The Big Apple goes friendly
By Sebastian Saenz @sebastiaenz
There’s a million reasons to love New York City, no matter the sexual orientation or gender identity. I even dare to say that, if these two elements are not found in the majority, this city is even better. It would take a whole novel to write about NYC (actually, there are thousands out there that do). The things a tourist could do are countless, doing them seems like an impossible task even for a New Yorker, and if someone did them all, everyone would love to do it again, or differently (such as trying the recently changed menu of a restaurant, or going to Central Park in different times of the day or of the year, or with different companions).
Of course there are the basics every tourist would find in a hop-on-and-off bus tour, on any website that advises about trips, or on any app that rates restaurants nearby. There are even tutorials about how not to look like a tourist in the Big Apple, letting people know how to get a cab, walk, dress, tip and talk. Yes, visit the Met, the Museum of Natural History, the MoMa, the (tiny) Guggenheim, the bronze lady, the bridge, The One WTC/The Rockefeller Center/The Empire State for panoramic pics (try to get there an hour and a half before sunset, considering 45 minutes in line, but in order to get pictures at day and night), Chinatown for cheap souvenirs for all the annoying colleagues, Little Italy to eat (don’t forget to fold the pizza), the Cathedral, the inspiring Public Library, Washington Square Park (for college boys cruising… oh no, sorry uh… for the arch, of course), blah blah blah blah blah. But here are my tips for a good LGBTXYZ traveler.
First things first: we are talking about the city that started our equality movement almost 50 years ago, so a stop at The Stonewall Inn is a must for a little history lesson. If you are in the mood for more thumpa-thumpa, The Monster across the street is popular and relaxed, Boxers is great for bears, daddies, and their admirers (especially if you are in the mood for hawt bartenders wearing only boxers’ shorts), and Fire Island is a party legend. There are plenty of bars and clubs for us all over Chelsea, East Village and Hell’s Kitchen (the neighborhood that inspired West Side Story).
Guys, these are holidays, please take a break and forget for a few days about the scale or what your sexy personal trainer is going to tell you when you come back, because this city has SO-MUCH-FOOD… Swear on Chanel that you’ll stay away from chains, please go to indie restaurants or Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or French places where Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or French people prepare authentic food. Get a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli (and an ice-cream for dessert across the street at Il Laboratorio del Gelato), a burger and a malt at Shake Shack, a DELICIOUS signature slice at Artichoke Basille’s Pizza or at Grimaldi’s, a chicken paillard and a Britney cocktail at the straight-friendly and trendy Vinyl, cocktails at the Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant, an LGBT sandwich and a pastel at City Sandwich (where the cute Italian Chef Guerrieri has developed crazy but tasty combinations), and of course, anything at Magnolia Bakery for the sweet tooth. But for a true gastronomic experience, visit the legendary and breathtaking Rainbow Room for Sunday Brunch. The view is magnificent, the service impeccable, the eight stations of food exquisite, the mood elegant, and the live music… almost too sensual for brunch.
Needless to say, this is the fashion capital of the continent. We all know about the high end boutiques all over Manhattan, there is the 5th, the 7th (a.k.a. Fashion District), Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, all the retail stores at Times Sq., etc… But a true fashionista much get a piece at an indie boutique, and the shop-a-holics have to go to Century 21 for great savings for great labels, or an outlet at New Jersey (and stay for dinner at night for the best view of Manhattan).
One last but crucial recommendation: PLAN AHEAD! A lot of New Yorkers hate New York because of the freezing winters, the boiling summers, and the tourists. It is a hard task to avoid high touristic spots sometimes, for instance, Times Square during Christmas, museums during weekends, any space with air-con during summer, or Coney Island during the spring break. Even the subway during rush hours might seem like Dante’s Inferno (for the love of Gaga, don’t forget to get the subway card with sufficient funds). But with good planning, the trip can be delightful: the most popular restaurants can reserve a table several weeks in advance, most chaotic places should be visited Mon-Fri, opening and closing times must be revised in order to make the most out of every day (there is just no time to go to a museum the day is closed). And Broadway/Madison Square Garden/the Mets/the Yankees tickets have to be bought months in advance if possible.
So enjoy one of the most exciting cities in the world. Get on The Ride Bus, visit an art gallery at SoHo, go to the Broadway tour and the Sex and the City tour, have a Cosmo at O’neal’s, and a New York Cheesecake at the Grand Central Terminal, AND CHECK THE WEATHER a couple days before getting there!