Congratulations. You were able to collect on that debt from your idiot brother-in-law and buy Super Bowl tickets. If you're doing this right (and I imagine you are, seeing as how you managed to get that money back from Todd), you'll arrive in Manhattan or one of its surrounding areas in the next few days.
This cold-weather Super Bowl in New Yorksey is a grand experiment. There are obvious downsides: Freezing conditions, logistical doom traps, a Brandon Jacobs retirement party, the possibility of a "The Day After Tomorrow"-like scenario playing out on game day. But here's the upside (and it's a big one): New York City is the best damn place in the world. And you're here. FOR THE FREAKING SUPER BOWL. How cool is that?
As a New York native who's lived in apartments and slept on couches throughout the region, I decided it would be helpful for Around The League to put together a Manhattan visitor's guide. I did so with a huge helping hand from my longtime NYC buddy Howie and ATL CEO Gregg Rosenthal (who recently moved to L.A. after a decade in the city).
I swear to God, if I see you eating pizza at a Sbarro, I will have Rog invalidate your game ticket. Don't test me.
Let's do this:
Shake Shack (multiple locations): Long lines should not keep you away from one of the best burgers you'll ever have. Make sure to get the cheese fries with cheese on the side so you manage your intake. Go to your hotel gym in the morning.
Gray's Papaya (Upper West Side): Only one location remains to find the best cheap hot dog around (outside of Chicago, of course). The quality is 100 times superior than the dirty-water dogs you'll find in the sidewalk carts and every bit as cheap.
The Meatball Shop (multiple locations): Relatively new upstart combines great food, a creative DIY menu and very long lines. But, they'll text you when your table is ready, so there's plenty of time to grab a few drinks as you wait.
Mighty Quinn's Barbeque (East Village): Fantastic, cheap BBQ. Don't let the lines scare you away -- you'll get a seat.
Wolfgang's (multiple locations): If you want to go for a big, pricey steak dinner and don't want to trek to Brooklyn for Peter Luger's, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better option. Make sure you get the bacon, just don't have too much if you want to live past 40. Other great steakhouse options: Quality Meats, Strip House, BLT Prime, Sparks. I could go on. NYC knows how to do cow.
Patsy's Pizzeria (multiple locations): Simply put, some of the best brick-oven pizza you'll ever taste. The nickel-sized pepperoni and the ricotta make for a fantastic pie. All of the other options are pretty legit, too. Family friendly, also, if you're into that kind of stuff.
Ippudo (East Village, Midtown West): If you love ramen and long lines, this is the place for you. Ramen is incredible, and everyone knows it. Make sure you get the pork buns to start.
Pomme Frites (East Village): After a night of drinking, nothing goes better than french fries and any one of 30 or so dipping sauces. The poutine (and the cold weather) will make you think you're in Quebec.
McSorley's (East Village): One of the oldest bars in Manhattan only has two beer options -- light and dark. The experience alone is worth the trip. Afterward, maybe get a tattoo on St. Mark's Place.
George Keeley's (Upper West Side): Amsterdam Avenue's answer to "Cheers." Good beer, good vibe, free popcorn. I spent a fair amount of time here Saturday night.
Greenwich Village: Classic 'hood highlights the young, creative side of NYC. Be sure to stroll around Bleecker Street and take it in, stopping in for a beer at any one of your many choices. If you're lucky enough to be a single guy with a British accent (or if you can fake one well enough), you'll find many girls eager to make your acquaintance. Finish the night off with a slice of Joe's Pizza, one of this planet's finest delicacies.
Lower East Side: Once Manhattan's dirty, hipster neighborhood. Now, it's the incredibly expensive neighborhood for yuppies who want to pretend they're hipsters. Great local restaurants and bars, including the world-famous Katz's Deli, which features absolutely enormous sandwiches, and Essex, known for its extremely boozy brunch.
Chinatown and Little Italy: Great neighborhoods for ethnic lunches. Joe's Shanghai is a favorite among both locals and tourists and features incredible soup-filled dumplings.
Statue of Liberty: Don't feel like I have to sell this one too hard. I mean, it's the Statue of Liberty. If you catch the history bug, take a walking tour of lower Manhattan to learn some incredible facts about 18th Century America.
Grimaldi's: It's a famous pizza place that just so happens to be directly under the Brooklyn Bridge. Reminder: Eat lots of pizza when you're here. But no Sbarro. We talked about this.
TMZ Tour Bus: I'm just kidding. Don't do this. People will judge you until you literally cannot breathe.
GREGG'S DOs and DON'Ts
» Do have a rough plan when you go out. It's too damn cold to wander.
» Don't spend all your time in Times Square. There's a reason why city residents only go there when absolutely necessary. You can stumble into a fantastic meal by accident almost anywhere in the city except Times Square and midtown on the East side. Sake Bar Hagi is one incredible exception to this rule.
» Do trust lists. New York Magazine especially spent a lot of time putting together whatever 10 best BLANK lists you can find with a simple google search. It sounds stupid, but they know. They did the work. Come up with any combination of food or drink that you could possibly want, throw a best in front of it, and find a ton of options.
» Don't wait forever for tables or to get into a bar. It's too damn cold and there are too many incredible restaurants where you won't have to. You don't need to do a ton of planning to eat in Koreatown or Chinatown. It's almost all good. There are plenty of great pizza spots that you can get into easily enough: Luzzo's on First Avenue comes to mind.
» Don't eat at a chain restaurant in New York. Not even once. It will destroy your soul. Mine too. (Dan: Let's just call this The Sbarro Clause.)
» Don't try to hail the cabs that don't have their lights on top of the car. They are full. (Dan: Also, don't get in a livery cab. Rip-off city/potential abduction scenario).
» Do not hesitate to ask for help. I never understood why New Yorkers get a bad rap for hospitality. They are my favorite people in the world. If someone can help, they will. It's like flexing a muscle you've been working out for years, hoping to some day show off on the beach. If someone is pushing on the subway, it's a tourist!
With that said, try to keep your sidewalk pace brisk or move to the side.