Weekdays, take N or W and weekends N to 30th Avenue Subway Stop..actually, it is above ground..and the stop is only 20 minutes from last stop in Manhattan..so very close.
30th Avenue is Greek heavan, with a bit of Czech mix..maybe some Mexican..but Greek dominates here..and it's like a reminder of as European as you can get in the States..with the Avenue from 29th Street to Steinway (about 9 blocks) of cafes, gourmet stores and fruit/veggie markets. It's an outdoor scene. The cafes all have outdoor seating for people gazing (reminded me of the parisian style)...go to Athens Cafe or Avenue Cafe..and some good Greek places to eat..really good authentic..
Go to Mediterranean Foods 30-12 34th Street..just off 30th Avenue..
Okay, this place rules. Take the L train to N.Bedford stop (it's the first stop in brooklyn leaving manhattan). Just walk around and see all the cool shops, places to eat and places to grab a drink. check this place out for ice cream. www.winecellarsorbet.com. So, walk up north to the Mccarren park where there is a big russian orthodox chuch www.roct.com. You'll hit Manhattan Avenue. Turn left and see all the great polish bakeries, clubs, restaurants, candy stores, grocery stores...awesome. LITTLE POLAND. My favorite restaurant though is Raymond's Place on 214 N.Bedford, 718-388-4200, this place is soooo good. So enjoy
From Bowery to the FDR and Canal Street north to Houston Street is the Lower East Side. Just google that and you can get good websites. My friend, she has boutique www.tahirboutique.com on Orchard Street. Also, next to her, Is Gus Pickles, a MUST. Plenty of boutiques, cool hip lounges and dive bars and cafes. Pianos on Ludlow has good live music and the Bowery Ballroom rocks. So forget Times Square or anything north of 34th Street after dark, this is where it's at.
Good chinese bakery = V.I.P. Cafe & Bakery 80-82 Clinton Street 212-375-1368.
To similate as best as possible russian culture, visit Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. They have nice clean beach, boardwalk, lots of cafes to eat russian cuisine both on and off the boardwalk, and stores to buy russian and ukranian groceries. The M&I International Foods is unique place to find many of the assorted groceries. There are some fruit & vegetable markets, sell for very reduced price, and good quality. The Gourmet store near to M&I has best prices ever for dried fruits.
Take the Q directly to Brighton Beach, or Take F or B, but you have to walk, maybe like extra 7 minutes to Brighton Beach Blvd. Maybe 30-40 minute subway ride. Also, this is nearby to Coney Island. Ocean Parkway is exit if you take Brooklyn Queens Expressway by car.
Vernon Blvd. From 51st to 47th Avenue is the main thoroughfare. Take the 7 Train, it is the first stop in Queens, Vernon Blvd / Jacskon Avenue, 5 minutes from Grand Central.
There is a french cafe named 'Henri', excellent selections, crepes, soups, cafe etc...so it is right next to subway. '47' is another place for dine and grab a beer on Vernon Blvd. There is this boutique, really cool place located on Vernon Blvd at 48th Avenue, you can't miss it.
'Art-O-Mat' is an artisan store, gallery at 46-46 Vernon Blvd, really neat stuff here.
Take the 2 or 3 to Grand Army Plaza and check out Park Slope and 7th and 4th Avenues. It is such a really cool area of Brooklyn.