Norman Reedus has built a career on playing instantly memorable characters beloved by fans. First there was Murphy McManus in the cult classic The Boondock Saints, memorialized on college dorm room walls from coast to coast as an unimpeachably badass, gun-waving Catholic warrior. But it’s his role as the hotheaded Daryl Dixon—the one with the crossbow—on AMC’s hit zombie show The Walking Dead that has garnered the most attention. Initially introduced as a virulent redneck, Reedus’s Daryl slowly came into his own over the show’s first two seasons, evolving into the type of rough-edged antihero that thrives in a post-apocalyptic world. Though his character was written for the show, Reedus’s portrayal has been so immensely popular that he’s soon to be introduced in the long-running comic book, giving him an even more permanent place in the hearts of zombie-loving fans.
His stomping ground is downtown Manhattan. We catch up with him after his appearance at New York Comic Con, where hundreds of fans turned out to absorb tidbits about the show’s current season. The sweetest part, though, was the moment when those hundreds joined in on a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for his son, Mingus, who had just turned 13. Listening to him proudly talk about his son—he says, “he’s directly on the path of being taller than me, which sucks”—it becomes clear that, in comparison to the brash characters he’s famous for, Reedus is more reserved and congenial—both appreciative and down-to-earth about his success. It’s an attitude that informs this roundup of his favorite shops and restaurants in New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy neighborhoods.