16 AUG 2017: My husband and I are just back from a few days in The Big Apple and I’m happy to report that you don’t have to be related to Donald Trump or the Rockefellers to have a wonderful time. From freebies to bargains to a few well-deserved indulgences, here’s where to save and splurge in the city that never sleeps.  

All prices approximated in US dollars


Star Spangled Pig

In the heart of West Greenwich Village (314W. 11th Street) The Spotted Pig, a local hangout, specializes in seasonal British and Italian fare. Shoestring fries and roasted Brussels sprouts are insanely good, as are the burger topped with Roquefort cheese and smoked haddock chowder. The Pig may be the world’s least pretentious restaurant to have earned one Michelin Star. It’s open for brunch, lunch and dinner on a first-come first-served basis.

All Tarted Up

House-made sweet and savoury tarts (about $8.50 each) are yummy at Once Upon a Tart (135 Sullivan Street), as is the savoury chicken potpie. Everything looks “good enough to eat,” including the seasonal window displays.

Caffeine Buzz

I’m a self-confessed coffee snob who goes out of her way to find the best brews in whatever city I’m visiting. If you’re in Little Italy, get your java jolt at Caffe Reggio (119 MacDougal Street). www.caffereggio.com

New in the lower lever of Rockefeller Center is Blue Bottle where they do great espresso-based drinks as well as divine drips. www.bluebottlecoffee.com

At the Chelsea Market, once the original Nabisco factory and home to the world’s first Oreo cookies, try an award-winning latte at Ninth Street Espresso where the barista quips he’s made it into GQ’s list of where to get the best coffee in America. www.ninthstreetespresso.com

Make Yourself At Home

I discovered City Lights B & B years ago and it remains one of my top New York finds. This superbly run registry, with properties all over the city, offers the comfort of a real home and the chance to live like a New Yorker for as little as approximately $150 per night. We just stayed in a brownstone at East 65th and 5th Avenue. The apartment slept four and was full of interesting art and books. How nice to have a fully equipped kitchen to prepare snacks, coffee and cocktails. Or perhaps a loft in Soho or a flat in the Village is more to your liking. Hosted or unhosted, you receive a set of keys so you can come and go as you please. Note: there is a three-night minimum and the earlier you book the more choices you’ll have. www.citylightsnewyork.com

The House that Herring Built

"Russ & Daughters occupies that rare and tiny place on the mountaintop reserved for those who are not just the oldest and the last—but also the best." That’s fine praise from celebrity travelling chef, Anthony Bourdain.

In 1907, Joel Russ immigrated from the shtetl of Strzyzow, now part of modern day Poland. He got his start selling schmaltz herring out of a barrel to the throngs of Eastern European Jews on the Lower East Side. It took him seven years to work his way up from that first herring barrel to having a pushcart operation, a horse and wagon, and then, in 1914, a brick and mortar store. In 1920, he moved to 179 East Houston Street, where the business has been ever since. Four generations later Russ & Daughters is still serving the best smoked salmon, herring, caviar, bagels and borscht you can imagine. www.russanddaughters.com

Choose your Hood

Pick your neighbourhood (Soho, Little Italy or Coney Island, for example) and take a free stroll with a resident New Yorker Big Apple Greeter. This non-profit organization began in 1992 and now has about 300 volunteers who will welcome visitors in up to 22 languages. A walk around Central Park, for instance, could reveal such hidden delights as the 1871 carousel, John Lennon’s Imagine memorial garden and the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, St. John the Divine. Try to arrange a month in advance and bring your walking shoes. The greeters are enthusiastic and indefatigable. No tipping but the organization does accept donations. www.bigapplegreeter.org

Artsy Bargains

Admission to the Museum of Modern Art is free for all visitors every Friday evening, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. (and until 9:00 p.m.) from July 1 to September 2). Avoid long lines by arriving after 6 p.m. www.moma.org

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, colloquially "the Met," is the largest art museum in the United States, and is among the most visited art museums in the world. Admission is “pay what you can.” Don’t miss The Theater of Disappearance on the roof, an installation by Argentinian artist, Adrian Villar Rojas. www.metmuseum.org

Carnegie and Caviar

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice, as the old adage goes…or take a one-hour tour ($17; $12 for seniors, children and students) with a docent and learn how Andrew Carnegie came to build the famous music hall which escaped the wrecker’s ball twice. Note: there are no tours from July through September; they resume in October. See the box where Carnegie installed a cot in case he dozed off during Tchaikovsky’s premiere performance in 1891. The Rose Museum is full of treasures such as Benny Goodman’s clarinet. www.carnegiehall.org

Take a peek and perhaps indulge in a caviar and vodka tasting at the ornate Russian Tea Room nearby. www.russiantearoomnyc.com


Bring on the Bubbles

No trip to New York is complete without a visit to The Plaza Hotel (managed by Fairmont), Manhattan’s Grand Dame overlooking Central Park. The Champagne Bar began as the Champagne Porch in 1907, patronized by the likes of Diamond Jim Brady and the Prince of Wales. After a shopping workout on Fifth Avenue, I recommend a few reviving bubbles.

Den of Denim

SOHO is full of designer shops and boutiques such as the Jean Shop selling what GQ Magazine dubbed “the Cristal of the denim world” for about $150 a pair. Remember, life’s too short to wear cheap jeans! www.jean-shop.com

Go Nomad

Chef Daniel Humm’s Michelin three-starred restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, was named best restaurant in the world in 2017. Even if we had won the lottery we couldn’t snag a reservation there. However, Humm also presides at Nomad in the Nomad Hotel and we were happy to dine there. His signature dish is a roast chicken for two for $89. It is to die for. Humm stuffs slices of black truffle, foie gras and crumbled brioche between the breast and the skin and roasts it to mahogany perfection. Finish with his Milk & Honey dessert, a simply delicious combo of shortbread, brittle and ice cream. www.thenomadhotel.com

Piscean Platters

The Chelsea Market is my favourite place to graze on Sunday mornings. The former Oreo Cookie factory is now home to boutiques and eateries galore. If you’ve got a fetish for fish, head to the Lobster Place Seafood Market. This Piscean emporium offers sushi, freshly shucked oysters, chowders and freshly steamed whopper lobsters. Pull on the plastic gloves and prepare to do battle with your crustacean along with fellow lobster lovers at communal tables. www.lobsterplace.com




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Anita Draycott

Quite aside from being an award winning writer, whose travel articles and photography regularly appear in golf and lifestyle publications and websites, Anita Draycott is a self confessed golf fanatic, who has chased dimpled white balls over five continents.  

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