Top Local in YAH Global

Best Public Bathroom In NYC (seriously)


We've done lists about "not-so-public" bathrooms. It's also not that uncommon to find "Top 5" or "Best of" itineraries about hotel and restaurant lavatories throughout North America. However, a true public bathroom, one that is not found within the confines of a business, is often overlooked because few dare to venture into such portals of unmentionable activity for anything more than an unmentionable activity, where upon conclusion, one leaves as quickly as possible without one single thought of looking back. Thats why so many of us lose keys, cell phones, wallets, umbrellas and other items doomed to be left behind on counter tops of these public amenity structures. Our concentration is upon efficiency, getting in and out as fast as possible, eyes undiverted with nasal passages automatically clenched.

We caught wind of the Holy Grail of public bathrooms from our insider in New York and we almost dismissed this topic of consideration until curiosity got the best of us and requested pictures to back up the claim. The attachment opened up into what could only have been a mistake. Were we mistakenly sent a photo of an Upper West Side Yoga Studio bathroom or perhaps that of a trendy new diner? Nope. It was the real deal. A public bathroom worthy of its own classification. That is why you will not find a number past "1" on this "Top/Best" article for New York City. There can be only one...


Bryant Park Public Bathroom

Bryant Park, 42 Street between 5th and 6th Avenue



Bryant Park Bathroom


The winner of this prestigious title goes to Bryant Park's public bathroom. The park is already a major draw, bringing in both tourists and New Yorkers alike. Bryant park is especially known for attracting the business district's lunch crowd where you will witness a sea of loosened ties, blazers, and pant suits carrying brown bags and coffee cups to go. From a linear perspective, we suppose this is what created the necessity for the maintenance of perhaps the world's greatest outdoor pit stop, en route back to the office.


The public had long ago deemed Bryant Park's bathroom as they best outdoor facility that had ever seen, but in recent times, CINTAS Corporation decided to hold an official ballot to determine the world's (North America in actuality) numero uno public "domain" of the sort. Political controversy seemed to find its way into the race for the title. We suppose this is unavoidable since the two topics, politics and toilets, go hand in hand. Bryant Park unjustly found itself in the number 3 spot, behind two facilities that were in fact indoor (one of them being a luxury hotel). To include an outdoor bathroom in the same category is nonsensical, but we suppose that to even come in 3rd against lavatories within an address speaks loudly about the quality of this New York City park amenity.


So what makes Bryant Park's public bathroom so great? First off, the exterior is sublime, designed to match the nearby New York Public Library. Upon entry, you are treated to the scent of fresh flowers on display at the crossroads between the mens and the womens rooms. More flowers, along with a full time attendant greet you inside, and again, the scent from the flora and counter top oils is so unexpected that you actually take a deep breath, a concept completely foreign to anyone entering such a place. Spotless electronic "seats" with automatic flushing let you know that you can handle your business without wrapping your hands in protective tissue at any point in time, while hand washing is a refreshing experience as the soaps are never watered down and like everything else within, exquisitely scented. The only thing that lingers in this bathroom, is you. Its not often you see someone taking photos of this experience, but at Bryant Park public bathroom, don't be surprised to see the flash go off more than once here. You may want to dress accordingly in case you end up on public display in someone's flickr account photo album of "best bathroom ever".


Bryant Park Public Bathroom Bryant Park Bathroom

Best Tortured Artist Cafes In New York City


You know what we're talking about here. That person in the corner of your favorite cafe, laptop open, a couple of books scattered on the table and an intense look on their face with eyes that glance up from time to time to make sure you are noticing them and thus witnessing their plight as a struggling artist, tortured screenwriter, or Slam Poet.

If its a guy, he hasn't shaven in days/weeks. He most likely has an old blazer with patches on the elbows, unbuttoned so you can see his "Andy Warhol" t-shirt, knee torn jeans that crumble onto purposefully scuffed, untied, white tennis shoes and a scarf wrapped loosely around his neck no matter the time of year. They always wear a scarf. His coffee cup has been empty for hours and sits between an unread copy of the Communist Manifesto, an NYFA binder, and a graphic novel.

If it's a woman, you'll find her rolled yoga mat leaning off to the side somewhere near her table. She's not dressed for Yoga class necessarily, but she's prepared in case the inspiration strikes for a One-Legged King Pigeon at any moments notice. Seemingly without make-up, she's naturally beautiful but resents anyone for noticing or assuming anything about her because of that fact. Her earth toned clothes say "f*ck fashion" but her sleek touch screen laptop, not-yet-released in the U.S. mobile phone, and immaculate manicure gripping an americano tell you her bank account far exceeds the image she's going for. She wears a scarf wrapped loosely around her neck no matter the time of year. They always wear a scarf. She sits alone but has 4 empty espresso cups decorating the table along with an un-opened leather journal, some travel book about Europe and a crumpled envelope addressed from Juilliard.

These cafes below are where to go in New York City if you fit this description or if you get a kick out of that whole "vibe". So bring your unfinished screenplays, haikus, sketchpads, or lines to memorize and take a tour of these local watering (caffeinating) holes.


Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

126 Crosby Street, SoHo, New York (between Prince and Jersey St.)


Housing Works Bookstore Cafe; the name doesn't exactly roll of the tongue does it? You won't hear a lot of "Meet me at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe after work!" calls along the streets of SoHo as you would with the more pleasing to the ear Italian named coffee shops in the area. But what HWBC (better?) lacks in appellation it makes up for in appeal, especially to the arts and culture community of New York City.


This cafe is about as comfortable as can be, almost dangerously so if you intend on completing a reading, journal entry or online project. You will be lulled into a sleepy submission, requiring continuous caffeine injections throughout your "stay". Great marketing ploy perhaps? Dark wood accents the decor from head to toe and the combined scent of well traveled books and coffee creates an atmosphere unlike any other in the city.


Housing Works Cafe beckons creative souls to venture in and unleash whatever masterpiece is hiding within. You will find book clubs, poets, artists, students, musicians and authors populating either the dark timbered or plush leather seating of the large, two floored, wireless (free!) enabled establishment rooted in good will and activism. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe takes the profits from the sale of its used (donated) books and music selection and puts it directly into Housing Works Inc, a twin crisis relief fund for combating AIDS and homelessness. It's easy to see why the NYC community and visiting public has backed this place over the years. HWBC is not only a great place to grab a fair trade coffee and toil away at your life's work, or to sit in on a live band or poetry reading, it is a cause hidden within SoHo's most unassuming cafe.


Caffe Reggio

119 MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village, New York


Caffe Reggio is a work of art in itself. The excerpt "transports you to a different time and place" may be an overused one in the world of travel writing, but Caffe Reggio rationalizes the existence of that combination of words. Italian Renaissance is the period so many artisans would find themselves should time travel ever find its way out of our imaginations and into reality. Until that time, this particular group of Greenwich Villagers huddles into the quiet and dark corners of this cafe with arguably the city's best cappuccinos in cupped hands. Anne Rice Vampires probably hang out here too.


The green exterior with gold leaf trim lures you in from your walk by the culturally significant Washington Square Park and the blackened reddish brown wood decor keeps you cozy inside as long as your schedule allows. 3AM is the earliest Caffe Reggio closes so if you are seeking seclusion from the day and evening crowd then do not hesitate to venture in long after the nine to fivers have slipped into post 11pm comas.


You can do no wrong with any of the coffee based beverages here, especially those of the specialty (liqueur based) variety but for those averse to caffeine and/or spirits we recommend trying the cherry or mint flavored steamed milk, especially as a nightcap before turning in. Your succeeding dreams will "transport you" to the late 16th century somewhere in Venice.


New York Film Acedemy (NYFA) Cafe
51 Astor Place, East Village, New York


With its proximity to the campus and the fact that NYFA students get up to 50% off at this establishment, you don't have to have a PHD to figure out who frequents the cafe. This is the place to get your creative juices flowing while sipping on your favorite beverage. The fairly busy atmosphere may be somewhat distracting to those that seek a more quietly soothing atmosphere, but there are two sides of spectrum for the arts community. Some thrive on the dark hidden corners of the cafes found on the rest of this list, while some find inspiration and feed off of the energy of others that have a purpose similar to their own. Wireless is free, but with limited plug in options, so make sure you're fully charged and save your work frequently in case you don't score an outlet.   


As a standalone cafe, it is quite attractive for its cool decor (which may feel vaguely familiar due to its previous life as a Starbucks), vast outdoor seating with rounded lanterns overhead, and for a solid menu selection which includes fairly delectable crepes, a pleasant surprise for a traditional coffee shop. Silent films play continuously on the large screen LCD inside and the cafe is slated to hold regular movie nights with summer months presenting open mic opportunities for those that dare to brave the coffee house "stage".


Ninth Street Espresso
700 E 9th St, East Village, Alphabet City, NYC (between Avenue C & Avenue D)

Here's their complete menu:

Espresso 2.50
Macchiato 3.50
Latte 4.25
Americano 2.50
Cappuccino 4.00
Mocha 4.50
House Coffee 1.50/2.00


Not enough choices for you? Too bad. There's a Starbucks around the corner somewhere that can make your instruction book requiring blend of espresso based stew. This ninth street cafe not only collects the artistic community of East Village within its walls, it is also the art of coffee making personified into this reserved but proud location with only a white espresso cup and saucer logo identifying itslef on the partially tree covered jet black awning, as if to say "you are privileged to find us". If we're making it sound like they don't really need your business, well, you're right in assuming so, but they still appreciate your coming on in. Ninth Street Espresso is renowned for its ability to make dark liquid magic on the machine it's named for, thus there is no need for bells, whistles, or ice blended frappy type concoctions and a belly busting pastry case.


Whether out on the people watching patio or inside amidst the classy yet modern decor you will find a group of serious coffee connoisseurs sipping their order with intention on their faces, most likely buried in books, journals or sketchpads and a definite collection of espresso cups (a requirement for making this list if you recall the intro) dispersed about the table, telling you they've been there for awhile and will continue to be so, so don't hover in an attempt to score a newly opened seat.  


Cafe Grumpy
224 West 20th Street, Chelsea, New York (between 7th and 8th Ave)


There are requirements for fitting this list of "Best Tortured Artist Cafes". For example, the name Cafe Grumpy. Perfect, check! Moving on. Second, wireless connection. Uncheck. "What, no wireless?" you say. Not just that folks, but NO laptops allowed period. So why include Cafe Grumpy on this list? How are you supposed to get any work done if you can't bring your laptop? Enough questions, let us explain. Cafe Grumpy takes us back to a time when you didn't have to worry about tripping over power cords while balancing your filled to the brim cup of coffee en route from the counter to your seat. This is yet another serious coffee drinker cafe that demands the best from its beans, baristas and patrons. This is not to say you are to be rushed through the experience so feel free to stay and enjoy the atmosphere. The aura of Cafe Grumpy is The Hipster Wears Prada, a juxtaposition of non pretentious pretension. Be confused, be very confused.


One thing is clear though, the coffee is fantastic and flavorful, albeit slightly more expensive than you may be accustomed to which creates a selective clientele base. This is part of Cafe Grumpy's appeal though, it can be wonderfully quiet at times, giving you the space to sit in contemplative reflection over your work or at least appear to be doing so when in fact your goal may simply be to look as cool as an East Village cucumber. At other times is can be a hive full of Chelsea area code locals whose presence keeps this place a success.


The menu is limited but again, you can hardly go wrong when a location keeps things simple. It means that extraordinary care goes into the preparation of each and every cup served. If you are in the mood for a sinfully delicious slice of something sweet, we suggest the Red Velvet Cake. Cafe Grumpy, its all so Prada, so very very Prada...but hip baby, very hip.

Where To Get Real New York Pizza, In New York

Call it what you want; a religion, an institution, a cornerstone of all that is New York City. Either way, pizza is a priority player in what makes this city so grand. Go to anytown U.S.A, Canada, or perhaps any major metropolitan city in the world and you will find some "Mom & Pop" shop or "30 Minutes or Less!" franchise claiming to have real NYC style pizza. There is a very clear reason for that. In a debatable (not to New Yorkers) comparison, either New York or Chicago is known to hold the title of the best and authentic to their city style pizza. Italy you say? Everyone knows you actually can't find great pizza (correction: pizza we're accustomed to) in "The Boot", unless we're talking about Little Italy here in New York. You should also notice that unlike every other list on this site, no matter the city, it is probably the first one not to include "Top" or "Best" at the beginning of the sentence, instead opting for the intro of "Where To Get Real New York Pizza, In New York". There is a very clear reason for that too. Pizza, as we're sure you all know, is a very personal and subjective choice for people. We would be audacious to lay claim as to which is the actual "best" and rank them from 1 to 5 without expecting any serious backlash from local, and very passionate, pizza parlor aficionodos. We would very much like to return to New York again some day soon, unharmed.


Lombardi's Pizza
32 Spring Street, Little Italy, New York


How many pizzerias can say they've gone over a hundred years strong? Lombardi's was licensed by the City of New York in 1905, becoming the first pizza parlor in North America, and since that time has been consistently ranked as serving one of, if not the, best pizza in the nation or evenly more boldly, the planet. That distinction does not go without time tested merit.


There is no replacing a coal fired pizza oven, it creates a taste that cannot be duplicated, and Lombardi's oven is about as renowned as its name. Sure the lines are long but everyone knows that is a testament to the quality. Besides, the service is fast and efficient, so don't slow the line down by attempting to chit chat at the counter. You've got hungry New Yorkers standing behind you. Be smart.


Photo Caption: THIS is how you bake a REAL pizza!


Bella Vita
211 W 43rd Street, Midtown Manhattan, NYC (between Broadway and Eight Avenue)


A Neapolitan Old World Brick Pizza Oven is Bella Vita's claim to why their Naples style pizza is a pillar in a city known for superior slices. Stringent day to day "operational control" ensures that quality and is never overlooked at Bella Vita. Every single sauce is homemade from scratch as is the mozzarella that coats these magnificent culinary creations and the imported San Merzano tomatoes accent the flavor perfectly. "B" list celebrities frequent the establishment on a regular basis which actually says something about Bella Vita. "B" listers are closer to "real people" than "A" listers, and Bella Vita is a real people pizzeria.


Monster Pizza's
193 Bleecker St, Downtown, New York


Wood burning brick oven. Now this is starting to get confusing. Everyone claims their pizza is the best because of the oven they use and it is in fact "gospel" that the oven is a true testament to the taste that accompanies the pizza. It all comes down to personal preference. Monster Pizza is fairly new to the game (founded in 2009), but what it lacks in history it makes up for in size and flavor. In addition, they veer off of the traditional path somewhat by offering healthier (relatively of course) alternatives by using low fat ingredients to make their fresh tasting pizzas. They even offer a caviar (yes, you are reading correctly) covered pizza pie, which is either an exciting new alternative or blasphemy depending on your school of thought on the topic. Either way, Monster Pizza is a refreshing addition to the pizza based landscape of New York City.


Grimaldi's Pizzeria
19 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York


We couldn't put together this list without throwing in a Brooklyn establishment, and Grimaldi's Pizzeria is a community landmark frequented by everyone with a serious penchant for serious NYC pizza. As with Lombardi's, Grimaldi is a firm believer in the dying art of the coal burning brick oven in preparing authentic New York style pizza. Frank Sinatra visited Grimaldi's often in his day as does former mayor Guiliani, dare you argue with those two?


Famous Ray's Pizza


Famous Ray's Pizza is synonymous with New York City Pizza. Although it is not as heralded by locals, visitors, or reviewing periodicals as much as one may think, it is still a must visits as much as you have to see Time's Square, Central Park, Statue of Liberty and The Empire State Building. It's just what you do when you come to NYC.


But now for the confusing part. There are dozens of variations of Famous Ray's Pizza, either with identical names or slight adjustments made to each; Famous Ray's Pizza, Famous Original Ray's Pizza, World Famous Original Ray's Pizza, and even a Not Original Ray's Pizza. Every one claims to be the original or the best of the crew and thousands of reviews will have your head spinning as to which is the go-to favorite. This is partly why "Ray's" rarely makes Top 5 lists for Best Pizza in New York. Who wants to do all that leg work and research? We do, sort of. While we didn't track down each and every one and sample each and every pizza, we took an informal survey of the most accurate public opinion we could find; the average New Yorker on the street (and online) and picked their brains on which "Ray" monikered pizzeria was legit. We narrowed it down to two locations:


Famous Ray's Pizza - Greenwich Village (on the above map and pictured on the left)

465 Avenue of the Americas, 6th Avenue at 11th Street, Greenwich Village, NYC (between 11th and 12th street) 


This one is probably the most visited and the pizza is considered to be the best amongst all Ray's Pizza joints


Ray's Pizza - Little Italy

27 Prince Street at the northern end of Little Italy, Manhattan, NYC


This one is the true original (allegedly), founded in 1959 by Ralph Cuomo, a made man (allegedly) of the Lucchese Crime Family. With that being said, outside of our recommendation to visit this historical pizzeria, we are not at liberty to discuss this location any further...