You should cultivate friends in locations where you are planning to visit. Make contacts on internet bulletin boards and seek advice from like-minded locals on any activities/hotels/restaurants etc.
This is always the best way to minimise your risk when visiting a new city (or even one that you have been to many times!). Also, be prepared to help others with advice on your own city also :-)
A little hidden gem in Greenwich Village is Prune, a cosy neighbourhood restaurant that does the best brunch in New York, perfect for a Sunday morning in the city (yes some of us go there at weekends for business as well!) I've taken clients to this place a few times, and they're always impressed, as it feels like you really know the area, and feels like a real part of New York. It does get VERY busy for Sunday brunch so the earlier the better (I've arrived there before at midday on a Sunday to be told it was a 2 hour wait) - the wait however is worth it. This tiny little restaurant has a huge list of bloody marys and a delightful selection of brunch items which'll knock your socks off. I'm a big fan of their pear pancake. A little New York experience which may be small in stature but is huge on taste.
www.prunerestaurant.com54 E 1st St
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