My City: Irish Transplant Sean Muldoon on Living Like a New Yorker
Although he only moved to New York from his native Ireland a few years ago, Sean Muldoon has quickly become one of New York’s most recognizable food and drink personalities. Along with partner Jack McGarry, Muldoon owns The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, named the best bar in North America at the 2014 World Bar Awards. It’s no secret he’s gunning for World’s Best Bar in 2015.
Muldoon could be described as a force of nature. He had a vision for The Dead Rabbit and was uncompromising in its execution. But he also loves his new home and has a passion for exploring every nook and cranny in New York. Here are his picks for what to do in Manhattan:
Q: Do you have a favourite day-off thing?
Muldoon: I like walking along the Hudson River and I like going to Central Park. Even though it’s a major attraction for tourists, Central Park is still one of the best places for New Yorkers to go to relax and unwind.
Where would you bring your visiting family to show them what it’s like to be a local?
The East Village. I lived in the East Village when I first lived in New York, and have a bit of a soft spot for it. The neighbourhood has become a center of the counter-culture in New York, and is known as the birthplace and historical home of many artistic movements, including punk rock. The area has a very diverse community and vibrant nightlife.
Do you run? Is there a great spot to go for a run in New York?
Yes, I do run. I think running helps relieve a lot of the stresses and tension that comes with living in a city such as New York. A lot of people hire bikes and cycle along the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, which is a 32-mile long shore way around the island of Manhattan.
Where’s the best burger?
There are many good places that do burgers, however, I would recommend the Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien Hotel in Midtown – for its uniqueness. It's a cash-only dive of a place, but has to be seen (and tasted) to be believed.
Is there one tip for how to negotiate New York that you tell visitors immediately?
Taxi drivers are typically mad drivers and don't know where there are going half the time, so use the subway where possible.
Best wine bar?
Grape and Grain, which is, again, in East Village, on 6th Street between Avenues B and C. It's by no means the best, but is a favourite of mine. Wines are affordable and they have a great selection by the glass.
Is there one old-school Irish bar in New York (other than your own) that really gets it?
McSorley’s in the East Village. It's the oldest bar in Manhattan (1854) and they only serve draft beer – either McSorley’s light or McSorley’s dark. Again, it is a cash-only dive of a place and the middle-aged Irish bartenders and servers are unruly, but it’s a must see. The food is cheap and is actually quite decent.
Where’s the best view?
The most easily accessible (and free), best view of New York is from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Is there one play that you would tell people to go to?
Play no, but show yes. "Warhorse" has to be seen to be believed, it's truly spectacular.
What transit-taking trick should everyone know (e.g. what subway line to avoid and when?)
Subways are generally fine although taxis seem to shut down between 5-7 p.m. each day (due to shift changeover), so avoid trying to thumb one down between those hours.
Advice on a great place to escape the city pace?
Central Park, always. It's like a little paradise oasis right in the middle of the city and serves as a respite from all the surrounding concrete and chaos.
What’s totally over-rated or should be avoided like the plague?
New Years Eve in Times Square. I don't recommend that to anyone.
Two places – both in the East Village: 9th Street Espresso on 10th Street (oddly enough) between Avenues A and B, and Abraco Espresso on 7th Street off 1st Avenue. Abraco has slightly better coffee but 9th Street has more seating.
If you could only go to one museum, which one would you go to?
The Natural History Museum.
Is there one really super-touristy thing that’s totally worth it?
Muldoon: The Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise (I've done it twice), which offers great views and commentary on Midtown, Manhattan, Empire State Building, Ellis Island, Lower Manhattan, The Battery, Brooklyn Bridge, The United Nations, and the Statue of Liberty.
The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, 30 Water St., 646-422-7906
Le Parker Meridien Hotel, 119 West 56th St., 212-245-5000
Grape and Grain, 620 E 6th St., 212-420-0002
• McSorley’s, 15 East 7th Street, 212-473-9148
The 9th Street Espresso, 341 East 10th St., 212-358-9225
Abraço Espresso & Bakery, 86 East 7th St.