From the coolest new art spot to a French gourmet market, Heidi Mitchell has the intel on where to drink, shop and expand your horizons in New York City this summer
Photo by April Ellis
One World Observatory
The city’s tallest building is a marvel of architecture and engineering — not to mention patience and the power of compromise. But once you arrive at the observation deck at One World Trade Center, all you’ll marvel at are the 360-degree views of the entire Tri-State area from 900-plus feet up. Time-stamped tickets are $32, but even the ride up in the elevator is worth the splurge: As you fly skyward you’re shown an immersive video that takes you through time and space from the Nieuw Amsterdam of the 1600s to the New York of today.
The Whitney Museum
Say what you will about Renzo Piano’s shiplike building on the West Side Highway — the new location of the storied Whitney Museum of American Art is shifting the focus of the art world from the old-money neighborhoods around Central Park to downtown. There’s almost 80,000 square feet of gallery space, as well as gorgeous landscaped parks and restaurants. On view through the end of September: “America Is Hard to See,” a selection from the permanent collection, which includes works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and John Baldessari.
It just opened, but the crowds have already descended for the chance to dine at Michael Anthony’s Meatpacking District restaurant, which practically spills out into the Hudson River. The chef of the famed Gramercy Tavern goes light with dishes like smoked clams, cucumber and yogurt, but he also provides for heartier appetites with standout comfort plates, including lamb chops served atop ricotta, asparagus and olives.
Coney Art Walls: Side Trip
Curator and art dealer Jeffrey Deitch (formerly the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles) is celebrating all things graffiti in one of the places that spawned the street art movement. His Coney Art Walls will pop up in the still-gentrifying Coney Island area of Brooklyn, with a dozen or so graffiti artists, old and new, on view for visitors. Adding to the art is a coterie of food carts, courtesy of Smorgasburg.
Mural by Chris "DAZE" Ellis
Set inside the sparkling new Brookfield Place, the 30,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor Le District is yet another reason to head downtown to the oldest part of Manhattan. In this French version of Eataly there are cool cafés, a gourmet grocery shop, market counters, a wine store and a handful of excellent restaurants (Le Bar, Beaubourg, L’Apart). Come pick up provisions for a picnic in any of the nearby parks or piers, or go shopping: Vilebrequin, Scoop NYC, Burberry and Calypso St. Barth are all under the same roof.
Coastal Italy comes to Manhattan in the form of Santina, a greenhouse restaurant that teeters the line between infinitely chic and retro. The crowd, the vibe and the spicy, sexy menu are worthy accomplishments from the trio behind Parm, Carbone and ZZ's Clam Bar and it’s fast becoming the under-the-High Line hangout of the supremely cool creative class. Come during the blazing summer lunch hour for the fish sandwich, or for dinner, when the chickpea pancakes (called cecina) are flying out of the kitchen, along with OTT drinks like the $15 Amalfi Gold (a ginger-spiked bourbon drink on crushed ice).
Queen of the Night
Part vaudeville, part Cirque du Soleil, part Eyes Wide Shut, this immersive theatrical experience from the team behind Sleep No More is about as fun a night as you can have with your clothes on (though, to be fair, most of the cast/servers are just about naked). Diners are led downstairs into the bowels of the Paramount Hotel, where they're seated with strangers and encouraged to trade a lobster for a slice of suckling pig — and sometimes even join the Queen onstage or kiss the boy beside them. Whatever — it’s theater, and it’s a blast.
Danny Meyer’s Porchlight
The $2 billion man brings us his first bar concept, and judging from the bearded crowds coming off the High Line to indulge in the Southern-influenced cocktails (we love the Exit to Eden, made of Linie aquavit, yellow chartreuse, green bell pepper, lime and salt) and small plates, this could be as huge as his burger revolution, Shake Shack. After exploring the pedestrian walkway, come get a drink in the cool indoor porch, complete with an upright piano and welcoming rocking chairs.
A-list celebs like Solange Knowles have been smitten with the Brooklyn-based women’s clothing line William Okpo for months. Now that sister owners Darlene and Lizzy Okpo have opened their own shop down by the newly reborn South Street Seaport, anyone can slip into their flirty drop-waist dresses, African-print harem pants and funky-fresh boxy tops.
The Clocktower at Edition
Take one British rock star chef (Jason Atherton), add a knockout American restaurateur (Stephen Starr) and multiply that by one legendary hotelier (Ian Schrager). The result: the Clocktower, the second-floor dining room at the new Edition Hotel on Madison Park. On the menu is Scottish langoustine with mango and 36-hour Berkshire pork belly, as well as “social” dishes that are meant to be shared (like the 40-day dry-aged côte de boeuf with yummy sides). After dinner, roll over to the billiards table or check into one of the swanky guestrooms upstairs — this spot is one of the hottest new addresses in town.
When Chef Justin Smillie, from NYC’s Il Buco Alimentari, and restaurateur Stephen Starr, of Buddakan, put their heads together, you know they're bound to create the city's next culinary hotspot. Enter Upland, a sophisticated eatery featuring California-inspired cuisine with Italian flair — slow roasted branzino, ’nduja pizza, and an array of fresh vegetables. The spacious, chic dining room is done up with checkered tablecloths, green round booths and glowing copper shelves stocked with wine bottles.