The overall winners
This upmarket café-restaurant, tucked beneath its familiar red-and-white canopy, may have moved from its 15-year-old Spring Street home around the corner to the base of the Nolitan Hotel earlier this year, but fortunately it didn’t leave its excellent Italian sandwiches—or ability to attract celeb clientele—behind. Along with its usual lineup of fresh-pressed panini, like Sicilian tuna with lemon dressing, and aged salame with imported Taleggio and olive tapenade, the beefed-up new location also expanded with full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. That means you can sate your Sunday hangover with elevated a.m. (or p.m., depending on how hard you partied last night) foodstuff like eggs Benedict layered with braised pork belly and spinach on polenta cakes, and challah French toast dotted with peanut butter mousse and grape compote. This is morning-after food for adults. Take that, bacon, egg and cheese.
Working. Playing. Schlepping. New Yorkers need coffee to keep going, but will they settle for any old cup of caffeine-spiked fuel? Hell, no. Enter your No. 1 pick, a tiny East Village café that takes java damn seriously—true to its name, these buzzy creations are labeled as projects—and, although it’s been open only a year, has quickly built an enviable reputation. The brainchild of co-owners Chi Sum Ngai, a Portland, Oregon–trained master barista, and Kaleena Teoh, whose family owned a coffeeshop in her native Malaysia, Coffee Project New York serves meticulously crafted concoctions that keep the slim space packed. Need a place to start? Opt for the deconstructed latte (a separate-the-flavors flight featuring espresso, steamed milk, a latte and sparkling water, first made famous in Seattle) or a nitro coffee, an infused-with-nitrogen creamy cold brew that’s delivered straight to your glass from a keg.
New Yorkers are boozehounds (no shame!), and the results for Best Shop prove what we’ve always known: The only materialistic possession we really need is a glass (or hell, an extra-long straw). This vino-and-liquor emporium invaded Clinton Hill just last year, but it’s clearly made a lasting impression. Why? Because unlike most liquor shops that make you want to run in and out before anyone scoffs at your $15 box of Franzia, the friendly folks inside Leon & Son promote lingering, and they happily use their extensive knowledge to help you choose a libation you’d be proud to pour at a friend’s housewarming party. The shop is stocked with traditional bottles and offbeat varietals from countries like France, Germany, Australia and Chile, and they’re usually marked between $20 and $40. But cheapo price points—like an Italian Scopa pinot grigio for $10—aren’t too shabby, either. Make sure to follow the store on Twitter (@leonandsonwine) for updates about frequent wine tastings.
A craft-beer bar can be a pretentious thing, all obscure drafts and beardy smugness. Not this laid-back East Village barroom. A spin-off of the nearby Alphabet City Wine Co., ABC Beer Co. is the kind of joint where you can sink into a plush leather couch and enjoy free Wi-Fi over an ice-cold brew that’s definitely offbeat but never off-putting. The knowledgeable staff operates by the beer-geek (not beer-snob) model and assists wide-eyed newbies and savvy hops-heads alike in navigating the bar’s extensive draft list. Thirteen taps flow at the steel-topped bar, with seasonal options like AleSmith Oktoberfest and Boulevard Funky Pumpkin, but another 350 boutique bottles and to-go growlers are available for purchase in the bar’s retail section, in case you like something so much you want to take it home.
It’s hard to believe that you can get the experience of visiting a grand 19th-century country estate without ever leaving the five boroughs, but you can! Tucked away in the Bronx’s historic neighborhood Riverdale, this city-owned 28-acre garden is nothing short of magnificent, with impeccably maintained grounds and staggering views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades. Though the scenic property has inspired nature lovers since it was first developed—Theodore Roosevelt’s progressive preservation efforts were influenced by his childhood stay at the mansion during the summer of 1870—the greenhouses, terraces and gardens were meticulously planned by owner George W. Perkins in the early part of the 1900s to further enhance the vistas. Hit the half-mile trail along the Herbert & Hyonja Abrons Woodland, get romantic in the shade by the stone pergola, peep tropical plants in the glass, and find what we’re all looking for: a bit of New York peace.