The Girls Guide to NYC

Alexis Swerdloff

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There's a scene in an episode of Lena Dunham's breakout HBO dramedy, Girls, where Dunham's character, Hannah Horvath, looks in the mirror before a date and tells herself, “You are from New York. Therefore, you are just naturally interesting.” While that statement is debatable, replace “are from New York” with “have appeared on Girls” and it's a bit more accurate. After all, that would explain why a slew of interactive maps have sprung up across the web detailing the locations throughout the City where the show has filmed. For New Yorkers, seeing Hannah and her friends Marnie Michaels, Jessa Johansson and Shoshanna Shapiro hanging out at favorite NYC spots adds an insider-y layer to the already extremely insider-y series. Before the inevitable Girls bus tour gets under way (and lines at Café Grumpy begin to resemble those at Magnolia Bakery), check out some of the more notable bars, restaurants, hotels and other venues that appeared in the show's first season.

Photo: Chris Sanchez

Warwick New York Hotel
65 W. 54th St., 212-247-2700, Midtown West, Manhattan
The scene on Girls: In the pilot episode, Hannah's parents stay at the Warwick while in town to tell their daughter that they are cutting off their financial support. Hannah shows up at her parents' hotel room to try to convince them that this is a terrible idea, but what's really terrible is that she passes out in the middle of her impassioned plea for funding.
The scene in real life: Built by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst in 1926, the hotel was erected to host his Hollywood friends visiting New York. In 1966, the Beatles famously stayed at the hotel on their first trip to the United States. These days, celebrities have been replaced by parents of Greenpoint hipsters (à la the Horvaths), thanks to the Warwick's Midtown location and elegant, low-key glamour.

Photo: Alexander Thompson

Tom and Jerry's
288 Elizabeth St., 212-260-5045, NoHo, Manhattan
The scene on Girls: In episode 2, instead of meeting Hannah, Marnie and Shoshanna for an appointment at the Soho Women's Clinic, Jessa goes to Tom and Jerry's, a few blocks away, for a White Russian…and then some.
The scene in real life: This local favorite, on a charming NoHo side street away from the hustle and bustle of East Houston, may look unassuming, but it is, in fact, the go-to after-work watering hole for downtown New York's booming start-up scenesters and digital power-players.

Courtesy, Lehman Maupin Gallery, New York

Lehmann Maupin Gallery
201 Chrystie St., 212-254-0054, Lower East Side, Manhattan
The scene on Girls: Early in the season, we see Marnie at her desk, working as a gallery assistant at Lehmann Maupin's Chrystie Street outpost.
The scene in real life: With two locations—the other in Chelsea—Lehmann Maupin is one of New York City's most prominent contemporary art galleries, representing the likes of Tracey Emin, Mickalene Thomas, Juergen Teller and Angel Otero.

Photo: Will Steacy

The High Line
Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street (bet. Tenth and 11th Avenues), 212-500-6035, Chelsea, Manhattan
The scene on Girls: During episode 3, Marnie meets Booth Jonathan (Jorma Taccone), a well-known artist she admires, at a fancy gallery opening. The two leave together to take a walk on the nearby High Line, but find that it's closed. A provocative scene on the park's steps ensues.
The scene in real life: In 2009, a formerly overgrown and abandoned aboveground railroad track along the west side of Manhattan debuted as one of the City's most original attractions: a winding outdoor park known as the High Line. Meticulously manicured and offering stunning vistas, the one-and-a-half-mile-long green space was built in two stages. The second part, completed in 2011, runs from West 20th to West 30th Streets. (Many hope the park will eventually be expanded north to West 34th Street.) While there is nothing more romantic than an evening stroll along the High Line, be smarter than Marnie and Booth and check the time before heading over. It closes at 11pm during the spring and summer, 10pm in the fall and 7pm during the winter. (For suggestions on what to do and see on and near the park, read our feature “The Lowdown on the High Line”.)

Photo: Horacio Salinas

BabyCakes NYC
248 Broome St., 212-677-5047, Lower East Side, Manhattan
The scene on Girls: In episode 4, Shoshanna runs into her old Camp Ramah friend, Matt Kornstein (Skylar Astin), on the Lower East Side. The two sit on a stoop outside of BabyCakes, where they plan a movie-watching date.
The scene in real life: Like a hippie version of Magnolia Bakery, this beloved Lower East Side bakery has amassed a cult following among locals and celebs alike (Alicia Silverstone, Jason Schwartzman and Zach Galifianakis are devoted customers), thanks to its scrumptious gluten-free and vegan baked goods. The cupcakes in particular are a real crowd-pleaser.

The Jane Hotel Ballroom. Photo: Katie Sokoler

The Jane Hotel
113 Jane St., 212-924-6700, West Village, Manhattan
The scene on Girls: In episode 9, Hannah attends a book party for her Oberlin College nemesis, Tally Schifrin (Jenny Slate), at The Jane hotel. While there, she has a run-in with her former writing professor, Powell Goldman (Michael Imperioli), who invites Hannah to participate in a reading the following night.
The scene in real life: Located at the far end of the West Village along the West Side Highway, The Jane is housed in a former hotel for sailors and, in 1912, famously provided refuge for survivors of the Titanic disaster. A century later, the hotel has received quite the upgrade (though the rooms are still tiny, the prices are still relatively reasonable) and is known for its Ballroom. Heavy on the Persian rugs and overstuffed couches, the bi-level space hosts DJ nights and regular art, film and fashion after-parties. If the scene is a bit too… uh, scene-y for your taste, settle in at the small, dimly lit bar on the first floor (and avoid the Tally Schifrins of the world).

Courtesy, Café Grumpy

Café Grumpy
193 Meserole Ave., 718-349-7623, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
The scene on Girls: The series' answer to Central Perk and Tom's Restaurant, this Greenpoint coffee shop makes appearances on the show throughout the season. Ray Ploshansky (Alex Karpovsky), a barista there, delivers his wry quips from behind the counter. Hannah, after quitting her job at the law firm, starts to work at Grumpy as well.
The scene in real life: When Café Grumpy opened in Greenpoint in 2005, the neighborhood was quite a ways from being one of the hippest enclaves of New York City. These days, the neighborhood is crawling with trendy boutiques and restaurants, and Café Grumpy has spawned locations in Chelsea, on the Lower East Side and in Park Slope. The owners buy their beans directly from farmers in places like Central and South America and roast the coffee themselves at the original location. (For more on the neighborhood, read our guide to Greenpoint.)

Courtesy, NYC Parks & Recreation

Vesuvio Playground
Thompson Street (bet. Prince and Spring Streets), SoHo, Manhattan
The scene on Girls: Jessa takes the two girls she's babysitting to the playground—only to lose them momentarily while having a hilariously tone-deaf conversation with the other nannies about class struggles that recalls Norma Rae.
The scene in real life: Taking its name from the (former) iconic Italian bakery down the street (the signage remains the same, but the space now hosts an outpost of Birdbath Bakery), this SoHo spot is a lovely place to take a load off—or watch a round of handball—while exploring neighboring restaurants like The Dutch, Kittichai and Omen, boutiques like Palmer Trading Company and the upscale consignment shop Second Time Around.

Old Fashioned. Photo: Alexander Thompson

Weather Up
589 Vanderbilt Ave., 212-766-3202, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
The scene on Girls: During a botched job interview in the second episode, Hannah mentions that Cobble Hill is a little too grown-up for her, referencing the bar Weather Up. The bar is actually in Prospect Heights, which Lena Dunham later corrected in an interview. (New Yorkers are relentless about their facts!)
The scene in real life: It's true that this cocktail den, located on bustling Vanderbilt Avenue, is for the more “grown-up” among us—with specialty cocktails like the Whizz Bang and the Widow's Kiss hovering in the $11 to $14 range. But the vibe is relaxed and cozy, and the bartenders (trained by master mixologist Sasha Petraske) are very friendly. Owner Kathryn Weatherup opened a second location in TriBeCa in 2010.

Photo: José Rolón

The Foundry
42-38 9th St., 718-786-7776, Long Island City, Queens
The scene on Girls: On the season finale, Jessa texts her friends, telling them to come to “the most important party” of her life. When they show up at The Foundry, they are surprised to find out that said party is her wedding. It's a great way to end the first season, especially since Saturday Night Live's Bobby Moynihan plays the officiant.
The scene in real life: This sleek former varnish-manufacturing factory and metal foundry in Long Island City is a go-to spot for New Yorkers looking to get hitched just far enough outside of Manhattan that it feels like a destination wedding. (Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen and Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss were actually married there in 2009.) The space also hosts special events—from Kanye West's record-release party to a kosher pop-up restaurant to the Starving Artists Halloween Ball.


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