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How I Live: Zosia Mamet and Evan Jongkeit On Why the Upper West Side Feels Like Home

The actors have made their home away from the spotlight in one of New York's most peaceful enclaves

For Evan Jongkeit and Zosia Mamet, life is anything but quiet. Mamet has been immersed in intense shooting for the final season of HBO’s Girls in New York City, while Jonigkeit has been jetting between Canada and the UK to film the Netflix action-adventure series Frontier. But that’s exactly why the couple,who met onstage in Manhattan three years ago, found a perfect home base on the sleepy Upper West Side, where they spend their precious moments of downtime together.

“A lot of pockets in New York have become showy and hip to live in,” says Mamet, who was raised in Los Angeles and moved to the neighborhood from Brooklyn with Jonigkeit last year. “What drew us to the Upper West Side is that it’s not in the spotlight. It feels like a normal neighborhood. Everybody is just going about their business.”

Sandwiched between the western edge of Central Park and the Hudson River, the Upper West Side has long attracted famous residents from show business, including Miles Davis, Lauren Bacall, John Lennon, and Mick Jagger. But apart from visitor foot traffic to such landmarks as Lincoln Center and the American Museum of Natural History, the neighborhood has remained a less-visited niche that truly belongs to its residents.

“It reminds me of growing up in the suburbs and having those faces you can count on seeing every day,” says Jonigkeit, who was raised in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and rural Illinois. “That’s hard to find in New York. We love seeing the same people when we’re walking our dog. Some of them have become our good friends.”

On the rare mornings that Mamet and Jonigkeit are together, they like to keep things low-key, with long walks and stops at their favorite haunts. Their day might start with a stroll to the 72nd Street dog run or to Riverside Park with Moose, their lab-hound mix. Often they’ll pick up ground-to-order coffee and lox at Zabar’s, famed for its Jewish delicacies, or grab a midday meal at Barney Greengrass, a legendary restaurant and deli that opened in 1908. On nights when they’re entertaining friends, they might show up at the Mermaid Inn or Celeste—intimate spots they love for their casual, unassuming feel.

“Our conception of what we thought life would be like in Brooklyn—quiet, neighborhoody, family-oriented, residential—it’s exactly what we got when we moved here,” says Mamet. “The Upper West Side feels like you’re living in a Woody Allen movie. It just feels so New York.”

Take a tour of their 8 go-to spots on the Upper West Side

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    Zosia and Evan's 8 Go-To Spots on the Upper West Side

    From Zosia's favorite thrift store to the most old-school breakfast in the neighborhood.

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    Getting thrifty

    Housing Works

    “I’ve always loved thrift stores,” Mamet says, “sifting through old items and making up their history, wondering who owned them. Housing Works is a favorite. I bought portraits of an old lady and an old man there for eight dollars—they’re hanging in our living room.”

    Gabriela Herman
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    A New York Classic

    American Museum of Natural History

    “Once in a while we go a party at the museum. It’s a great place to pick up little tidbits of knowledge,” says Jonigkeit. “And the life-size blue whale hanging from the ceiling is a must-see for anyone coming to New York.”
    Gabriela Herman
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    Refined Casual

    The Mermaid Inn

    “When we eat out, the Mermaid Inn is our go-to spot,” says Mamet. “The food is so good, and the place is refined but not pretentious. Evan and I usually go there for date nights and have a glass of wine at a corner table. They have an octopus dish that’s bananas.”

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    A little Italy


    “The Italians who run this tiny little restaurant almost seem irritated that you don’t speak Italian or don’t know what you want immediately,” says Mamet. “But it’s part of the experience. It really feels like a neighborhood spot.”

    Gabriela Herman
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    Lox Spot


    “Going to Zabar’s makes you feel like a legit New Yorker,” Mamet says. “Once I made the fatal mistake of coming on a Friday afternoon to buy lox. It was me and all the Jewish ladies duking it out for fish before the Sabbath—they are serious about their lox.”

    Gabriela Herman
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    The Early Years

    Café Luxembourg

    “The first play I did in New York was called High, with Kathleen Turner,” says Jonigkeit. “Kathleen lived on 70th and Riverside at the time, and we’d get burgers at Cafe Luxembourg. It was a formative experience for me to spend time here with an icon of the business.”

    Gabriela Herman
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    A cultural icon

    Lincoln Center

    “It’s amazing to live near something so world renowned,” says Jonigkeit. “We’ve seen a ton of theater, film, and opera here. Lincoln Center is a special place for Zosia: Her grandmother Anna Crouse was instrumental in its revitalization.”

    Gabriela Herman
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    Brunch at Barney's

    Barney Greengrass

    “This is our favorite place for breakfast or lunch meetings,” says Jonigkeit. “It feels stuck in time—the dated wallpaper, the staff that’s been there for decades. They know all their regulars by name with no need for pleasantries.”

    Gabriela Herman