Ever since we discovered Natalie Suarez's blog, Natalie Off Duty, making a daily visit to get our fix of grungy-glam style has become a morning ritual. Oh, and that cultivated model-off-duty chic isn't just a look for this young stunner. The exotic beauty has been a runway and magazine pro since high school, achieving a level of experience that's produced an effortlessly artful mix of vintage finds and luxe designer pieces — and a sixth sense for tracking down the hottest spots in NYC.
We grabbed Suarez between castings and stomped the streets in search of her fave under-the-radar spots. Turning every head in her sweet vintage floral dress and tough-girl Timberland boots (gotta stay comfy!), she took us to an outdoor market, two restaurants, and one of our favorite shops. This fierce foodie is truly a model after our own hearts.
Illustrated by Gabriela Alford
Outdoor Market on Grand Street (between Elizabeth Street and Bowery)
"You should always wear what you feel comfortable in. Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with a short dress, some killer boots — like these Timberland Bethel Buckle Tall Zip Boots — and a motorcycle jacket. It's what I wore down here because Chinatown is absolute insanity and I need a shoe that's stylish and can keep up. I love the hustle and bustle; people everywhere, and the energy and colors are great. It always puts me in a good mood."
Timberland Earthkeepers® Bethel Buckle Tall Zip Boot, $210, available at Timberland.
Styled by Emily Barnes; Hair by Tiffany Patton; Makeup by Heather Heiman.
No. 6, 6 Centre Market Place (between Broome and Grand Streets); 212-226-5759
"I spend most of my time downtown, in the east village, and right here in Chinatown and Little Italy. I just love everything about the area. The vintage shops, the quaint little cafes, and the fantastic independent stores like No. 6. Plus, they're a bit grimy, grungier, and more relaxed than a lot of other neighborhoods around Manhattan — I love that. It’s funny, I’m a California native, so, yes, I love nature. I love beaches, the woods, the desert, and all that. But I get so inspired just seeing the people, the street art, and the sights while walking around down here."
Photographed by Sara Haile
Il Cortile, 125 Mulberry Street (between Hester and Canal Streets); 212-226-6060
"For a great escape, I love walking from Soho down to Little Italy after a long day with my friends for a quick bite or a coffee. I stumbled upon Il Cortile myself. The outdoor seating is just too cute here — sometimes it really feels like Europe! Since I do walk a lot, these Timberland Stratham Heights Wedge Mid Boots are perfect. I love that they're a little tough, and although I’m already very tall, you can never have too much lift!"
Timberland Stratham Heights Wedge Mid Boot, $185, available at Timberland. Photographed by Mark Iantosca; Styled by Emily Barnes; Hair by Tiffany Patton; Makeup by Heather Heiman.
NYONYA, 199 Grand Street (between Mulberry and Mott Streets); 212-334-3669
"As I said, I'm in love with the food in Chinatown. Vietnamese and Chinese are my favorites! Plus, they have the best Bubble Tea, ever. The real hidden gem of Chinatown, though, is NYONYA on Grand. It’s truly authentic Malaysian food that reminds me of what we’d eat at home in my mom’s house. Currys, soups, and noodles! I live for spice."
Photographed by Sara Haile
Photographed by Mark Iantosca