Yoko’s guide to NYC

Published Jun 30 2016 • Last updated Jun 13 2021

Hello! This is a page I made a while back as a way for me to easily provide recommendations for folks visiting NYC. I’m biased of course, but I think NYC is one the most amazing cities in the whole wide world, a cultural capital, and an essential visit to any traveler. You’ll find plenty to do here—so much in fact, that you’ll likely have to come back another time.

Big ol’ map

A big annotated Google Map that I update every once in a while. You can also view the map in its native goodness here.

Dance studios

I’ve been taking hip-hop and street dance classes in the city for nearly a decade (holy crap), and recently have been branching out and trying different genres and studios. Here’s a list of a few places that I’ve taken classes at:

Broadway Dance Center

One of the premier locations for dance classes spanning a huge range of disciplines—ballet, street styles, contemporary, Broadway, etc. They have professional, pre-professional, and visa programs, but nearly all of their classes are walk-in. Beginner-level classes at BDC are probably a little more challenging than beginner-level classes at most other studios. The studio is strict about taking video; always ask the instructor first.

I’ve been taking Eric Jenkins for years, and I broke into contemporary dance with Stacie Webster—both are incredible teachers, and I highly recommend them!

If you’re new to dance or trying a new genre, BDC also has a great Absolute Beginner Workshop program :)

House of Movement

House of Movement operates out of Pearl Studios, and it’s a small but well-run operation. Many of the faculty are also in a competitive crew together (in addition to whatever their day job is), so there’s a bit of that Youtube dance scene vibe. HoM is a bit more relaxed—more friendly to true dance beginners—and faculty seem to be pretty chill/encouraging of folks taking video and posting it.

I’ve found that I really love Bo Belza’s teaching style and music taste—he usually only teaches intermediate level classes, so it’s a bit of a challenge (once in a blue moon he’ll teach a beginner class and it’s really really popular).

Liberated Movement

A donation-based, judgment-free-zone dance studio. I’ve only taken a couple classes here—some good friends I’ve met while dancing teach or sub here (take Janine’s class!)—but I enjoy the friendly, sincere atmosphere.

Reliably Delicious Food Establishments with Multiple Locations

When you’re out and about in the City, chances are you’re not going to be within walking distance of the Most Delicious Pizza Slice in NYC; however, it might be more likely that you’re close to one of these places.

Shake Shack (Locations)

I would take a Shake Shack burger over In-N-Out any day, and I’m not sorry. Be on the lookout for location-specific menu items (e.g., a fried chicken burger that used to be sold only in Brooklyn). If you’re on the fence about getting the fries, get the fries.

The Grey Dog (Locations)

Solid lunch spot with a great neighborhood vibe. Their chicken soup with meatballs is so damn good. Order and pay at the counter, and someone will bring the food to your table (during busy hours, they also will hold tables for you while you’re waiting to order).

sweetgreen (Locations)

$10 – $15 salads hearty enough to fill you up. Most of the locations I’ve been to are airy and cute—very instagrammable. If you’re in a hurry, they have an app that you can use to order ahead of time for pick-up. Unrelated, but their app UX is fantastic.

Bareburger (Locations)

NYC (#Queens!) burger joint with a hippie, non-GMO, fair-trade twist. Expansive menu with a bunch of protein options for your burger (including veg, obvs). Huge side portions of fries and onion rings. They use phones to take your order, so it’s easy to split the check (a huge plus for me).

The Meatball Shop (Locations)

This isn’t an Italian place; it’s a shop that specializes in meatballs. Pick the ball (they have veg balls too!), the sauce, and the sides. My favorite thing to get is the Kitchen Sink (basically a medley plate) with “family jewel” (an egg).

Xi’an Famous Foods (Locations)

Food of the Xi’an province—a combination of Sichuan and Middle Eastern flavors (cumin, chili oil, lamb). Spicy stuff, though you can adjust spiciness with your order. Good go-to’s are the B2 lamb burger and the Ns2 spicy beef hand-ripped noodles in soup.

Bluestone Lane (Locations)

I’ve heard varying opinions, but I personally like this Australian-style coffee shop. All of the baristas I’ve talked to are super friendly, and their food is good, too (though pricey).