Trip Coach: September 18, 2007
Charlie Suisman, editor of ManhattanUsersGuide.com, answered your questions on New York City.
Charlie Suisman: Hi. Charlie Suisman here -- it's a beautiful fall weather day in the Big Apple -- and I'm glad to be chatting with you. Let's get rolling....
Lansing, Michigan: We are coming to New York for a weekend in December to see the Radio City Christmas Show (Rockettes) and spend time enjoying the sights and sounds of NYC at Christmas. We are looking for a good Asian restaurant that is not overly expensive and located in the midtown area. Any suggestions? Any other "December" things we should consider doing while we are there? (12/14-16)
Charlie Suisman: There are so many things to do at holiday time, it's hard to select just a few -- there are annual holiday markets at Grand Central and Bryant Park, Paul Winter's annual (number 28, I think) Winter Solstice Celebration at Cathedral of St. John the Divine, is great. There are many Messiah performances -- of all kinds. There's a tradition at the 21 Club of the Salvation Army doing these boisterous singalongs at lunchtime -- there's nothing like those anywhere. There's Tuba Christmas at Rockefeller Center (Rock Center is the city's unofficial Christmas center, with its mega-tree and ice-skating rink). As for an Asian restaurant midtown, since you didn't specify any further, I'd pick two, one expensive, one not. At the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, Bar Masa is the small sibling to the faintingly expensive (but genuinely transcendent) Masa. If you like sushi, it's fantastic (less expensive than Masa proper, Bar Masa is still quite expensive). The bar is walk-in only. Much less expensive is the Chinese restaurant Grand Sichuan. There are several locations; the one in midtown is at 1049 Second Ave between 55th/56th -- delicious.
Peotone, Ill.: My husband and I are visiting New York for the first time. We are flying in on 9-27 and leave on a cruise on 9-29. Since we have only 2 nights in New York and we are staying at the Sheraton Towers, what would you suggest we see and do to make the most of our short time in The Big Apple? Thanks for your suggestions.
Charlie Suisman: The first thing I'd do is go up to one of the observation decks, either the Empire State Building or the one at Rockefeller Center. I'd go with the latter because it's likely to be less crowded. Get an overview of the city, to see how it's laid out. The best thing to do in New York is walk -- it's the best way to get a feel for the city. I'd get out of midtown, too -- go to the Flatiron district, Greenwich Village -- that's where a lot of the action is these days. But since you're here for a very short time, you'll probably want to check out a few of the must-sees. For museums, choose from the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (I feel terrible leaving out so many other amazing museums!). If the weather's nice, I'd go down to Battery Park and see the Statue of Liberty from afar (rather than spending the time getting there and back). See a Broadway show. Central Park has never looked better and an afternoon stroll there would be memorable -- you could also hire a horse and carriage from the area of 5th Avenue and 59th to give you a tour of the park. Great shopping is always there for you -- Saks, Bloomingdales, and every small shop you can imagine. Or just wander. That sense of discovery can be the most fun of all.
Woodbury, CT: Favorite Chinese restaurant in Manhattan? Bill
Charlie Suisman: That's actually a tough one for me. I love Chinese food -- and while it's possible to get good Chinese food in NYC, it's a lot harder than you'd think. I like the Grand Sichuan outposts, tea-smoked duck at Wu Liang Ye (I usually go to the one by Rockefeller Center), and a new one in Chinatown called Amazing 66, at 66 Mott.
Little Rock, AR: I'd love to see one of the shows at the old style lounges like Cafe Carlyle or Feinstein's (especially Elaine Stritch this January.) However, I'm just out of college, and the shows are so exspensive. Do these places offer any other less costly options, such as standing room, or sitting at the bar?
Charlie Suisman: It's a good question and I wish I had a good option -- but the cabaret heavy-hitters have become so expensive that you can't just stop in as you could do once upon a time. The Carlyle is charging $125 for Elaine Stritch, dinner required. Ouch. I do have an alternative for you, though. On Monday nights at Birdland, when most Broadway performers are off, there's something called Jim Caruso's Cast Party. All kinds of Broadway performers turn up to sing -- lots of fun and affordable.