Sure, you've been to plenty of cool independent bookstores, but have you been to a non-profit one? If not it's time to boost your cred and head to Housing Works bookstore in Soho. It has an amazing library setup with shelves and shelves of used books, spiral staircases, and a raised ceiling. Easily the best used bookstore I've been to, and all of the proceeds go to the Housing Works foundation, which helps homeless AIDS and HIV sufferes in NYC.
This bookstore, on the upper west side, is not for the average Clancy or Cornwell browser. Or even for the Sedaris or Eggers peruser. Labyrrinth books specializes in a wider variety of scholarly and cultural texts, so odds are you won't be needing this place if you're not in college. But if you are, and you need to track down some obscure volume for an art history class or research project, Labyrinth can save you. I for one found a copy of Rem Koolhaus' Delirious New York, long out of print and yet required for an Urban Studies class. Labyrinth was the only place in Manhattan that had it.
Here's a good independent bookstore with locations around Manhattan and Brooklyn. I believe the downtown Broadway location is the oldest, and thus has the best selection. This bookstore caters very much to the more laid back student crowd, and runs more hippie than hipster (unlike St. Mark's bookshop for example). The have a strong textbook business as well, and offer services for professors looking to adopt material for classes. Laid back atmosphere and friendly workers.
I've seen a few Chiptles around the Island now, but the St. Mark's location remains the original and best of the bunch. Let's face it, the Mexican food in NY is overall pretty mediocre, especially if you're from the West coast like me and know better. Even the real grimy places in Brooklyn usually fall prey to the insidious tex-mex that passes for Mexican food in this state. With that in mind, Chipotle offers a fairly cheap and good tex-mexy burrito with a wide variety of stuffings that makes up for its inauthenticity. Also, the decor is fairly interesting, all crome and angles, so you'll at least have someting to look at.
Located near the Avenue of the Americas, I ended up in this mall the other day trying to find an Electronics Beautique to buy Killer 7 at. There's a reason most native New Yorkers (at least the kind I spend my time at). Malls seem to defy the very fabric of NYC living, with the collection of big chain stores and shelter from the actual city. This mall in particular is very porrly designed to boot, with a confusing layout and worthless map system that doesn't feature any kind of key explaining the store locations. The store selection is so so, with a few smaller vendors here and there that might be worth looking at. You're really better off sticking to the inverted arcade of New york city streets, to use Benjaminian terminology.
While many people have sme idea about FAO Schwarz from the film "Big," most people outside of New York have never been there, and many natives turn their noses up at the posh midtown toystore. And I'll admit that I was not impressed at first by the collection of bland stuffed animals and candy dispensers on the first floor. Then I saw the lifesized stuffed Elephant. And Giraffe. And Reindeer. I was dazzled. Even if you can't afford a $5,000 1:1 scale panther, the sheer spectacle of FAO is worth the trip. And once your go upstairs it's easy to lose yourself in the sprawl of designer toys. I almost bought a gold-plated slinky, and I'm a poor college student. That's how magical this place can be.
I've been here a few times as my friend lives about a block away on the upper west side. It's the most prominent restaurant on the block, and you can proably tell from the exterior that it's fairly trendy/pricey. The food is fairly good though overpriced, and the drinks are good. At night they try to reproduce the whole Baja Mexico Spring Break atmosphere with the unwanted alcohol spouts and such. They make guacamole right in front of you and it is delicious.
This is a nice small music Venue fairly far downtown that features quite a few excellent small acts and a number of big indie names that like to play in small clubs. Rilo Kiley usually stops there when they're in the city for example, and the White Stripes have played sets. The main floor is fairly small, so hot up and coming bands tend to sell out fairly quickly. Still, it's a nice atmosphere and ticket prices are rarely over 12 bucks. And the bar tenders and usually nice. I went to see Dog Fashion Disco on crutches and they offered me a chair and a drink.
This is a highl trafficked Greenwich Village 'ice cream' joint, though you won't find any actual ice cream there, which is my chief complaint. You pay 4 bucks for a thimble or sorbet or this other milk-based desert stuff, that come in a variety of natural flavors. I got a watermelon sorbet, and was disappointed to find that it tasted exactly like watermelon. Seriously, like a frozen watermelon. Frankly, I preserve actual dessert over frozen fruit. But my skeletal hipster friends dig it. And they give you free samples that are practically the size of a serving.
Amid much hullabaloo and strife about the IFC taking over the Waverly theater and supposedly freezing out union projectionists (that giant inflatable rat is visible to anyone who's been downtown lately), the IFC center is finally open. The theater itself feels a bit too glossy to be really 'independent,' and they only show about four current independent films at a time. And those 10 dollar tickets still bite. It's a decent place to see an independent film in Greenwich village, and the only place to see certain movies (at least at first) and they do midnight screenings of classic independent films to maintain their cred. It's brand new, so get there while it's still clean.