The Upper West Side isn’t typically thought of as one of the hipper neighborhoods of Manhattan, but there are plenty of cool places to check out. You can find the smallest park in New York City, a delicious Mediterranean brunch, a rare and used bookstore, a family’s home turned museum, an underground lounge that has a whole new menu of creative cocktails and more, all in the streets between Lincoln Center and 110th Street.
Irving Farm, 224 W 79th Street
Irving Farm just closed on 7th Avenue but reopened on the West 79th street this May. It has three other Manhattan locations, but the people working behind the counter at this location can make your coffee and hold a decent conversation with you at the same time. Irving Farm sells breakfast, half and whole sandwiches, pastries and their coffee is amazing. They make their own coffee imported from East Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific. Their coffee can be bought online at Irving Farm’s website.
Gazala’s, 380 Columbus Avenue
Right off West 78th Street is Gazala’s restaurant, a great place to do brunch a little differently. They serve a Middle Eastern brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Each brunch special comes with a choice of sangria, hot or iced tea and dessert. Gazala’s scrambled eggs (with or without meat), wraps, fries, hard-boiled eggs, bourekas and anything with hummus are several great choices. The server can talk you through the whole menu if you ask and they don’t hesitate to split a check six ways.
Nicholas Roerich Museum, 319 West 107th Street
This museum sits right off Riverside Drive down 107th street. Nicholas Roerich was a Russian artist and scientist who advocated for Roerich Peace Pact treaty and the Banner of Peace. The USA, India, Baltic States and twenty Latin American countries signed the treaty in an effort to protect cultural institutions and monuments during the WWII. Roerich worked on the treaty in New York where he lived for a year in 1928.
The Museum exhibits all his tempera on canvases paintings done in the in the 1920s when he traveled to Sikkim, Bhutan, Central Asia and the Kulu Valley. His distinctive palette uses sun-kissed teals, magentas, yellows and greens. A few pieces explore different shades of just blues and with hints of a dark gold surrounding human figures. Among the small chests spread across the galleries is a large Amethyst Geode sculpture from Brazil. The natural crystals shapes echo the mountains around you. Admission is free.
Palais des Thes, Columbus Ave, New York, NY (between W 68th & 69th Streets)
Coming all the way from Paris, Palais des Thés (“Palace of Tea”) comes bearing gifts. The inside of the store is lined with a thin counter. On it are white hats and under each one is a different tea to smell. Many of their teas come from China or Japan. The store sells tea sets in various styles such as cast iron and ceramic. The people working in the palace are friendly, knowledgeable, and will answer any question.
Septuagesimo Uno, 256 West 71st Street
Septuagesimo Uno is the smallest park in New York City. It’s a great place to take your morning paper to sit and enjoy any morning. The park was once known as “71st Street Plot,” until Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern renamed it to celebrate the millennium. In Latin, “Septuagesimo Uno,” means “seventy-one.” See our latest article about Septuagesimo Uno.
Shalel Moroccan Lounge, 65 West 70th St.
Shalel means “waterfall,” in Arabic. The lounge is named after its famous ‘waterfall room.’ This underground (literally) Moroccan lounge is great for groups. Shalel serves Moroccan and Mediterranean food. A Greek family privately owns the restaurant. The lamb is excellent. This week Shalel adds new drinks to its menu. They will have drinks mixed with whiskey, gin and after-dinner drinks. The raspberry mojito and other passion fruits will also be making an appearance.
Strauss Park, West 106th Street & Broadway
A small escape from the streets of New York, this park is perfect for a quick lunch break especially if there’s no time to hunt for a space in a more crowded park. The trees, spread out nicely, offer plenty of shady areas and sunny areas alike. The statue is in memory of Ida Straus and her husband Isidor who died on the R.M.S. Titanic.
The city named the park after the philanthropist couple who lived at 27-47 Broadway in a frame house off 105th Street. Ida had a special interest in health, education, and other public services. American model and film actress Audrey Munson posed for the as “Memory,” for sculptor Augustus Lukeman. The fountain and exedra were designed by Architect Evarts Tracy.
Sunburnt Calf, 226 West 79th Street (between Amsterdam Ave & Broadway)
If anyone’s wondering about the cow hanging out on a balcony off 79th Street, it’s not selling orange juice. Just below the cow, on the right, is the Sunburnt Café. Born in 2010, this casual, neighborhood restaurant and bar serves brunch. They are well known for their eggs benedict, Bloody Marys and fun, friendly atmosphere.
Westsider Books, 2246 Broadway
The bookstore is narrow with two floors of books floor to ceiling . Signs stick out of the shelves reading Fiction, Art and Psychology to name a few. Westsider’s book collection is vast with a unique selection of records like Lightning Hopkins’ greatest hits. On their website, check out the type of albums, records and books they buy from patrons. See if you can find the cut out of Henry Van Dyke, Michael Jackson or Bob Dylan.