Anyone who has visited our shop knows that it's in a really special, kind of strange place. Our street faces Lionsgate Field, a well-known soccer field and is one or two blocks away from a number of neighborhoods, each with different reputations. Head south and you're in the heart of Chinatown. Head east and you'll find yourself in the center of the Lower East Side. West, and you're in Little Italy/Nolita. We find ourselves in the center of all of these neighborhoods in one that has been recently dubbed 'Nolo' by Travel & Leisure (more on that here).
When I came across this storefront in January of 2014 I fell in love with the diversity of the immediate blocks, the slightly different landscape and the authenticity of the other businesses. To me, Forsyth St. and the streets around it had all the qualities of a true New York neighborhood to me. I've always called it "the last frontier of the Lower East Side" and I've come to think I was right about that. It's one of the last little pockets of this notoriously 'cool' neighborhood that isn't totally gentrified. Of course, it's only a matter of time before that happens, as any New Yorker knows, but for now we ought to celebrate all of the wonderful things about it.
Should you find yourself visiting the city and plan on coming to see us, here are a few of our favorite places to visit, all with in 5 minutes of our shop:
Cafe Henrie - Opened in late 2015, Cafe Henrie looks like it came straight out a French New Wave film, with a little bit of a 21st century update. Tastefully and carefully outfitted in hues of pink, light blue and pale lilac and with a little bit of a diner aesthetic, Cafe Henrie has a very relaxed vibe--one in which you'll feel welcome to catch up over coffee for as long as you wish. As for the food--it's healthy, playful and perfect for a leisurely lunch. 70 Forsyth St., cafehenrie.com
Birds & Bubbles - Situated directly below our shop, Birds & Bubbles is one of our favorite places to wind down. The menu features two of our very favorite things--champagne and fried chicken. The refined Southern fare draws crowds, especially in the summer when the surprisingly large patio is open. We suggest going for dinner and ordering everything. 100b Forsyth St., birdsandbubbles.com
Vanessa's Dumplings - An NYC standby and one of the best inexpensive lunch spots in Chinatown. The dumplings are always hot and fresh and the scallion pancake sandwiches perfectly greasy and crisp. It can get really busy during lunchtime so be on the lookout for a table the minute you walk in the door. 118 Eldridge Street., vanessas.com
Simple - Family owned and operated, Simple serves up beautiful and consistently delicious poke bowls and bento boxes. In fact, it's the place where we first learned about poke bowls (now one of the trendiest dishes around). 109 Eldridge Street., simple-nyc.com
Erin McKenna's Bakery - A certain Pencil Lady here has a lot of dietary restrictions and allergies, so this is our go-to for baked goods. You'd never know from tasting the cupcakes that they're egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. Sounds crazy, but they're seriously delicious. 248 Broome Street, erinmckennasbakery.com
Doughnut Plant - The non-gluten intolerant among us frequent Doughnut Plant, where some of the best donuts in NYC can be found. Expect find better versions of classics as well as season flavors. Good luck not buying a whole dozen. 379 Grand Street, doughnutplant.com
Roni-Sue's Chocolates - A neighborhood classic! Roni-Sue's has the best hot chocolate in the city and so many gorgeous treats. In the summer the large patio in the back is open and classes are offered regularly. Check the hours before going--weekdays are only open 7am-12pm usually. 148 Forsyth Street, roni-sue.com
Top Hat - This is where we often go on our lunch breaks when we need some a pleasant distraction. Inside you'll find a curious selection of home goods, stationery and ephemera carefully curated from small brands most in Europe and Japan (and LOTS of MT washi tape). It's one of our favorite places to shop for unique gifts. The aesthetic is exactly how we like it--modern, playful and well-crafted. 245 Broome Street.
oo35mm - If you're a fan of sheet masks, you MUST check out this place. They specialize in mostly Korean sheet masks and other imported beauty products. Expect to find well known brands like Tony Moly and Innisfree as well as ones you've never heard of. 81 Mott St., 2nd Fl, oo35mm.com
Coming Soon - A self-described "design gift shop", Coming Soon sells a curious array of useful things, decorative things, trinket-y things but always unique things. It the perfect shop for those who have curatorial eye. 37 Orchard Street, comingsoonnewyork.com
The Randolph - When Fontana's, our favorite after work spot closed last year we were worried we'd never find a bar that felt quite right. That is, until we started frequenting the Randolph. It's situated west of us and is the right amount of dingy, the right amount of friendly and serves up excellent cocktails. 349 Broome St., randolphnyc.com
Attaboy - If you're looking for an extra special cocktail experience, Attaboy is the right place. It's unmarked, aside from the AB sticker on the door. Knock on the door, and someone will answer and seat you. It's mysteriously dark and there are no menus--that's because every cocktail is made to your specific preferences. Don't be afraid--this isn't a stuck up speakeasy, the service is in fact very friendly. 134 Eldridge Street.
The Tenement Museum - The Lower East Side has a vast and rich immigrant history, and the Tenement Museum is here to share and celebrate that. The museum itself is worth a visit but neighborhood tours are also offered. 103 Orchard Street. tenement.org
The New Museum - My personal favorite NYC art museum, the New Museum hosts a daring exhibition program of international contemporary artists. If you're looking for a more interesting alternative to the Whitney or the MoMA definitely check this one out. 235 Bowery, newmuseum.org
Chinatown shopping - Chinatown is a really overwhelming neighborhood. It's crowded and there are tons of shops. The dollar stores are full of surprises, the plant shops are always a joy to visit and the markets are packed full of unfamiliar foods. If you have the time, get yourself lost and see what you find.
The lighting district - The blocks on Bowery between Grand and Delancey are known as the Lighting District. You'll find a lot of shops with ridiculous light fixtures in the windows but what it's especially good for are specialty/hard-to-find lightbulbs. Our giant Edision bulbs come from the once on the corner of Bowery and Grand.
Restaurant supply district - Just a little bit north and a little bit west of our shop you'll find many restaurant supply shops. They're great for kitchen supplies and tricky to find gadgets. The one on the corner of Delancey and Forsyth is especially good.
The list is really never ending! We're so lucky to be in such a unique location, surrounded by such a colorful, diverse landscape. That's what New York City is about and we are proud to call this our New York.