New York City Guides: The Meatpacking District
One of my goals when I started this blog was to share my favorite spots in New York City. Manhattan alone is so huge that it’s almost impossible to try everything, so I’m starting a new series breaking it down neighborhood by neighborhood to tell you where to eat, what to see, where to drink, and what to skip. First up is the Meatpacking District.
This is one of my favorite areas of the city. It has great bars, good food and is home to the High Line and the Whitney. As much as I love it, the Meatpacking District is a “place to be seen” kind of vibe, meaning you can expect bad service and over-priced drinks.
There are SO many well-known restaurants in this area that I still haven’t gotten a chance to try all of them, so I’m going to share my favorites that I’ve been to and a few other recommendations based on what I’ve heard.
Best food: Toro is hands down the best food I’ve had in this area. In fact, its honestly some of the best food I’ve had in the city. It’s a Spanish restaurant and everything comes tapas style, so go with 1-3 friends for an optimal dining experience. I went with my boyfriend for a date night and we were both in heaven. The Iberian ham (the more expensive one) is to die for. We also loved the Berenjana (crispy eggplant), Pato (duck drumsticks), Pulpo a la Plancha (octopus) and Gambas Al Ajillo (garlic grilled shrimp).
Best brunch: Bubby’s is a must-try, if no other reason than for the biscuits. They’re served with butter and homemade jam and I could eat an entire basket with no regrets. If you want a more well-rounded breakfast, the fried chicken and pancakes (yes, pancakes) are also pretty good. I’ll definitely be going back to try the rest of their brunch menu.
Runner-up for best brunch: I have been searching for good shakshuka in New York and found it at Balaboosta. There’s so much natural light, the food is amazing, and they have great cocktail & mocktail menus.
Best vibe: While I had quite a few not so great experiences going to “cool” restaurants as part of my “research” for this post, the place that surprised me the most was actually the one I had the lowest expectations for. One of my friends and I decided to do a joint birthday dinner at Buddakan, famously known as the spot for Carrie and Big’s engagement dinner in the Sex and the City movie. Everything we got was good but the cocktails were amazing. The service was also good and since we split up from our group 10 into pairs to order it worked out well. I highly recommend getting a few of the small plates instead of the main courses and the lobster egg rolls were especially good.
I still need to try Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, Bagatelle, Tao Downtown before I can report on those. There’s also a Catch Steak opening Fall 2019 that I want to try!
See & Do
The High Line: a New York City staple. This is a favorite activity of mine because I love being outside, and it doesn’t involve spending money or drinking (unlike most NYC activities). It goes from Hudson Yards all the way down to Meatpacking so you can start or end your neighborhood exploration with this one.
The Whitney Museum of American Art is fun because it’s SO different from the Met. It’s a smaller museum so easily doable in an hour or two, and they bring in some very cool exhibits, like Andy Warhol. Pro-tip: a Bank of America card will get you free access on the first Friday of the month.
Chelsea Market is really half see, half eat because I love they have some really amazing food there. One of my favorite stands is Berlin Currywurst, a great option for a quick bite, especially since Currywurst is traditionally street food. The chocolates at Li Lac are also amazing and make great gifts, and I’ve heard the tacos are some of the best in the city. Walk, eat, shop and avoid the heat, cold or rain depending on the season.
If you’re looking for a very NYC experience Le Bain is your place. They have a pool complete with towels and bags to hold your clothes and a patio with amazing views.
The Biergarten at the Standard is great for a more casual night out. They have a full bar in addition to beer and pretzels, along with ping pong and other patio games.
This may be an unpopular opinion but Brass Monkey is one of my favorite bars in the city. Anywhere that you can get a drink under $15 and still have an open-air roof is my kind of place.
If you’re looking for a club, Up & Down is one of my favorites. I think it’s the easiest to get into and I’ve had a good time every time I’ve been there.
Skip (or Proceed with Caution)
Both of these places are favorites among a lot of NYC visitors and locals, but I personally had a much better experience at Buddakan. That’s not to say they aren’t good and I’ll probably give Catch a second chance but these were my first impressions.
Catch is definitely a place to be seen and has a great atmosphere for a night out, but they treat you like they know they’re cool. We went for my birthday and despite having a reservation, weren’t seated for at least 30 minutes. We were able to get drinks at the bar and when we were seated the food was good, but I was disappointed in the service. Go in with the right expectations and you’ll have a great time.
I thought I was disappointed by the service at Catch but our experience at STK Rooftop almost made me abandon all hope of a good, fun restaurant in this neighborhood. Once again, we had a reservation and when we got there they told us they were behind due to rain. After 30 minutes of waiting, they brought us down to a private room on the second floor, with no view and cigarette burns on the couch. If I’m going to pay NYC prices for a steak experience, that is not the room I want to do it in. After some effort on my boyfriends part, we were able to get seated downstairs (STK is separate from the rooftop), and the manager apologized. We ended up having a good dinner, but if you’re looking for an STK experience, hope for PERFECT weather at the rooftop or just go straight for the regular restaurant. If you do get lucky, definitely wear a cute outfit to take a picture with the flower wall!