CHELSEA — Ali Stroker may have been born in New Jersey, but her heart is in Chelsea.
The star of “The Glee Project” and “Glee” has chosen the neighborhood for its many laid-back charms and for the all-important wheelchair accessible building that is her home. Paralyzed from the chest down due to an accident when she was 2 years old, the singer and actress feels a particular fondness for the activism of Women Who Care — a non-profit that benefits United Cerebral Palsy of New York City. Before the group’s Monday luncheon, she spoke to DNAinfo.com New York about her hood, the challenges of getting around the city and which café serves the best coffee.
Q. Where do you like to go out to eat in Chelsea?
A. My favorite place in the morning is Murray’s Bagels on 8th Avenue. Lunchspots, we go to M Thai a lot because we love Thai food. My girlfriend is vegan so we go to Blossom sometimes. One of my favorites is this restaurant called Posto on the east side of Chelsea. It’s thin crust pizza and it’s my all-time favorite.
What about shopping?
I like to go to Fifth Avenue. I love Anthropologie and a place called LF. Around my neighborhood, I don’t really go to many boutique-y places, but I went to college down by NYU. Downtown is sort of like my 'hood.
So having lived here before, why did you pick Chelsea to settle down?
Oh my gosh, Chelsea is my favorite neighborhood. I feel like it’s neighborhoody and friendly and up-and-coming, but not too busy. It’s really fun. People get to know each other. It’s quiet on Sundays and has that sort of bustling feel on Saturdays. There are a lot of tree-lined streets, which I think is so beautiful. [The residents] have lived there for a while.
Did you rent or buy?
I rent in a newer building because of accessibility. It’s hard because New York is so old. Some of the buildings aren’t accessible. When you’re renting, you can’t do renovations.
What’s the most challenging part about getting around the city?
The fact that the subways are not all accessible is kind of difficult because you can get on at one stop that’s accessible, but then the one that you want to get off at is not. So, I usually take cabs and, you know, even getting in and out of cabs can be sort of a challenge or hailing a cab can be a challenge. Transportation is the hardest part. I also drive a car, but it’s not easy to park on the streets. There are different services where you can get a ride, but I don’t have a consistent schedule. It’s hard to get the rides because I’m not going to work every single day at 9 a.m.
Was Chelsea particularly suited for your needs?
I have a pretty easy time hailing cabs from 7th Avenue. It’s not like Midtown where there are thousands of people trying to get around. I also think that in Chelsea, there’s a Trader Joe’s around the corner and a Whole Foods up the street and the High Line’s not too far. Everything that I want to be able to get to apart from the Theater District is right around the corner.
Where else do you hang?
Madison Square Park has the dog park and that’s where we take our foster dog at the moment. There’s a wine bar up the street that we go to. It’s an Italian restaurant, Le Zie. I don’t really go out to clubs and bars. I travel so much too that when I get home it’s like, "Finally!" I’m fortunate. My building has a really beautiful rooftop so when it’s nice out, we love to go up there. Cafe Grumpy is right up the street, and I love that place.