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Around Manhattan with the Amsale Girls

The Amsale Girls don’t get much time off—but when they do have a few free hours, they know how to make the most of it. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the Big Apple or a flustered Manhattan bride + New Jersey mother-of-the-bride looking to recover from a stressful afternoon of fittings, the fun-loving and savvy girls of Amsale can tell you just where to go.

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1. Best Post -fitting Decompression Spot
“We send everyone to Bistro Chat Noir,” the girls agree. Emily explains, “It has amazing truffle fries…and French fries make any tense situation better.”

2. Favorite Sunny-Day Hangout
Votes were split between the laid-back yet stylish Standard Biergarten and the no-frills Boat Basin Café on the Hudson River. The former is a German-style beer garden on the top of the Standard hotel. “It has an awesome selection of beers on tap, and outdoor ping-pong tables, which are really fun,” says Samantha, who gives a thumbs-up to the “cool Meatpacking District crowd: artsy hipster mixed with trendsetter.”

The Boat Basin might not be trendy, but it’s “right on the water, so it’s gorgeous,” says Emily. Also a plus for big crowds, it’s “huge—bring a group of friends to enjoy beers, and you’ll always find seating for everyone.”

If you want soak up great-outdoorsy vibes, the girls chose The High Line over the more obvious Manhattan parks. Formerly abandoned railroad tracks, this elevated stretch of community-enhanced green space along the Hudson River is “unique to New York, not a park like you’d find anywhere else,” says Emily.

3. Favorite Rainy Day Hideaway
Just like girls in any other town, the Amsale Girls like to escape New York’s drenching sneak-attack thunderstorms in a cozy little movie theater, with friends or family.

“You’d think I would get burned out on romance after my work week, but really, what I love to do on a rainy day is go with my daughter to some cute movie theater like the Angelika and catch up on comedies,” says store manager Debbye.

Emily hits the chick flicks with her husband: “He likes the romantic comedies more than I do.”

“And maybe I shouldn’t say this,” jokes Debbye, “But I’m also looking forward to seeing ‘Horrible Bosses.’”

4. When We’re Casual, We Go…
To “local Happy Hour place” Pazza Notte. “Every night after 5pm, you get 2 for 1 martinis… 365 days a year,” reports Samantha. [Editor note: Bravo to Samantha for doing her research!!] “Tons of flavors, awesome fries with different dips, flatbread pizzas, and usually a DJ too,” Samantha continues with the field report. “The front windows open on to the street, so it’s got an open-air feeling.”

5. When it’s Champagne-o-Clock, it’s Got to Be…
Rose Bar (pictured).  Sometimes, like during Fashion Week, this landmark beautiful-people lounge in Gramercy Park Hotel has a crazy-tough door. But during normal times, it’s a “pretty space that makes you feel Old World,” says Emily.  “You want to dress up and enjoy a fabulous beverage.”

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6. For a Haute Night Out
Sparkly blonde Lauren had her last haute night with her man at Imperial Nine, the signature restaurant at Mondrian SoHo. “It’s dress-uppy, so ladies, you’ll want to wear a cocktail dress,” she says. “Very cool interior design: a glass roof, crystal chandeliers… AND I saw Penn Badgley there.”

6. Best Eye Candy
This had everyone stumped at first, as all the girls are happily attached. However after thinking on it, they decided upon “any catered parties—the cater-waiters are always aspiring actors or models.” [Ed note: now we know Sex & the City wasn’t making it up.] “Get to the cute ones before they’re famous!” advise the Girls, with a grin.

7. Best Date Spot
Freeman’s, tucked away at the end of Freeman Alley” is Linda’s pick. This cozy-quirky gastro-pub off the Bowery is “magical,” with craft cocktails and local-seasonal, stick-to-your-ribs renditions on American rustic fare.

If it’s an all-day date, pay a visit to the Museum of Arts & Design, then venture up to Robert Restaurant at the top of the museum, suggests Samantha. “Outstanding martini list, and fantastic views of the city overlooking Columbus Circle. You can do dinner or just cocktails and small plates,” she says. “They always have a live piano player and usually a singer as well.  At night it’s all illuminated and there’s literally a rosy glow around the whole place.”

8. Best Brunch
It was tough to get this answered, because the Girls are always working Sunday. However, Lauren has had some unforgettable times Pastis. “I love it. Cool people-watching in the Meatpacking District –and right by the High Line so you can make a whole Sunday out of it.”

9. Perfect Manhattan Day Off
“If it’s in Manhattan, shopping in SoHo, lunch at the Grey Dog’s Coffee in the Village, and/or people-watching on a bench in Washington Square Park, while reading a book and relaxing,” is Kori’s recipe for a perfect day.

“If it’s in Brooklyn (where Kori lives), then it’s wine in Kori’s backyard,” jumps in Emily.

“Actually for ME,” says Kori, “a perfect day off in Brooklyn would be a quick bite at Tazza in the morning, then shopping at Book Court for a new book, then taking that to Brooklyn Bridge Park with a blanket and reading next to the awesome views of lower Manhattan… And then, wine in my back yard.”

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Lena Katz is a travel expert on the upcoming WE tv show “I Do Over” and the author of the Travel Temptations book series, published by Globe Pequot in 2008. A travel expert for and senior travel correspondent for , she also appears frequently on ABC, E! Channel, MSNBC and various print outlets ranging from Brides Magazine to the LA Times.