I was on my way to meet someone in Union Square, when they decided to cancel, and I found myself with a wasted trip. I took it upon myself to then try and find something interesting to do. I could go shop at the over crowded, I mean, ridiculously over crowded Trader Joe’s, or my preferred food destination Whole Foods. But, alas, I didn’t actually need to buy any food. Then I turned to my left and noticed that the construction of Union Square was finally over, and maybe now I could take a proper walk through it. As many squares as New York has, I don’t believe any of them are actually in a square shape. Some of them, like Harold Square, are barely intelligible as a definite land area. Yet, in their simple landscaped beauty, one can find the only place in the city to sit down for free, and perhaps feel a nice breeze amongst the sounds of traffic and angry homeless people. I also took this opportunity to devise where Union Square received its name. The statue of Abraham Lincoln, erected in 1869, was an obvious hint. Sometimes we need to take a moment and realize how we’ve come into existence. On a lighter note, Union Square is also a great place to visit for locals.
Any local on a budget likes to shop at normal stores. There’s nothing wrong with visiting the Gap, Express, or American Eagle; and if you decide to shop at one of the typical chain stores, be sure to do it in Union Square. The stores down here are large enough to offer all you need, but less busy than Time’s Square, or 5th Ave at the Rock. Of course the area also has all your favorite New York fast-food, like Pret A Manger, Jamba Juice, and Chipotle (the ultimate disgrace to Mexican food). There’s also some more exciting things in Union Square, like the Union Square theatre, Fuerza Bruta, Bowlmor lanes, and lots of bars and restaurants. One of my personal off the beaten path spots is the Old Town Bar & Restaurant.
A three-story, cozy, dank, bar and eatery at 45 E 18th; the Old Town Bar & Restaraunt is a great place to grab lunch, or an after work drink. I highly recommend their pumpernickel, muenster, and portabello grilled cheese sandwich! It is one of the best grilled cheeses I have ever had in the city! The choice in bread and use of mushroom was fairly ingenious; and muenster cheese has just enough sweetness to compliment the other flavors. Its taste is soothing and filling, and you can get a full sit-down meal in a half-hour.
New York has already been discovered, reviewed, and mapped out in a million guide books, top to bottom. But what New Yorker actually takes the time to read all of those, when it is so easy to just walk until you find something. The great things about New York for explorers, is that you can close the book, and pretend to be the first one who has ever eaten at these places, and half the people you tell about your experience, wont have heard of them either. And that is why New York, even for locals, will never be fully discovered.