Little Black Book

The Best First Time in NYC

by Nilou Motamed
Nilou Nilou Motamed at Russ & Daughters Cafe. Photo by Justin Livingston.

As Director of Inspiration for Conrad Hotels, Nilou Motamed spends her time searching for fun things to do, see, buy, eat, and try out in the various destinations where Conrad flies its flag. But her home of twenty-plus years, NYC, provides her with constant inspiration. Do you have one hour in the city? Three? Five? Nilou has a few recommendations for you.

NEW YORK CITY – There's so much going on in downtown Manhattan and neighboring Brooklyn that it's hard to figure out where to spend your time, money, and energy on your first (or second, or umpteenth) visit. Here are a few only-in-NY highlights.

Russ & Daughters Cafe
127 Orchard St.; +1-212-475-4881
Sample a taste of the Lower East Side through this neighborhood staple, which has been providing quintessential smoked salmon and caviar for the last 101 years. At their new cafe offshoot, chefs at the salmon-slicing station turn out smoked-lox sandwiches, cuts of private-stock sturgeon, and Siberian caviar. Order a classic buxar egg cream, a tribute to the old Jewish shop owners who used to chew the tobacco-like substance on their front stoops.

Trapeze School
Summer Location: Pier 40, Hudson River Park, West St. at Houston St.; +1-212-242-8769;
Winter Location: 53-21 Vernon Boulevard, Queens; +1-212-242-8769
The soaring rooftop circus set-up at Pier 40 is a can't-miss stop on your itinerary. Knee hangs, splits, planche, and whip — whose inner kid hasn't dreamed about flying through the air like a Ringling Brothers acrobat?

In Brooklyn: Brooklyn Bridge to Bridge St., York St. to East River
You must see the former industrial neighborhood (flanked by the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges), specifically visiting One Girl Cookies, Almondine, Jacques Torres, and posing for a picture at the most picturesque spot in the neighborhood —Washington and Waters Streets.

A performance at Ginny's Supper Club.

A performance at Ginny's Supper Club. Photo courtesy of Ginny's Supper Club.

Ginny's Supper Club
310 Lenox Ave.; +1-212-421-3821
Swedish chef and neighborhood ambassador Marcus Samuelsson brings 1920's Harlem to life at Ginny's Supper Club, a speakeasy-style jazz lounge below his clamorous comfort-food bistro Red Rooster.

Grand Banks
Pier 25, Hudson River Park at N. Moore St.; +1-212-960-3390
A stylish scene unfolds at this oyster and wine bar on the deck of a 1942 Nova Scotia schooner docked at TriBeCa's Pier 25 all summer long. Locals buzz about the killer lobster roll with house-made pickles, if that's your speed (it is mine!). If you can swing it, arrive at sunset and soak up the pink-crimson Magic Hour with a dozen local oysters and a glass of South African sparkling rosé.


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