Murray Hill and Gramercy Park are low-key, kinda meh neighborhoods as far as New York hotspots go. Exactly the reason I’ve written a brief guide—my favorite places in an area that, like much of larger middle Manhattan, is slightly more void of cool stuff than much of downtown and Brooklyn. There are still some awesome places to hit up on your way through the neighborhood.
The Flying Cock: I’ve always loved this place. It’s all-purpose—cool casual, brunch, pub food, healthy options; there’s something for everyone. Great burgers, and interesting appetizers (interesting but not bizarre or high-concept). Their nachos are great, and you get a massive portion for only $13. They also have a really cool neon sign that says “Stay Cocky NYC” (or they did, last I knew…did not go into the restaurant the other day because it was outdoor dining only). But it’s a nice, super chill place.
Bluebell Cafe: My favorite brunch spot in college. Their website for some reason says they’re new to Gramercy…they’re not??? I was going there six years ago. They’re still closed but opening after Labor Day. And I’ll be back there as soon as they do. It’s affordable and warm. Generous portions. They also have really awesome French toast.
Surreal Creamery: Ooh yes. Literally, more than I bargained for. In a good way. Surreal Creamery is a creative and colorful ice cream shop whose standard ice cream order is approximately a full pint of soft serve in a mason jar. There are several interesting flavors (I got their cookie flavored ice cream, which is cookie monster blue). They also have a ton of toppings, some of which really made me nostalgic—teddy grahams, fruity pebbles, etc. Childhood favorites. Seriously though, this ice cream intimidated me. It was towering. It melted all over my hand and down my arm. Disaster. But it was a very tasty disaster.
Gramercy Tavern: An old favorite. More of a special occasion meal, since it’s expensive. But everything is delicious, a mix of classic pub food and fancier stuff, plus some wildcards like lobster rolls. It’s the only place I would order a $30 cheeseburger.
Soft Swerve: Another ice cream place— beautiful cones, slightly less monstrous than Surreal’s giant mason jars. Soft Swerve is (one) home of the purple ube soft serve—weird sweet potato flavored ice cream. A little concerning since as I’ve mentioned multiple times, I am a picky eater. But I tried it. And it didn’t taste like a vegetable. It was creamy almost vanilla-ish, slightly earthy, wonderful.
Eataly: Went just the other day, and technically this one is in Flatiron, and I’ve written about it before. But it’s very different in the summer, especially this summer, and it’s very close to my heart. That sounds sappy and dumb, but it was the first restaurant I went to when I moved to New York. So it’ll always be one of my favorites. It’s a very authentic Italian market and food court. I went for the rooftop bar / garden the other day. Like the New York Botanical Garden but with food. And flowers aren’t real. But still, gorgeous and delicious, summery Italian food. It was a little fancy for me and pretty expensive. But the arancini were perfect. Cocktails are all flower themed and they have a cool gin and tonic bar.
Gramercy Park: So you can’t actually go in Gramercy Park—it’s private. Nonetheless, the area is a good spot for pictures and has a nice, melancholy aire about it. Perfect for an evening walk. Also a historical NYC location, once (and still, to some degree) an enclave for the wealthy. It still feels like the Golden Age.
Even though Murray Hill and Gramercy are quiet and largely residential, I’ve grown to love the area in a way—not only because it brings me back to being really young, still a teenager, yet to make any big mistakes. In my experience, there’s also a lot of really great food, minus the pretension of places like Soho and the West Village. There’s something distinctly comforting about walking down 3rd Ave, descending towards the East Village. And of course, the ice cream is wonderful.