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Locals dish up New York's hidden gems

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By Katelyn Gendron Reminder Assistant Editor Everyone knows that I heart New York. And yes, I am one of those fools that wear the T-shirt (in the confines of my home, of course). I am a New York City girl through and through, and last year I decided to share my affection for this glamorous city in an installment of the Reminder Publications "Trip on a Tank" series. This year, I've decided to take the journey one step further by helping our readers avoid the tourist traps and share some of my favorite lesser-known hot spots with a little help from some of my friends. Each of my friends brings their own unique twist to traditional New York City archetypes "The Poor Yet Brilliant Artist," "The Struggling Actor" and "The Ardent Journalist." While they may work for "the man" to feed themselves and pay those hefty college loans, they bring a distinct, insider's perspective to their hometown. The Poor Yet Brilliant Artist Nathan is a prime example of a exceptional artist who, after college, quickly learned that he could not make a living from his art. So Nathan began another steady, better paying career while maintaining his creative genius within the artistic landscape of city life. Prior to earning a living wage, he worked at one of his favorite bakeries on the Upper West Side. Levain Bakery, (www.levainbakery.com) 167 W. 74th St., may look like a tiny hole in the wall and be hotter than the depths of hell during the summer but their softball-sized moisture-rich cookies are worth that sweaty shirt you'll have to change after visiting. During my last visit, I couldn't finish a chocolate chip walnut cookie -- it's an entire meal in itself! For those that have a little more coin in their pockets, Nathan recommended a truffle omelet at Ouest Restaurant (www.ouestny.com) 2315 Broadway. "The food is to die for," he raved. Nathan also recommended that those visiting his city do not overlook the many great artists exhibiting their work. He said Mixed Greens art gallery (www.mixedgreens.com) at 531 W. 26th St. is one of his favorite spots. "They mainly do up and coming artists . They always have something funky," Nathan explained. His last words of advice: "Get out of Times Square! Don't plan [your trip] all out [down to the last detail]. Go to www.timeout.com/newyork and find out all the funky things going on -- New York has so much of that to offer." The Struggling Actor Kyle is the authority on all things trendy. He's a hybrid of Will Smith and Taye Diggs. He's got the looks and charisma to make it to the big time but for now he works behind a Chelsea stage in the lighting booth. Earlier this year he took me to the most amazing restaurant on the Lower East Side called Stanton Social (www.thestantonsocial.com). This is a trendy, Asian-inspired restaurant and candle-lit bar with all the right furniture that makes you want to curl up and make out while indulging in some savory margaritas. "I like the food," he said. "I have yet to be disappointed. Tasty drinks and the bartenders aren't cheap on the liquor." Kyle recommended that once you've got a good buzz off the great liquor to take in some theater. His two favorites are the Atlantic Theater Company (www.atlantictheater.org) and Ohio Theatre (www.sohothinktank.org). "The Atlantic Theater Company is one of the first places I recommend. They do produce quality work," he said. Kyle's final words of advice for novice or returning travelers: Don't miss New York City during the holiday season. "For New York, the holidays are a real spectacular time," he said. "New York is a big old stage that everyone wants to tune into and watch what's happening." The Ardent Sports Journalist Matt was born and bred in Queens. He's a roughneck who speaks fast as most New Yorkers do with a thick New York accent. He's definitely someone you want on your editorial staff to get the scoop. For those who are avid sports fans and want to "get the real New York experience," Matt recommended that you visit the West 4th Street Courts in Greenwich Village. Affectionately known as "The Cage," these courts are where amateurs and professionals play basketball side-by-side on an ordinary afternoon. "'The Cage' is the most famous playground in the world," Matt said. "You can go there any day of the week at any hour from noon until 9 p.m. and catch guys from the NBA." He also recommended visiting the Trump Wollman Skating Rink (www.wollmanskatingrink.com) in Central Park anytime from October to April. Most tourists only think to go iceskating at Rockefeller Center (www.rockefellercenter.com) during the holidays but this skating rink as well as the one in Bryant Park (www.bryantpark.org) offer their own unique Yuletide atmosphere. Bryant Park had the best atmosphere last year because the entire park was humorously decorated in doughnuts and white twinkle lights in honor of "The Simpsons Movie." Matt's last words of advice: "New York is a great city because not only is it culturally diverse but there is a door for any room you want to go into, be it sports or art," he said. "It's the hub to everything. In New York there is a new place you can go everyday without leaving the city."


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