I discovered the little known dirt street of Broadway Alley off 27th while out walking, and I had the serendipitous pleasure of meeting Lillian, a fascinating ninety-year-old woman, who resides there. Broadway Alley, as it was named in the 1800s, is one of the last remaining unpaved roads in the city. No one is certain how this short stretch between Third Avenue and Lexington got its name, but because it is privately owned, it has remained, virtually, untouched.
Walking 27th, it was impossible not to notice the street’s identity crisis, with very distinct areas giving way to one another across Manhattan. A closer look, however, indicated the symmetry and patterns of the street, and, of course, the gems sprinkled throughout. Far to the east, the street begins quietly, buttressing medical facilities and weaving through playgrounds and residences. As restaurants and shops begin popping up, the Repertorio Espanol adds a bit of artistic flair to the area. The theater has been showcasing Latino and Hispanic performance to the city since 1968. Crossing over Lexington Avenue, I discovered the tiny little shop, Om Boutique with its exploding colorful garments. Stopping by on several occasions, I received an education on Indian garb from the affable and sweet Sarla Sharma. Just a few doors down, I met the charming owner of the brand new Pippali, an Indian restaurant, where the emphasis is on extraordinary vegetarian dishes.
The shots of espresso given to our team at Play, a brand new cafe attached to the Museum of Sex, gave us just the perk we needed as we set out to conquer over fifty shops in the wholesale district between Fifth and Seventh Avenues. T-shirts, handbags, hats, mobile accessories, health care products and food are only the beginning of the list of items that are hawked for bargain prices. Looking around and speaking with some of the newly-emerging neighboring businesses, it became apparent to me that this sort of commerce is starting to fade and is being replaced with luxury apartment buildings, restaurants, and other, more up-scale, businesses. One of these is the adorable D Pet Hotels, where dogs come to play, or spend the night in the height of luxury. I cannot help but wonder – and worry – what will happen to all of these shop owners who keep their doors open twelve hours a day in the hopes of attracting customers.
Near the end of our walk were a couple of personal favorites for the Sideways team. The McKittrick Hotel, is a haunting place to visit, but houses a rooftop paradise in Gallow Green. The cocktails and seasonal foods are enough reason to come, but the lush garden environs and the cozy seating made us never want to leave. And we can personally attest to the intense and entertaining theatrical evening that awaits when purchasing tickets to “Sleep No More.” We tore ourselves away, though, and stepped into what felt like old Havana in the exquisite setting of Son Cubano, a restaurant that has live music and mojitos and begged for a follow-up visit when we had more time to rest our feet.
Read more about all of our Side Picks on 27th Street!