In college, one of my friends wrote a blog about moving to New York City and her tagline was something like “take a bite out of this,” in reference to NYC’s nickname, “The Big Apple.” It truly is a city that you can keep coming back for more “bites” and still never get tired of finding new things to do! It’s a melting pot of cultures where you can find almost any kind of food in the city.
In fact, one night while I was in the city, I put this theory to the test and tried to see how many different kinds of snacks and/or food I could find in two hours. Well, on this snack spree I had: a Milk Bar ice cream sundae, some Chinese bao buns, hole-in-the-wall pizza (the only kind to get if you’re looking for an authentic NYC experience, IMO), and a super famous (but IMO over-hyped) pastrami sandwich and matzo ball soup from Katz (the deli where a scene from When Harry Met Sally was filmed). Needless to say I accomplished my snack attack that night and can’t wait to go back to try some of the new spots covered in this book.
Speaking of books, I should stop gushing about New York and actually get to the point of this post: a review on American author and journalist, Pip Cummings’ new book, New York Precincts: A Curated Guide To The City’s Best Shops, Eateries, Bars And Other Hangouts. One of my favorite things about this book is that it highlights both iconic must-see spots, as well as hidden gems that’ll elevate anyone from wandering tourist to local insider.
New York Precincts is unlike any other guidebook I’ve read. Actually, I take that back, it’s kind of like this book – Book Review | Melbourne Precincts by Dale Campisi, but that’s probably because they’re both from Hardie Grant’s “Precincts” series. Seriously though, these guidebooks are unmatched in both detail and photography. Not only do they cover cool spots to visit, but they also provide local tips on what to order or places to go to get that really cool photograph or experience. Case and point, page 235 suggests under “Local Tip,” to pop into Milk Bar Bakery and order a slice of ‘crack pie.’ Don’t worry, it’s not actually crack; it’s just an oat cookie with a bunch of secret ingredients that’ll have your mouth watering in five seconds flat!
Fun fact: I actually bought an entire crack pie to bring home to my family after a visit to Milk Bar; it’s that good. I made it home, no problem; the crack pie, though, was only half intact by the time we landed. Oops . . . I guess what I’m trying to say is while I haven’t tried all of the local tips in this book, I can definitely confirm this one is 100% worth visiting, and if you don’t order the crack pie, I’d recommend, at the very minimum, ordering one of their soft serves or cookies.
Crack pie stories aside, this book would also make a really beautiful coffee table book. It’s put together kind of like a scrapbook, with maps of the different neighborhoods and spotlight pages on each of the featured shops, eateries, bars, etc. In total, there are twenty neighborhoods covered in the book, which is great, because it means there’s something in there for everyone! Maybe you’re looking for some futuristic chorizo caramel swirl ice cream at Oddfellows in Williamsburg, or a top-heavy kitschy dive bar like the Booby Trap (pun intended) in Bushwick? Or perhaps you’re more into an evening at a bohemian jazz bar in Greenwich Village that’s hosted greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Charles, or a psychedelic piano bar frequented by Ramones keyboardist, Joe McGinty, in the Meatpacking District .
This book really allows readers to create customized itineraries, without having to open a dozen browser windows and read a thousand yelp reviews. It takes the guesswork out of “is this place worth a visit or not.”
As far as my own tips, I’d definitely recommend the subway over vehicle transportation for most travel in the city. Not only is it much faster, because you’re not sitting in the gridlock traffic New York is infamous for, but you’ll also get to interacts with locals and see some of the great street musicians that exclusively play down there.
OH! I almost forgot to mention one of the coolest things about New York Precincts! Once you finish reading the book, you’ll come across information about how to digitally download the text and the maps included in the books. When I saw this, I literally yelped with excitement, because I can’t tell you how many guidebooks I’ve circled and starred things in for trips, only to forget them at home and then have to start all over on Google when I get to my hotel. This addition is super helpful because you can bring all the places you want to visit, from the convenience of your phone, without having to bring the book with you. I’m usually not a fan of electronic versions of books, because I’m old-school and like to hold it and thumb through it (instead of looking at it on a screen), but this hybrid of real book and travel e-book is pretty cool.
If you’re interested in checking out more titles in the Precincts series, the following cities are available: Barcelona, Paris, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Tokyo, London, Hanoi, and Kyoto.
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Book Stats: Title- New York Precincts by Pip Cummings
Page Count- 261
Binding-Hardcover with color photography inside