In order to know NYC, you have to stay above ground and walk its streets. Save a swipe of your Metrocard, and walk it! Heck with those street bike shares, this costs you nothing and is far safer. You never know what lies around the corner or in front of you.
I walk everywhere when possible, yet my favorite stroll is in my own residential neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I keep it real by keeping it local. Nothing better then browsing and patronizing my neighborhood “Mom & Pop” stores which are sadly disappearing. I cherish my local side streets; walk yours daily as that’s where you’ll find tiny, flavorful storefronts full of goodies and surprises. So enjoy a neighborhood nibble of the Big Apple. Welcome to my world!
Take the 6 train to 77th Street and walk East. My daily walk begins with a stroll over to Orwashers, an artisan bakery located at 308 East 78th Street. They have been in business since 1916, and when you taste their amazing variety of fresh baked breads (ask for a sample before you purchase a loaf) you will know why they stayed in business so long. (Many of the restaurants we patronize have “Orwashers” breads on the table.) I am addicted to their raspberry jelly donuts so I grab a fresh cup of take out coffee sold as a customer courtesy, and solidly start my day. Everything is baked daily, sold practically out of the oven, and whatever is left at the end of the day, is donated to places like City Harvest. Good for them.
My next neighborhood stop is Martine’s Antiques at 404 East 78th Street. I browse this teeny treasure of an antique store but maintain a steady eye on a stunning platter with a flying fairy design pattern, love this piece! Keep your eyes wide open, you just never know what you can spot here, objects d’arte abound. Call for their hours (212) 772-0900.
Now I breeze around the corner to The Book Cellar book shop occupying the entire basement level (with accompanying bargain basement prices) of Webster Library located at 1465 York Avenue. This is a treasure trove; it’s a used book shop with every classification of book befitting the library above. Ask for it, they usually have it, including collectibles. From cookbooks to biography, classics to contemporary romance novels, sheet music to CDs, mysteries to self help….you can spend an entire afternoon perusing. There is a separate room just for children’s selections. All proceeds go to the NYPL, it is totally non-profit and admirably run by knowledgeable volunteers.
If I have any time left, and believe me, I can get lost in the Book Cellar, I carefully step into Tiny Doll House at 314 East 78th Street. This place is darling, you enter another dimension. They only sell items in miniature scaled to fit in a doll house. Of course you can order, purchase a doll house and even have it customized, but it’s their tiny pieces for sale that make you gasp. ANYTHING you want in miniature is available, there is probably NOTHING they don’t have in an itty bitty size scaled to fit a doll’s house…candles, ipads, clocks, pillows, candelabras, furniture, domestic pets…an adorable assortment of anything you need in your display “home.” Should you have a passion for things small, this is the spot!
A great end to my local walk is dinner at Heidi’s House directly next door to Orwasher’s Bakery. This is a pint sized restaurant with big taste. Primarily their menu presents comfort food at its best. Some entrees are organic and many selections are gluten free. Try the “mac and cheese” or the “gnocchi.” My friends highly recommended the paella should you be a seafood lover. There is indeed a bar, a satisfying wine list, and glamorous desserts. Reasonably priced for dinner. It is a small albeit intimate locale, so be patient for a table. Well worth the wait.
The day closes before dark while you walk off that tasty supper. Stay on 78th Street, walk past York Avenue straight over the 78th Street trestle and voila! The East River is in your face, look to the right you can see well beyond the 59th Street (i.e. Ed Koch) Bridge then left up to the Triboro (i.e. Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge which cross the East River. This is a view and a half! Should you walk uptown, this well groomed walkway takes you past historic Gracie Mansion and behind Carl Schulz Park. It is glorious right at this spot as you view the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse. Hard to believe you are on Manhattan Island and not Nantucket at this point.
Everyone needs a walk of one’s own, a comfort zone of familiarity. This is mine and I am eager and excited to share my neighborhood walk with all our UsedYorkCity readers. It’s not grandiose, but it’s home. Come visit!
What are your favorite spots in the Upper East Side? Share below!
By: Joanne Theodorou