SPOTTED: The Official Guide to Meeting Celebrities in New York City
Manhattan is chock-full of *famous people*. From television stars and political aficionados to Instagram influencers and off-brand models, you’re bound to meet someone who has their name in lights… or did at some point, at least. But where are the best spots to snap a pic with one of these VIPs? And if you do spot them, how do you act? Whether you want to pull aside Alec Baldwin outside his apartment on10th street, or catch a glimpse of the Kardashians at Milos Wine Bar, celebrity hot spots and etiquette are key resources in one’s New Yorker tool belt. Read on for more notches… “when in Rome” style.
When on the street…
Perhaps the most common celebrity-sighting location is in passing - a rush, a glance, and then they’re gone. But if you do have the chance to compliment Sarah Jessica Parker’s iconic outfit in the West Village, here is what you do.
Step 1.) Have a freak out moment to yourself. Get it all out squealing to your friend or inside your head, but make sure you are completely cool and composed in front of your SPOTTED celebrity. If they have an Instagram follower count of 200k+, chances are they encounter these all-too eager admirers every day and would surely appreciate a little composure.
Step 2.) Remember: WE ARE IN A PANDEMIC. If there is not a surefire way to approach your SPOTTED superstar safely, you’re going to have to let this one go. Snap a pic from afar, get a wave in if you want, but the safety of both yourself and your icon must come first.
Step 3.) Read social cues. Confused? The three H’s are foolproof when determining if someone - celebrity or not - does not want to be bothered: hungry, hurry, or headphones. Do you see Cameron Diaz speed walking through Chelsea in the middle of a torrential downpour? Consider leaving her be. Did you spot Jim Parsons jamming out to his Air Pod Pros in middle of Gramercy Park? He definitely wants to be alone. How about Kylie Jenner outside of a restaurant in SoHo, surrounded by her kids and family? Hell to the no. Celebrities are often very kind with their fans, but privacy and respect trumps any excitement one may feel upon recognizing an icon.
Step 4.) Alright guys, here’s the fun part. Any weathered New Yorker knows that SoHo (!!!), Greenwich Village, Tribeca, and the Upper Sides are some of the most common SPOTTED locations, particularly during NYC Fashion Week. Although there are clear etiquette rules (listed above), if you do have the opportunity to politely and calmly approach your favorite star, I would say go for it! You’ll regret it if you don’t; ask for a quick picture on your phone, make sure you’re wearing your mask, tell them how much of a fan you are, and then wish them a fabulous day (no hugs during ze pandemic, please).
Cameron Dallas (Central Park)
James Charles (East Village)
Gina Rodriguez (Washington Square Park)
James Franco (Astor Place)
Kevin Hart (Build Studio)
Dev Patel (Washington Square Park)
Kendall Jenner (SoHo)
Hillary Duff (Washington Square Park)
Food God (Chelsea)
Shawn Mendez (DUMBO, Brooklyn)
Nat and Alex Wolff (5th Ave)
Amandla Stenberg (Outside of a Tisch Building)
When in a store / coffee shop…
Again, I would say totally go for it. Celebrities often purposefully make publicized outings in order to meet fans, take pictures, etc. As long as you abide by the three H’s, I totally encourage you to approach and compliment. Café Pick Me Up is one of Alan Cumming’s haunts for all you Broadway fanatics, and in general, you can never go wrong with Starbucks. I once got a call from a friend that Ariana Grande’s half-brother (you may know Frankie as a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother 18) was lingering in the old Starbucks on Broadway and 10th, and I ran three blocks in five-inch heels to say hi and snag a picture. He was totally cool, gave me a huge hug (pre-COVID, of course), and even held my iPhone and picked out the snapchat filter. You can also find celebrities at any boutique lining, especially SoHo during fashion week. In their attempt to one-up each other’s streetstyle paparazzi pictures, Manhattan’s VIPs are surely dying to secure some content with their loyal fans - the perfect opportunity for your own Instagram, as well.
Frankie Grandé (Starbucks)
Timothee Chalamate (Tompkins Square Bagels)
When in a bar / club…
You know those groups of people in line at the club who the bouncer immediately grants entrance to in a whirlwind of glitter eyeshadow and sequined dresses without so much of a glance at their ID? Yeah, them - either they dropped upwards of ten grand on table and bottle service, or they’re in with a celebrity. Establishments like 1 OAK, Le Bain, and even lesser known ones like The Brooklyn Mirage have all accommodated VIP upon VIP… when they were open for business, of course. And even though those promoters in your Instagram DMs can seem pushy or sketchy sometimes, the good ones often have access to SPOTTED celebrity events (mostly with DJs or artists in the music industry). Once you’re inside the building, however, the superstars who aren’t behind the DJ booth are mostly untouchable. The security guards at AVENUE will never let you anywhere near Derek Jeter, and Ashley Olsen will certainly be ordering drinks at TAO Downtown in a Skybox rather than on the ground with the rest of us. However, since bars and clubs in Manhattan are usually packed to the brim, they house the impeccable opportunity for you to snap a picture and gawk from across the room… without looking like a creep. A good friend of mine eyed Harry Styles at a local bar, recorded a short video, and became TikTok famous herself for it. So remember, even if you are able to even remotely reach Serena Williams sipping her rum and coke at SOHO House - approach with the three H’s, be concise, and go back to party with the normal people.
Tana Mongeau (Dream Downtown)
Nikita Dragun (Dream Downtown)
Warren Elgort (Le Bain)
Chase Hill (Apartment party)
David Dobrik (AVENUE)
When at a restaurant…
There is an unspoken rule in Manhattan that celebrities are not to be bothered at restaurants. Michelin star or quaint café; doesn’t matter. They are there with their friends or family, and most likely do not want to be approached by squealing fans begging to take pictures. Even if you think you’re the most normal person on this planet, approaching the side of someone else’s table (especially during a pandemic) is completely off limits. With that being said, there are no rules - unspoken or not - that says you can’t attempt to at least catch sight of them. Cafeteria in Chelsea, for example, is not only featured several times throughout the hit television show Sex and the City but is also known to wine and dine popular celebrities like Nikita Dragon (see SPOTTED list). The Bowery’s infamous Gemma is also a magnet for New York City’s hottest VIPs, along with O Ya (Blake Lively), Delmonico’s (Rick Ross), Coppelia (Rihanna!!!), or any upscale steakhouse one could possibly get their mitts on. Carmine’s, Bagatelle, and the Rainbow Room are also some of the city’s most trendy SPOTTED personality hangouts, so you might be able to sneak a peek here, too… if your credit card doesn’t decline first.
Nikita Dragun (Cafeteria)
Hunter Schafer (Thursdays)
Alec Baldwin (Il Cantinori)
Kim Kardashian (Estiatorio Milos)
Candance Swanepoel (Tableside Italian Cook Shoppe)