The STANDARD H Travel pages are our version of city guides presented by our founder, Wesley Smith. These are places he's traveled, enjoyed, and recommends, so they're all vetted and what we refer to as STANDARD H verified. These lists will evolve, so check back often and travel safe!

 

"These are the places I visit when I'm in New York City. Many have become traditions while bringing comfort and making me feel at home even 3,000 miles away."  - Wesley

 

Coffee:

 

Gasoline Alley Coffee

325 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

With several locations now, I believe the one on Lafayette is the original. It was for me, at least. Shopping in SoHo is something that's always done when in NYC, and this is usually the place I grab espresso. There's zero pretension, and it's in this really cool, narrow space in a triangular-shaped building just north of Houston. Grab a punch card, because I'm sure you'll be back.

 

Bibble & Sip

253 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

When in Midtown, this is my coffee spot. Great pastries if needed in the morning, or just grab a coffee and go. I enjoy their espresso.

 

Maman

239 Centre St, New York, NY 10013

Little cozy coffee spot I've been to on several occasions. Tasty croissants, and the espresso is great.

 

Father Knows Best

611A Wilson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11207

My go-to when I'm staying at my buddy's a block away. Great neighborhood spot for grab-and-go espresso, but if you have time, the food's great. If you need to get some work done, take out your laptop and you can chill all day. They have beer on tap as well as a bar so this place can even take you into the evening.

 

 

Restaurants:

 

Joe's Pizza

7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

New York pizza is certainly it's own thing, and everyone has their spot. This is mine. Period.

  

Gramercy Tavern

42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

The first "nice" restaurant that truly became a staple when I would travel to New York. I don't go every trip, but it's pretty close. If you're solo, sit in the Tavern. The drinks are fantastic, as are the bar tenders, and the food comes from the same kitchen so you will certainly enjoy it. The restaurant typically has a tasting menu on offer with seasonal dishes, so that's usually the way I go. It makes it different and special each time this way.

  

The Nomad  / The Nomad Bar / Elephant Bar

1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

The chicken. That's all you really need to know if you've never been. Get the chicken. As for the Nomad Bar, it's a great place for small bites/happy hour whereas the Elephant bar inside is a small spot best for a night cap in my opinion. It can be very crowded, however. But that just means it's good, right?

 

Estela

47 E Houston St 1st floor, New York, NY 10012

A buddy and I were crazy hungry one day walking around SoHo and we saw the sign for this place out on the sidewalk. It was 12:30pm or so when we walked in. No reservation, but we lucked out with seats at the bar. The food was inventive and absolutely delicious. My friend has since been back with his girlfriend for dinner and said it was one of the best meals he's had in the City. I believe it.

 

Freemans

Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002

One of my favorite brunch/lunch spots in the city located down a little alley and provides a really cool vintage, rustic vibe with great food. I actually like city at their old school bar to the right in the next room once you're inside.

 

The Dutch Restaurant 

131 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

I will always go to The Dutch. Every single trip. Whether it be just for drinks, or dinner & drinks. I love this place. There's just something that's so New York City about it. The food's great, the cocktails are great, and they always have a really good beer selection as well. The bar is always lively, and the restaurant is always packed, as well. I just love the place.

 

One if By Land, Two if by Sea

17 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014

One of the oldest restaurants in NYC, the building was once owned by Aaron Burr (you saw Hamilton right? Yeah, that Aaron Burr), it's a former carriage house built in 1767 and has a ton of history. In the 1830s it was converted into a pub and a brothel, and it wasn't until 1910 when it became a restaurant. It's been voted as the most romantic place to have dinner in New York City. Get the Beef Wellington.

  

Balthazar

80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

Brunch is usually what I come here for. It's one of the few places in NYC thwhere you'll find locals and tourists alike. I love the French Toast, and I always get a screwdriver as it's usually a nice, heavy pour.

  

Little Prince

199 Prince St, New York, NY 10012

This restaurant is just great. I ate here with a group of friends and was shocked by how good the burger was. I've been back no fewer than 3 times since and have enjoyed everything I've ever ordered. It also gained some fame as it was the backdrop to the first episodes of HODINKEE's "Talking Watches" with John Mayer and JJ Redick, respectively.

  

The Polo Bar

1 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

Don't let the name fool you. Yes, it has a bar, which incidentally has one of my favorite Old Fashioned - in fact I model mine at home after this one - but this is the best hamburger in New York City. There, I said it. Don't at me (unless you agree). It's a Ralph Lauren establishment, so clearly, there was no stone left unturned with regards to details and atmosphere. The Polo Bar is also across the street from the St. Regis Hotel which you may have heard of.

 

Eataly

200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

The original Eataly location, and also my favorite. Ok so it's not exactly a restaurant rather several, and a market, and a coffee shop, and a gift shop...it's an experience to say the least. The beer garden on the roof is my favorite which is awesome no matter the season, whereas the restaurants and shopping are fantastic, as well. My first introduction was by way of their hot chocolate during one of my December trips to NYC which proved to be more along the lines of a brownie in a cup: thick, warm, and incredibly chocolate-y deliciousness.

  

Shake Shack

E 23rd St and, Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

The OG location. Who doesn't enjoy burgers and fries? You've probably had their food at this point, but if you've never been to Madison Square Park, it's effectively become an institution in such a short time. 

 

The Standard Grille

848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

Great place to grab lunch or dinner. American fare. Sit outside if it's nice out, but inside plays at a higher level considering the prices. It's a great spot and reliably tasty.

  

Okonomi//YUJI Ramen

150 Ainslie St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

TINY place. Delicious Ramen. It's a hike if you're in Manhattan, and you may have to wait, but so worth it.

 

Cafe Select

212 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

Ever thought about choosing a Swiss restaurant? Me either. But this one's great. I like it for lunch. The lights inside are strung from the ceiling year-round, and given it's Swiss, of course the wall clock would be a Rolex. 

 

Carbone

181 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

This place is a hot spot, but with good reason. The meatballs are incredible, and it serves as a much more approachable place at lunch than at dinner. But if you're looking to have a big night, or celebrate something with some Italian cuisine, this is a go-to. It's great. The server last time I was there was awesome. Incredibly friendly, great sense of humor, and made it a lot of fun. I imagine their whole team would do the same.

  

Blue Hill

75 Washington Pl, New York, NY 10011

Season 1 of Chef's Table is how I came across this remarkable dining experience located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood just west of Washington Square Park. Chef Dan Barber often pops out of the kitchen to check on things which is just cool no matter where you eat.

 

Torien

292 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

I came across this culinary oasis online, or perhaps by way of an email list announcing its opening...I don't recall. Regardless, it's incredible. If you like Japanese eats, great sake, and an indescribable atmosphere, this is your spot. It's awesome.

 

Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery

380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003

I've only had brunch here, but there's no reason why I wouldn't go back for dinner. Just coincidence, I guess. It's French by definition and absolutely delicious. The service is always great, as well.

 

Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

Ok, this isn't a "regular thing" but I highly suggest you go, even if it's just to the bar (it's first come, first serve!) and get some small plates. I've dined here, and well, you don't get voted Best Restaurant in the WORLD without being the least bit impressive. It's wonderful. Go.

 

Clinton Street Baking Company

4 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

This place is an institution. If you enjoy pancakes, this is your spot. I always go blueberry. It's cash only, though, so take note.  

 

Roberta's Pizza

261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206

Was introduced to Roberta's by my buddy, Beck, who I often stay with. This place is one of the top three pizza spots in Brooklyn, hands down. The other two I'd say are Grimaldi's beside the Brooklyn Bridge and Lucali's which I STILL haven't been to crazy enough.

 

Levain Bakery

167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023

Cookies. That's all you need to know. Do it.

 

Babbo

110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

An Italian staple for many New Yorkers, Babbo is great especially during the holidays. This is obviously a theme given I go to NYC every December, but it truly is the best time of year to be in New York. The decorations are full tilt, and Babbo is on board. Built within an old carriage house, Babbo is an amazing combination of a traditional, cramped NY eatery and an upscale experience. It can get loud, but only in the energetic restaurant sense you're probably already familiar with and love. Somewhat predictably, the bolognese is awesome. 

 

 

Bars:

 

Crooked Knife

232 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

There are two locations, but this is literally what I consider to be my "local" when in the City. My best friend Chris used to work a couple blocks away, so this was where we'd always go and we still do. $3 Stellas at Happy Hour was always great, and this is also where I had my first Pickleback shots. Now we only do them on special occasions. Ok, that's a lie...picklebacks are a must. Tell Frank the bartender Wesley said hello.

 

The Aviary

80 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10023

Inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Columbus Circle, this bar provides some of the better views of the southern end of Central Park. The earlier you go the better in my opinion.

 

The Mercer Bar/Restaurant

147 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012

Haven't stayed at this hotel. It's pricey but hear it's great. Jay Z has stayed there and I'm guessing his place in Financial District ain't so bad, so it must be good. I love their bar/restaurant - particularly downstairs. I always sit at the far left side of the bar, mainly because it serves as a great spot to post up and people watch while enjoying some drinks and conversation with friends.

 

Dear Irving Gramercy

55 Irving Pl, New York, NY 10003

My idea of a late night spot. The cocktails are awesome and the atmosphere is...pretty sexy, I must say. That said, it's cool in a group, as well, but I like it best for a date night vibe.

 

Brass Monkey

1304, 55 Little W 12th St, New York, NY 10014

Next door to The Standard Highline is this nice little spot to enjoy a beer on a rooftop setting. It's a Saturday, you're walking around and want to duck in somewhere for a pint, this is a great choice.

 

The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog

30 Water St, New York, NY 10004

You like whisky? How about whiskey? Good, they have both. They actually have well over 100 on offer inside this three story-tall Irish Pub. It should also be mentioned it has been named one of the 50 Best Bars in the World.  

 

Surf Bar 

139 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Surf Bar's owner is Maya, a wonderful Brazilian who I happened to meet in Malibu about 10 years ago. She's rad and so is her bar. There's literally sand all over the floor.

 

Bowery Hotel Bar

335 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

Haven't stayed here, but hear the rooms are great. I go here for drinks. Their bar has a warmth to it that's wonderful and it's a great spot to go after shopping in SoHo all day.

 

Dante

79-81 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

You've probably seen Matt Hranek post about Dante. After all, it's THE place to have a Negroni. Salute!

 

 

Hotels:

Hudson New York 

356 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

This was the first hotel I ever stayed in New York City. Formerly an Ian Schrager hotel as part of the Morgans Group, it is now owned by SBE which bought out Morgans back in 2016. I haven't stayed in the hotel since 2002, however, I almost always grab a drink in their Library bar that is a small, warm and welcoming room, especially during the holidays. It hosts a pool table with purple felt, which is usually where you'll find me, shooting a game with a friend sipping an Old Fashioned.

 

Kimpton Hotel Eventi

851 6th Ave, New York, NY 10001

I've only stayed here once (mainly because I like to try new places if I don't stay with a friend in the city) but this hotel didn't disappoint. Affordable with modern aesthetics and all amenities you'd ever need. It's also in a great location. You have a few train stations close, and you're very close to the Nomad which is listed above. The Nomad is a great hotel, as well, but I've never stayed there. The Kimpton Eventi is also a short walk to Madison Square Park and the Flatiron district. 

 

Made Hotel

44 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001
Given I most often travel to NYC alone, as I've said, I often stay with friends, which is why the Hotels list is short given the number of times I've been here. In December 2019, my wife came with me and we stayed at Made. It's a hotel that teeters on the hipster side, but in a good way. They have a great cafe in the lobby, so each morning, I didn't go anywhere for coffee as their espresso was really solid. If you're looking for ultra luxe, this isn't it, but it's very nice and the staff are great.