RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in winter in NYC
1. Get a hot shave
Dudes: Need to reclaim your masculinity? Settle in for a hot shave, which not only boasts a Don Draper--cool factor but is also a great way to revitalize your face during the harsh winter months. At Italian throwback Barbiere NYC(246 E 5th St between Second Ave and Cooper Sq; 646-649-2640, barbierenyc.com), ask for the Classica, which comes with a hot lather (handmade by proprietor Matthew Demayo) and a towel, plus an eye-opener of your choice: a shot of Jameson or espresso ($30). In Little Italy, the New York Shaving Company(202B Elizabeth St between Prince and Spring Sts; 212-334-9495, nyshavingcompany.com) offers the Ultimate Shave, which includes preshave oil made with local products, an aftershave mask, and a hot towel soaked in lemon essential oil and rosewater ($45). Financial District folks should head to mainstay Esquires of Wall Street(14 Wall St between Broadway and Nassau St; 212-349-5064, esquiresofwallst.com) for a cheap, no-fuss hot-shave-and-towel treatment ($17) that has been going strong since 1932.
2. Drink hot cocktails
Nothing warms the bones after a chilly trek outside quite like booze—except, of course, warm booze. The bartenders at Williamsburg cocktail hub Huckleberry Bar(588 Grand St at Lorimer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-218-8555, huckleberrybar.com) make the Double Black Diamond, a mug of house-made hot chocolate spiked with chai-infused Black Grouse Scotch and coffee liqueur ($10). Chocolate fiends should warm up to the Rococo Cocoa at Peels(325 Bowery at 2nd St; 646-602-7015, peelsnyc.com), a creamy blend spiked with Chartreuse (a French liqueur) and topped with a vanilla-honey marshmallow and dark-chocolate shavings ($13). At Highlands(150 W 10th St between Greenwich Ave and Waverly Pl; 212-229-2670, highlands-nyc.com), try the anCnoc—a blend of 12-year-old Scotch, brown sugar and Drambuie-laced whipped cream ($13). Serious drinkers will have a field day thumbing through the absolutely massive drink menu at the Brandy Library in Tribeca (25 North Moore St at Varick St; 212-226-5545, brandylibrary.com), where the Hot Brandy Alexander—cognac, dark crme de cocoa and heavy cream—comes with a shortbread cookie ($14). For more cold-weather drinkeries, click here.
3. Soak in a hot tub
Face it: You long ago passed the age when poolhopping was still acceptable. Convene with other grown-ups at the swanky Financial District spot The Setai Club & Spa(40 Broad St at Exchange Pl; 212-363-5418, setaiclubnewyork.com), where a day pass ($65) admits you to the Jacuzzi (surrounded by dim lighting and candles to create a calming mood), sauna and steam room. At Great Jones Spa(29 Great Jones St between Bowery and Lafayette St; 212-505-3185, greatjonesspa.com), warming up in the thermal tub (or the river-rock sauna, steam room and the rest of the "water lounge") is also $50—or free if you spend more than $100 in spa treatments.
4. Eat some spicy-ass chicken
We could manage only three of the diabolical, off-the-menu Seppuku chicken wings at Buffalo Cantina(149 Havemeyer St between South 1st and 2nd Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-218-7788; half dozen $18, dozen $40). By far the spiciest we've encountered in NYC, the lava-red, chili-seed-speckled sauce features a hit list of the world's most infamous heat bombs, including bhut jolokia,chile de rbol, serrano and pure capsaicin. The effect is ruthless: We teared up, felt light-headed and briefly considered vomiting, then walked out with our tail between our legs. If you can eat 12 in three minutes, the hefty bill is waived and you get your photo on a wall of fame. Our advice: Don't be a hero, bro.
5. Take a Turkish bath
If you're pining to feel pampered, reserve a session at the swanky new Spa at Trump Soho(246 Spring St between Sixth Ave and Varick St; 212-842-5505, trumpsohohotel.com) for its traditional Turkish Hammam treatment, pictured (45 minutes $150). In a dome covered with blue mosaic tiles, you'll lie on a heated stone while a staffer pours castile soap bubbles and hot and cold water over your back. For more than 100 years, at the East Village's Russian & Turkish Baths(268 E 10th St between First Ave and Ave A; 212-674-9250, russianturkishbaths.com; $35), locals have sweated out toxins in the no-frills, eucalyptus- and lavender-infused-steam--filled Turkish Room. Make sure you call ahead or check the website before heading there; the place holds coed, women- and men-only hours, and you're required to cover up with bathing suits or shorts during the former. Click here for more great bathhouses.
6. Sip a great cup of coffee
Recently, we scoured all corners of the city to find the 51 best cups of java around. Not the ones for downing in a rush, but those worth sitting back and enjoying, like the Honduran El Jaguar Farm medium roast at Birch Coffee(Gershwin Hotel, 5 E 27th St between Fifth and Madison Aves; 212-686-1444, birchcoffee.com; $2.50--$3.50), the chicory-sweetened New Orleans at Blue Bottle(160 Berry St between North 4th and 5th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-387-4160, bluebottlecoffee.net; $4), the single-origin espresso at Sweetleaf(10-93 Jackson Ave at 11th St, Long Island City, Queens; 917-832-6726, sweetleaflic.com; $3) and many more.
7. Gorge on hot wings
For a killer deal, load up on 10 wings Monday through Wednesday at Croxley Ale House(28 Ave B between 2nd and 3rd Sts, 212-253-6140), 4pm--1am. Just be sure you order at least 15 wings—and don't try to take any home (there's a strict no-doggie-bags policy).
8. Relax during a hot-stone massage
Tense? Freezing? Shake off both sensations at Chinatown's Eden Day Spa(388 Broadway between Walker and White Sts; 212-226-0515, edenspany.com), where a masseuse will gently lay lava stones on your back's pressure points ($120 for one hour), which should help melt away all of that postholiday, pre--tax-season stress.
9. Stroll through an indoor desert
Explore 11 different habitats without venturing farther than the Bronx. At the New York Botanical Garden's Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Bronx River Pkwy at Fordham Rd, Bronx; 718-817-8700, nybg.org; $20, seniors and students $18, children 2--12 $10, children under 2 free), walk between rain-forest and desert environs, which are all enclosed under a glass greenhouse. Through Jan 16, get lost in the woods with the "Forest in the City" exhibition. Or marvel at tropical flowers and trees from Jan 21 through Feb 26 during the "Caribbean Garden" exhibition.
10. Cook Korean BBQ
Obviously, K-town offers plenty of ways to partake in the thrill of watching meat grilled right at your table. For our money, though, your best bet is to bring your group to Shilla(37 W 32nd St between Fifth Ave and Broadway; 212-967-1880, shillanyc.com). Inside the inviting, woody space, share sizzling helpings of prime rib ($28.95), beef brisket ($22.95) and, to appease the noncarnivores, mixed vegetables ($18.95).
11. Go to a fireplace bar
Helmed by Meaghan Dorman of the Raines Law Room,Lantern's Keep(49 W 44th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-453-4287, thelanternskeep.com) is the antithesis of your average-crazed midtown drinkery. With only 30 seats, you're guaranteed to feel the heat blazing from the black lacquer furnace, even if you're not sitting right near the gas-powered hearth. Ask head bartender Theo Lieberman (Milk & Honey) or one of the other expert barkeeps to mix you a classic cocktail, such as the New Yorker Highball ($18), a warming blend of bourbon, champagne, lemon juice and red wine. Plan ahead, though—the bar has limited hours and is occasionally rented out for private parties, so your best bet is to make a reservation. For more fireplace bars, click here.
12. Drink hot chocolate
Serious java may garner the most praise atCaf Grumpy(locations throughout the city; visit cafegrumpy.com), but the cocoa here deserves just as much attention: A proprietary blend of organic stone-ground 72 percent dark chocolate—finished with steamed whole milk—lends notes of vanilla and caramel to the balanced sipper ($3.50).
13. Go saunahopping
At Spa Castle(131-10 Eleventh Ave between 131st and 132nd, College Point, Queens; 718-939-6300, nyspacastle.com), a sort of relaxation amusement park, the entry fee (weekdays $35, weekends and holidays $45) grants you access to seven saunas, including the gold room (outfitted in real gold, which apparently harkens back to an ancient technique for soothing sore limbs), one outfitted with LED lights and a room with stacked blocks of Himalayan salt.
14. Order a bowl of Texas-style chili
Texans may beg to differ, but NYC does sling some kickin' versions of their state's official dish. At the cafeteria-style Daisy May's BBQ USA(623 Eleventh Ave at 46th St; 212-977-1500, daisymaysbbq.com), waiting in line for its Bowl o' Red Texas Style Chili plate special ($14)—which comes with your choice of two fixings, like golden spicy corn bread, collard greens and bourbon peaches—is well worth it. Polish off the brisket-and-ends-filled BBQ Chili ($7.95) at Chelsea's R.U.B. BBQ(208 W 23rd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves; 212-524-4300, rubbbq.net), whose name stands for "Righteous Urban Barbecue," with a glass of house-made sweet tea ($2.50). At Harlem honky-tonk joint Dinosaur Bar-B-Que(700 W 125th St at Twelfth Ave; 212-694-1777, dinosaurbarbque.com), top your bowl of Chili on the Half Shell with red onion, cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapeos and tortilla chips ($8.75).
15. Get a steamy facial
Does your face have that weathered, Eastwood-in-the-'70s look going on during cold months? Or is it just feeling a bit grimy? Lia Schorr Skin Care(686 Lexington Ave between 56th and 57th Sts; 212-486-9670, liaschorr.com), which has tackled such problems for 30 years, offers a European Deep Facial that should cure what ails you. The hour-plus process starts with a massage and a thorough steaming to open up your pores, and is followed by the application of tightening and calming masks (75 minutes for $95). For a bunch of budget-friendly facials, click here.
16. Sweat en masse during hot yoga
Strike a pose in a room set to 100F during hot yoga—or Bikram yoga, as those in the biz call it—at Bikram Yoga Lower East Side(172 Allen St between Rivington and Stanton Sts, second floor; 212-353-8859, bikramyogales.com), which offers a steal: A week of unlimited classes costs only $20 for first-timers to the space (it's a still-reasonable $20 per class for everyone else). Click here for more great options.
17. Dig into a potpie
When a gracious server at The Dutch(131 Sullivan St at Prince St; 212-677-6200, thedutchnyc.com) tried to break the towering, crackerlike crust that caps Andrew Carmellini's delirious potpie ($32), we scolded him: "It's like you just opened our Christmas present!" There is serious satisfaction in busting through the puffy dome—which is speckled with sea salt and looks like some sort of Land of Oz mushroom—to pillage the hearty stew within. Shreds of D'Artagnan bunny, braised in stock, riesling and hard cider, mingle with a selection of vegetables such as Tokyo turnips and baby potatoes. Crack the shell (the staff-administered service point has been retired) to release its intense aroma.
18. Enjoy a high-quality blow-dry
Leave with your hair bouncy and toasty-warm after visiting Butterfly Studio(149 Fifth Ave between 20th and 21st Sts, second floor; 212-253-2100, butterflystudiosalon.com), where ladies can get a wash and a blowout ($65--$85), while fellas can opt for the Capitol Force Treatment (is that a Harrison Ford movie?), which includes a scalp massage, shampoo and blow-dry ($35).
19. Test your tongue with jungle curry
There's no creamy coconut milk to temper the flames of this tear-jerking Thai dish ($9), the spiciest in the country's anthology of curries. Head to Ayada(77-08 Woodside Ave between 77th and 78th Sts, Elmhurst, Queens; 718-424-0844) and ask for it phet mak ("really spicy" in Thai), if you can stand the heat. The cooks roast a freshly pounded paste of dry red chilies, lemongrass, kafir lime leaf and other aromatics in the wok and thin it out with water. True to its jungle roots, the original dish calls for wild boar, but you can get it here with shrimp, beef or chicken bobbing alongside the bamboo, sweet Thai basil and a mix of vegetables.
20. Down hot sake
At the subterranean Sake Bar Hagi(152 W 49th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, 212-764-8549), order the ozeki (small $4.50, large $8) for a warming buzz. Take advantage of the reverse happy hour at the Japanese pub Izakaya Ten(207 Tenth Ave between 22nd and 23rd Sts; 212-627-7777, izakayaten.com), pictured, offered Thursday through Saturday, where you can ask your server for any array of hot drinks from the slender bar's huge selection. From 11pm to 3am, waiters sling two-for-one glasses of sake ($7--$17) and shochu bottles for $20 off (normally $35--$85).
21. Feast like a Cajun in Williamsburg
Craving some NOLA-inspired grub? TONY's Chris Schonberger rounded up the top spots for gumbo, crawfish, po' boys and other mouthwatering delights in Williamsburg, where Cajun cuisine has exploded. On Saturdays and Sundays, stop by d.b.a. Brooklyn(113 North 7th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave; 718-218-6006) starting at 2pm, when the folks at Tchoup Shop bring an ever-changing menu of authentic eats (visit twitter.com/tchoupshop for more info).
22. Dunk your extremities in hot wax
Besides providing a gooey, warm and oddly awesome sensation, submerging your hands and feet into melted paraffin wax also helps smooth and repair weather-damaged skin. Stop into high-end salon Jin Soon(421 E 73rd St between First and York Aves; 212-249-9144, jinsoon.com) for a 90-minute version of the treatment (hands $35, feet $60). For a cheaper deal, try Euphoria Spa(18 Harrison St between Greenwich and Hudson Sts, second floor; 212-925-5925, euphoriaspanyc.com), which offers quick, wallet-friendly dips (hands $5, feet $10).
23. Eat ramen in Brooklyn
The three chefs at Chuko(552 Vanderbilt Ave between Bergen and Dean Sts, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 718-576-6701)—Jamison Blankenship, David Koon and James Sato—are all Morimoto vets, and they spent months testing different broths, noodles and toppings to create the three bowls on their opening menu. Our favorite is the pork-bone ramen ($12), adorned with mustard greens, poached egg, duroc pork or Giannone chicken and scallions.
24. Dance with pretty people in Alphabet City
Every Friday, retro club Ella(9 Ave A between 1st and 2nd Sts, ellalounge.com) welcomes a hard-partying young set for an all-night swing-dancing shindig. Brush up on your Lindy Hop and Jitterbug and prepare to break a major sweat. To find happening bashes every night of the week, consult our Nightlife section.
25. Linger in a coffeeshop
You know that feeling when you're being rushed out of a java spot? Well, luckily not every place is as on-the-go as, say, a midtown Starbucks. We like roomy Soho spot Ground Support(399 West Broadway at Spring St, 212-219-8722), pictured; famed Village hang Caffe Reggio(119 MacDougal St between Minetta Ln and W 3rd St; 212-475-9557, caffereggio.com); and Brooklyn Heights' charming Iris Cafe(20 Columbia Pl between Joralemon and State Sts, Brooklyn Heights; 718-722-7395). Find more laid-back cafs here.
26. Try Brazil's national dish
Brazilians know it as feijoada, and they flock to Queens restaurant Favela Grill(33-18 28th Ave at 34th St, Astoria, Queens; 718-545-8250, favelagrill.com) every Saturday for this taste of home, a stew of bacon, pork, ribs and beans served over rice ($17.95).
27. Share some fine fondue
Grab your sweetie for a night of hot dipping (no, that's not a filthy pun) at any of our favorite fondue places, like Artisanal(2 Park Ave at 32nd St; 212-725-8585, artisanalbistro.com), where the restaurant's signature blend is an amalgam of Emmentaler, Comt and other cheeses ($30, serves two to three people). On Sunday nights throughout winter, hit up Trestle on Tenth(242 Tenth Ave at 24th St, 212-645-5659), where you can split traditional Swiss fondue ($24 per person).
28. Sip tea
Until 7pm at Cha-An Tea House (230 E 9th St between Second and Third Aves; 212-228-8030, chaanteahouse.com), hungry tea fiends should choose the Afternoon Tea Set, which comes with bagel sandwiches, scones and other sweets, and tea ($18). For the less famished, a pot from the hefty selection will do nicely, like Ceylon ($6). At Greenwich Village's comfy Tea Spot(127 MacDougal St between 3rd and 4th Sts, 212-505-1248), warm up with some Darjeeling, Silver Needle and other blends (cup $3.75, pot $5.50). For more top teahouses, click here.
29. Work out
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30. Enjoy a bowl of steaming congee
At the perpetually crowded LES spot Congee Village(100 Allen St between Broome and Delancey Sts; 212-941-1818, congeevillagerestaurants.com), pick from a list of 30 verities of the restaurant's namesake dish (an Asian rice porridge), which you can order with pork liver, squid, beef and other ingredients. Oh, and this treat is also really cheap ($3.50--$8.95).
Additional reporting by Michael McKenzie