To say that New York City is huge is a massive understatement. With millions of people, five boroughs, and seemingly limitless options for entertainment it's virtually impossible to take in all the Big Apple has to offer in one lifetime. Couple New York's size with that fact that every resident has his or her own favorite neighborhoods, bars, restaurants, hobbies—you name it, and it quickly becomes clear that no two people's New York looks the same. But that's the beauty of this city: there's something for everybody if you're willing to look. With New York's epically diverse array of activities and locales in mind, Complex has rounded up its 50 favorite places in in the city right now. From classic landmarks to new hot-spots, we think everything on this list is worth a visit.
Gotham West Market
There are days you want to eat something, and others where you want to eateverything. On the latter, you'd be well-advised to head to Gotham West Market. The multi-vendor gastro wonderland is an indecisive eater's dream. Unlike similar concepts like Chelsea Market, Gotham West has only eight carefully-chosen vendors, each of which occupies a small slice of the sleek space. Sit at Cannibal's counter and take down a pig's head cuban sandwich at Cannibal, orslurp a bowl of Ivan's savory rye noodles. Stop by Genuine Roadside for a burger and a side of '70s nostalgia, or wash down tapas with Rioja at chef Seamus Mullen's tapas bar. Sure, it's avenues away from a subway, but with a Blue Bottle and a bike store on premise, Gotham West's many diversions can easily consume an entire afternoon. Or, have you consuming for an entire afternoon. Both are strong options.
If you’re looking for a restaurant that offers a menu contrary to your normal steak and potatoes type of dinner, Red Bamboo is definitely the place to experience. Yeah, it’s a vegan friendly restaurant, but the delectable panko breaded and rosemary seasoned Soul “Chicken” will easily influence anyone to come back for more. The menu is unique, ranging from vegan burgers to soy beef, and the close-knit "homey" feel will seem as if you’re at your mother’s house for dinner. Stop by for lunch or grab a bite with your date before happy hour.
Xi'an Famous Foods started as a tiny basement location in Flushing's Golden Mall, but has since grown into a small empire that spans from Greenpoint to the Upper West Side. Specializing in the pallet-searingly spicy cuisine of Xi'an in Western China, the food isn't for those who gravitate toward bland and boring. But for urban explorers looking for something with more punch than General Tso's, there's no better place to find it. Standout dishes include the Spicy and Tingly Beef Hand-Ripped Noodles and the Lamb Face Salad. Yep, you read the right: lamb face—and it's delicious.
Russ & Daughters Cafe
In the back, there's a sign: "For what you have been waiting, Russ & Daughters is enlarging its quarters for your sit-down convenience.” And by waiting, they mean: Since 1914, which is how long Russ & Daughters has been selling smoked fish, cream cheese, bagels, caviar, and so much more on the Lower East Side. And after so many generations, Russ & Daughters—without question, the greatest food shop in New York City—finally made a change. Most New York City institutions switching it up after 100 years of business usually aren't received well. But Russ & Daughters isn't most New York City institutions, let alone food purveyors.
In the new sit-down restaurant on Orchard Street, they've managed to adapt an already perfect thing into simply more perfection, from the big band piping over the speakers to the soda shop-style counters, heavy dishware, and especially that menu: Latkes. Bagles. Bialys. Smoked salmon, lox, and herring. Caviar. Egg creams. Shrubs. Sure, there are some creative flourishes on the menu, but at the end of the day, these are mostly ages-old dishes in a restaurant that's had a century of incredibly high standards to live up to before it even opened. And yet: Russ & Daughters cafe doesn't just live up to those impossibly high expectations, but succeeds them. It usually takes a long time for something to become a classic. With Russ & Daughters cafe, it just took that first nosh.
Baby's All Right
Right around the time 285 Kent closed its doors, it seemed like every party shifted over to Baby’s All Right. But the two venues couldn’t be any more different. Baby’s, by weekend day, is a brunch spot with a usually fantastic drunk brunch special. Tucked right under the Williamsburg bridge, the spot hosts some of the very best DJ nights (THE KID MERO and Dapwell, included) and the back room serves as the perfect venue for a plethora of artists, not to mention there’s a fucking replica of the maze from The Shining on the floor of the performance area. Everyone from DIIV to Charli XCX to Ratking and more have performed in the back venue space, and with the “Pink Baby” drink, the spot is sure to only get more popular in the next year.
Black Seed Bagels
If you're a New Yorker, Montréalais, or person who just likes good food (and doesn't have a gluten intolerance), chances are you have strong opinions about where to find the world's best bagels. Still, there are some constants that most everyone can agree on: a bagel should be hand rolled, boiled, dense (but not too dense), chewy (but not too chewy), and well seasoned. Black Seed, SoHo's new haute bagelry, plays like the perfect amalgam of those variables. Bagels are small—(no "scooping" here) but beautiful pieces of art. Toppings are also ingeniously devised, with the house-made beet-cured lox standing out as a highlight. Like most of the flavors at Black Seed, there's nothing overpowering about the fish, there's just an additional depth of flavor.) Also delicious is the tobiko caviar, which I would eat dangerous amounts of if given free reign in the kitchen. Something to note, however, is that the bagels really are small. If you want to get your fill, you'll have to order one of the excellent side-salads. Don't be daunted by the long line: The wait is worth it.
Enjoy a soothing summer evening on a cozy rooftop with a bowl of the best Pho broth you can cop in Williamsburg. This Vietnamese establishment lures its guests in simply with the design—dark wooden tabletops, exposed ceilings, dangling light fixtures, and a sleek bronze color that brings it all to life. Your shrimp dumplings or stir-fried tofu will come out faster than you expect, alongside the specially-made intoxicating drinks. Drop in and have a bite to eat with some friends if Vietnamese food tickles your fancy.
The NoMad Hotel
Forget about the Wi-Fi leeching tech and media scene populating the lobby of the Ace Hotel right up the street. In fact, they're all the more reason to take refuge in the NoMad's dark hallways and various bars instead. The NoMad has a more international crowd attending to it, and its draw to jet-setting It-People has proven consistently powerful since the place has been open. Having a Maison Kitsune boutique for a "hotel store" doesn't hurt, and neither does a choice of six different spots within the hotel to grab a bite or a drink, most drawing from the same critically acclaimed menu, though with occasional distinctions.
We say hit the atrium during the day, one of the greatest naturally-lit spaces in New York to grab a cup of coffee or breakfast right now. But more than anywhere else there these days, it's the recently opened two-story bar room at The NoMad—replete with its own distinct cocktail and food menu from the restaurant, one that's already earning raves from New York City's most Twittered expense account holders—that's the place to be. Expensive as hell? Yes. But if you've got it, and got it to spend? Spend it here.
Bergino Baseball Clubhouse offers a unique twist to baseball accessories, producing extraordinary items perfect for the game’s fanatics and gifting. If you’ve ever marked a map-designed or fuzzy purple suede ball down on your wish list, this shop that generates hand-made items will have that arranged. The venue itself—well known for its dope artwork and decorative fixtures like the Babe Ruth photo made of Legos and even a color-coded wall with baseballs neatly resting in steel baskets. No matter the desire to throw events at the place or just browsing, this is definitely a landmark to bring those who are seriously devoted to having some exclusive baseball collectables hanging around the house
Washington Square Park
Central Park is the incredible, epic classic of New York City parks, sure. And both Tompkins in the East Village and Prospect in Park Slope certainly have their charms (respectively, wannabe crust punks ten years too late and every Brooklyn parenting cliche the borough has to offer). But square foot for square foot, Washington Square Park is maybe the most special of these places. On the west side of the park, the pickup chess game tables (where Stanley Kubrick was known to play). On the south side, a newly constructed plaza, usable park bathrooms, and a new grass knoll, built into and over the ground. On the east side, those guys with the piano, the Otto gelato cart, the arcade with the benches. In the center, every stripe of street entertainment, be they cliche (break dancers) or refined (jazz trios), but so often the most impressive the city has to choose from. And then, of course, the fountain, and the arches, as seen in movies ranging fromKids to I Am Legend (of course, most of the movies screened during warmer seasons in Washington Square Park are in French, such is this park's particular character).
It's definitely not our city's most famed park, nor is it the greenest, but therein lies its most special charm: A pronounced lack of tourists, in one of the most touristy and ritzy neighborhoods in the city. It may be, as far as big parks go, the one most hidden in plain sight. And despite NYU buildings crowding up around it like an invasive species, the place still always feels diverse, alive, and quintessentially New York, in that it's a perfectly free, useful way to regularly remind ourselves of why we put up with all the shit we do to live here.
La Marina provides its guests with one of the best views in the city. You’ll be able to enjoy some of their delectable happy hour cocktails, all while eating an awesome meal overlooking the Hudson River. The resort-style feel makes the location one of the few blissful hideaways in Midtown. Pat down your sides before entering to make sure your pockets are swollen though, it can get a tad pricey. Nonetheless, great experience overall for your next event, date, or personal celebration.