Hop on the Q Train!
After discussion for almost a century (who says NY'ers are in a rush), Phase 1 of the Q train is 98.0% (very precise...) complete! When finished, it will connect Coney Island all the way to 96th Street, and everything in between. The "in between" includes such iconic destinations as Times Square (finally, getting to a Broadway show on time!), Herald Square (hello Macy's & Knicks), and even the Barclay Center (Beyonce, JZ, and the Nets!). It expands the ease of the commute and will reduce the congestion on the (4-5-6) Lexington Avenue line (aka cattle cars).
Whether you are a straphanger or not, the construction has meant almost a decade of mess along Second Avenue. It has been painful to take Second (by taxi or Uber), but even worse for the businesses along the Avenue. They have had to deal with noise, dust, and a dearth of customers for years. However, signs of Spring (in late Fall) are starting to pop up. We are seeing very interesting flowers budding along Second Avenue as the scaffolds come down. This week I will show you what's been hiding beneath the construction mess, as I keep you in the Loupe on the new Upper East Side finds!
Some routes and destinations call for (really require) the Subway. I love driving or taking an Uber as much as anyone else, but everything has its time and place. For example, you do not want to drive through Midtown Manhattan in the morning, in the early evening, or really anytime! Now that you realize the Subway is a necessary evil, you need to use it as efficiently as possible. The MTA (geniusly) started to display the time when the next few trains are coming so there is no longer reason to crane your neck impatiently to look down the tunnel for the lights of the next train. Now imagine, that you do not even need to be subterranean to get this information. Moovit, the app, has taken this data and will let you know when your train is coming before you ever enter the depths of the subway system! Even better, it provides the best route using various combinations of public transportation + walking to get you to your destination in the most efficient fashion. It also provides alerts (train not in service) for those of you frustrated (angry) commuters. It is a useful app, especially now that the Q train is on the tracks!
ON CLOUD RUNNING SHOES
Before you begin to explore Second Avenue (uncovered), you need to get yourself a comfortable pair of shoes. As you know, I'm a huge fan of Allbirds (featured last week), but to navigate the remains of the construction you may want something a bit more rugged. Of note, we at the Loupe eschew major brands (goodbye Nike, UnderArmour, etc.) and look for bespoke labels made with pride and ingenuity! As such, I was introduced to On Cloud by trainer and fellow Louper Anthony who swears by them. I immediately bought them and have been test driving (wearing) them for weeks. They are light, but very durable, running shoes; hence, the name --- they slip on with elastic laces (no need to waste time tying). They are Swiss designed and made (maybe they will help make the trains run on time), and you will be ready to walk (on air) and out of the construction mess.
Second Avenue has always been densely packed with bars, restaurants ... and recent college graduates. It remains a key (practical) destination for residents of the UES, and anywhere else for that matter. However, it is clear that business suffered from the impact of the construction ... who wants to eat and drink among dust, noise and god knows what. So, with the clearing of construction, we are seeing some new locations join the ones that survived the melee. Of course, there are the old standards The Gilroy and The Penrose (both solid). However, newcomer The MIlton (there always seems to be the word "The" before upscale establishments!) is what "The" Loupe recommends! This cozy restaurant/bar located between 91st and 92nd feels like it has been there forever, yet is a relative newcomer. Inspired by the British gastropub movement, it has excellent cocktails, tasty bar food, and a great vibe. Meet a friend or colleague there for a drink and you won't be disappointed ... you may even stay for the live music, the food and the growing crowd!
QUICK SERVE SAUSAGE/BEER
This is a great new addition to the neighborhood, despite the lewd(ish) name. It's literally the grandchild of the famous German butcher/wurstmaker Schaller & Weber (in business since 1937), which is next door. The Schaller's grandson recognized the 21st century needs of this diverse (Carnivorous) neighborhood and came to the obvious conclusion ... a wurst bar! The Stubbe serves authentic/delicious Berlin style sausage (and beer too). Sure I love Grey's Papaya King a block over on third (because who doesn't?) but this is an entirely different experience. There is limited seating inside, but it doesn't take long to devour these incredible creations inside the repositioned and chicly designed meat locker!
There have always been great sports bars on Second Avenue, but this UES (not NY) newcomer (other locations in Murray Hill and Flatiron) has brought an excellent beer selection, great bar menu, and tons of flat screen TV's. It has taken over the location of Big Daddy's and is now the big daddy of sports bars on the Avenue. They serve up Southern hospitality, which means great barbecue and tall drinks...I highly recommend the Duke-a-Rita! Come for any sports event and you will find a TV dedicated to you; there certainly are enough of them.
I will always love Chinese food, but have mostly replaced this cuisine (on Sunday nights) with Thai as it is typically lighter and healthier. This new entrant in the market has stepped up the quality of cuisine substantially and is serving some of the best Thai food in the city. The restaurant has a very modern vibe, playing contemporary music, and has been decorated organically (water and plant elements). The traditional Thai fare has been updated with creative sauces and combinations .. .you won't be disappointed. It also has a solid drink menu making it a very social destination.
We welcome the arrival of the Q train and wish good riddance to the collateral damage of the construction. Consider yourself in the Loupe and the Moovit app, On Cloud sneakers, The Milton, Schaller's Stube Sausage Bar, Dukes Original Roadhouse, and Up Thai Found!