NEW YORK, NY – (***We interrupt Polar Vortex 2: Electric Boogaloo to bring you yet another column.***) It’s the least wonderful time of the year, with the exception of the entire month of February. I’m of course talking about that dead week between the NFL Championship games and the Super Bowl. Why must the NFL do this? Does the Super Bowl really need an additional week of hype or opportunities for its participants to run afoul of the law and/or ornery prostitutes? I dunno, maybe it does. Anyway, shortly thousands of sucker… I mean, football fans, will be descending upon the New York metropolitan area and will find all manner of ridiculous ways to get relieved of their hard-earned dollars. In order to help these Seattle schmoes and Denver dopes out, here’s Your NYC Super Bowl Visitor’s Guide – a handy pamphlet of things to do in New York while you’re waiting to freeze your ass off in the swamps of Jersey.
Eat. Under no circumstances should you spend a nickel on anything in and around Times Square. That goes double for any so-called dining establishments in this area. You’d be better off eating out of the trash. If you’re looking for a good place for a group dinner, head down to Chinatown where the general rule is, the less attractive the restaurant the better the food. I just ventured down there with some visiting family and we made pigs of ourselves at Joe’s Shanghai (9 Pell Street). Three or four orders of soup dumplings should warm you up for the feast ahead. Be sure to sample the General Tso’s Chicken and Crispy Beef, a savory confection that my brother-in-law rightly described as “dessert beef.” You’ll be shocked by the reasonable bill, but be sure to bring cash, cuz Joe don’t do credit cards…
If it’s Italian you’re looking for, avoid Manhattan’s sad touristy Little Italy and head up the Bronx for the real deal. There are no shortage of great restaurants and delis in and around Arthur Avenue. A personal fave is Frankie and Johnnie’s Pine Restaurant (1913 Bronxdale Avenue) where you can chow down on huge portions of Pasta Fagioli and Short Matt’s favorite hangover cure… or Chicken Parm. It’s right near the Bronx Zoo so make a day of it. And if you don’t feel like paying zoo admission, not to worry; there are plenty of other animals roaming around the Bronx -particularly in the vicinity of Fordham Road. Oh, and now that the beloved 8th Street and Sixth Avenue location is closed, do make it up to 72nd and Broadway for a Gray’s Papaya Hot Dog.
Drink. First, a friendly reminder to our visiting guests from Denver and Seattle, marijuana is still illegal in New York, even though we have a mayor who’s last name, De Blasio, sounds fairly weed-friendly. The good news is, there are limitless options when it comes to getting plastered. Again, it’s probably best to avoid Times Square and the theater district, although Bourbon Street (346 W. 46th) is a Meet The Matts hangout of sorts, has a decent selection of bourbons, and no shortage of sports on the tube. But my vote for best bar in the city still goes to WXOU Radio (558 Hudson Street). Great happy hour, great jukebox, and if you can snag one of the coveted window seats, great people watching. If you feel like keeping it a bit more uptown, why not grab a pint of Guinness at the Dublin House (225 W. 79th Street) which played host to quite a bit of my misspent youth. But, seriously, there are dozens of great joints in the city. I’m sure our loyal readers wouldn’t mind sharing some of their faves.
Be Merry. I’ll be honest with you, if I had Super Bowl tickets I’d sell them, use the money on food and drink, and watch the game somewhere in the city rather than paying $51.00 for what is usually a $10 bus trip to East Rutherford and not be allowed to tailgate. Sounds pretty awful if you ask me. But even if you do go to the game, if you get here a couple of days early, entertainment options abound in the city the doesn’t sleep. Check out some music at one of the city’s many cool venues. Go see the Statue of Liberty but do it on the Staten Island Ferry, which costs nothing plus you can enjoy a nice cold beer during your short journey. When you get to the Staten Island side, grab a hot dog at the city’s only Dairy Queen, then get the hell back to Manhattan.
Recently, we’ve also become famous for our train wrecks and you’ll see none bigger than the one that plays pro basketball at Madison Square Garden. Just kidding. I would never recommend wasting money on the Knicks. Seriously though, life doesn’t begin and end on Manhattan, venture to some of the outer boroughs. Check out the Steinway Factory, Museum of the Moving Image, and chop shops of Queens. Boogie on up to the Bronx Alehouse. Punch a pork pie-wearing hipster in Brooklyn. Grab a burger at the Inwood Piper’s Kilt, which is actually in Manhattan but so far uptown it doesn’t feel like it. Bottom line, no matter what kinda hijinks you’re looking for, you should be able to find it. OK, this could easily run 2000 words so I’ll close by saying enjoy your stay, steer clear of anti-semitic Elmos, 99-cent slices of pizza, and anyone named Wilpon or Dolan.
Comment below and tune in tomorrow for more Meet The Matts Radio, when Richard Sherman interrupts Bobby V and Mad Dog arguing about his post-game chat with Erin Andrews.