Upper West Side
I love to sleep in different parts of New York (I mean at my friends’ apartments) because every neighborhood is different. I had a chance to spend a few nights on the Upper West Side recently, on 104th and Broadway to be exact. The thing that grabbed my attention right away was the fact that it’s cleaner than in other parts of Manhattan. What I also liked about the Upper West Side around 100th Street was that there is a huge variety of people. Usually a neighborhood in Manhattan is dominated by one nationality only, but in this case, it was different and that was something new for me. The Upper West Side is also close to the Hudson River and Central Park, which actually makes this area a good spot to live because you’re not just surrounded by a concrete jungle.
There are a lot of diners over there as well, which are not that common downtown. For those of you who don’t know – a diner is an excellent place which always serves the same stuff (eggs, sandwiches, pancakes, etc.) and is usually open all day long. This is the place you roll into when you’re still wasted and barely able to say anything in any human language. It’s the most popular spot for breakfast, too.
Interestingly, you won’t find many of the popular chain spots that you see downtown, especially around 14th Street, up here. There is a Starbucks every two blocks, of course, and Dunkin Donuts, but it’s not that easy to find popular fast-casual places like Chipotle or other healthy spots with salads. It took me a while to find something with salads only (I didn’t want to go to a diner or a deli for that and salad was the only thing I was able to eat in the heat). I had to walk 25 blocks (!) to a place I’d never heard of before – Sweetgreen on 75th and Amsterdam. At some point, on 83rd Street, I decided to switch from Broadway to Amsterdam Ave since there was nothing going on on Broadway. I chose 83rd because on that street between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave there is a famous coffee spot – Café Lalo, featured in the movie “You’ve Got Mail” (it’s the scene where Tom Hanks is waiting with a rose for Meg Ryan).
When I got to Amsterdam Ave, I was surprised because up until 75th Street I was passing by different bars and restaurants. This part of the neighborhood was full of life. It was also Friday night, so everyone was enjoying their happy hour drinks and was in weekend mode already.
I’m planning on going back there to explore it a bit more. Luckily, Sweetgreen turned out to be an excellent spot – it was exactly what I was looking for (and I discovered they have another location in Midtown, on 26th and Broadway). Sweetgreen not only has delicious salads but also educates youth about healthy eating. Another neighborhood explored.