Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Long Island City?
We're getting out of the car-crazed purgatory of Tampa for a few days in NYC in late June and need to make reservations soon.
When I stayed on the Upper West side, I loved the deli/bistro culture. I think my son would like it too, and I'd like to be able to pick out some favorites with him. Unfortunately, we can't afford to stay in that area for our vacation. Several of the things we'll be seeing are in or close to Brooklyn--the Botanical Garden, Atlantic Ave supposedly has good Mediterranean spots, Wall Street & the Fed, the Tenement Museum, a boat from Chelsea piers, WTC site are all close to Brooklyn. Long Island City is a little bit less expensive, but not as close to what we'll be doing (except for Sony Wonder Lab and AMNH).
Which of those areas will have the deli scene and little cafes that I'd like to go to with my son? Is Brooklyn really so suburban, or will we be able to walk and use the subway?
We stayed in the Financial District and found plenty of places to pop in and have a bite, just like I described. Probably my favorite moment was not food-related. It was my son, saying that New Yorkers are not friendly--in conversation with the banker type who let us sit down at his table!
Do keep in mind that Brooklyn is about 70 square miles in area. Saying you're in "Brooklyn" doesn't mean much in terms of convenience getting from point A to point B. In fact, there are parts of Brooklyn that are terribly inconvenient from other parts of Brooklyn - sometimes you even have to go into Manhattan then back out on another line.
Williamsburg and Park Slope both have lots of little neighborhood bistros and such, but they're also both probably just as expensive as Manhattan to stay in (I'm not even sure there are hotels in Park Slope)
The Brooklyn Marriott could be a good home base. You can walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to lower Manhattan from there, where WTC and Wall Street and all that is, and it's not too far a jaunt to the Tenemant Museum from that area. There's not much immediately around the hotel for eats, but you'll be a short walk to Atlantic Ave, and there are a couple good dinner places in Brooklyn Heights (Henry's End, Noodle Pudding)
Chelsea Piers isn't close to Brooklyn at all, it's on the far side of Manhattan from BK, closer to Jersey. But subways make everything a bit easier.
If you stick with the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods that are close to Manhattan you will do ok.
The subway ride from LIC or Park Slope is quick.
To further answer your question the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens have their gems. Chinese in Queens can be equal or superior to Manhattan. I recently discovered John Brown's Smokehouse in LIC which has excellent BBQ and Pastrami. As much as I love Katz's .................
Brooklyn has it's pizza. Lucali, Tottonno and L&B Spumoni Gardens are as good as Manhattan pizza palaces.
If you stay in Brooklyn take the train out to Coney Island and walk the boardwalk and ride the Cyclone. Nothing beats a Nathan's dog on the boradwalk and a Hires Root Beer!!
Thanks, Iluvcookies! That guide is great.
Yes, we'll eat in a deli at Katz's, but that's not quite the "culture" thing I meant. I was trying to refer to how there seemed to be at least one deli or pastry shop or cafe on every block, such that food & eating were never far from mind, and the breakfast spot I went to seemed to have a rhythm with regular customers, for whom it was a part of the routine. It's very different from suburbia where everyone pulls out the Cheerios in their own private kitchen, grills are tucked away in the backyard & people eat fast food while sealed in individual cars. There was a public and communal nature that I think he'd really like. It reminded me of when we stayed in Berlin for 10 days when he was 6. He walked to the bakery to pick up our breakfast most mornings & often ran into the boys with whom he'd played soccer in the courtyard where we were staying. They were doing the same thing for their families.
Ah, I see what you mean about the culture. Every neighborhood has it's own "local" spots, and they're all a little different depending on the area. The UWS is more residential and has more older residents then other nabes in NYC, that's probably what you experienced.
You might find a similar, yet somewhat younger, experience in some of the Brooklyn neighborhoods--which are definitely not suburban.
Long Island City is right across the river from midtown--2 stops from Grand Central Terminal--so staying there will put you in easy reach of the spots you want to go to.
Since you will be visiting the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, you can get plenty of "deli culture" at both Katz's and Russ and Daughters.
Poster RGR has a great self guided walking tour of this area: sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:
There are some posts on the Outer Boroughs board about Atlantic Ave (all of Brooklyn is covered there). If you are visiting the Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Garden (they are right next to each other in Prospect Park) they are accessible by subway.