Background: Olivia is a born and raised New Yorker who is passionate about meeting people from all over the world. She loves the diversity of her home city but also is an avid traveler who's ventured to 5 of the 7 continents and has also lived abroad in Spain. Olivia's day job is at an advertising agency, and in her free time, she focuses on saving elephants and works diligently to spread the word about their plights through volunteer work. When she's not at an airport, you can find her trying awesome ethnic restaurants or listening to live music somewhere!
Showaround: Why did you decide to become a Showaround Local?
Olivia: There’s a big difference between a tourist and a traveller. I strive to be a traveller everywhere I go, and a tool like Showaround can help with that. Meeting locals is one of the best and arguably the only ways to get an authentic experience in a new city. Tourists parade around a place visiting the top 10 must-see sights according to TripAdvisor. There’s nothing wrong with that, as 9 times out of 10, those are really beautiful and cool things to see, but a traveler likes to go deeper. I like to go deeper when I travel, and I can only hope to give that back to travellers in NYC. It’s a big city with a lot to do; having a local show you around and help give you a sense of what I actually like to do in my daily life, or perhaps guide you to some things you would love doing, is what will transform a good trip into a great one.
Showaround: Name three super local things to do in the city?
Olivia: 1. Locals in New York aren’t afraid to explore the outer boroughs. We realize they have some of the best flavors that NY has to offer. Total foodie? Visit Jackson Heights, Queens for some authentic Indian buffet and please your sweet tooth at a nearby Indian bakery after. Head to Sunnyside (also in Queens) for some of the city’s best Thai food. If you’re a dumpling lover, try Tibetan momos, scattered throughout Sunnyside and Jackson Heights. Win. Want to get off the beaten path for nightlife? Visit Brooklyn. You can find warehouse parties all over the borough in undisclosed, grungy façades in the most industrial neighbourhoods. The Bronx has a fantastic botanical garden to check out, and riding the Staten Island Ferry is an iconic must-do for the views of the skyline.
2. We also love doing things outside, in particular, eating and drinking. Once April rolls around and it starts to feel like spring for even just one day, you can find us at the beach, the park or on a rooftop. Most of the time that includes a cooler of beer while you lay on your towel, a nice bottle of wine for a picnic, or both for a rooftop soiree. We eat lunch outside, visit rooftop bars, or spend our weekends dining on boozy brunch, combining two of our favourite things into one magical experience under the sun.
3. Last but certainly not least is $1 pizza. I know that’s not really a thing to do, per say, but if you want to be a local, you have to eat like one. We LOVE our dollar pizza. A long line of drunk kids will flock around the corner, down a few blocks of any $1 pizza joint around 3 AM. Businessmen in suits eat a slice on the sidewalk for a quick lunch. I gorge on them any time I find myself in Times Square for the night, a place that’s so expensive I can’t wrap my head around the price of a real meal there. The best place is a hot topic of debate, but I promise those unlabeled stores that say 99¢ Pizza are actually delicious. So is 2 Bros, a chain you’ll find all over Manhattan.
Showaround: Favourite restaurant?
Olivia: It’s hard to pick a favourite when you live in one of the world’s food capitals. Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown is a must-try for dumpling lovers (you’ve gotta get the soup dumplings, they will change your life). If you’re feeling adventurous, a really cool place for Mexican food in the East Village is Black Ant. Appropriately named, because you can literally eat ants here. A great rule of thumb is downloading Yelp. Put in your dollar threshold (on a scale of 1 being dirt cheap to 4 being very expensive), and you’ll be met with any number of delicious restaurants right near you. Read the reviews and look at the pictures, you’ll end up with too many great options to choose from!
Showaround: Best place for a drink?
Olivia: Lots of these fancy rooftop locales you will read about on the Internet or perhaps see on Instagram are perfect places for a drink. Keyword: “A” drink because if you tried to have 5, you would definitely spend over $100. Places like Loopy Doopy, which are fun to try out once because they have a famous drink with an upside down popsicle in it, but that drink costs $22. Amazing views, sure, but fun to try for a quick drink and then make your way to somewhere more reasonably priced (aka any number of the bars in the Lower East Side). Other rooftop examples? 230 5th, Mister Purple, the Gansevoort, and Pod 39 just to name a few. They’d be a great place to watch the sunset over the city.
You can also try out any number of our speakeasies. Some of the authentic ones have a really cool history dating back to prohibition, and some of them are just for fun. Please Don’t Tell is cool; you enter through a London-style phone booth. There’s also a new one in my neighbourhood, The Last Word that looks just like a hardware store.
Showaround: What about the nightlife?
Olivia: There are lots of different ways to enjoy NYC nightlife. I always joke around that we’re not a bar city or a club city, but instead, we’re a rooftop city. Reason being, we have bars and clubs on rooftops. It’s all about getting a great view, no matter where in the city you may be. We have everything here from the uber luxurious, Vegas-style nightlife (and even some of the same clubs like Lavo, Marquee and Tao), to the ever-popular dive bars that won’t break the bank, like Continental. Located right off Saint Mark’s and a quick step away from the Astor Place stop on the 6 train, it makes for a great pre-game destination with 5 shots for $10. That's a steal in NYC. But don’t expect a lime with that tequila shot. You get what you pay for.
You’ll find Irish pubs are a dime a dozen, and a quick Google search will yield a dozen bars to choose from with amazing views of the skyline like the ones I mentioned before. And if you’re not a big drinker, why not try out a Broadway show? Or go listen to live music? Guaranteed there will probably be a concert here when you are in town for an artist you know and like. You can also visit a comedy club. The options really are endless here.
Showaround: How would you describe the local people of New York?
Olivia: Nowhere in the world is as diverse as New York City. Only here can you walk 5 minutes and be transported from Chinatown to Little Italy. We have every culture under the sun living here; as evidenced by taking one quick look around the subway cart at any given time. As a result of our diversity, we’re an extremely tolerant bunch. New Yorkers believe in the greater good of the people, acceptance for everyone, and the beauty of our melting pot. Because there are so many of us (8 million to be exact) and because we accept anyone and everyone here, it’s no wonder why lots of people flock to New York to fulfil their dreams. It’s no wonder why you’ll find our subway signs written in 5 languages – here we make room for everyone.
It’s a city for the hustlers. It’s a city for the hungry. If you really want something to happen, chances are, you can make it happen in New York. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little, a lot of magic happens here. Entertainers. Bankers. Artists. Start-up founders. Whatever you are, you can find a home here.
Everyone in New York is also on a mission, all of the time. I think it’s why we get a bad rep as being rude or insensitive. It’s really not that; we just have a lot on our plates at any given time. We’re used to the daily grind and a visitor is not. It may not be our initial reaction to offer to help you when you look lost in a subway station with a giant map in your hand. But this isn’t the South. You didn’t come here for unwavering hospitality. You came here to be part of the hustle. If you, instead, ask us for directions, we will stop what we’re doing and be as nice as can be. The key is to ask. New Yorkers are very good at walking around with their blinders on so to speak. We have really seen it all, so we are truly unfazed by even the weirdest of situations. We don’t notice a lot of things when we are going from point A to B with our headphones on because we are likely en route to making our own dreams come true.
Showaround: Thank you Olivia for your answers!