1.How long have you been in your city? When did you first visit your city?
I have been in NYC 28 years, my first time in the city was with my uncle we came to see a movie revival at Radio City. It was in the evening so the city looked like everything you’d expect tall buildings and dazzling lights and Radio City was no joke for a little kid.
I went to high school about 45 minutes out of the city and would come down from Westchester county with my mom and her city friends, they were sooooo cosmopolitan. We would do things like brunch at The River Café (which I did for my 14th birthday). Today The River café is in the middle of , Dumbo, the hottest spot in Brooklyn (more about that later) then it was just in the middle of nowhere with an incredible view of the city and like its namesake, is on the river. Going to Unity church at Lincoln Center was another bright lights moment for me, I mean it’s Lincoln Center after all!
A fun fact about those years was driving down West Street, long before the beautiful Hudson Park and long before Grindr, I would see cars parked along the piers with men getting in and out of each others vehicles. At some point I learned it was men having sex with other men, it was so alluring to me ,hoping my mother would drive slowly so I could watch the prowling, obviously or not I was not out then, I was intrigued and ashamed at the same time. Now it’s so easy to be gay in NY, the great thing about living here is how New Yorkers embrace diversity.
2. Where should people stay and visit?
To stay in NYC I would suggest Airbnb in the West Village or Chelsea for their location, if you are a hotel person and need room service, The Standard (WV) or the Edition (Flatiron) are really nice, but there are so many great hotels in New York I really can’t suggest only one or two, what I use when I travel is tablethotels.com. I just checked it out and it’s got them all, they look so nice, I actually think I may book one!
I work on Fulton Street not far from the WTC, I wasn’t necessarily someone who would go so far downtown but with the new Fulton street train station it is one of the most accessible in the city ,every subway line form the East side to the west side merge there. Besides the WTC Memorial and Museum, the Oculus is an architectural must with its obligatory instagram shot. There is plenty of shopping, an equinox gym at Brookfield place along the Hudson River. It has great places to eat, there is an upscale food court (upscale from your basic food court but won’t break the budget). With it’s tall windows, high ceilings and sweeping river views it’s way better then your average mall.
The Whitney Museum is another great thing to do and since it’s part of my gayborhood (see next question)
Sergio and I go quite frequently. Besides the cultural aspect there is a great restaurant , Untitled, which is nice for a date night or a group of friends, because it is a little higher priced we save it for more special evenings, although we do have a friend in our “gayborhood” that anytime you ask her what should we eat, she say’s Untitled, I think that’s because of its exceptional wine list. Speaking of wine, the rooftop restaurant, The Studio Café, has more great wine and snacks like hummus and avocado toast. If you aren’t drinking alcohol they make there own soft drinks, highly recommend! And they have great , you guessed it, river views!
Of course the High line Park should be on every visitors list. I’m not a crowd person and I don’t go as often as one might think living 3 blocks away, but when I do go, I am marveled by it’s beauty, structure and landscape. It’s a great way to get from the West Village to Midtown. For that matter you can walk or bike the Hudson River Park from lower manhattan to uptown Manhattan. If it’s summer and you want to get a little sun with the boys, the Christopher Street pier is where you want to take a blanket and some sunscreen.
For more gay fun there is Zig Zag at Le Bain , DJ Lina spins when she’s in town.
I would also suggest a visit to Dumbo in Brooklyn. Worth seeing is the West Elm store and corporate headquarters, right on the waterfront and housed in a former warehouse. You can walk through the public areas and up to the roof where you will get more great views including Pebble Beach, Jane’s Carousel, and views of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge. And if you didn’t know DUMBO stands for “Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”
3. Give us a tour of your gayborhood?
The village is pretty much the first gay neighborhood in the city, before migrating to Chelsea and now Hells Kitchen, but there is still plenty of gay here, besides a great mix of old villagers and young families alike.
As we like to do things in our gayborhood they coincide with my recommendations of where to stay and visit. It will also be covered below in where to brunch and favorite restaurant. However the WV has a lot to offer it’s part of Greenwich Village, where you can find the old classics, Stonewall, The Monster, Julius’s, The Cubby Hole, among others, I’d say these are all a bit divey but worth a pass by or hang for a while if you are feeling it.
Speaking of classics The Odeon is a true New York institution, opened in 1980 by renowned restauranteur Keith McNally (Balthazaar, Minneta Tavern, Morandi and his latest Augustine located in The Beekman Hotel, I’d say worth checking out The Beekman’s stunning, nine-story Victorian era atrium, they serve handcrafted cocktails and an all day menu) I also recommend anyone of the aforementioned downtown restaurants. But back to the Odeon, my favorite time to go, is actually any time, but particularly after a party or event late evening, It’s been around so long I often forget about it, but after a “where can we go to eat?” the Odeon comes to mind. Walking in is like running into a long time friend that you see intermittently but you pick up right where you left off. Fun fact Molly Shannon walked by my table one late night and grabbed a handful of french fries off my plate. You can expect to see the occasional celebrity. This also makes my where to brunch list .
Other food recommendations, all Italian, are Pizza Brunetti on Hudson Street, 2 blocks from our apartment, Malaparte on Washington Street 5 blocks west of us, and for a special night out Lartusi on 10th street about 10 blocks away.
Our gayborhood is very much a neighborhood, with cobblestone streets lined by historic brownstones. There are walking tours of the village but I don’t recommend them as they annoy me for loitering on the sidewalk, but I do suggest taking a stroll in the neighborhood . On second thought I’ve learned a few things getting stuck behind the tour… so if you like that kind of thing do it, and I’ll make sure to be extra friendly when I pass one.
4.) Where do gentlemen go for brunch?
Tartine is a west village fixture, located on 11th street and W 4th its a small corner restaurant, it’s a tight fit on the inside and during the nicer weather they have two-tops along the side walk, (that’s not a sexual reference). They have brunch down to a science, this is one of the most consistent restaurants I know. As common a brunch item as eggs benedict is, I find it hard to find a great one (I’ve been known to order it asking to make sure they toast the muffin), This is not the case at Tartine, I go for the eggs benedict or the apple pancake, if you want both sweet and savory I say share the apple pancake and get an eggs benedict or eggs sardou, that’s how Sergio and I do it.
They are so good at their brunch we have it delivered and it’s just as good in bed.
5.) What’s a hidden gem?
Elephant Castle, very local, great menu and affordable. We recently brought a friend who used to work across the street from it, for years. He said “I never knew this was here, It’s so good!”
6.) What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Bar Pitti is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, in order for me to frequent a restaurant, consistency is key, one bad meal and chances are you won’t see me there again. Well, the owner at Bar Pitti will be seeing me for years to come. (Reminds me of the line in Bridesmaids “Oh Helen knows the owner”)
Our perfect day in NY is just completely feeling relaxed, it starts slowly as we enjoy the comfort of our bed, it’s so comfortable in the morning when we are cuddling, (especially in the cool weather, in the winter we often make a fire). We then make croissants that we get from Williams Sonoma, it’s a bit of a ritual as we need to take them out the night before, the planning is comparable to making a brunch reservation.
Then we’d start a movie, personally I like to have the movie cued up before we get back under the covers with croissants on our lap, then I yell “HIT IT PAPOY”. Papoy is a nickname we have for each other with a few variations that will remain private.
Then if we are up for it go to the gym, probably together. We go to different gyms but on the “perfect” day we don’t separate and go together. Afterwards brunch, with a friend or two. If it’s nice out, walk around a bit, perhaps a late afternoon movie, in theater or at home, either way there will be popcorn. During all this we talk about what’s for dinner, which comes next on the agenda. Wether it’s jus us or with friends, t’s family night and it regenerates us for the day’s to come in this hectic, chaotic and incredibly wonderful city we love and call home.
Paul Margolin is president of Marc Bouwer Inc. and social media influencer.