In a city like New York that has everything, it’s only natural you’d want to obtain as much of that glory and glam as possible. While it’s always best to plan ahead if you want a table at that hot new Soho eatery or seats to the Tony Award-winning play, here are some tricks and tips to getting what you want and need at the last minute in the Big Apple.
Eating at a buzzy restaurant
Though reservations are always the first step, if you have forgotten to make one or decided to try one of NYC’s hottest spots in the 11th hour, you still have a fighting chance. At the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Gramercy Tavern, bartender and server Corine Horeth says anyone can walk into the reservation-free Tavern part of the restaurant to eat. In this first-come, first-served front section, you’re at least able to try the food. And if you’re lucky, someone will cancel in the dining room, giving you the opportunity to snag a table. This scenario is true for many places. And some restaurants don’t take reservations at all. In these situations, it’s best to either show up for an early dinner before the rush, or create a game plan where you put your name down and then pop over to the café down the street for an appetizer and a cocktail before your turn comes.
Scoring sold-out theater tickets
While we strongly suggest purchasing your tickets for the hottest shows well in advance, there are some ways to try and get seats to productions such as The Book of Mormon or Hedwig and the Angry Inch without pre-planning. Though the Theatre Development Fund’s TKTS booths in Times Square, the South Street Seaport and downtown Brooklyn aren’t a big secret, you’d be amazed how many out-of-towners fail to take advantage of these same-day ticket outlets. While there certainly aren’t any guarantees here, keep your fingers crossed that one of the theaters releases additional seats or that somehow someone cancels an order. Chances are, though, if you do get tickets they won’t be next to each other — but you shouldn’t be talking during the show anyway.
Getting free drinks
We know you aren’t necessarily looking for that peach-infused Bellini to be on the house, but we’re here to tell you that if you’re nice to your bartender, you might get that cocktail comped anyway. “Respect goes a long way on both ends,” says bartender Steve Schneider, of the popular West Village speakeasy Employees Only. “If I simply enjoy serving someone, if they are into what I’m doing and they are general good people, I’ll buy them a round or a shot to show my appreciation to them.” Of course, Schneider insists that leaving a nice tip (though not too much) will go a long way to making friends behind the bar as well.
Hailing a taxi
It might appear that those bright yellow cabs are plentiful, but at certain times of day it can be near impossible to get one. The first step in grabbing a taxi is to make sure it’s not taken, which you can easily do by looking at the light box with numbers on top of the car. If the digits and orange blocks of lights on the side are illuminated, that means the cab is off duty; if the lights are all off, someone is in the cab already, so don’t even bother. If the center numbers are the only things lit, the vehicle is free, so wave your arms or merely stand on the curb with your hand raised. Please, don’t whistle, though — that only works in ’80s comedies. Now, the best bet to getting a cab at peak times — morning commutes, late afternoons and the wee hours of the weekend are the worst — is to stand at a busy street like Broadway, Delancey or 14th — at the corner for the best odds — and aggressively jump on any unoccupied taxi. If that strategy still doesn’t work, it’s time to open your Uber app.
There are so many stars in New York, it’s almost impossible not to see someone. Just the other day we noticed David Schwimmer dining at Charlie Bird disguised only with a baseball hat. The best way to find yourself in the presence of a former Friends cast member (or any other Hollywood type) is to go to the hip places they frequent. We’re thinking spots such as Monkey Bar, The Spotted Pig, Minetta Tavern and the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC — boutique hotels’ restaurants and pools make great locations for celebrity sightings. As far as neighborhoods go, tons of A-listers, including Katie Holmes and Cameron Diaz, are rumored to live in Chelsea; Leonardo DiCaprio and Julia Roberts call Greenwich Village home. But even away from Manhattan, the star wattage is pretty strong. Stroll around the Park Slope section of Brooklyn on a random Tuesday and you might see Maggie Gyllenhaal or Keri Russell. The real trick is just keeping your eyes open. They might be walking a dog, searching for pastries at the corner market or, in the case of familiar faces at Four-Star Trump SoHo New York, running to their limo to avoid the paparazzi.