Walking amidst a sea of shops and restaurants, it’s difficult to know which places are worth your time. Here are eight classic destinations that have offered New Yorkers great selection and value for decades.
The Strand – 18 miles of books packed into one shop spread out over several floors. Famous for their deep discounts on new books and extensive out-of-print selections. Review copies of brand new books are available here at low prices.
Every day of the week The Strand is buzzing with people who love books. A rare and special place.
828 Broadway (near 12th Street)
9:30am to 10:30pm weekdays
Forbidden Planet – A mecca for comic book fans that attracts all walks of life. A vibrant community exists here with a shared passion for art, super heroes, and story telling. The store is crowded with people pouring over the latest comic releases.
In addition to the enviable selection of comics, toy figures, and graphic novels, check out their 200+ T-shirts!
832 Broadway (near 13th Street, and just a few doors up from The Strand!)
9am to 10pm, open til midnight Wednesday thru Saturday
Barney’s – This is the place that Lane Crawford aspired to become (and succeeded!) The ten-story flagship offers a vast selection of top designers and exclusive products not found anywhere else.
Barney’s is an innovator, an international leader in fashion retailing, and a classic New York institution.
660 Madison Avenue (near 61st Street.)
10am to 8pm weekdays
Paragon’s Sporting Goods – Located just above Union Square, Paragon’s is the place to go for a wide variety of sports equipment. They combine extensive inventory covering a huge variety of sports from tennis, running, basketball and biking, to skateboarding, baseball, hockey, and hiking, with a staff that are knowledgeable about the products – something Hong Kong often lacks.
10am to 8:30 pm weekdays
Katz’s Deli – Opened in 1888, Katz’s is a throwback to old New York. Get your ticket as you walk in; choose any of the counter lines; step up to place your order and you’ll get a preview taste of the meat on a plate. Recommended are classics like a hot corned beef or pastrami sandwich on rye. Soon your plate will be overflowing with a towering sandwich. Find a place to sit and indulge in a tradition that’s over 100 years old!
205 East Houston Street
8am to 10:45pm, open late Thursday, Friday and Saturday
B&H Dairy – Simple, inexpensive, and tasty fare with the same menu since the early 1940’s! Delicious soups and vegetarian cuisine – there is no meat served.
Portions are large and even the basic challah bread with butter is elevated to outstanding here. B&H is one of the few dairy counters left in New York City. For more background on B&H, read here.
127 2nd Avenue, near St. Mark’s Place
7am to 11pm weekdays
Century 21 – Big name designers, basics, accessories, and an exceptional selection of houseware, all at extreme discounts. Century 21 is famous for snagging high fashion previews at low prices. Be prepared to spend time across several floors, and you might just find that you need to buy a new suitcase!
22 Cortlandt Street
10am to 9pm weekdays
Pearl Paint – A massive, multi-story art store that stocks an amazing assortment of paints, brushes, pencils, markers, sketch books and virtually any other art supplies you can think of. The halls of Pearl Paint have been haunted by many of New York’s greatest artists.
Pearl Paint UPDATE: sadly, Pearl Paint is now closed. 🙁
308 Canal Street
10am to 7pm
A very reasonable list! I think the first things that come to mind that aren’t on your list are Gray’s Papaya, Zabars, Fairway, Barney Greengrass, Dean & Deluca, the farmer’s market at Union Square, Macys, J&R Music World …. Of course lists like this are just a starting point and everyone’s got their own.
Thanks for the additions Spike! I actually took photos of Gray’s Papaya (they’ve started selling pizza for $.99 a slice, which seems a little shabby to me.) I shopped at Zabar’s, ate at Barney Greengrass (a little on the pricey side for my taste;) walked by Dean & Deluca (I was always more of Gourmet Garage & Balducci’s fan.)
There are also two new Italian markets in N.Y. as well, Eataly, which is closer to Dean & Deluca with an emphasis on in-house restaurants, and Buon Italia in Chelsea Market, which is cheaper for groceries. I walked through the farmer’s market at Union Square several times, and of course went to check out J&R Music World, and Rock and Soul near Macy’s. All are valuable spots that could be on the list!
As a general observation, New York is corny now with many stores that are typically found in suburban shopping malls invading the city. Where there were once lots of individual businesses, chain stores appear to be taking over (similar to Hong Kong.) Downtown, Duane Reade drug stores are everywhere (they now have 253 branches,) and are practically as common as 7-11’s in Hong Kong.
On another note, the average slice of pizza in Manhattan is just nowhere near as good as it used to be. I would bet that the boroughs, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx still all have better, traditional New York pizza. (The high cost of rent, competition for space, and the dynamic nature of Manhattan all contribute to this.)
Thanks again for your comment!
Good timing planning for my first trip to the US later on this year!