EDITORS NOTE: This article was originally published one year ago. We invite indieWIRE readers to post comments, suggestions and updates to the recommendations included here.
Last year, the Tribeca Film Festival stretched across Manhattan, from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to the Winter Garden in Manhattan, and into the surrounding boroughs for the “Spiderman 3” premiere. This year the event is anchored near Union Square and in Tribeca. That means for locals and visitors alike, attending TFF has involved exploring parts unfamiliar. How can you encapsulate a city of with so many wonders? Not easily — everyone’s got their own opinion on everything, especially food, which triggers all sorts of rhapsodic recollection.
So, thanks to The Weinstein Company‘s Jonathan Kier, producer Diana Williams, filmmakers/Tribeca vets Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (“Jesus Camp”) and Matthew Bonifacio, Carmine Famiglietti and Sophia Antonini (“Amexicano”), along with a few other insiders. Included are a number of around-the-fest suggestions.
BREAKFAST: The hands down favorite is Bubby’s (120 Hudson Street, Tribeca) for its tasty comfort food: “great milk shakes to make you feel better if your screening wasn’t full,” say our friends. Also: Public (210 Elizabeth Street, Nolita) for the “corn and saffron pancakes with a spicy poached pear and fresh ricotta…Need I say more?” And for quick and convenient in a Norman Rockwell-like setting, there’s Soda Shop (125 Chambers, Tribeca.) But if you’re really need to grab and go, visit patisserie Ceci-Cela (55 Spring St, Nolita.)
MORNING MEETING PLACE: Suggestions include Le Pan Quotidien (100 Grand Street, Soho) with its “communal tables and great bread.” But keep in mind, “Don’t gossip too loudly, the walls have ears.” If that doesn’t fit the bill, try the more private Dani, (333 Hudson St., W. Village). And if you’re placing your priorities elsewhere entirely, there’s Ferrara‘s (195 Grand Street) says one local, “Coffee and a cannoli. Who care’s how the rest of the meeting goes? It’s already a win.”
COFFEE: Beyond Starbucks, try Estancia (460 Greenwich St, Tribeca) with “lots of industry conversation to eavesdrop on. Maybe catch a glimpse of Bob or Harvey.” For atmosphere (and free Wi-Fi) there’s the Pecan Cafe (130 Frankin St.) where “the coffee is excellent at any time of the day. Apricot-raisin danish so fresh it melted in my mouth.” Further north, there’s the cozy (and wildly popular) Grey Dog (33 Carmine St, W. Village).
BURGER: Tribeca is not known for populist food but the Ear Inn (326 Spring St) gets a vote. Another nearby option: the Greenwich St. Tavern Pub & Restaurant (399 Greenwich Street, Tribeca) where one local “stayed for four hours with no complaints.” Getting used to lining up? Check out the Corner Bistro (331 W 4th St, W. Village), which perfected the burger on English muffin combo. Also: Cozy Soup ‘n Burger (739 Broadway, E. Village) for “the biggest and juiciest burger — it requires both hands and a very flexible jaw to get your first bite in. Atmosphere is old school, a la Johnny Rockets, but more authentic.”
PIZZA: There’s John’s (278 Bleecker St, Village) or Lombardi’s (32 Spring St, Nolita). Our local connoisseur points out, “You can’t go wrong with either. It’s not like you’re Dorothy at the crossroads and you’re in danger if you make a bad choice. Either way, you’re going to meet a pizza wizard.”
DRINKS: There’s no shortage of places to grab a drink in Gotham, including Bar Tabac (32 Watts Street, Tribeca) “one of the only smoky bars left in NYC.” Other suggestions: Employees Only (510 Hudson St, W. Village) for “great music, and great food and lots of pretty people!” or Three of Cups (83 1st Ave, E. Village) because it’s “groovy, laid back and great food if you get hungry.”
EXPENSE ACCOUNT DINNER: Among struggling filmmakers, this drew some blanks, but for those lucky enough to dine out on someone else’s dime: Nobu (105 Hudson St. Tribeca) was the hands down favorite. “Of course!”
LATE NIGHT (for the scene or food): Not surprisingly in a city that never sleeps, everyone has their own favorite spot, including: Odeon (145 W Broadway, Tribeca) described as “an old standard, and the cocktails are divine.” For pierogies and blintzes, there’s “Ukrainian soul at its best” at Veselka, (144 Second Avenue, E. Village) which is open ’round the clock. Other suggestions: WoHop (17 Mott St, Chinatown) where “you’ll walk out of there on a major food high” and Felix (340 W Broadway, Soho) for its “great late night Euro scene.” And for those purely in search of liquid refreshment: one tipster teased Little Branch “but you have to find it on your own.” (Ok, OK, 20 Seventh Ave. South, W. Village.)
GAY BAR: Near Tribeca, how about Don Hill’s (511 Greenwich St, W. Village) “what gay bars used to be like: wild and debaucherous.” Up for a short stroll from Tribeca, check out Shag (11 Abingdon Sq, W. Village) which “caters to a younger crowd.” Or, “skip the Chelsea bar scene in favor of The Phoenix (447 E 13th St., E. Village) and Eastern Bloc (505 E. 6th St.) in the East Village” or “in increasingly gay Hell’s Kitchen, two great places to go are Vlada (331 W. 51st St.) and Therapy (348 W 52nd St., Hell’s Kitchen).” To get away from Manhattan altogether, “hang with the hipsters” at Metropolitan (599 Lorimer St.) in Williamsburg.
SHOPPING: What could top the bargains of Chinatown, only mere steps away? “Where else you’re going to get a Rolex watch, a bottle of cologne and a self portrait painting all for under $50?” points out one respondent. If you’re looking for more order in your shopping experience, check out Pearl River Mart (477 Broadway, Chinatown) “It has everything!!” enthuses one local. And for those with more money to burn, Intermix (365 Bleecker Street, W. Village) with its “big designers under one very organized and stylish roof.”
And while you’re downtown, don’t forget to: “Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and hang out at Superfine (126 Front St) in DUMBO. It’s another world over there, and no movie theaters!” Or if you’re feeling more contemplative, there’s The Irish Memorial (290 Vesey and North End) and of course, as one local points out, “Let’s not forget why this festival exists and take the time to say a prayer at the World Trade Center site during the festival.”
If you’re not spending every waking moment downtown, here are other options:
BREAKFAST: Vynl (824 Ninth Ave, Hell’s Kitchen) “The decor is eye popping, and really wakes you up. The food is great too.” And chances are, you’ll spot another Le Pain Quotidien, with locations all over the city now. Table service can be pokey, “but they serve strong coffee and fresh pastries which you can always take to go.”
BURGER: Assuming you don’t have an hour to spare to line up at the Shake Shack (Madison Square Park, 23rd and Madison), try Chelsea Grill (675 9th Ave, Hell’s Kitchen) where you can “get the everything burger and every one of your problems will temporarily go away.” And handily located across from the Chelsea Clearview, there’s Burgers & Cupcakes (265 W 23rd St.), which is pretty much tells you all you need to know about the menu.
EXPENSE ACCOUNT DINNER: Head toward midtown: Per Se (10 Columbus Cir) Says one local, “It’s the only way to go to this restaurant, which is to die for.” Also, BLT Steak (106 E. 57 St.) “One of 3 flagship Laurent Tourendal restaurants. Excellent food and service,” explains one insider, or DB Bistro Moderne (55 W 44th St) “just for the headiness of ordering a $32 burger.” (In its defense, it comes with fries.)
OTHER GOTHAM MUSTS: Well, besides the major museums, if you visit only one piano bar, make it Marie’s Crisis (59 Grove St, W. Village) “I’m not sure it’s cultural, but it’s definitely an institution,” says a helpful insider. Also, the Strand Bookstore (828 Broadway) which isn’t quite the same since they cleaned it up, but still “miles and miles of books.” And whether or not you’re checking out the “Passio” performance, it’s worth a trip up to 113th Street to see the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Ave.) the largest cathedral in the world, and still unfinished.
And if you’re lucky enough to be able to explore the surrounding area:
DAY TRIP: By car or by train, set aside time for the Dia Beacon (upstate in Beacon, NY) for the “gorgeous ride up the Hudson, followed by truly contemporary art,” says one resident. And whether or not you’re a sports fan, there’s Shea Stadium (Flushing, Queens) and/or Yankee Stadium (Bronx). “Shea doesn’t have the history of Yankee stadium but it has a charm that you can’t explain. How many places can say that they’ve hosted the Beatles and the Stones? Yankees Stadium is a must being that there’s only two years left before they knock down the House That Ruth Built and replace it with The House That George Built,” says one knowing local.
DINING: There’s no end to outer-borough options, all accessible by subway: Peter Luger’s Steak House (178 Broadway, Brooklyn ) because it’s “what a steak experience is supposed to be.” Other hometown favorites: El Gran Castillo (345 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn) for the “Spanish mom and pop cooking – Que bueno! I highly recommend pork chops with yellow rice, black beans, sweet and salty plantains and a pastelis. This meal is sure to keep you full.” Also: Joe’s of Avenue U (287 Ave. U, McDonald Ave., Gravesend, Brooklyn) described as “an authentic Italian eatery — the no frills decor allows one to focus on what’s important – the food. I highly recommend the ‘rice ball special’ (a rice ball loaded with meat and peas, topped with fresh ricotta, marinara sauce and parmesan cheese and a side of the seafood salad.)” For something less dense, but equally decadent there’s The Lemon Ice King of Corona (52-02 108th St. Corona, Queens) where “all the flavors are amazing.” And if you can hitch a ride: Stone Barns at Blue Hill (Pocantico Hills, NY), simply: “30 minutes away. Best meal ever.”