PASSPORT: NEW YORK
People have been talking a lot about the renaissance across the river in recent years, and with good reason. But the true embodiment of the New York dream — the ruthless, gilded metropolis that melts those “little town blues” (to quote Frank Sinatra) — is not Brooklyn. It’s Manhattan.
People come into Manhattan and people go. More than the other boroughs, the restless island has been reinventing itself for centuries. Preservationists have a tough time of it in this city, as reinvention is basically the Manhattan way. As a result, there is a perpetual blitz of new commercial establishments to discuss and patronize—and, of course, critique. New Yorkers are nothing if not critics.
Balancing out this been-there, bought-that attitude, however, is a long-standing love of the new. Nowhere is this passion more evident than in the food scene, where chefs are constantly striving to outdo themselves, if not the business partner they just broke up with. Most new restaurants have a shorter shelf life than a plate of sushi. (Nightlife can be similar, but more on that later.) While our Manhattan guide is timely to be sure, one of our goals was to make recommendations that will be useful beyond the present.
This Passport is fast-paced and jam-packed, but so is this town. It’s built on a grid, after all. Cheek by jowl is the norm. Manhattan waiters tend (for better and for worse) to bring you the check before you ask for it. If there’s one major city where you could rightfully expect to hit fifty spots in a couple of days, this is it.
One neighborhood especially suited to bulk consumption is Chelsea, with its long blocks of world-class art galleries. Visiting a dozen or more in one go is something New Yorkers do regularly. Before the likes of Larry Gagosian transformed this old warehouse district into a hotbed of white-cube commerce, Manhattan’s contemporary art scene was based in SoHo. That neighborhood is now a shopping mecca, one whose towering lofts turn out to be ideal for displaying the sort of antique and newly crafted furnishings found at home-design temples like Wyeth and BDDW.
Scott Morrison’s denim shop, 3x1, and Carson Street Clothiers are two of the city’s freshest menswear boutiques. For most of the new players, though, head east into Nolita, the Lower East Side, and the Bowery. This is the home turf of Taavo Somer, whose mini-empire of bars, restaurants, and menswear (the latter at Freemans Sporting Club) has done much to guide the last ten years of authentic-feeling, heritage-inflected hipness.
Somer’s name, like Morrison’s, is one known mostly to insiders. New York is arguably even more defined by megastars like Bobby Flay. Known to Food Network viewers around the country, the prolific chef has held onto his integrity and even returned to the kitchen at Gato, his new restaurant in NoHo. It’s one of many top-notch Italian restaurants in this guide. This is a hat-tip to one of the great national cuisines, of course, but also to how in New York (including, notably, at the many civilized variations on Italian to be found in the West Village) ethnic traditions with deep local roots are so often reborn as something invigorating and contemporary. See also: Black Seed Bagels, for a new take on a Jewish-deli staple, and Red Farm, for updated and ethically sound Chinese.
Uptown is for the establishment, the Manhattan cliché goes. This is true enough at throwback emporiums like Bauman Rare Books and J.J. Hat Center. But not so fast: the New York outpost of Rei Kawakubo’s racy retail concept, Dover Street Market, opened late last year in (gasp) Murray Hill. And your dapper grandpa would have had no problem sipping Calvados at Brandy Library, perusing Drake’s ties at the Armoury, or getting a hot-towel shave at Fellow Barber — all experiences to be had in today’s downtown.
Compared to the downtown competition, at least, Rose Bar and the Top of the Standard (which you may know of by its informal name, the Boom Boom Room) offer a grown-up approach to New York nightlife. They’re on the mature end of the hip spectrum. As when they first opened, their plush opulence (courtesy of Julian Schnabel and the in-demand design team of Roman and Williams, respectively) promises a refreshing break from the city’s mean streets. Are those streets even that mean anymore? Sounds like a discussion to be had over cocktails.
UPPER EAST SIDE
The Surrey Hotel 20 East 76th Street
A whiff of old Hollywood glamour permeates this stylish boutique hotel, but the neutral tones and deluxe accents (Pratesi robes, Dean & Deluca minibars) keep things comfortably contemporary.
The Mark Hotel Restaurant 25 East 77th Street
Celebrated chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s hotel dining room serves up fresh cosmopolitan fare, like black-truffle-and-fontina pizza and slow-cooked salmon with chili vinaigrette and bok choy. The chic but relaxed environs draw a tony uptown crowd.
Blum & Poe 19 East 66th Street
A year ago, the influential LA gallery opened this Manhattan branch in a revamped townhouse. It’s a go-to for strong works from Asia in particular; Blum & Poe was an early champion, for example, of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara.
Creel and Gow 131 East 70th Street
Inspired by the natural world, the curious objects here — a gargoyle match-striker, a bronze rattlesnake, mounted corals, exotic taxidermy — will enhance any office or study.
Men’s Store at Bergdorf Goodman 754 5th Avenue
This is a unique department store in the city, in that it’s set up like a men’s boutique. Sections for bar tools and vintage watches supplement the great selection of designer clothes.
J.J. Hat Center 310 5th Avenue
The oldest — and, hands-down, best — hat shop in the city.
Dover Street Market 160 Lexington Avenue
The third international outpost of Rei Kawakubo’s high-end fashion bazaar, this seven-story multibrand funhouse has (with the help of creative director James Gilchrist, formerly of Adam Kimmel) beautifully adapted its offerings to the New York man.
Nepenthes 307 West 38th Street
Part of the Engineered Garments family, this Tokyo-based collective injects utilitarian classics with street-smart eccentricity. It’s an everyday, easy style with a twist — including the shop’s unlikely location up in the Garment District.
Books Kinokuniya 1073 Avenue of the Americas
Japanophile heaven: fiction, manga, and impossible-to-find art and fashion magazines straight from Tokyo, with offerings in both Japanese and English. Even better, the spacious layout makes navigating easy.
Bauman Rare Books 535 Madison Avenue
More than four thousand antique documents and tomes fill this forty-year-old purveyor’s New York flagship, and they’re bound in everything from original marbled pasteboard to pristine calf leather. The place for lovers of old books.
1stdibs Showroom 200 Lexington Avenue
The popular antique site’s brick-and-mortar shop occupies a whole floor of the New York Design Center. There’s heaps of fantastic stuff here — and handy digital aids for bookmarking favorites.
Mantiques Modern 146 West 22nd Street
It looks chaotic, but pick your way through the fine luggage, hefty sculptures, and elegant machines jumbled up in this masculine-oriented vintage shop and you’ll soon find the place is full of treasures.
Sushi Yasuda 204 East 43rd Street
Now managed by disciples of its namesake founder, this established power-lunch spot prepares traditional fresh fish of the highest order. The minimalist bamboo décor keeps the focus on the flavors.
Avra Estiatorio 141 East 48th Street
Authentic seafood is the specialty here, served amid exposed beams and stonewashed walls that make the space feel like an inherited Greek-island villa. It’s a solid Midtown oasis.
David Zwirner 537 West 20th Street
The German dealer’s West 20th Street Chelsea headquarters is one of the top places in the world to see blue-chip contemporary art. Hit up its two locations on West 19th Street, too. Shows devoted to Franz West and Richard Serra wrap up on December 13 and 20, respectively.
Cheim & Read 547 West 25th Street
Top contemporary artists (Jenny Holzer, William Eggleston) have their works presented in a space that’s divided into an intriguing grid of sub-galleries. A show of hanging sculptures by Louise Bourgeois is up through January 10.
303 Gallery 507 West 24th Street
Founder Lisa Spellman (who’s also the ex-wife of artist Richard Prince) has cultivated art stars like Robert Gober and Doug Aitken since opening in 1984. Visit the gallery’s current space, with its skylights and glass floors, before it relocates to West 21st Street in early 2015.
Gagosian Gallery 555 West 24th Street
Gagosian is the biggest contemporary dealer in the business, with the stable of all-star artists to prove it. Exhibitions on Picasso (curated by his biographer, John Richardson, and showing at West 21st Street) and Murakami run into January.
Lehmann Maupin 540 West 26th Street
Another big name in the Chelsea art scene: a two-floor gallery with an innovative design by Rem Koolhaas that makes for a viewing experience different from that of a typical white-cube space.
ABC Kitchen 35 East 18th Street
Farm-to-table food served in an environment that’s reminiscent of a centuries-old Hamptons country house, complete with chic guests. Say yes to the salted-caramel ice cream sundae.
Rose Bar 2 Lexington Avenue
Get past the tough door and through the velvet curtains and you’ll find yourself in a dim lounge dripping with bohemian opulence. Codesigned by Julian Schnabel, the Gramercy Park Hotel’s main sanctum still draws an urbane and sexy crowd.
The Raines Law Room 48 West 17th Street
The deluxe speakeasy has Prohibition-era cocktails and décor to match. The punches are great, and, like everything on the menu, are prepared discreetly in a back room.
Paragon Sports 867 Broadway
Tennis sweaters by Ralph Lauren, Patagonia Nano-Air hoodies, and a broad selection of four-season technical gear and footwear make this Manhattan’s premier — and certainly most stylish — sports emporium.
Nike Running 156 5th Avenue
This is the behemoth sports brand’s largest running store. Reclaimed wood, moody industrial lighting, and artful wall displays spell above-average panache.
Top of the Standard 848 Washington Street
Also known as the Boom Boom Room, this honey-toned aerie has some of the best skyline views in the city. The main room has tiers of cushy banquettes; the black-marble bathrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows almost demand naughtiness.
Frankies 570 Spuntino 570 Hudson Street
West Villagers are grateful to have an everyday spot this good, where the vegetable antipasti, sweet-potato-and-sage ravioli in parmesan broth, and other Tuscan offerings are both delicious and not too pricey. In warmer months, try for a seat on the front terrace.
Minetta Tavern 113 MacDougal Street
The côte de boeuf comes from heaven. A noisy, exclusive steak-oriented saloon that seamlessly blends past and present, Keith McNally’s popular spot makes for the epitome of a great Manhattan night out.
Flight 001 96 Greenwich Avenue
From hard-sided Rimowa rollers down to smartphone accessories and smaller packing aids, this travel store has got any globe-trotter’s needs covered. The jet-age styling and functionality-oriented surprises make it a perennially fun place to shop.
Red Farm 529 Hudson Street
Chef Joe Ng is a dumpling maestro, and in these rustic environs he turns out creative modern Chinese that’s made from above-par greenmarket ingredients. No reservations, but it’s worth the wait.
Bar Pitti 268 6th Avenue
This West Village institution draws a Euro-inflected crowd. Lunch here on a sunny afternoon is hard to beat.
Leffot 10 Christopher Street
With impeccable service and handmade shoes by the likes of Saint Crispin’s and John Lobb, this old-world haberdasher seems part Brooklyn, part London. Nail the gentlemanly details with accessories like Pantherella hosiery and nubuck gloves.
Carbone 181 Thompson Street
This upscale red-sauce joint is spiced with inspired cooking and a dose of Godfather-esque theatrics. Get to know this place — it’s destined to be a classic.
L’Artusi 228 West 10th Street
The roasted chicken alone is worth coming back for. Add to that a solid list of biodynamic Italian wines, handsome neo-regency décor, and (for private bookings) a gorgeous upstairs dining room.
Russo’s Mozzarella & Pasta 344 East 11th Street
A tiny shop specializing in fresh pasta and classic, high-quality Italian imports. Open since 1908, it’s worth a trip for the mozzarella alone.
Lost City Arts 18 Cooper Square
An excellent source for midcentury home pieces, including Harry Bertoia “Spray” sculptures, mod lighting fixtures, and elaborate accents like a ’70s monorail model.
Momofuku Noodle Bar 171 1st Avenue
The linchpin of chef David Chang’s mini-empire, this Asian-inspired spot serves up food as scrumptious as it is surprising. The steamed buns are New York’s best.
Gato 324 Lafayette Street
Name-brand chef Bobby Flay is often in the kitchen at his new Mediterranean restaurant, supervising shareable small plates like pumpkin arancini and tuna- stuffed piquillo peppers. Everything is big on flavor. It’s great for groups or a solo sit-down at the bar.
Paula Rubenstein 21 Bond Street
Incredible objects of all materials, shapes, and volumes abound — the harmony of their arrangement alone speaks to the owner’s expertise. The vintage textiles in particular are on another level. True connoisseurs will need no persuading.
The Smile 26 Bond Street
This hip, cozy lunch-and-breakfast spot has become a default of sorts for the neighborhood’s creative types.
Dienst + Dotter 411 Lafayette Street
The owner, who’s worked for both the Met Museum and designer Jacques Grange, knows her stuff.
Patagonia 313 Bowery
The outerwear label’s first surf-only shop on the East Coast inhabits what was once the legendary punk club CBGB. Handmade Fletcher Chouinard boards and high-end wetsuits are the main draws now, as well as Patagonia’s seasonal lines of soft goods.
Bowery Hotel 335 Bowery
This stylish, neo-Victorian hotel with Moorish accents is a hip neighborhood anchor. Celebrity sightings and a small, handsome bar are two perks. Hit up Gemma, the McNally-esque restaurant, for the buzzing brunch scene.
Mamoun’s 22 St. Marks Place
Sometimes salvation takes the form of a delicious twenty-four-hour falafel joint.
Blind Barber 339 East 10th Street
This place helped get the old-school grooming trend going, and added a twist: cocktails. Sip one while you’re shorn, served from a hidden back room that becomes a grungy-hip bar after hours.
3x1 15 Mercer Street
Denim guru Scott Morrison’s custom-jeans shop takes America’s (and the world’s) favorite trouser to a new level. Take your pick of everything from belt loops to hardware, and jump headfirst into the 250 or so incredible fabric options, many of them shuttle-loom products imported from Japan.
De Vera 1 Crosby Street
Museum? Nope, retail. An easy mistake to make while admiring the marble, porcelain, and glass antiques that are sourced from around the world and sold here. It’s great for knockout jewelry, too.
BDDW 5 Crosby Street
The uber-handsome modern furniture here is made at the store’s Philadelphia studio with incredibly impressive old-world values. It will last a lifetime.
Blue in Green 8 Greene Street
The Japanese brands sold in this narrow boutique spin true art out of denim—with details you can linger on for hours. Shop for high-end Americana at the brother store, the Real McCoy’s, next door.
R by 45rpm 169 Mercer Street
The ne plus ultra of natural, heritage-inspired casual wear, as only these Tokyo- based aficionados can make it. Indigo lovers in particular will flip.
Carson Street Clothiers 63 Crosby Street
This diligently of-the-moment menswear store carries Ami, Drake’s, and a handful of the best Italian blazer-makers, and the staff is as warm as it is well-informed. It’s a must-visit.
ODIN 199 Lafayette Street
This top multibrand store skews a bit modernist street. Go in with casual after- hours wear in mind, and give the spicy, woodsy house fragrances a whiff. There’s an East Village location, too.
Double RL 381 West Broadway
This is revival American sportswear as only a fashion-world Olympian like Ralph Lauren can present it. The airy, vintage-flavored space does justice to authentic, great-fitting pieces — check out the well-priced sports jackets — and to the silver items in particular.
Sant Ambroeus SoHo 265 Lafayette Street
This is the coolest of the Milan-based mini-chain’s handful of New York locations — ideal for a civilized breakfast, with a tempting display of homemade pastries.
Fellow Barber 33 Crosby Street
This is gentlemanly grooming done right, with excellent multibrand products and a 600-square-foot outdoor patio. Service is walk-in only.
Matter 405 Broome Street
Many of the furniture and objects (by the likes of Zaha Hadid and Tom Dixon) at this contemporary design store are extremely refined, almost sculptural. There are lots of chic lighting options, too.
Crosby Street Hotel 79 Crosby Street
The tucked-away location and colorful, iconoclastic design make this hotel from London-based Firmdale Hotels stand out. A good place for a drink, too.
Wyeth 315 Spring Street
The spot-on selection of beds, cabinets, and more make this the ultimate mid- century furniture store. It recently relocated from Tribeca.
Osteria Morini 218 Lafayette Street
Big-swinging chef Michael White offers up hearty, satisfying Bolognese cuisine (seafood brodetto stew, black-truffle pappardelle) in rustic environs reminiscent of Emilia-Romagna. Don’t leave without trying at least one pasta dish.
Aero 419 Broome Street
Interior designer Thomas O’Brien spreads his signature style — comfortable modernism, with light fabrics and dark woods — across two floors.
NOLITA & LOWER EAST SIDE
Freemans Sporting Club 8 Rivington Street
With flannel trousers, camp shirts and military-inspired outerwear, Freemans is a great option for masculine, outdoorsy men’s looks as well as custom suiting that’s tailored on site. The adjoining barber shop offers nice grooming goods and hot-towel shaves in a Scandinavian-inspired space.
Epaulet 144 Orchard Street
This is a key spot for menswear staples — especially the spot-on chinos.
Ruby’s 219 Mulberry Street
Humming with the neighborly vibes that make Nolita a favorite downtown pocket, this Aussie-owned, Aussie-flavored hangout scores big with affordable burgers and salads. It recently expanded into the next-door space.
Black Seed Bagels 170 Elizabeth Street
A blend of the superior New York and Montreal traditions, the bagels here are rolled by hand and baked in a wood-fired oven. Yum.
Egg Shop 151 Elizabeth Street
The morning staple (the cage-free, organic variety) is served up for all three meals here, starting with a series of tasty breakfast sandwiches. If you’re feeling less than egg-static, try the fried chicken.
Rubirosa 235 Mulberry Street
Skip the lines at Lombardi’s and opt for the charred, thin-crust pizza at this local favorite. The vodka slice is a standout.
Tutto Il Giorno 114 Franklin Street
Donna Karan’s daughter, Gabby, has transported a Hamptons favorite (and much of its beach-town chic) into an urban context with modern Neapolitan cuisine in a loft-like space.
Locanda Verde 377 Greenwich Street
Tribeca resident Robert De Niro’s joint project with popular chef Andrew Carmellini offers family-style Italian in a homey, tavern-like space. It’s one to come back to — especially for the fire-roasted garlic chicken. Attached to the Greenwich Hotel, which is a great bet with its eighty-eight stylish rooms, Japanese-style bamboo spa, and perfect location that’s near but not right in the middle of the action.
Brandy Library 25 North Moore Street
A clubby, book-lined sanctuary for sipping aged spirits and pulling on fine cigars.
Grown & Sewn 116 Franklin Street
The khaki maestros here offer the unassuming trouser of legend in hefty, American-made form — and just three fits.
The Armoury 168 Duane Street
Elevated menswear — from pocket squares to made-to-measure suiting — courtesy of a group of young aficionados who originally set up shop in Hong Kong. Ring Jacket, Fox, and generations-old Italian tailors are among the craft-centric brands featured.