Niko likaris 400x400 NIKO LIAKARIS

NIKO LIAKARIS

Occupation Luxury Retail Management, Eco Conscious Stylist

Hometown New York City, baby!

Current Residence I migrated back to Manhattan a few years ago from Brooklyn, and I’m back living on the Lower East Side—or Chinatown; right on the cusp so it changes depending on who you ask, but I vote in District 1.

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Born and raised in New York City, Niko Liakaris is embedded in the city’s fashion and nightlife scenes. He also knows all the best vegetarian restaurants and can point you towards the most exciting exhibitions happening downtown—not to mention the best spot to indulge in a dirty martini with brunch.

WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY BE?
Tales From the Retail Crypt: Confessions of a High-End Sales Girl.

WHAT CAN’T YOU TRAVEL WITHOUT?
A window seat! I don’t want to be bothered. I slide on my slippers and eye mask, put on Sigur Rós the (Untitled) album, and pass out. Whether it’s two hours or 12 hours, that recipe always works, and I arrive rested and ready to go! I also never drink when I fly and I almost never have jet lag. I try and be zero waste whenever possible, so I’ll plan ahead and bring food with me, like a sandwich from Orchard Grocer wrapped in paper, and snacks like bulk almonds and a banana, to avoid the plastic waste at the airport and on the flight. I also bring a collapsible water bottle and an empty thermos, and Sakara Life teas.  

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION AND WHY?
Nothing feels better than going back home to Greece, where I spent my summers growing up. My family is from a small village called Fyta, and we have a home there. It’s on an island, Xios, in the Aegean. It’s so geographically diverse! I can go mountain climbing in the morning and snorkeling in the afternoon, have dinner under palm trees and then take an evening walk through a pine forest. Though now we have modern conveniences in the village (like paved roads and telephones), it’s the only place I truly decompress.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN NYC?
Sundays are sacred in NYC! In the morning I usually ride my bike through Central Park or take a class at New York Pilates, then take The New York Times to Dudley’s for breakfast with myself. By the time I’ve finished, most of my friends have recovered from the night before, and we go record shopping in the East Village, catch a matinee at Angelika or Metrograph, or check out what’s changed in the neighborhood. Even if you’ve lived in the same apartment for years, there’s always something new to discover right around the corner. To be honest, I try and spend Sundays like I’m starring in a Nora Ephron film. That helps me stay productive.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONE PERSON TO SHOW YOU “THEIR NEW YORK CITY,” WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Pat Kiernan from NY1! Can you imagine the access his press pass could get you?

WHO OR WHAT HAS INSPIRED YOU RECENTLY AND WHY?
Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. My brother has been rock climbing for several years, and I’ve joined him recently. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, but you need a partner. We ran around the mountains together as kids, but this is a whole other level.

On the way back from climbing upstate he brought up Yvon’s book, Let My People Go Surfing. His philosophy on running a clothing brand, or any business really, is so thoughtful AND fiscally incredibly rewarding, yet so many people choose to ignore it. It really affected me at a time when I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue working in the Fashion Industry, but I always say that you can affect change better from within than from without. My brother sent me a copy after our conversation, and it really was perfect timing.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE NYC RESTAURANTS. WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE?
I have to force myself NOT to eat at Jajaja. I’ve been eating plant-based for quite a while, and they have the best interpretations of classic Mexican dishes. I take a lot of my friends there and don’t tell them it’s vegan and they are so surprised! I always order the nachos, even if I’m not that hungry. I just found a new ramen joint near me called Ramen Ishida; they put truffle oil in their veggie ramen and it’s changed my life. Kiki’s has so many traditional Greek νηστεία (nisteía) dishes (which usually exclude meat and cheese for religious fasting) on top of Octopus, Lamb, Chicken Souvlaki. You know, the classics. My friends and I always go there to celebrate special occasions and start with a Xoriatiki salad and carafe of Greek wine. My family has been with me and approved. It’s legit! Probably the most authentic Greek taverna in NYC.

WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO SPOT IN NYC FOR DRINKS?
I am kind of reticent to give this away, but it’s Fig 19. It’s my favorite bar to get dressed up and go to for no reason. I often tear the tags off a new outfit and head there on a weekday for cocktails by myself with a good book. Jason there has the best peels. If I am feeling more “casual” I head to Welcome to the Johnsons, or maybe Flower Shop if I wanna bump into local friends. If I’m entertaining a larger group, I love Et Al. I also have a soft spot for Gold Bar and like to pop in occasionally. For me, it’s a classic. I think it’s very underappreciated.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE BRUNCH SPOTS?
If on Friday night I tied one on, I’m heading to Soho Grand Saturday afternoon for a Bloody Mary on the smushiest couches, with a killer DJ spinning vinyl. Though admittedly, The Roxy has the best brunch spread in NYC. Really though. It’s incredibly decadent. I justify a dirty martini in that case.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR ART FIX IN NYC? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ARTIST?
I honestly LOVE The Met. I’ve never not been inspired after visiting, and the exhibitions are unparalleled. Day to day I discover a lot of new artists on Instagram, and when they have exhibits in NYC, I will trek to whatever gallery they are showing at, but The Met is like family to me. My favorite NYC gallerist is Keith Schweitzer from SFA Projects. I love his shows. They are really exciting and I’ve discovered some amazing artists through him. He has a couple spaces he’s showing at right now including what was once The Lodge Gallery. And Jenni Crain has done some exciting exhibits. I keep an eye on her. The next thing on my list to buy, though, is a Dean Dempsey piece. He has some new geometric pieces that have really rich texture, and I can’t get them out of my head.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE LATE-NIGHT HANGOUTS IN NYC AND WHY?
Et Al. for dancing, and then maybe pop over to The Box for the last show. If you know the right people there is a sweet little after-hours on the LES, but I can’t give out those details… I still love Cabin, and Paul’s has never disappointed either. But nothing beats a friend’s rooftop at 6am.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNDER-THE-RADAR MUST-DO RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NYC VISITORS?
I think the New York Historical Society is often overlooked. It has some really great exhibits, and it’s less crowded on weekends than others because of that. I just saw Feathers: Fashion and the Fight for Wildlife, and while small, was SO well curated. A manicure and a martini at Beauty Bar is probably the best way to start an evening out, especially if you’re heading North, but Fridays are amazing for dancing all night, too!

My favorite Jazz Night is Brian Newman at Rose Bar. The crowd is really diverse and it’s immersive, so it has that “old New York” feel, but get there early if you want a seat because it gets packed. While you’re there, if you meet someone who lives in the neighborhood, spend some time chatting with them. If you’re lucky they may take you into New York’s only private park, and similarly, I know some of the members of The National Arts Club hide in the corners at Jade Bar, and will sneak you into the townhouse after hours.

Lastly, if you’ve never been to The Cloisters to watch the sunrise, I highly suggest it, and then, of course, stay for the Medieval art. I’ve been canoeing lately with the North Brooklyn Boat Club. They take you through the waterways and canals and tell you all about how the city has grown and changed, and are very environmentally conscious. They work hard to keep the waterfronts open and accessible to the public. You have to become a member before you paddle, but it’s easy. You just sign up online, and there are trips for all skill levels. There is also a castle you can visit in Central Park. I don’t think people know this. It’s pretty cool.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE NYC STORES AND WHY?
I tend to shop secondhand and vintage, but there is a boutique in Little Italy called Warm, and I could spend a fortune there on sweaters. For secondhand and designer I love Ritual Vintage, and What Goes Around Comes Around. They are two opposite sides of the spectrum, and I can’t visit one without going to the other as well. My favorite book shop is East Village Books on St. Marks. It closes at 1am, so I head there after dinner usually once a week. I get a lot of my jewelry from The Great Frog on Orchard, and I buy my jeans from The Cast next door. I always keep an eye out for The Moonstoned trunk shows, too. She pops up at The Bowery Hotel every so often and her curation is AMAZING!

WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING TO THESE DAYS? WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIANS?
There are so many, this is too hard! I’ll say Baby Fuzz; just released a new single and video and I’m really excited to hear the rest of the album. The best live shows I’ve seen recently are Sufrfbort, Boy Toy, The Trash Bags, and The Advertisers. The B-Girls are having a comeback and just got back from Tokyo. I can’t wait to see them. Blame Candy and Uni both have brought back Glam Rock in a major and necessary way, and I LOVE their shows. At home, I have The Byrds and The Kinks Greatest Hits in heavy rotation on the record player, and one of my fav vinyl finds I put on when I’m getting ready is The Valley of the Dolls by Dionne Warwick. I’ve also been revisiting some ’90s R&B ladies: Lauryn Hill, Erika Badu, Jill Scott. I picked up a few Nina Simone albums this spring and they led me back there. I’m sort of all over the place. I mean, John Denver, Cat Stevens, and Conway Twitty are all heavy rotation on my Spotify, too.

WHAT ALBUM OR SONG WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR PERSONAL SOUNDTRACK TO NYC?
This is difficult and subject to change, but it’s a new year and I’m feeling optimistic, so I’ll say Let’s Do It by Blossom Dearie.

WHEN YOU THINK OF NYC, ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR EMOTIONS OR MEMORIES THAT IMMEDIATELY COME TO MIND?
I remember the smell of my aunt’s house in Queens growing up. The way the city goes quiet for a second when it starts to rain or stays quiet when it really snows. Every autumn I wake up, and one particular day, I never know when it’s gonna be, something changes in the air and I smile and think, Wow. It’s Fall again. And even though I know it’s going to be in the 70s for another two months, I take out all my sweaters and put away most of my T-shirts. I know none of these are unique to New York, but that’s what I think of. Amidst all the hard work and hustle, there is a spontaneity and optimism that exists here that I don’t think exists anywhere else. No matter where I am in the world, I’m always excited to get back home.

Local Favorites

KIKI’S GREEK TAVERN

KIKI’S GREEK TAVERN

Favorite restaurant
130 Division St, New York, NY 10002

Note My friends and I always go there to celebrate special occasions, and start with a Xoriatiki salad and carafe of Greek wine.

THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Favorite Art Gallery
1000 5th Ave, Manhattan, NY 10028

Note I honestly LOVE The Met. I’ve never not been inspired after visiting, and the exhibitions are unparalleled.

Nightlife at The Box

THE BOX

Favorite Late-Night Hangouts
189 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002
A unique nightlife venue where the stage is graced by burlesque performers and circus freaks, all while glamorous spectators drink and dance in between the performances.
Best Rate Promise
Soho Grand Hotel

310 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

(212) 965-3000
The Roxy Hotel Tribeca

2 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013

212.519.6600