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Herald Square
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/New York City Department of Transportation Herald Square

Cool things to do in Herald Square

Think of Herald Square as a flyover nabe? Think again. Hit up these hidden gems next time you're in midtown.

By Joseph Alexiou and Leah Butterfield
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As part of our series exploring the city's undersung nabes (check out our guides to cool spots in Times Square and Downtown Brooklyn), let us draw your attention to Herald Square. Yes, we'll admit that this venerable crossroad has a truly obnoxious shopping mall, but Herald Square is also home to a fancy new salon that just happens to be in the nation's largest Urban Outfitters, and a historic statue with creepy light-up eyes.

We talked to resident Sam Wong to get a local's perspective on living in Herald Square. Originally from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the 27-year-old data scientist didn’t want to live in the same borough as his parents when he moved back home from D.C. Besides, when your work is to analyze and improve the business practices of the MTA, location is everything: “I do a lot of late-night work for the MTA, and the B, D, F, N, Q and R trains are all right here.” Wong explains. “I can get home in less than 40 minutes from almost anywhere. When you do lots of late-night work, you want to be near major hubs.”

Best spots in Herald Square

Photograph: Liz Clayman

Island Grand New York Bakery

A Mexican-Korean hybrid (say what?!) perched at the edge of K-town, Island Grand is a one-of-a-kind, inexpensive find best known for “really good fish tacos,” says Wong, big portions and liberal use of hot spices. The crunchy quesadillas are another fave, and there are secret off-menu items like pork-ramen soup. • (212-213-2838)

Photograph: Dominic Perri

Soup Spot

Hidden under the shadow of Madison Square Garden, this lunchtime gem often has a line spilling out into the street. There’s no seating (so actually hanging here won’t last long), but there are ample supplies of typically New York soups—Italian wedding, chicken noodle, Manhattan clam chowder—along with more oddball choices, such as Hamburger Helper (really). • (212-643-8623, soupspot.com)

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Photograph: Courtesy TurntableNYC

Turntable Mad for Chicken

Only in Koreatown can you find a restaurant with a name like Turntable Mad for Chicken. Record players and vinyl decorate the walls of this sleek joint, which serves up a variety of delicious chicken options, including wings (six for $10) and a fried-chicken burger ($13). The highlight of the drink menu is the beer tower ($47), which comprises draught beer served in an oversize pitcher with dry ice and neon lights. We’ll take three, please. (212-714-9700, www.turntablenyc.com)

The Liberty NYC

Restaurants American Midtown West

A multilevel restaurant-cum-bar on 35th Street sounds pretty terrible, right? Wrong. With 18-foot ceilings and an enormous black granite bar, the Liberty conjures classy old New York haunts like the former Cloud Club at the Chrysler Building. And douchebags haven’t discovered it—yet. • (212-967-4000, thelibertynyc.com)

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Photograph: Courtesy Eileen Costa

The Museum at FIT

Museums Fashion and costume Chelsea

The fashion-focused museum provides a much-needed respite from the hectic chain stores on the surrounding blocks. Soak in the hushed museum atmosphere while getting educated on important things like "The History of Lingerie" (which is their current special exhibit) or exploring their permanent collection of cool clothing and accessories. • (212-217-4558, fitnyc.edu/museum)

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