Climbing stairs for cupcakes
I'm looking for a place where I can climb lots and lots of stairs to get to some decent eatery, something with good cupcakes or good pizza (or good something else). Is there such a place somewhere in Manhattan? I gain too much weight whenever I come into the city. :)
Hmmm ... not sure whether you were just joking or really want to know.
Well, here goes: The parts of Manhattan where you will find most of the destination bake shops and pizzerias are pretty flat, so the only stairs you would be likely to encounter in those areas would be in the subway system. (By the way, there are lots and lots of stairs on the 4 and 5 subway line at the 59th street station.) However, you don't have to take the stairs in Manhattan to burn calories - just forego that bus or subway ride and walk an extra 20 blocks or so - easily done while touring the city!
But if you've really got your heart set on hills and stairs, you'll need to head to the far upper west side of Manhattan (northern Washington Heights and Inwood), which is where most of the hills are. Make sure you take a good map with you.
You can take the A or number 1 subway line to 181st street - exit at the south end and you'll have to tackle plenty of stairs to get out of the subway (or you can use the escalator if it's working). There used to be a kosher, German-goods bakery Gruenbaum's (or Gideon's) about a block east of the subway entrance on 181st St - I'm not sure if it's still there, so call first. Heading back westward, there are several little eateries to check out on 181st street, including small bakeries, diners, Chinese takeout, and even a higher-end Latin fusion restaurant Hispaniola. Take a right off of 181st street heading north and climb the stairs up to Pinehurst Ave. Follow Pinehurst northward (uptown) until it curves into Cabrini Blvd. Continue to the right along Cabrini Blvd until it ends at the entrance to Fort Tryon Park.
In the park, you can stroll through a beautiful garden (with a host of flowers in the warmer months) and see some of the most gorgeous views across the Hudson River to New Jersey. You will also find The Cloisters Museum (a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, housing a large collection of medieval artifacts in a building that was constructed from several actual European cloisters that were disassembled and shipped to New York). There is even a moderately-priced restaurant (The New Leaf, in a stone building nestled in the woods of the park) within Fort Tryon park. (If you happen to be there at night, you can expect jazz and/or vocal performances.)
If you aren't exhausted at this point and still want to burn more calories, you can walk down one of the paths (not recommended after dark) through Fort Tryon Park to Broadway, in the Inwood section of Manhattan. You'll find a number of eateries catering to the Dominican community, including Dominican bakeries, especially along Dyckman and 207 streets. You might even stop by PJ's Wine Shop, on Broadway between 204th & 207th St, which I have been told is one of the best wine stores in the city (huge selection and reasonable prices).
Finally, if you still need to burn off a few more calories, you can walk north (uptown) along Broadway to Carrot Top Bakery (5025 Broadway, near west 214th street) for some delicious carrot cake or other treats. If you walk a little bit past Carrot Top, you will come to some very steep steps on your left at about 215th street. There's nothing really to see at the top of the stairs, just some apartment buildings and a little park, but you can run up and the down the stairs to burn off those last calories.
At this point you can catch the 1 subway line back down the stairs at west 215th street, or you can get the A line back down Broadway at west 207th street, either of which will transport you back to midtown or lower Manhattan.
(I used to live near 181st street a few years ago - which, at the time, I considered a culinary wasteland. I haven't eaten at many of the local places in quite a while, so you can do some searches of the Manhattan board for Inwood to see what the scene has been like in recent years. If you like or want to explore Dominican food, La Casa del Mofongo, which is within walking distance of the A train subway station at 181st street, seems to be very popular - there's always a crowd when I pass by there.
I can tell you that my colleagues from work took me to the New Leaf Café this past fall, where we had a very nice dinner.)
New Leaf Restaurant & Bar
1 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY 10040
839 W 181st St, New York, NY 10033
725 W 181st St, New York, NY 10033
5025 Broadway, New York, NY 10034
4898 Broadway, New York, NY 10034
I don't think you're going to find a specific goody shop on top of a staircase in NYC. But I used to take an athletic training class that met on the UWS of Central Park (somewhere in the 70s) where I had to run up and down a whole bunch of stairs until I thought I was going to puke. And near that area of the park is near Granddaisy Bakery and Mitchel London and Levain Bakery.
I think you can also walk up the stairs in the Empire State Building if you'd like. But as I've never been in there, I can't say for sure.
Seriously, if you just walk everywhere in Manhattan, that will help a lot. Manhattan is so walkable. I live in Midtown but generally walk to Chinatown and back for groceries (when the weather is nice and I'm not carrying too many things).
When you mention "lots of stairs" i get a flash back to climbing something like 8 flights of steep stairs one summer out of one of the subway stops. Was it F? or maybe now it's V, there were also the E line maybe, it was somewhere like 51st street on the East side, I thought. Anyway, if you climb those and make it above ground, surely you'll find something delicious? Other hounds know which subway stop I'm remembering?
For cupcakes, someone recently posted about delicious ones from Mitchel London's Cupcakes and Burgers, but if you want stairs his cupcakes can be had also at Fairway upstairs at 74th and broadway. The carrot cake with some coconut in the icing was extremely moist and not overly sweet. Go in the door in the middle and you'll see stairs going stright up to the 2nd floor where the organic section and Mitchel London's restaurant is. Not that many stairs...really.