New York City is the bar capital. Forget Berlin. Forget San Francisco, and Moscow, and London, and Los Angeles. It’s here. A great argument can be made that East Village is the bar capital of New York. A great argument can be made for Greenwich Village, the Meatpacking District, Lower East Side, West Village, and (believe it or not) Chinatown. But to me Williamsburg in Brooklyn is the Mecca of bar-hopping in New York and – by the transitive property – the world. Make it out to Radegast Hall and Beer Garden on N 3rd Street and Berry and you won’t be disappointed. Featuring live music every weeknight and most weekends, this 1940-styled biergarten is filled with cheerful people and swing-dancing. And beer. Lots of beer. Oh, so much beer. Nearby are wonderful, small bars such as the Hotel Delmano and Maison Premiere, featuring oysters and innovative cocktails. Of course, I can go on and on about Williamsburg and give War and Peace a run for its page-count. But I’ll leave it for now. Consider this Chapter One.
Perhaps the most underrated should-be tourist attraction in the free world is New York City’s 5 Pointz, located in Queens. A magnificent several blocks of graffiti art stretches from the asphalt to the blue skies, and makes for one of the most stunning views in the city. If I were to guess, it gets about 7 visitors per year. What a shame. There’s also a wonderful little Thai restaurant called Gaw Gai Thai Express right next to it on Jackson Avenue.
Chinatown, like any other New York neighborhood, is filled with hidden gems. Chinese food has become a fixture in my life – you can afford only so many burgers and curry before you go broke. Here are two wonderful (and wonderfully cheap) dumpling shops in Chinatown:
For boiled dumplings, go to Shu Jiao Fu Zhou Cuisine Restaurant on 118 Eldridge Street. 7 dumplings for $2 or 11 for $3. Get 11. My #1 choice (and, yes, Vanessa’s Dumplings are for tourists), boiled dumplings are healthier than fried dumplings, but are normally not as delicious. That myth gets debunked here, my favorite dumpling shop.
For fried dumplings, go to Prosperity Dumpling on 46 Eldridge Street. Get the Number 6 order. 5 dumplings for $1. Get 10. It’s the smallest hole-in-the-wall shop you’ll ever walk into, and the ambiance doesn’t give justice to the little slice of heaven you’re about to bite into.
On a Wednesday, go to 9 Doyers Street in Chinatown to what looks like a shady apartment building. Knock on the door. And make sure you’ve looked up the daily password for entry into Apotheke, one of the best speakeasy bars in New York City.