Sometimes it might seem like there’s no cooler way to spend a weekend than at a tropical-themed bar in Bushwick, or a laundromat-turned-speakeasy in the Lower East Side.
But while New York City can sometimes feel over-hip, overcrowded and overwrought, there are plenty of neighborhoods that are still relatively undiscovered -- even to those New Yorkers who moved in before rents went berserkers.
From the northernmost stretches of Manhattan to a tucked-away neighborhood straddling the border of Brooklyn and Queens, these are the underappreciated New York City nooks worth a full-blown weekend trip.
This Chinese Festival Is Like 'Frozen' Come to Life
Take the L to Myrtle-Wyckoff to find this underestimated neighborhood bordering Bushwick. Start your morning at the Seneca Avenue outpost of Milk & Pull, which serves Stumptown coffee, Dough donuts, and sandwiches special enough for names like the Roasted Bush and the Meatless Paul. Later, flip through offbeat (not literally) vinyls at Deep Cuts Record Store, or drop into the Saint Seneca Shop for handmade-in-Brooklyn home and bath goods (think smudge sticks, porcelain cups, and lavender soaps). On evenings between Thursday and Sunday, play bocce way too competitively at Nowadays, a park-themed outdoor bar.
Turtle Bay, Manhattan
Most locals want to flee Midtown as soon as the work day ends, but Turtle Bay (aka Midtown East) is quickly adding reasons to hang around. The Japanese dining and drinking scene, for one, is a huge draw. There’s izakaya at Tomi Jazz on East 53rd, upscale French-Japanese fusion at Mifune, and kaiseki and omakase at Sushi Amane. While the intimidating United Nations complex may not seem welcoming to visitors, the hourlong guided tours are a lovely crash course in world politics.
Ditmas Park, Brooklyn
More and more New Yorkers are discovering this Brooklyn neighborhood, which is a cinch to reach via the B or Q trains. You can stroll up and down Cortelyou (the main restaurant drag), or head to brunch in the garden at the Farm on Adderley. Walk off the Red Flannel corned beef and beet hash while admiring the Victorian mansions flanking Albemarle Road and Marlborough Road. Come nightfall, grab a glass of wine at Castello Plan or a bourbon at Sycamore, a hybrid bar and flower shop.
Financial District, Manhattan
Gone are the days when FiDi was a ghost town outside bankers’ hours. In addition to the obvious draws (the One World Observatory, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum), the southern tip of Manhattan is also home to a lively bar and upscale restaurant scene. Sip gin and tonics at Iron Chef Jose Garces’ new outpost of Amada, or classic Cuban cocktails at BlackTail — the clubby new bar from The Dead Rabbit team. Whatever you do, enjoy the ample waterfront. Watch the sunset over the Hudson from Battery Park, or take a ferry for views of New York City you just can’t get unless you leave.
Another neighborhood just below Prospect Park that’s also experiencing a food and beverage renaissance. Make your way to Der Pioneer, the new European cafe from Bjorn Bottcher and Greg Barbiero (alums of The Lambs Club and Saul, respectively). The lemon-ricotta pancakes with raspberry compote are worth the trip on their own. And tour the city vicariously through Wheated’s sourdough pizzas, inspired by NYC neighborhoods (e.g., the Cypress Hills doused in tomatillo green sauce, mozzarella, chorizo, and an onion-cilantro cream).
Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.
Melanie Taryn Lieberman is a New York-based writer and editor. She once had a food blog that was basically an ode to zucchini noodles.