Henry Public, New York

Henry Public, New York
A favorite location of local college students that look like they sneaked in with fake ids. Among period portraits displayed is one of local newspaperman/poet Walt Whitman. A zinc bar, plank floors, enameled walls salvaged from an upstate butcher, wooden booths and fireplace all add up to a warm, inviting temporary respite from the tumult of our present era. The evident care and attention to detail extend to the drink offerings, and both the oysters and turkey leg sandwich earn their reputations as first-rate. No television, no nonsense, and the music can range from country to soul to jump blues.

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Maison Premiere, New York

Maison Premiere, New York
We’ve stopped being surprised at the ever-expanding number of fancy food purveyors on this formerly grubby stretch in Williamsburg, but Maison Premiere impresses. The décor is a faux-decadent faded elegance, like a set design for a Tennessee Williams play, with a dash of steampunk in place of fusty velvet. The staff’s bow-ties, white shirts and aprons indicate that cocktails are serious business. Specialities are oysters and absinthe, a delectable variety of each. Happy hour is a madhouse, with the underage students and drinking with their fake ids.

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Funicular de Artxanda, Bilbao

Funicular de Artxanda, Bilbao
The sight of verdant hills at the end of the busy main streets is one of the joys of Bilbao, but one must look down to get a real sense of how deeply nestled into the natural landscape it is. Using this funicular is the way to do it. Across the River Nervion from the Guggenheim and accessible by two bridges, the funicular takes an ear-popping three minutes (and costs less than a euro) to reach the summit, at which is a rather scrappy little park with wonderful views showing the extent of the city, its grand, in some cases grandiose, new buildings, and tightly curling river. It’s a location suitable for a picnic, just be sure to bring it with you; there are no shops here.

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Heladería Alaska, Bilbao

Heladería Alaska, Bilbao
An efficient all-female staff dispense cakes and ice cream to Bilbao’s bourgeoisie at this delightful spot where groups of mature ladies gather with faithful dogs and other companions. Within, a bas-relief scene depicting an Inuit group and their dog team looms over neat wooden benches, their occupants sipping excellent coffee and tucking daintily into tostada de brioche, something like cold French toast only made with Brioche, and much nicer than it sounds. It is easy to imagine a homesick Bilbao expat yearning for Alaska above all else.

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Trimmer, Bilbao

Trimmer, Bilbao
Separate doorways lead to the two sides of this business: clothing shop on the right and on the left a café. Inside they’re linked, physically and temperamentally: small brands, good quality, a pared-back aesthetic. There’s clothing and accessories by Spanish brands Zubi, Ölend and Steve Mono, as well as British, American and Scandinavian labels. Over in the café, things are also local with eggs from native Basque hens and farther afield with vermouth from new Barcelona company Morro Fi.

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