New York's Best-Kept Secrets
From uptown to downtown and everywhere in between, we scoured Manhattan for its most authentic restaurants and deal-friendly stores.
7. De Robertis Caffe
In the 106 years since De Robertis opened, the East Village has evolved from a neighborhood of Polish butchers into one of New York's nightlife capitals. Yet from the café's black-and-white mosaic-tiled floor to the freshly baked Italian desserts, you wouldn't think anything had changed. Order a cappuccino; a crisp, cream-filled cannoli or sfogliatella (a pastry stuffed with barely sweet ricotta); and a couple of pine-nut-crusted cookies. Presto: You have the makings of an unhurried afternoon in old New York. 176 1st Ave., derobertiscaffe.com, pine-nut-crusted cookies from $17 per pound.
For all the fabulosity swirling around the Meatpacking District, the Biergarten at the Standard Hotel is a welcome reality check. At this low-key spot, visitors can take a seat at one of the communal picnic tables, order a dinner-plate-size pretzel, and relax with a stein of German pilsner. 848 Washington St., standardhotels.com, pretzel $8.
9. Nordstrom Rack
This recession-friendly discount department store arrived in Manhattan last spring, and it's been rightfully mobbed ever since. Located in Union Square, on the threshold of Greenwich Village, the store has a shoe collection that's already a local legend; its floor of last-season goods and overstock items from labels like Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, and Dolce & Gabbana manages to be chock-full but well-organized at the same time. 60 E. 14th St., nordstrom.com, Frye boots $200, marked down from $318.
10. Fishs Eddy
A utilitarian housewares store isn't usually a must-see, but Fishs Eddy gives you hundreds of reasons to add the deal-heavy emporium to your itinerary. Every inch is piled with unique and affordable dishware: vintage-style cereal bowls edged with a flower print ($8); Blue Plate Special dishes modeled after the Manhattan diner variety (from $11); and teacups, marbles, mugs, and salt and pepper shakers in all colors and patterns. What's more, whatever won't fit in your suitcase, the store will ship at reduced rates. 889 Broadway, fishseddy.com, marbles from 10¢ apiece.
11. Defonte's of Brooklyn
When this classic Italian sandwich shop opened a Manhattan location in 2009, it caused quite a stir. Like the 88-year-old original in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the new East Side branch serves gargantuan heros worth questing after. Our picks: the peppers and eggs (just like it sounds; order it with red sauce), the hot roast beef (with fried eggplant and mozzarella), or the Sinatra special (fried steak smothered with tomato sauce and mozzarella). 261 3rd Ave., defontesofbrooklyn.com, sandwiches from $8.50.
12. SSS Sample Sales
At any given moment in New York City, a high-fashion, low-price sample sale has designer clothes marked down as much as 80 percent. It's finding that sale that's the hard part. The Garment District's SSS Sample Sales solves the problem by creating a permanent home for truckloads of clothes, shoes, and bags, all from this season and last. Labels like Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and Theory are in regular rotation. 261 W. 36th St., clothingline.com.
13. J.G. Melon
The city has no shortage of hyper-creative meals, but sometimes you just want a good old-fashioned burger. This dark, pubby Upper East Side institution is filled with post-collegiates, polo-sporting locals, and downtown faithfuls on a pilgrimage, all hunkered over the main attraction: eight juicy ounces of a secret ground-sirloin blend on a soft white bun with American cheese, red onion, and pickles—all for the old-fashioned price of $9.25. 1291 3rd Ave., 212/744-0585.
14. Muji Times Square
For 30 years, Muji has cultivated a devoted following in Japan, and now New Yorkers have access to the goods. All four U.S. stores are in the city, and the best of them all is just off Times Square. You'll find high-quality nylon Dopp kits, foldable speakers designed for travel, and souvenirs that even non-tourists can appreciate, such as pint-size sculptures of the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building that double as rubber stamps. 620 8th Ave., muji.us, Statue of Liberty from $5.75.