where there are Americanos, there are pioneers. Even in a city as densely inhabited as ours, some brave splinter group will conjure a frontier, plant a flag, and hunker down till the other settlers arrive.

West Chelsea, now swarming with visitors to the High Line and other attractions, was once prime frontier land for a few wise gallery owners. Indeed, the hundreds of galleries populating the West 20s are a fairly recent development in the history of the neighborhood.

Most West Chelsea history focuses on early roots – nineteenth-century tales of Clement Clark Moore (the gentleman who penned ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas) or snapshots of Titanic-era ocean liners docking at the Hudson River piers. But West Chelsea’s more recent history is no less remarkable.

In the 1980s, West Chelsea was a sea of warehouses, light industrial businesses, and the occasional nightclub. Art galleries had either highly civilized uptown addresses or trendy high-ceilinged outposts in Soho. The only art in Chelsea was the graffiti sort found on unattended walls.

As is so often the case with pioneers, shifts in power helped drive the first intrepid souls. First, retail stores began to gain a foothold in Soho. Landlords swiftly realized they could rent at street level for rates far higher than the typical gallery owner could stomach. Second, the Dia Foundation opened Dia:Chelsea on West 22nd Street in 1987. It quickly became an unlikely success, a go-to spot for large installations by artists such as Jenny Holzer and Richard Serra.

Artists on Artists Lecture Series at Dia:Chelsea: Kara Walker on Andy Warhol, Monday, March 26, 2012, 6:30pm

In the end, Chelsea’s immense success as an art center owes a debt to seven original gallery “homesteaders.” Matthew Marks, the first, opened just down the street from Dia in 1994. The other six followed over the next couple of years, and it didn’t take long for the neighborhood to explode with gallery development. Current counts range between 250 and 320.

Who were the original Seven? Perhaps you would like to pass by each pioneer and imagine West Chelsea 15 or so years ago? Sadly, several of the pioneers are gone. But below you will find an itinerary to guide you to those that remain.

Matthew Marks Gallery
522 West 22nd Street
Marks was a wunderkind who organized his first show at the age of 20. All grown up now, his gallery represents artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Nan Goldin, and Brice Marden.

Painting from an upcoming exhibition at the Matthew Marks Gallery: Terry Winters: Cricket Music, Tessellation Figures, & Notebook, February 4 - April 14, 2012

Paula Cooper Gallery
534 West 21st Street
Paula Cooper, a pioneer in both Soho (1968) and Chelsea (1996), represents Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt among many others. And don’t miss the bookstore she owns with her husband, Jack Macrae: 192 Books (192 Tenth Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets).

Barbara Gladstone Gallery
515 West 24th Street
530 West 21st Street
Gladstone’s 24th Street gallery was designed by Selldorf Architects. Coming January 13 to the 24th Street location: photographer Shirin Neshat’s exhibition, The Book of Kings. Gladstone also represents Anish Kapoor and Matthew Barney, several of whose movies she has produced.

Barbara Gladstone Gallery: photograph by Shirin Neshat: Rebellious Silence, 1994

Metro Pictures
519 West 24th Street
Founded in 1980 by Janelle Reiring and Helene Winer. Moved to Chelsea from Soho in 1995. Opened with an exhibition of photographs by Louise Lawler.

Paul Morris
465 West 23rd Street
Gallery closed.

Pat Hearn Gallery
530 West 22nd Street (closed)
Hearn passed away in 2000.

American Fine Arts Gallery
530 West 22nd Street (closed)
Run by Pat Hearn’s husband, Colin de Land, who died in 2003. Sources conflict a bit on exactly when AFA moved to Chelsea, but at least one source mentions the gallery as one of the original seven.

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Neighborhood Notes, 12/15/11

Happy holidays, Americanos! Perhaps you are here in New York hoping to get a little shopping done. Our fine city has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to shopping districts, but why not live like a local and take advantage of some of the resources in Chelsea? Below find three nearby crossroads of commerce that we recommend without reservations.

To Market, To Market

Take a ride on the High Line. Head south on our elevated pedestrian parkway (enter on 26th St., just west of 10th Ave.) and exit at 16th Street. You will find yourself at the door of Chelsea Market, an old Nabisco factory now home to office tenants and an array of one-of-a-kind retail on the ground floor, which occupies a full city block.

Most of the shops in Chelsea Market have to do with food, much of which is prepared on site, so we’ll leave you to sort that out on your own. Meanwhile, those original gifts…

1. Chelsea Market Baskets. Select your basket, fill it with gourmet specialties, and have the CMB folks make it gorgeous and ship it for you. We particularly like the unusual seasonings and condiments (Halen mon Welsh organic celery seed sea salt, for example) and have created gift baskets for our Friend Who Grills Every Meal, our Seasonal Décor-Happy Sister-in-Law, and our Cousin with New Baby who Misses New York.

2. Jacques Torres Chocolates. A bright orange box of JT chocolates slipped into your suitcase wherever you are headed this holiday season, will guarantee a warm welcome upon arrival. Killer truffles, chocolate snowmen, hot cocoa, and that dark chocolate bark with nuts, are just a few of the offerings.

3. Posman Books. Yes, we know everyone is reading on some sort of device, but we still like our cookbooks to withstand spatters of hot oil and cake batter without complaint. Posman has a great selection, a nicely curated selection of children’s books and toys in the back of the store.

Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave. (at 15th & 16th Sts.)
(212) 243-6005
www.chelseamarket.com

Un Bon Cadeau

Once you have exhausted the food theme, exit Chelsea Market on Ninth Avenue, and enjoy its Francophile-inflected gift offerings. Just to the south, find a newly opened L’Occitane (48 Ninth Ave.), with its offerings of bath and beauty products in fragrant lavender, shea butter, and verbena. Head north and stop in at Maison 140 (140 Ninth Ave.), a tiny emporium full of home décor, much of it imported from France. Recharge with a café au lait et croissant at La Bergamote (177 Ninth Ave.) before picking up a gift for your pet at Barking Zoo (172 Ninth Ave.). (There is nothing particularly French about the merchandise at Barking Zoo; however, many of the dogs who visit this store speak the language.)

Chocolate Mice at La Bergamote

 

Chelsea’s Midsection

Head east on 20th Street toward an area of Chelsea with several real retail gems. First, if you missed coffee at La Bergamote, be sure to stop at Café Grumpy (224 West 20th St.), one of New York’s best sources for single-origin coffee and home to an unusual Clover brewing machine (seeing it in action is worth the price of a cup of coffee). Coffee beans, in any case, make a useful gift. One block away, on 19th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, you will find Sugar Cookies (203 West 19th St.), a lingerie boutique full of sweet nothings where it is difficult not to find a lovely gift for the discerning female. Continue west on 19th Street to Les Toiles du Soleil (261 West 19th St., and, yes, French again), designers of striking striped outdoor fabrics sold as yardage but also on offer in the highly giftable form of espadrilles, tote bags, table linens, and patio umbrellas. If you happen to have any nasty boys in your life, stop by Nasty Pig (265A West 19th St.), Chelsea’s purveyor of high-attitude apparel for men and some of the most rockin’ window displays in the city.

Pastries at Cafe Grumpy

Pastries at Cafe Grumpy

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Neighborhood Notes, 12/1/11

Swingalong.

Chances are that you have some degree of pity for New Yorkers who happen to be golfers. You probably imagine them heading for the suburbs early on a Saturday, golf clubs protruding from their teeny Zipcars.

chelsea_piers_golf_club

In fact, golfers who live near the Americano are particularly fortunate. While it is not quite like walking the back nine on a well-sculpted course, golfers enjoying the Chelsea Piers driving range – just a few blocks away – can at least get a glimpse of the occasional stunning sunset over the Hudson while perfecting their form.

Be warned that the rates may inspire an intake of breath for those accustomed to the standards at more pastoral settings, but do remember you are still on the island of Manhattan. The folks at the Piers will kit you out with clubs (starting at $4 for a single club), and they will educate you on their futuristic electronic ball cards (starting at $25).

Chelsea Piers Golf Club: Pier 59
23rd St. & the Hudson River
(212) 336-6400
www.chelseapiers.com

Gadgeteria.

We Americanos like our gadgets. Indeed, our NYC landscape is dotted with glassy gadget temples where the Worshipful gather around the latest Apple release. But when we want to sample serious equipment of a non-Mac kind, we head to the mother of all electronics stores, B&H Photo & Video.

b&h-photo-video

A full block long, and, refreshingly, not part of a chain, B&H is a sort of polestar for the professional photographer or videographer. But it offers great value for us amateurs as well, and it is worth a visit just to see the theater of your purchase arriving via the overhead conveyor belt. Bonus: it’s staffed completely by Hasidic Jews, so come for a brief voyeuristic glimpse into their ultra-Orthodox lives.

B&H Photo & Video
420 9th Ave. (between 33rd & 34th Sts.)
(212) 444-6615
www.bhphotovideo.com

Life Jackets.

We firmly believe that a man can never have too many jackets. How handy that NUMBER:lab opened their first store just around the corner so that we can shop for their too-cool-for-school active gear in extra-wearable colors.

number-lab

The zippered jackets rock, but we are pining for the alpaca tube scarf, a more manly version of the fuzzy neck gaiters we wear to ski. Holiday shopping for all the men in our lives should start here, upcoming ski vacation or no.

NUMBER:lab
317 10th Ave. (btwn. 28th & 29th Sts.)
(917) 523-6879
www.number-lab.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 11/15/11

I Like Bike

Perhaps New York has been slower to integrate biking into the fabric of the metropolis than some other leading cities of the world, but please do not count us out. You may see new, well-traveled green bike lanes not far from the hotel, and their numbers are growing. (Step carefully through the bike lane though, please, because we are all still getting used to each other.)

Perhaps New York has been slower to integrate biking into the fabric of the metropolis than some other leading cities of the world, but please do not count us out. You may see new, well-traveled green bike lanes not far from the hotel, and their numbers are growing. (Step carefully through the bike lane though, please, because we are all still getting used to each other.)

The notably pleasant folks at Chelsea Truck Rental, sensing a trend, have expanded their selection of rental vehicles to include bicycles — and business is booming.  Stop by their garage on 26th Street to rent by the hour or the day.  They provide helmets, locks and baskets as part of packages that start as low as $10.

Chelsea Truck Rental
549 W. 26th St. (btwn. 10th & 11th Aves.)
(212) 564-9555
www.chelsearental.com

Sights by Bike, Bike by Sights

Some of the best views of Manhattan are from the bike paths along its perimeter. If the day is mild and you have an hour or so to spare, we recommend a quick trip along the Hudson River Park bike path, which is directly west of the hotel along the river. Head south, and give yourself an architectural tour:

200 Eleventh Avenue

200 Eleventh Avenue (at 24th Street). Residential condo building designed by Annabelle Selldorf. “Sky Garage” elevator whisks your car to your floor. (Photo courtesy of LuxuryLoft)

100 Eleventh Avenue (at 19th Street). Residential condo building designed by Jean Nouvel.

IAC Building_Gehry

555 West 18th Street. IAC Office Building designed by Frank Gehry.

richard-meier-west-street

West Street, near Perry Street. Three residential condo buildings designed by Richard Meier. Residents include Hugh Jackman, who is currently sashaying, singing and seducing audiences in “Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway”!

Americano Meets English Meets French

We know you love our namesake restaurant, but we also know you may want to stretch your legs for dinner one evening during your stay. No need to go far: the sleek & chic La Promenade des Anglais just opened on 23rd Street.

promenade-des-anglais

La Promenade is the sort of restaurant where one might find Holly Golightly, French-twisted and little-black-dressed, sipping champagne at the bar with a certain sort of gentleman. It would be a shame not to move from the bar to a table, though, and enjoy a splendid meal. We were quite taken with the Salad “Mille Feuilles” — ribbons of romaine topped with applewood smoked bacon and gorgonzola. Our monkfish entree was over the top and the apple tart divine.

In case you are wondering about the building housing La Promenade des Anglais, it is called London Terrace and, when it opened in 1931, it was considered the largest apartment building in the world. It occupies an entire block, has a one-acre garden at its center, and features apartments with wood-burning fireplaces.

La Promenade des Anglais
461 W. 23th St. (between 9th & 10th Aves.)
(212) 255-7400
www.lapromenadenyc.com

Tasty Samples

Here is something to know about New York: even the starving artists and publishing assistants manage to look photo-ready at all times. How do they afford all that style?  Sample sales, of course.

We are not talking about those online sites where you are not quite sure whether the goods have been manufactured just for the occasion. We are talking about honest-to-goodness sample sales, the kind that require a trip to some dusty old cavern in the Garment District. Some ideas:

john-robshaw

First, if you would like your apartment to look like the home of a well-traveled bohemian (i.e., you, perhaps?), do not miss the John Robshaw sample sale. It kicks off Wednesday, November 16 for three days only. We love Robshaw’s block-printed textiles, all of which tell a story of exotic India or Turkey. Find bedding, table linens, decorative pillows.

Second, steps away from the Hôtel Americano is sample sale impresario Soiffer Haskin. If you hurry, you can make the Armani sale (ends November 16). Bulgari is next (November 19-22) and Frette just afterward (November 27 – December 1). See SH’s website for hours and details.

John Robshaw Sample Sale
245 W. 29th St. (btwn. 7th & 8th Aves.)
November 16-18, 10am-7pm

Soiffer Haskin
317 W. 33rd St. (just west of 8th Avenue)
(718) 747-1656
www.soifferhaskin.com

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Neighborhood Notes, 11/1/11

We Americanos like art. And we also like the way art is still the vanguard of neighborhood development. Upper West Chelsea — or the Chelsea Riviera, as we call it — is teeming with art: over 300 galleries in the few square blocks surrounding the Hotel, but it still has that bit of industrial grit that makes our discoveries of local gems feel just a little more special. Herewith, some of our current haunts.

Get Set

Have you noticed that old hotel just down the block? It’s the McKittrick, set for Sleep No More, the “It” show of the moment. Imagine Macbeth chancing upon Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and you will get the general idea. Murder, mystery, and masks (on you and fellow audience members as you wander through this vast space and stumble upon performances in action) — we’ll say no more.

Tori Sparks (center) with audience members.  (Photo courtesy of Alick Crossley & Sleep No More)
Tori Sparks (center) with audience members. (Photo courtesy of Alick Crossley & Sleep No More)

If you are looking for one of those New York-only experiences, score some tickets before the show ends its run on December 30, 2011. But we think you should bring a friend: a Sleep No More performance requires immediate post-show talk therapy, preferably over dinner at the Americano. File under “Makes You Think.”

The McKittrick Hotel
530 W. 27th St. (btwn. 10th & 11th Aves.)
(212) 904-1883
www.sleepnomorenyc.com

Power Up

When we shop for a new six-figure luxury vehicle, we head to the Upper West 20s, home to dealers of Porsches, Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Lotuses (all along 11th Avenue, if you are so inclined). But there’s a new kid on the block: Tesla on 25th Street. Stop by to blow your doors off.

Photo Credit: J van der Wolf / Shutterstock.com
Photo Credit: J van der Wolf / Shutterstock.com

We are highly entertained by the Tesla website, where we can customize and price our new roadster. But we miss the turn-on of that new car smell, so we decided to check out the new dealership in the chrome.

The dealership is a bit unassuming, presumably to show off the stunning roadsters. We learned about something called a Power Electronics Module, which seems pretty central to the whole silent-but-fast-and-efficient deal, but mostly we learned about going from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds. Va-ROOOOM, Baby.

Watch this space for news of when you can test drive Tesla’s new sedan right here in Chelsea.

Tesla
511 W. 25th St. (btwn. 10th & 11th Aves.)
(212) 206-1204
www.teslamotors.com

Siren Song

When walking in our neighborhood, we expect to find a gallery behind every door and window.  How surprising, then, to find a glassy corner exploding with fashionable clothing. Beyond 7 is the boutique we always seem to be looking for—the one where someone else has done the hard work of curating a collection that is stunning but tasteful. Beyond 7 features clothes and accessories from designers such as Issa, Iris von Arnim, and Gudrun Gudrun. We found a killer Allegra Hicks dress. Oh, and let the charming staff tell you about the store—there is a little more personality here than you might expect.

We don’t know about you, but we found that the unusual mannequins in Beyond 7’s windows gave a sort of siren call (above). Let us know what you think.

Beyond 7 Boutique
601 W. 27th St. (at 11th Avenue)
(646) 619-6857
www.store.beyond7boutique.com

Speed Demon?

Yes, we know it’s a park, but here’s a little secret from the locals: the High Line is also a sort of pedestrian freeway. Heading south? Hop on the High Line at 26th Street at 10th Avenue. Take the High Line Express to the exit at 16th Street to visit, say, Chelsea Market, or keep moving to the end of the road to wind up in the West Village.

Benefits? 1. Your health: a brisk walk will do you good. 2. Speed: think of all the “Do Not Walk” signs you are missing. 3. A fabulous view: the colors of the changing season are fantastic, although you wouldn’t know it from the color of the grass and trees above, snapped earlier this week.

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Welcome to HÔTEL AMERICANO!

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Located in the heart of the Chelsea Riviera between the High Line and the Hudson River.

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La Piscine

A Coastal Mexican Grill, all summer, along with sweeping views of New York City.

Make reservations online by clicking HERE

Email at lapiscine@hotel-americano.com

 
Summer Rooftop Hours

Monday – Thursday 5PM – 1AM
Friday 5PM -2AM
Saturday 12PM – 2AM
Sunday 12PM – 1AM
Pool Hours: 
Pool is reopening May 23rd

 

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Conôsur Parrilla & Fondue

Latin Heat in New York’s Winter

*Conôsur will be closed until Fall 2013

Make reservations online by Clicking HERE, calling 212-525-0000 or by email conosur@hotel-americano.com

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