This historic hotel was built in 1926 and has seen everyone from Tallulah Bankhead to Joe DiMaggio pass through its doors. After World War II, it was redesigned to allow each room to be unique, and suites were named after their famous occupants. Marlon Brando called Sayonara Suite home; Tennessee Williams lived - and died - in the infamous Sunset Suite. Today, customers can enjoy the lavish rooms and eclectic history of the hotel, and dine at the Monkey Bar, located just next door.
Pod 51 offers an experience unlike most New York hotels. Rather than merely serving a necessary function, the hotel is a destination in itself thanks to its conceptually fresh architecture, stylish decor, and excellent dining options.The philosophy behind the hotel's design - small is beautiful - finds its roots in the Japanese tradition of capsule hotels. The Pod (and its sibling, the Pod 39) offers lodging that ranges from the "bunk pod," a tiny but appealing room equipped with bunk beds, to the "studio pod," a more expansive space, all for relatively affordable prices. Despite the low square footage, the rooms never feel cramped, thanks to bright colors, creative furniture (a hanging chair, window side counters instead of a table), and an economical use of space.The hotel offers a beautiful rooftop, replete with candy-colored deck chairs and a bar. Their cafe has outdoor seating in a lovely, unexpected bamboo garden. Finally, Pop@Pod, the result of collaboration between the hotel and Pop Burger, sits adjacent to the hotel.
What has become an iconic symbol of East Side elegance began as a row of townhouses. In 1882, Henry Villard, a successful German businessman, appointed the McKim, Mead, and White architectural firm to construct six private brownstones around a courtyard. The houses were modeled after the sixteenth century Palazzo della Cancelleria, thought to be the oldest Renaissance palace in Rome.Move forward almost one hundred years to the spring of 1974 when Harry Helmsley – a top real estate investor and broker – built a fifty-five-story hotel on the site of the Villard Houses. The Helmsley Palace Hotel opened in 1981 and was run by Helmsley's wife, Leona. Dubbed the "Hotel Queen" (or, alternatively, the "Queen of Mean") Leona was known for her quick temper and, later, for her criminal activity. In a massive scandal, the couple was indicted for evading more than $4 million in income taxes and for the misappropriation of hotel funds. Yet, through all this controversy, the Palace has remained a New York City icon.With a stunning exterior that is brightly illuminated at night, the 899-room hotel is just as beautiful on the inside. The palatial lobby boasts the famed Grand Staircase, a decadent chandelier, high ceilings, and intricate columns.
This three-tiered observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center offers an unobstructed 360-degree panoramic view of New York and beyond. Its view is somewhat different from that of the Empire State Building as one is at eye-level with surrounding skyscrapers, rather than gazing down upon them.Opened in 1933, it was designed to resemble the upper decks of a 1930s ocean liner. When Top of the Rock reopened in 2005 – after having been closed since 1986 – my family was one of the first to ascend to the 70th floor, as it held special memories for my parents when they were dating back in the 1940s. It has since become a favorite tourist stop for me when out-of-town guests are visiting. With its mezzanine photo exhibit and other items of interest on the way to the top, what a phenomenal place to wow people of any age and to begin their journey through the side streets of Manhattan.
Toloache, a bustling Mexican bistro on 50th street, shares its name with the legendary Toloache flower. According to a myth in Mexican culture, the flower can be brewed into a love potion - if someone tastes the drink once, he or she will always return for another sip. The restaurant’s food and drinks have the same effect: Many people who eat there once return time and time again. General Manager Jorge shared a story about his friend from Japan who visited Toloache on the first night of a weeklong vacation in Manhattan. He ended up returning every day that week and then again every year during his annual visit to the city.Toloache on 50th is the first of many restaurants opened in New York by chef-owner Julian Medina. Chef Julian grew up in Mexico City, where he was inspired by the home cooking of his father and grandfather. He was originally brought to New York by Chef Richard Sandoval, who appointed him as Chef de Cuisine at Sandoval’s Maya. He went on to gain experience at distinguished restaurants and graduated from the French Culinary Institute with recognition.Today, Chef Julian owns seven of his own restaurants in the city and has been featured in several publications, including Men’s Journal, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He has appeared on shows such as "Iron Chef" and "Beat Bobby Flay." His impressive background is reflected in the success and distinctive menu of his “first child,” Toloache.Julian designed Toloache’s extraordinary menu to have something for everyone – the wide range of dishes include both vegetarian and gluten free options. He prides himself on using only the freshest of ingredients, whether it is white truffles or chapulines (dried grasshoppers imported from Oaxaca). These crunchy critters have gained quite a bit of media attention, including a feature on "The Today Show." The kitchen brought out the Tacos Chapulines for the Manhattan Sideways team to photograph, and we had to admit that the insects were made to look very appetizing.We were also presented with the diverse Trio de Guacamoles, which allowed us to sample three varieties of the dip: the familiar traditional guacamole; the Frutas Guacamole, which incorporates fruit instead of typical ingredients (pomegranate, mango, and apple instead of tomato and Thai Basil instead of cilantro); and the Rojo guacamole, made with chipotle. Several of us went on to sample the Quesadilla de Huitlacoche y Trufas (made with fresh truffles), The Baja Tilapia Pescado, and the braised short rib, served with quinoa and carrots. Each dish exemplified Chef Julian’s inventiveness and ability to put small, flavor-enhancing twists on typical Mexican cuisine.The drinks were equally impressive, including Julian’s favorite “Chef’s Selection Margarita,” made with his hand-picked bottle of Herradura Tequila. The bartender mixed a few cocktails for us to photograph and taste, including the refreshing “De la Calle,” made with cucumber and jalapeno; the spicy “Mezcalita de Pina”; and the signature “Toloache,” made with hibiscus and blueberries.The food is amazing and the drinks are fantastic, but what really keeps so many guests coming back is Toloache’s dedication to quality service. As Jorge informed us, “Our goal is to make every guest feel at home. They are our friends.” Each of the servers have their own style, creating unique, yet equally enjoyable dining experiences. Guests are able to experience Toloache in a completely new light from one day to the next just by sitting at a different server’s table. It was event manager Temple who summed the restaurant up perfectly: "Toloache feels like a family – like you’re walking into Little Mexico.”
Opened by a gentleman known as Napoleon because of his “short stature and even shorter temper,” Chez Napoleon does not simply pay homage to French culture — it strives to be French culture. Dimly lit and window-less, the interior is a world far removed from the streets of Manhattan. The warm French accent of owner Elyane Bruno and those who work alongside her, including her son William Welles, lends a special touch. The decor is a mix of black and white portraits, a jigsaw puzzle of Napoleon at Waterloo, and a sign that reads: “Save Water, Drink Wine.”In 1982, the Bruno family took over the restaurant, and it was Elyane’s mom, “Grandmere” Marguerite, who was the chef for many years. “I’m the one who ran the restaurant. My mom did the cooking, and my dad tended the bar until he passed away in 1992.” Despite drastic transformations to the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, Chez Napoleon has remained anchored. “The menu has stayed more or less the same — real French food that you do not often find in New York anymore.”