Larry's Opionated Guide to New York City for Cheapskates.
A Guide to Safety, Eating, Drinking, Sleeping, Shopping, and
Doing in New York City, written by Larry Lustig, who's tired of
hearing all the baloney that's going around pretending to be
the common wisdom.
(c) 1995 by Larry Lustig. You may download this document for your
personal use and distribute to others providing that you retain this
copyright notice and do not alter the text.
Introduction: You've heard all about New York: it's dirty,
dangerous, and expensive. People are unfriendly, when
they're not actually beating you up, and you can't find a hotel
for less than $500 or a meal for less than $50. People tell you
it's better to stay outside of town, and when you go in take a
credit card (or two!) and don't talk to anybody.
I say: nonsense! I've lived in or near New York for most of my
life and I'm tired of hearing this stuff. It's true that New York is
big (you won't find a city in the world that "feels" bigger than
New York), and it is often loud and dirty. But it's not especially
dangerous and if you know where to go, it doesn't have to be
expensive either. I wrote this pamphlet to clue visitors and
potential visitors into the places to go and the things to do to
have a safe, cheap, and fun visit to New York.
Safety: You have probably heard a lot of nonsense about
safety in New York. Here are some facts:
In 1994 New York was #46 in the United States for violent
crime. In 1995 we are expected to drop out of the top 100.
Cities very high in crime include Miami, Dallas, Washington,
and New Orleans, but not New York.
The general rule in New York is, if there are other people
around, you are okay. If you see a narrow street with no
people on it late at night, don't walk on it.
The most common kind of crimal in New York is the con
artist who convinces you to give him your money. So if
someone on the streets wants to sell you a VCR wrapped in
a towel, or has just found an envelope with lots of money
and you can get part of it if you just lend him $100 for an
hour, if someone's car has just broken down and he needs
$20 for a tow don't give him the money. Likewise, if you
see guys playing 3 Card Monte on the street (you pick out
the queen after the guy shuffles 3 cards around for a while)
you can't win.
Other than con artists, you should worry a little about
pickpockets and purse & camera snatchings. Keep you
eyes on your belongings, don't carry your wallet in your
back pocket, and keep your camera out of sight when not
I'm 32 years old and I have never seen a gun in New York
City, except on a police officer.
Don't get involved with drugs, especially the heavy stuff,
because you will get hurt (and if you've come to New York
to sell drugs, good riddance to you).
New York is alive 24 hours a day. The subway and buses
also run 24 hours a day. "Late at night" in New York means
after 1AM on weekdays and after 2 or 3AM on weekends.
The subway is safe both day and night, at least until 1 or 2
in the morning.
There are some bad neighborhoods in New York, but they
are mostly in the outer boroughs where you will not be
going. Harlem has some good and bad areas, but in the
busy parts (around 125 street and around 145 street) you
will be perfectly all right during the day.
Getting Around: Absolutely the best way to get around town is
to walk. It's fast (faster than trying to drive, anyway) and there's
always something to see. If you need to get somewhere fast
take the subway. Its fast and safe, despite what you've heard.
Outside of Manhattan, and in Manhattan above 110th Street
you might want to think twice about riding the subway late at
night, but in downtown Manhattan it's fine. You can get a free
subway map at any station when you buy tokens. A single
$1.25 token lets you ride as long as you want, and change
trains as many times as you want until you exit the subway
system. There are no tourist or weeklong discounts available.
We now have something called a Metrocard but you still pay
the same fare and cannot use the card in all stations. There
are lots of different lines which are called by their number or
letter. Don't use the colors drawn on the subway map like they
do in Boston, if you ask for the "Green Line" no one will know
what you are talking about.
We also have buses which cost $1.25 (you can use coins or
subway tokens, but not bills). If you ask the driver for a transfer
he will give you a piece of paper allowing you to make a single
change of bus during your trip. Buses let you see the area you
are going through but during the day they are very slow.
There are several private companies now that run double
decker buses around town stopping at many major tourist
sites. You buy a ticket for one or two days and can get on and
off as you like, picking up the next bus which, in theory, comes
in a half hour. These buses are not worth the price for the
transporation (you'd be hard pressed to spend $15 on the
subway in one day) and, although you do get a narrated tour
of the city as you ride around I've heard of the tour guides
giving some pretty ridiculous facts (for the record the Mayflower
was not one of Christopher Columbus ships!).
Eating: New York can be a very cheap place to eat if you know
what you are doing. Here are some tips:
Pizza: you can find a pizza parlor on almost every block.
New York runs on pizza. A slice of plain pizza (cheese and
tomato sauce) goes for $1.25 to $1.50. Extras like sausage,
peppers, and so on cost about 50 each. You can get a
regular slice which is wedged shaped or a Sicilian slice
which is shaped like a square and has a much thicker,
bread-like crust. You order pizza by saying "Lemme gedda
slice" or "Lemma gedda Sicilian". The best place for stand-
up pizza is Ray's on 11th Street and 6th Avenue.
Street Carts: Street vendors sell all kinds of stuff including
hot dogs (franks), sausages, Italian sausages, falafel (balls
of ground up chick peas, deep fried and served with salad
in pita bread), knishes (mashed potatoes in a square
shape, say the "k" when ordering), chicken, shish kebab,
gyro (in England called doner kebab), etc. This is all good
to eat and can be a good value lunch. There is a great
Ethiopean cart at Broadway & 60th where you can get an
Addis Ababa chicken sandwhich and take it to Central Park
to eat it. In the morning you can get Coffee, donuts, and
bagels from carts for half the price of a store. In Chinatown
there are street vendors with noodles, dumplings, and
scallion pancakes for 50 to $1 a portion.
Korean Salad Bars: These are found in groceries and
lunch places often owned by Korean shopkeepers. They
are serve-yourself takeout salad bars with up to 200 items.
You put what you want in a plastic container and pay by
the pound. Some places have both hot and cold food.
Here are some restaurants where you can have a filling meal
for $6.00 or less:
Ollie's Noodle Shop: Chinese food and giant bowls of
noodle soups for about $5. Ollie's has several locations:
44th & 7th, 83rd & Broadway, and 116th & Broadway.
La Caridad: A combination Chinese and Cuban restaurant,
the Cuban dishes are all good deals. You get the featured
meat plus a big dish of rice & beans. I recommend the
Biftek Palomilla and the Pork Chops, both under $6.
Vegetarians can order just a plate of rice and beans and a
side order of fried sweet plantains. Always a wait at dinner
time. 78th Streeet & Broadway.
Burger Joint & Pizza Joint: Two places right next to each
other on Broadway between 76th & 77th streets. Burger
Joint has about 30 kinds of hamburgers with good steak
fries on the side, and free pickles on the table. Pizza Joint
has some interesting pizzas and italian dishes.
Rupert's: A bar and restaurant at Columbus & 74th, right in
the middle of the Upper West Side nightlife district.
Amazingly low prices considering the location.
Hong Ying: My old standard in Chinatown, at 11 Mott
Street. There are many other restaurants nearby with
similar menus and similar prices.
New Pho Pasteur & Pho Nha Trang: Two Vietnamese
places right next to each other in Chinatown on Bayard
Street across from the Tombs (the Manhattan jail). The best
deals are the big bowls of noodle soup and the "meat over
rices" plates. You can eat here for less than $4.
Dallas BBQ: If you want ribs or chicken, this is the place to
go. Locations on 72nd Street between Central Park West
and Columbus, 8th Street & University, and somewhere in
the East Village. They have an especially good earlybird
deal (at least at the one on 8th Street): two chicken dinners
Odessa: Stick to your ribs Ukranian, Eastern European, and
Greek food. Avenue A between 6th & St. Marks.
Zabar's: A take out place with high quality food at good
prices. Especially good is their coffee bar next door with
cheesecake for $1 per slice. Even if you don't shop here you
should stop by for the experience. Broadway & 81st.
Katz's: A huge, old-fashioned deli on the Lower East Side.
The pastrami sandwhich is big enough for two people, ask
for "extra bread" and you can make two sandwhiches out
of it. Many movies have been filmed here, including the
famous orgasm scene in "When Harry Met Sally". East
Gray's Papaya: A stand-up place with various fruit juices
and hot dogs. The hot dogs are great and most of the time
are on special for 50. You can have onions or sauerkraut
for free. Stay away from the papaya juice, though, it's
nasty. 8th Street &6th Avenue and also 72nd Street &
H&H Bagels: The best bagels in New York. 80th
Waterfront Ale House: A neighborhood place in Brooklyn
Heights. See also under Drinking below.
Here are some restaurants that are more expensive but that
have really good food. You should be able to eat a really fine
meal at these places for $15-$20 per person.
Cucina di Pesce: 4th Street & 1st Avenue.
La Bouillabaise: A no nonsense storefront restaurant with
great food and a crowded bistro atmosphere. No reservations,
no credit cards, always a wait at dinner Brooklyn: Atlantic
Avenue between Henry & Clinton Streets.
Drinking: These are some of my favorite bars. I'm a snob
when it comes to beer, so these are places that have a really
good selection of quality beers.
Peculiar Pub: Seven million beers (well, not quite, but a few
hundred anyway), not particularly well kept. Bleecker Street
& Laguardia Place.
Dublin House: A scruffy Irish bar on the Upper West Side
with a mix of yuppies and hopeless alcholics. If the right
bartender is on, you can get a pint of Guiness here better
than any outside Dublin. This is where Shane McGowan
drinks when he's in town. 79th between Broadway &
Chumley's: At one time a speakeasy (illegal pub during
prohobition) Chumley's has never gotten around to putting
up any signs. Consequently, you have to go down an
unmarked ally and through an unmarked door to find a
good selection of American microbrews. Avoid the place
on weekday evenings when it's packed with yuppies.
Corner of Bedford & Barrow Streets in Greenwich Village.
Maggie's Place: A businessman's bar with great Guinness
and free happy hour food on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and
Thursdays. Madison Ave. & 47th Street.
Waterfront Ale House: A neigbhorhood bar in Brooklyn
Heights with a good selection of American micro-brews
and reasonable food. The beers are about $1 cheaper
than in Manhattan, they're well kept, and there's no snob
appeal at this place. Atlantic Ave between Henry & Clinton
Zip City: One of New York's 5 pub breweries and probably
the best now that the Manhattan Brewing Company is
closed. Mostly continental style lagers. 18th Street & 5th
Sleeping: There are plenty of youth hostels scattered
throughout Manhattan and cheap hotels as well where you
can get a double room for $60-$100.
UWS Upper West Side
WUWS Way Upper West Side
GV Greenwich Village
Hostels: dorm style accomodation. Americans may be asked
to prove that they are bona fide travellers. This list based on
the 1995 Hostel Handbook. For a complete list of 500+ hostels
in the U.S. and Canada, order the Handbook for $2.00 per
copy, + $1 for postage, money orders only, payable to Jim
Williams, 722 St. Nicholas Avenue, New York, New York 10031.
Big Apple Hostel 302-2603 $17+Tax MT
Blue Rabbit Int. House 491-3892 $12-$14 H
800-610-2030 outside NYC
Chelsea Center 643-0214 $18-20 C
Gershwin Hotel 545-8000 $17 MT
HI-New York 932-2300 $20-$25 membersUWS
International House 316-8436 $25 WUWS
Int. Student Center 787-7706 $12 UWS
N.Y. Bed & Breakfast 666-0559 $20 WUWS
N.Y. Banana Bungalow 800-6HOSTEL $15-18 UWS
Sugar Hill Int. House 926-7030 $12-14 H
Uptown Hostel 666-0559 $12 H
Hotels: These are regular hotels although unlike standard
American hotels many offer rooms with shared baths.
PB Private Bath
SB Shared Bath
Gershwin Hotel 545-8000 S or D, $70 MT
Herald Square 279-4017 S-SB $40 MT
Newton 678-6500 S $55 UWS
Ameritania 246-5000 S $89 MT
Wolcott 268-2900 S $65 MT
Carlton Arms 679-0680 S-SB $40 MT
Portland Square 382-0600 S-SB $40 MT
Mansfield 944-6050 S $65 MT
The Excelsior 362-9200 S $65 UWS
Int. House 316-8436 S-SB $18-$25 WUWS
Leo House: 929-1010 S $58 MT
Malibu Studios S $35 UWS
Milburn Hotel S or D $89 UWS
Westpark D $85 MT/UWS
Hotel Olcott S $80 UWS
Roger Williams 684-7500 S $55 MT
Stanford 563-1480 S $80 MT
Washington Square 777-9515 S $65 GV
Hotel 17 475-2845 S or D-SB $50 MT
Shopping: New York is the best place in the U.S. to shop for
most things. We do have a high sales tax here (8,%) but the
prices are often much cheaper than other cities. You can't get
the tax back when you leave. If you have a car you can get
even better deals by going across the river to New Jersey.
Jeans, Running Shoes, & T-Shirts: the section of lower
Broadway between Canal & Houston streets has many shops
with cheap blue jeans and also some places to buy running
shoes. The first place to try is Canal Jeans, Broadway &
Broome, which has a big selection and low prices. Sidewalk
vendors in this neighborhood sell T-shirts at 3 for $10.
Electronics: There are tons of places to buy electronics, but
some of them are dishonest. I prefer to go someplace where I
might pay a dollar or two more, but where I know I'll get the
merchandise I'm paying for. Here are two places I go to:
47th Street Photo: Two stores on 47th between 5th & 6th
Avenues (mostly photography and video) and 45th Street
between 6th & 7th Avenues (computers and consumer
electronics). A good place to go if you know exactly what
you want (they don't like to answer a lot of questions).
Closed Friday afternoon and all day Saturday.
J&R Music, Computer, Video, and Office Worlds: A
bunch of stores next to each other on Park Row, near the
Brooklyn Bridge, right across from City Hall. Good prices
and good selection, and the people will spend more time
talking to you (remember, if they give you good advice, it's
probably good for them and not for you).
CDs & Tapes: CDs are a lot cheaper in the U.S. than in Europe.
Two places to buy them are at J&R Music World (see above)
and Tower Records: 4th Street & Broadway, other locations.
There are also guys who sell CDs on the street at Union Square,
Worth & Center Streets (by the Courthouse) and the flea
Flea Markets: Although New York is not a great town for flea
markets there are a couple of interesting ones on the
weekends. Try the schoolyard at 77th Street & Columbus
Avenue or Grand Street & Broadway.
Things to do: Your guide book will tell you about the normal
things to do in the city. Here are some less well known things
to do that are cheap or free:
Staten Island Ferry: This is a commuter boat that goes
from the southern tip of Manhattan to Staten Island. It costs
only 50 for the round trip which takes 40 minutes. From
the boat you get a good look at the Statue of Liberty and the
Central Park: This is Manhattan's back yard and the place
to go on a sunny weekend day. There are heaps of
buskers and street performers here (rock, folk, classical,
bagpipes, break dancing, rollerblade dancing, impromptu
Central Park Concerts: In addition to the unofficial concerts
by buskers in the park there is a regular series of free
concerts at Summerstage on the Rumsey Playfield on the
east side of Central Park around 72nd Street. The
performances range from classical to funk, poetry,and jazz.
For info call 360-2766.
Cloisters: This a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
located way uptown in Fort Tryon Park. It is a
conglomeration of medieval buildings brought from Europe
which now houses part of the museum's medieval art
collection including the famous Unicorn Tapestries.
Bronx Zoo: A really great zoo. You can get there by
subway or public bus. It costs $6 to get in but it is free on
Wednesdays. If you do go on the free day, pay the $1 to go
in the bird house, it's worth it. You'll probably want to
spend the whole day at the zoo, but nearby you can also
visit the Bronx Botanical Gardens.
Brooklyn Heights & Brooklyn Promenade: Definitely worth
checking out this upscale, quiet neighborhood just across
the Brooklyn Bridge from downtown Manhattan. If you
think "I could never live in New York" take a look at the
Heights before the decide. From the Promenade, a park
built above the harbor, you have a fantastic 180 degree
view taking in the Verranzano Narrows Bridge, Staten
Island, Governers Island, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island,
New Jersey, several ferries, the downtown skyline, the
South Street Seaport, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Municipal
Building, the Manhattan Bridge, the Empire State Building,
the Pan Am (now Metlife) Building, and the Chrysler
Building. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, or subway to Clark
Street or Boro Hall.
Cineplex Odeon: This is a new, fancy movie theater that
shows second-run movies (ones that come out about 6
months ago) for $2 per person. 50th between 8th & 9th
One comment - Larry, you are truly a God.
| Mike Leipe | "There's only two things in life, but I forget |
| Bell-Northern Research | what they are." - John Hiatt |
| Ottawa, Canada |----------------------------------------------------|
| (613) 765-3206 | * My opinions, not BNR's * |
Great, great job, Larry! A real public service.
Just a couple of comments...
> The best place for stand-
> up pizza is Ray's on 11th Street and 6th Avenue.
I wouldn't be a real New Yorker if I didn't have
my own opinions on this one; let me just add that the best
*sit-down* pizza is John's ("no slices"!), Bleecker between
6th and 7th in Greenwich Village. Very thin, slightly charred
crust. Try to go outside regular meal times, it can get very
>Here are some restaurants that are more expensive but that
>have really good food. You should be able to eat a really fine
>meal at these places for $15-$20 per person.
I would add Brother's Bar-B-Q, Houston Street just
east of Varick Street (the southern continuation of 7th Ave.).
Possibly the best BBQ in New York coupled with a neighborhood
bar, very good food and interesting atmosphere.
Also, for Mexican food, Mary Ann's (several locations,
I've only eaten in the one on 16th Street and 8th Avenue).
Also gets very crowded at peak hours; big portions of very
>Flea Markets: Although New York is not a great town for flea
>markets there are a couple of interesting ones on the
>weekends. Try the schoolyard at 77th Street & Columbus
>Avenue or Grand Street & Broadway.
Also a couple on Sixth Avenue in the teens.
> Central Park: This is Manhattan's back yard and the place
> to go on a sunny weekend day. There are heaps of
> buskers and street performers here (rock, folk, classical,
> bagpipes, break dancing, rollerblade dancing, impromptu
Also, believe it or not, great bird watching, especially
during spring migration.
> Bronx Zoo: A really great zoo....
It's *big*. Be prepared to do a lot of walking.
But definitely worth it.
Just had to interject: the fastest ride I ever had in NYC was a north-south
cab ride, along Second Avenue, I believe. We were passing Bats Out of Hell,
Superman, etc. Scarier than a rickety old rollercoaster. Not for those on
"He could watch the stars till he had peopled them..."
-------------------------------------- Tulse Luper: 92 trusty toucans in VUE.
Sorry, that's 20's!
FANTASTIC! This is a great piece of work.
Great Guide to NY
I would like to add two or three bars.
Subway Inn on E 60th and Lexington Av across the street from
bloomingdale's, I happened to run into Julia Roberts in that bar (not
completely by accident) Great old guys running the place. Toilets no
to clean, beer is cheap.
Ear inn 326 Spring Strt (corner of Greenwich strt)Guinness is fair,
Food is good.
Paddy Reilly 2nd Av betw 28th and 29 strt. The Guinness is slightly
better than the Dublin House, irish live music a couple of times a
week,. You never forget your first Irish Rap Band
Gerrit Kuilder The Netherlands Amsterdam
-Are you a srtict t.t.? says Joe.
-Not taking anything between drinks, says I
Joe Martines - Ottawa
|> Paddy Reilly 2nd Av betw 28th and 29 strt. The Guinness is slightly
|> better than the Dublin House, irish live music a couple of times a
|> week,. You never forget your first Irish Rap Band
I'd like to second this recommendation - I had a *blast* here one night
> Here is a brief guide to New York that I have been working on.
> I consider it a work in progress and would welcome any comments
> you care to make based on your PERSONAL EXPERIENCE in New York as
> a resident or as a visitor. You can email comments to :
> LLU...@DELPHI.COM or post them to this newsgroup. Here goes:..
>Drinking: These are some of my favorite bars. I'm a snob
>when it comes to beer, so these are places that have a really
>good selection of quality beers..
Good job. I am also a picky beer drinker, but there a few bars that
are must see, regardless of the type of beer they serve.
I am not sure of the exact location but I think it somewhere on 8th St
(any cabbie knows its's exact location). It's one of the oldest pubs
in NYC complete with sawdust on the floor and a roaming cat, it is a
classic Irish, pure beer drinking bar. They dont serve any mixed drinks
and their beer menu consists of Dark or Light McSorley's "home brew".
You buy them 2 at a time for $2 or $2.50.
The Lounge on top of the Marriot in Times Square:
Definitely not one of your cheapest bars, but its a great stop for
weary tourists who have been fighting the crowds all day. The view
from this rotating bar is spectacular and its a much more relaxing way
to take in the view of NYC than the World Trade Center of Emipe State
Building. Even though it may look ritzy, you will not stick out out if
you are in casual "tacky tourist" attire.
Hogs and Heffers:
If your looking for a wild time head on down to the meat packing
distict (14th st and 9th...I think?) and head on into Hogs and Heffers.
The place looks a little intimidating from the outside, however, a
part of the crowd is your standard 20-25 year old crowd. The standard
house beer is Pabst Blue Ribbon (in cans), need I say more. There is a
giant Buffulo head above the bar draped with hundreds of female
undergarments, stick around for a few beers and you might see how they
all got there.
This is your classic surfer bar complete located on the upper West side
between the 80's and 90's. This is another bar for you party animals,
there are always people dancing on the bar and chugging the happy juice
from plastic sharks.
>Any chance of reposting this guide? I'd really appreciate it as
>I think I missed it. Thanks.
I'll repost in a few days, after I incorporate a number of suggestions
people have sent to me.