I had so much fun writing my hipster guide to the Lower East Side that I decide to make it a series. There are so many amazingly fascinating neighborhoods in New York and each deserves a little praise once in a while. Today’s guide is all about NoLIta, or North of Little Italy to be exact. This is arguably my favorite area of Manhattan, although it’s really a toss up between here and the LES. I guess it depends on the day or my mood.
NoLita has a little bit of Soho spillover and a lot of personality. There are tons of restaurants, bars, boutiques and cozy book stores to entertain anyone. To give you some perspective, NoLita is east of Soho, west of the Bowery, north of Little Italy and south of Houston Street.
If you are looking for a bargain you won’t find it here. Granted, the trendy boutiques in NoLita do have sales but the starting price points are on the high side. That being said, there are a few really cool stores here. Vintage lovers should head to Resurrection (217 Mott Street) even if you can’t afford any of the treasures that lurk inside. Then there is a shop that sells socks and another that specializes in pajamas. Go culture crazy at Condor (259 Elizabeth Street), which is owned by Loriann Smoak who is quite the traveler. This becomes obvious when you see the merchandise.
Eating in NoLita is an experience in itself. Café Habana (17 Prince Street) is a cheap way to get your Cuban culture fix and Lombardi’s Pizza (32 Spring Street) appeals to both locals and tourists. I personally really like Delicatessen (54 Prince Street) for brunch because the sangria I order comes in a huge glass and the food is delicious. It’s also a prime people-watching spot because it’s right at the border of Soho yet far enough away to avoid the Broadway madness. I’m also slightly obsessed with Tacombi‘s (267 Elizabeth Street) indoor taco truck.
Even happy hour feels more fashionable in NoLita. For cheap margaritas, head to Sweet & Vicious (5 Spring Street) and try to snag a seat outside if the weather is nice. There are also several of charming wine bars like Epistrophy (200 Mott Street), with its white colored brick walls, large windows and European ambiance. YN Bar (227 Mott Street) is another wine bar just up the street from Epistrophy (hmm maybe I should start a wine bar crawl!) They serve about 50 different wines and rotate these weekly. Go to Cafe Gitane (242 Mott Street) if you get hungry.
Don”t even think about leaving NoLita without paying a visit to McNally Jackson Books (52 Prince Street). It only took me about a month living in New York to discover this gem and I’ve been going back ever since. Gossip Girl fans take note – this is where many scenes during their college days were shot. Fashion aside, I get lost in my own world in this place, which is when their cafe comes in handy. Travelers love it here because not only is there an extensive travel guide section but their two floors are arranged by geographic location.
NoLita is the perfect neighborhood for an afternoon stroll. If you visit on a weekend, definitely spend a few minutes browsing through the designer market along Prince Street between Mulberry and Mott streets. I recently bought a hat there for half the price, thanks to an end-of-summer sale. Another great stroll is along Elizabeth Street where many of the boutiques are located. Even if you don’t feel like buying anything, the street is generally quiet and clean and those are two serious rarities in New York.
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