Time Out takes a look at the best of the Big Apple
Melissa van Maasdyk
Mark Asfahani worked at Saks Fifth Ave in New York for five years before moving to Bahrain to take up the role of deputy store manager at our own version in City Centre mall. Who better then to share some tips on how to make the most of the Big Apple?
Getting around: ‘It’s a 35-minute yellow cab ride into Manhattan on the Long island Expressway from JFK Airport. I lived in Chelsea on 27th Street and 8th Avenue (note: in order to navigate this city you should be aware that all streets run from east to west and avenues from north to south, and New York addresses are given with reference to the nearest street and avenue intersection). Chelsea has always been my favourite piece of New York, filled with amazing little stores selling everything you can imagine, plus art galleries and some great restaurants – from great all-American brunch spots to Greek and Chinese.’
Eating: ‘New York has always been a melting pot for people from around the world, who have tried to maintain a piece of their heritage, so if you’re in the mood for Ethiopian food, you’ll find it at Queen of Sheba on 49th Street and 10th Avenue, and if it’s Brazilian you’re after, you can go wild at the all-you-can-eat Plata Forma on 49th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. Find a branch of Ray’s Pizza for this thin-crust NYC staple – Jerry Seinfeld is a regular. If you don’t want to leave celebrity spotting to chance, though, head to Cipriani on 60th Street and 5th Avenue, which is popular with the likes of Robert de Niro and Madonna.’
Sleeping: ‘The Waldorf Astoria is my first choice as it’s elegant, adventurous and a great piece of New York history. More affordable is the artistically designed Marriott Marquis in Times Square – it has beautiful exposed elevators and a revolving 45th-floor restaurant. The Holiday Inn on 32nd street and Broadway is a good budget option right in the heart of Manhattan.’ Nightlife: ‘For a drink, head downtown to the rooftop bar at the Ganzevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District (on 14th Street and 9th Avenue). Want to dance? Find Lotus down the street, and for authentic Arabic music, go to Babel on 7th Street and Avenue B. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a secret bar called The Back Room (102 Norfolk Street, between Delancy and Rivington). The entrance is a gate that says Lower East Side Toy Company, but head down the steps and through the passage and there’s a bar (owned by actor Tim Robbins) that’s based on a prohibition era speakeasy. The period decor, drinks served in tea cups and bottled beer covered with brown paper bags make it memorable.’
Shopping: ‘Bargain hunters will love Lohmann’s and Century 21 on Fulton Street. And for luxury, drop into Saks Fifth Avenue; here you can visit the world’s largest women’s shoe department on the eighth floor – it’s so big, it has its own zip code, 10022 Shoes.’ Info on New York at www.timeoutnewyork.com.