New York Magazine



 to find the spots on this list, we polled dozens of stylish and savvy New Yorkers—painters, chefs, and teachers among them. For more obsessivel­y sourced recommenda­tions, including the best homeware stores, karaoke spots, and exterminat­ors, visit

For Your First Time

HOT ROD TAFFY, @Humanrind

the moment between placing a tattoo with a stencil and actually putting needle to skin is crucial—it’s the last chance to move, resize, or change a design. Not all artists handle it equally. “Some try and rush you or won’t resize it,” says therapist Maggie Dunleavy. Not Angel Garcia, owner of Hot Rod Taffy in East Williamsbu­rg. When Dunleavy went in for a pair of pansies, they say, they wavered on both the placement and size at the last minute. “Angel was willing to make a new stencil for the pansy an eighth of an inch smaller to see if I liked it at that size better,” Dunleavy says. “Then I asked them to move it to multiple different spots on my body. They never got irritated. Their tattoo bedside manner is unmatched.” Carson Jordan, a poet, says Garcia’s flexibilit­y carries over to the design itself—they are willing to take on any project, no matter how far out of their comfort zone. “I recently had this idea for a portrait of Fiona Apple in full armor on the subway. When I told Angel about it, instead of hesitating or saying, ‘Oh, I don’t do portraits normally,’ they just said, ‘Yes, I can do that.’ There was no question.” (From $175.)

For Photoreali­sm

ATELIER EVA, 29 Havemeyer St.;

ross chestnut knew exactly what tattoo he wanted: a highly detailed reproducti­on of the Maxfield Parrish painting Stars. When he showed up at Bang Bang, a downtown shop run by celebrity tattooer Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy, with this concept in hand, “the dude at the front desk was like, ‘You don’t want to do that with the person you have an appointmen­t with. You want Eva.’” Eva turned out to be Eva Karabudak, a multidisci­plinary artist from Turkey with a background in oil painting and figure drawing. Chestnut switched his appointmen­t, and Karabudak reproduced Parrish’s stargazing woman on his arm “like a perfect HD image,” he says. “Since then, I’ve been tattooed by her in five different places, all fine-art re-creations,” including another Parrish and Paul de Longpré’s Study

of Roses. (From $700.) “I don’t trust anyone else to do that kind of work and actually make it perfect, so I followed her from shop to shop until she finally opened her own studio.” Each of the 13 artists who work at Atelier Eva, which debuted in Williamsbu­rg in 2020, have their own specialty, including Jason Lu, a black-and-gray expert; Dani, who does florals with the finest lines; and new addition Hailey Kim, who is capable of rendering flowers and food as small as half an inch across in exact detail.

For Inclusive Americana

THE BED-STUY TATTOOING CO., 208 Malcolm X Blvd., Brooklyn; bedstuytat­ grad student kiwi keaton first spotted the Bed-Stuy Tattooing Co. on @inkthedias­pora, an account that highlights Black tattoo parlors. Impressed with the artist’s style and deft ability to tattoo flowers on dark skin, they decided to go into the shop for a consultati­on. At the front desk, they were given a book of owner Kevin Wong’s “flash” (pre-drawn) tattoos. (From $100.) Inside, they found traditiona­l American patterns revamped to include a wide range of cultures and bodies, like the bust of a queen with epicanthic folds and a cherub with an Afro. “Look at their noses, look at their eyes, look at the way their breasts are shaped,” Keaton remembers. “Even their tummies— I was like, Yo, that’s my tummy! ” Keaton now has more than five tattoos from Wong—the dragon they originally came in for, a tableau of three Black women linking hands on their thigh, and a Black geisha. “I know she’s a Black geisha,”

Keaton says. “She’s got my nose.”

For an Artist Trained in Tebori

BEHIND THE CIRCLE, 1009 Broadway, Brooklyn;

traditiona­l tebori tattoos are not easily accessible in New York— few artists work in the “handcarved” traditiona­l Japanese style, which relies on a slender bamboo or metal tool with tiny needles at the tip instead of a machine. Teacher Dashi He had seen teboris in person and thought they turned out brighter and more vivid than machine tattoos, but didn’t think it would be possible to get one without flying 14 hours—until He stumbled upon Takashi Matsuba’s work on Instagram. He immediatel­y made an appointmen­t with Matsuba, who works from the back of Bushwick shop Behind the Circle, past the massage tables, where four other fine-line and Asian traditiona­l artists at the shop do their work. (From $100.) The process is different from your average tattoo experience in the U.S.: Clients sit on tatami mats, while Matsuba kneels beside them, drawing the design freehand directly onto the body (instead of using a stencil) before he begins tattooing. “I read a lot on the internet about tebori hurting more than machine tattoos, but that was not the case with Takashi,” says He, who decided to get a bluetailed gray hakutaku, a mythical Japanese creature, at Matsuba’s suggestion. It turned out exactly as he’d hoped—“The color and contrast is so vivid. Better than anything I could have gotten if I’d gone with even the most skilled machine artist.”

For Same-Day Appointmen­ts

FUN CITY, 94 St. Marks Pl.; funcitytat­

recently, Rob Crowe, the general manager of the Wren on the Bowery, finished work around seven and, over the course of a beer, decided he wanted to get a tattoo. So he went around the corner to Fun City, a carnivales­que space on St. Marks that’s been open since the 1970s (20 years before tattooing was legal in New York). “I popped my head in, said, ‘You busy?’” Ryan, a Fun City artist who had tattooed Crowe before (a six-inch scorpion on his wrist, also done on a walkin), told him to come back in 20 minutes. “Forty minutes later, I had a new tattoo”—a thumbs-up on his wrist, executed in delicate, fine-line detail. (From $150.) “He’s a talented guy, really laser-focused and meticulous,” Crowe says. Crowe, who has been tattooed at the shop 14 times, mentioned the staff ’s ability to balance speed with above-average skill. “I’ve never once seen them turn anyone away or tell them to come back another day,” he says. “And still they’re collective­ly doing some of the best letterwork I’ve ever seen.”

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