Monday, April 25, 2011

nyc shopping guide

A reader asked for my shopping recommendations in NYC. I thought I would post it here as a quick reference for all my readers. As a disclaimer, I would like to say that the shopping landscape changes a lot in NYC so for more up-to-date listings I would supplement my list with shopping guides from Lucky Magazine or Refinery29. I also do a lot of online shopping nowadays, so I might not be the ultimate source. These are the areas I am most familiar with since I grew up in Midtown West and went to grammar and high schools on the Upper East Side. These are the stores I frequent, and I tried to group them by neighborhood so you can actually plan a shopping trip. For more restaurant recommendations I would definitely check out Gennie's blog Maison des Reveries. She has them labelled under "nyc" and "restaurant recommendations."

I would start in the Financial District at discount megastore Century21. I like to go there early in the morning before it gets too crowded and disorganized. I purchase a lot of Rick Owens at Century21, but they have tons of other brands like Pucci, Dolce, Margiela, etc., as well as some mid-range brands and a big denim selection with brands like JBrand and Hudson. From there I would take the C or E trains (not the A) uptown to Spring St. and walk a block east to Thompson St. One of my favorite consignment stores, INA, has a small branch there. A bit pricey but way cheaper than original retail prices. If you're hungry a good place for lunch is Snack, right next door to INA. They serve good Greek classics for decent prices. I love the veal meatballs (keftedes) and greek salad. Also on the same block is Porto Rico Trading Company, which serves great coffee. It is very small and I don't think there's a sign, but there will be a bench in front and bags of coffee beans in the window. Sometimes they have homemade caramels which are really good. Then I would head back to Spring St. and walk about half a block east to Flying A, which has a bunch of under-the-radar European brands like Maje which are often hard to find in the US. Flying A is great for edgy basics. They have some vintage pieces but I would refrain from buying vintage in NYC. It is incredibly overpriced, especially editor/blogger faves like What Goes Around Comes Around and Screaming Mimi's. You can buy vintage in other cities, same type of merchandise as those stores, for a lot cheaper. I prefer to shop designer consignment. The only exception would be Shareen Vintage for dresses. Definitely check them out but they keep very irregular hours so Google their hours and location beforehand. Anyway, back to Soho. So keep walking east, you'll hit some cute small stores like Wink, great for accessories, and Olive & Bette's, which has some cute t-shirts if you need to buy presents for anyone. There's an LF store somewhere there too for that "boho" look and some cute summer styles. If you want a refreshing iced drink I would stop by Vosges Haute Chocolat and get the iced white chocolate. It has hints of lavander and is so delicious. Grab a pack of their caramel marshmallows or chocolate-covered toffee if you have a sweet tooth. Next and not to be missed is Roundabout Resale. I think it's on Mercer St. but double-check. Awesome selection, the items are new but discounted since they are from past seasons. They had a lot of Ann Demeulemeester and Alexander McQueen last time I was there. They also have some pre-owned Chanel and some decently-priced designer shoes. The APC store is close by and great for that classic French look. Walk south to Grand St. for the new Alexander Wang boutique, or walk north to Prince St. for Intermix and Miu Miu. Intermix is quite pricey and the staff is not the friendliest, but they are great for "going out" outfits. It is very trendy and it's how stylish young NYers dress. If you plan on hitting up the Meatpacking District clubs and restaurants, Intermix would be a good place to find an outfit. They often have a sale rack and the items I buy there I end up wearing often. Walk east to Broadway and you'll find all the high street shops. Topshop, Mango, and Madewell are worth a look since they are not as ubiquitous as H&M or Zara (which are also on Broadway.) Scoop is another trendy boutique on Broadway, similar to Intermix. I like their resort collection - I think of Scoop as the place to go if you have a house in the Hamptons. Opening Ceremony and Oak are off Broadway also. If you keep walking east you'll hit the East Village. I'm not too familiar with the area, but Pixie Market, Unis, and another branch of INA are all eastward.

Upper West Side:
If you want a less crowded boutique shopping experience I would start the day with breakfast at Alice's Tea Cup off Columbus (73rd or 74th St). They have awesome scones. Make sure you ask for cream and jam with your scone, unless you get one of the savory ones, which are excellent as well. Then I would head west to Broadway and hit up Loehmann's. Loehmann's and Barneys are owned by the same person, so you'll find a lot of discounted Co-op brands like Elizabeth & James, Vince, and Theory. I also found a pair of Alaia sandals there recently for $200. Further uptown on B'way is Barneys Co-op and Filene's Basement. Filene's on 79th had a ton of Missoni last time I was there (but not much else.) There's also a huge Urban Outfitters on 72nd and B'way. There's a cute shoe store called Tani on Broadway, on 69th, and they have a second branch close by on 72nd between B'way and Columbus. Most shoes are under $200 and they have really cute, practical styles. If you want a snack, there's a Magnolia Bakery on Columbus. I am not a fan of their cupcakes but the banana pudding is to die for. I would also stop by Levain Bakery on 74th off Amsterdam. The best giant cookies - my favorites are the oatmeal raisin and chocolate peanut butter. You can buy them in packs of 5 to take home. They freeze well and you can bake one whenever you feel like it! For an inexpensive lunch I would go to Hummus Place on Amsterdam and 74th or 75th. Very good food and sometimes they have sangria which is really good. Le Pain Quotidien on 72nd near Central Park West is also good for lunch and LAND Thai on Amsterdam has a generous, affordable lunch special. On Amsterdam and 82nd you'll find the Steven Alan Outpost, which is their outlet store. An entire wall of their classic shirts and other cute basics all on sale. Back downtown on Columbus Ave. in the 70s there are other branches of Intermix and Wink. If you're tired of shopping Lincoln Plaza Cinemas has a great selection of independent films. I'm pretty sure they are pre-screened as I have never seen a bad movie there. It is popular among the geriatric set, but the movies they show are often exclusive to LA and NYC, so if there's an indie flick you've been wanting to check out, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas might be showing it. If it's still showing when you're there I recommend the movie Incendies. For dinner Bar Boulud is right next to the movie theater and there's a decent Japanese/sushi place, Dan, on 69th and Broadway.

Fifth Ave./Madison/Museums
If you plan on visiting Museums along Fifth, you can sneak in a little shopping too! You can start at the MoMA and even have lunch at the restaurant there, it is very good. Then head over to Bergdorf Goodman, which in my opinion has the best designer shoe selection (even better than Barneys') and they have a lot of styles you don't get to see online. Barneys is within walking distance of Bergdorf's and it's always nice to look around, especially the handbag section. On your way to the Metropolitan Musem (I think the Alexander McQueen exhibit is opening soon) I would walk along Madison Ave. instead of Fifth Ave. (you'll pass by the Whitney museum on the way.) I would say between 79th St. and 86th St. on Madison there are several high-end designer consignment shops; they are often on the 2nd floor so you might have to look up to spot them. Upper East Siders get rid of a lot of their clothing quite frequently so you can find some gems in those consignment shops. Handbags are often at least 50% off. For snacks on Madison I would go to Lady M cake boutique on 78th for a slice of their "mille feuille" cake and a glass of their excellent iced earl gray tea. For good gelato Sant Ambroeus is also nearby on Madison (often featured on Gossip Girl) but for even better gelato there's Ciao Bella on 92nd off Madison. If you want a quick lunch after the Met or Guggenheim, Pintaile's Pizza on 91st is a good bet and Serafina on 79th for their cream of tomato soup and terrace seating. On Lexington Ave. there's a great store Ludivine on 82nd, which sells French brands like Vanessa Bruno. Pricey but good selection and well-edited. Speaking of editing, there's another cute boutique EDIT, on Lex and 90th. Again, pricey (it is the Upper East Side!) but they have some nice things. Another favorite is Otte on Madison, they carry a lot of the same brands as one of my favorite online stores, Sometimes I prefer shopping the smaller boutiques because the buyers do the editing for you. And often the staff is friendlier during a recession ;-) For dinner on Madison Ave. my friends and I frequent Le Bilboquet on 63rd, near the Cavalli store. The Cajun chicken is really good and Le Bilboquet is not as ridiculously priced as other restaurants in that area.

I am by no means an expert in this.  I don't go out as often as I used to but Lit Lounge in the East Village and The Jane are well-reviewed (although The Jane is sometimes difficult to get into without someone in the know) and for a "Sex and the City" type scene and great views the Gansevoort is always nice. For something a bit more low-key, the bartenders at Vero Wine Bar on 2nd Ave. near 77th St. serve really yummy, delicious drinks - they're kind of girly drinks, so not the best place to bring a group of guys, but their drink specials are delicious (very easy to get drunk!) MPD in the Meatpacking District had one of the best dirty martinis I've ever had. I also like Avenue for a decent clubbing scene and The Back Room is cute because they serve drinks in tea cups!

I am quite clueless when it comes to the other boroughs, so if any Brooklynites want to add their favorites, feel free to do so in the comments! I am sure I missed a ton of places and neighborhoods (East Village, West Village, Union Square) but I hope this guide is of use to someone.

Again, feel free to add your favorites in the comments, I would love to discover new places. Bon voyage!


  1. ^^^Me too and believe me, I will follow this guide when I visit NY!
    Thank you so much!!!

  2. Thanks! I hope to get over to NYC sometime this summer, and this will be very helpful.

  3. I too am bookmarking this.. hoping for a trip to NYC in the future. We have to meet up then, with a few other blog fellows. :-D

  4. Thanks for this! The hubby and I will be visiting NYC this fall for a wedding so I hope to sneak in a *bit* of shopping and this will be very helpful!

  5. Thanks for this! I wish I could go there. :)

  6. aw glad you enjoy my food recommendations :) I used to live right next door to INA and Roundabout.. dangerous territory haha

  7. wow. such an excellent and thorough list! probably going to bookmark this as well as i rarely venture far from the internet these days. thanks!

  8. This is a wonderful guide! I just visited NYC last week for the first time and I was a bit clueless. Will definitely have to schedule another trip very soon and I'll be bringing your list with! Thank you for putting this together!

  9. thank you so much for this
    i've been living in nyc for school this past year and haven't really gone beyond soho and the east village, unfortunately...

  10. I love your NY guide. So many great places.

  11. A great website I just discovered for great places to shop is City Maps . It has EVERYTHING you would want to see while visiting the city...from hotels, museaums, restaurants, salons, parking fees, reviews....and everything in between! Check it out!

  12. @Meggan, I tried your link to city maps and it is pretty cool. I liked that I could see where all the stores I wanted to stop at are and can better plan my shopping trip. Thanks for sharing!