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Shop and Dine New York City’s Hidden Gems Like a Local

Tourists and locals alike already know all of New York City’s hot spots, from the iconic Bethesda Fountain in Central Park to the railroad-turned-park High Line. To spice up your NYC visit or give you something new to do if you’re a local, we caught up with some of the city’s top lifestyle influencers and photographers to find out what their go-to hidden gems are and what are the best spots to shop and eat.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of favorite restaurants, shops, and places to see. Be sure to let us know if you end up going to any and what your favorite one was.

Where to shop

New Top Jewelry

TikTok and Instagram influencer Lauren Wolfe listed New Top Jewelry as one of her favorite places to shop for its high quality and unique jewelry that can’t be found elsewhere. Founded by Jane Shuai, the store has become a staple among younger customers and is located in the center of Chinatown.

Artists & Fleas SoHo

Both Dani Bustabad, Instagram influencer and blogger, and Wolfe cited Artists & Fleas as one of their favorite places to shop. Bustabad said she loves finding cute souvenirs made by local artists at the market’s SoHo location. The thrift store’s website boasts that visitors come to their multiple locations to discover new finds as well as to be discovered, making it truly the place for an aspiring thrifter or influencer. 

Metropolis

Photographer and esteemed TikToker Henry Kornaros said Metropolis is one of his favorite thrift shops to frequent for its large collection of vintage band t-shirts and comic books. The store, now located in the East Village, was founded as a SoHo flea market in 1984 and has since expanded to a massive thrift store that boasts clientele such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, and A$AP Rocky.

Where to eat

Pio Pio

Bustabad claimed Pio Pio was her top place to dine in NYC because of its stellar Peruvian food. Located in Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn, the restaurant is in the heart of major food districts and is renowned for its unique rotisserie chicken with a special homemade sauce.

Fiaschetteria Pistoia

Wolfe said she swears by Fiaschetteria Pistoia’s pasta. The Italian restaurant has a wide selection of Italian wines and “an atmosphere that recalls the values that belong to generations of Italian table lovers.”

Scarr’s Pizza

We would be remiss if we did not include at least one of NYC’s iconic pizza places. Situated in the Lower East Side, Scarr’s is Kornaros’ favorite place to dine for the NYC staple and said it’s a must-try for NYC tourists and natives alike. It was even ranked #88 on New York magazine’s 1,000 best restaurants list

Explore hidden gems

We also asked our influencers what their true hidden gems were, some things that people didn’t know too well. Here is what they each had to say:

Bustabad’s Hidden Gems
620 Loft & Garden is an incredible rooftop garden that has the sweetest views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (skip the crowds at the Rockefeller Center and go here!). Also, City Hall Station is an abandoned subway station from 1904, and it’s beautiful. And finally, Lexington Candy Shop, located on Lexington Ave on 83rd, is a gem. It’s the oldest family-run luncheonette!”

Wolfe’s Hidden Gems
Roy’s Fish Market on the Upper East Side—which I discovered on TikTok! You have to order ahead, but he has amazing fish and sushi for a third of the price you would pay at a restaurant. Flying Tiger is a Copenhagen store that “adds extra to the ordinary.” It’s filled with affordable, everyday items that have a unique design twist, plus things you never knew you needed. Boba tea is everywhere, but Surreal Creamery’s boba tea is overflowing with creamy Earl Grey soft serve, and Alimama has milk tea mini-boba Cream Puffs! Not to mention the prettiest boba you’ve ever seen with flakes of gold and dried rosebuds sprinkled across the top.”

Kornaros’ Hidden Gems
“I’m a big fan of the East River Park. I run through there almost every day, and it’s beautiful with a bunch of playing fields. Not as hidden, but I’m a big fan of Citi Bike. Biking around New York City, if you’re comfortable with it, is a feeling like no other. You can get to places really quickly, so I rarely take the subway anymore.”

From a wide range of cuisine to an array of different activities, there is sure to be some hidden gem you haven’t explored yet. Take a trip to the City Hall Station, followed by a shopping excursion at Artists & Fleas, then top it off with a nice dinner at Pio Pio, and be sure to let us know.


Photo by Michael Discenza

Rebecca Aizin

I'm a journalism and psychology student at Northwestern University, also pursuing a certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications. I am passionate about life & style and entertainment journalism, and have gone from working on my own fashion/lifestyle blog in high school to working here at Young Hot & Modern magazine!