New York: Lower East Side
SEE Guss' Lower East Side Pickles
85-87 Orchard St., 917/701-4000
Homemade pickles sold straight from massive barrels of vinegary brine have been making people pucker since 1920. To get a glimpse of this true Lower East Side institution, you might have to stand in line. Closed Sat.
SEE Lower East Side Tenement Museum
90 Orchard St., near Broome St., 212/431-0233, tenement.org
Don't miss this museum! NYC's rich immigrant history is brought to life in an 1863 tenement building. Guided tours show how a Jewish family lived in the 1870s and how a Sicilian-Catholic family lived in the 1930s. The quarters were shockingly cramped (e.g., two toilets for every four families). Adults $13, students and seniors $11. Additional walking tours of the Lower East Side leave Sat. and Sun. at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Call to reserve space in advance.
68 Clinton St., 212/253-1960, falainyc.com
A bright white Italian restaurant where the only color is on the plate. The food is all fatto in casa, or made in-house; the Florentine owner (formerly the pastry chef at Le Cirque) is a purist and makes all his own pasta (and even chocolate) by hand. Desserts, such as profiteroles with Marsala mousse and chocolate sauce, are marvels.
Freeman Alley, off Rivington St., between the Bowery and Chrystie St., 212/420-0012, freemansrestaurant.com
An unpretentious, taxidermy-filled American restaurant that emits a strong whiff of yesteryear-old-fashioned cocktails and appetizers like "devils on horseback" (bacon-wrapped prunes stuffed with Stilton cheese). The bartenders are first-rate.
EAT Il Laboratorio del Gelato
95 Orchard St., at Broome St., 212/343-9922, laboratoriodelgelato.com
Over 75 varieties of delicious gelato and sorbet. It scoops all the standards but also has some off-beat flavors, too, including black sesame, honey lavender, and green fig. And there really is a "lab," where ice-creamologists wear white coats.
90 Rivington St., 212/475-9190, teany.com
A delightful, airy café owned by Grammy Award-winning musician Moby. It sells over 90 kinds of tea from around the world, and mostly veggie snacks. Window boxes add extra charm, and even the bathroom is inviting.
SPLURGE Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse
157 Chrystie St., at Delancey St., 212/673-0330
Think chilled vodka, he-man steaks, and schmaltzy performers singing songs from Fiddler on the Roof. Don't leave without ordering an egg cream-you'll get a carton of milk, a jar of Fox's U-bet chocolate syrup, and an old-fashioned bottle of seltzer brought right to your table. Good Jewish fun!
DRINK East Side Company
49 Essex St., 212/614-7408
You feel like you're about to be shot out of a cannon at this tight tunnel of a bar, but the intimate surroundings work to great effect. The pressed-tin ceiling, cozy leather booths, raw bar, and perfect classic cocktails conspire to create a sophisticated, romantic place to rendezvous. Closed Mon.
DRINK The Whiskey Ward
121 Essex St., near Rivington St., 212/477-2998
A modern-day saloon with a heady list of scotches and single-malt bourbons.
SHOP Bluestockings Books
172 Allen St., 212/777-6028, bluestockings.com
Stacks of empowering titles devoted to revolutionary plights, radical philosophies, and controversial topics du jour. Its volunteer employees are bookish rebels with a cause.
SHOP Jutta Neumann
158 Allen St., 212/982-7048, juttaneumann-newyork.com
Hands-on boutique sells a rainbow of leather accessories and useful items, from handbags to key chains. Everything is crafted on-site, and the prices are nice. Closed Sun.
PLAY Landmark's Sunshine Cinema
143 E. Houston St., 212/358-7709, landmarktheatres.com
A plush art-house movie theater that's housed in a former Yiddish vaudeville theater.
PLAY The Slipper Room
167 Orchard St., at Stanton St., 212/253-7246, slipperroom.com
Homespun va-va-voom burlesque. Showgirls (and showboys) shake their tail feathers on a Victorian, jewel-box stage. Other acts include the "Drag King Squad" and gothic belly dancing. Cover price: free to $10.
PLAY The Delancey Lounge
168 Delancey St., 212/254-9920
Some of the country's hottest (and greenest) rock bands are fighting for billing at this triple-tiered club that's regularly frequented by music execs and celebs on the down low. The rooftop lounge is a treat in summer (BBQ, anyone?).