How to eat your way up Manhattan
I spend a lot of time in New York these days and I love the city. But with dashing in and out and seeing more of the jet bridge at JFK than the Brooklyn Bridge, it gets harder and harder to remember what I first saw in it. I have to make an effort to rekindle the feelings I had for New York when it felt like I'd stepped into the music, movies and TV shows of my childhood.
Whenever I get the chance I like nothing better than simply walking the city, pounding the sidewalks to try to summon up the New York of Ghostbusters, Cagney and Lacey and Sex & The City. The yellow traffic lights and taxis, the steaming manholes, the brownstones and walk-ups.
There is nothing particularly special about this walk, it’s not an ‘ideal’ day in Manhattan, it's just one of many ways, as a Londoner, to feel a little closer to the second greatest city on Earth. I tend to stay downtown in Soho as it's close to the office and I like the atmosphere. And so this is where the walk starts.
You'll probably find yourself jumping out of bed really early, owing to still being on London time, and I suggest heading south into TriBeCa for breakfast. It’s surprisingly hard to get a top-notch breakfast in New York given they invented brunch, but Locanda Verde on Greenwich is great, especially their famous lemon ricotta pancakes.
After breakfast, as you are already on Greenwich, I suggest you make sure you are wearing some comfortable shoes and head right up, cutting into the West Village anywhere after West Houston. Try to get to the bottom of Bleeker and walk up through the Village until you get to the Magnolia Bakery, made famous by Sex & The City, where you might like to indulge your carb' habit and take the spoils to Carrie’s stoop, one street south on Perry.
High on sugar, it’s time to walk the High Line end to end, starting at the new Witney Museum. New York isn’t known for investment in infrastructure or creating great public spaces so the High Line is all the more surprising. This aerial urban park follows the route of the railway that brought goods into the heart of Manhattan and cuts through the Meatpacking district and Chelsea. It’s all a bit of a mess at the top where they are developing the Hudson Yards and it kind of just ends, so double the experience and walk back down to anywhere around 19th and 20th.
Head to the junction with 8th Avenue because it’s time for lunch at the Rocking Horse Café in Chelsea (182 8th Avenue). London does Mexican food big time these days but there is nowhere in town as good as The Rocking Horse Café, even if the service can be a little slow at peak times. Lunch there and your taste buds will love you forever.
You'll probably want a coffee afterwards so Café Grumpy is the place for you, it’s right round the corner at 224 West 20th Street.
We are now going to head up to the park. You can cop out and take a cab or the subway but how about not doing that. This is going to be one of those days that you triple your active calorie burn by walking your goddam ass off. I’m going to say head East until you hit 5th Avenue at Madison Square Park and the Flat Iron. Then go straight up town through the Manhattan of so many black and white photos and of your imagination. On one street you get the Empire State Building, Bryant Park and the NY Public Library, the Rockefeller Center and 30 Rock not to mention the Museum of Modern Art.
In no time at all (yeah right) you are at the bottom of Central Park. You will be a little exhausted, so the idea here is simply to meander through the park and hang out pretending, that this is what you do all the time. I’m going to leave you here for a while mooching about. And if you get a little bored you aren’t a million miles from the Guggenheim, the Met or a cheeky drink at the top of the Mandarin Oriental at Columbus Circle - the view of the park is one of the best in the city.
When you're done in the park, head to dinner at The East Pole. It’s early, but that's ok, because you are jet lagged and you have just walked half the length of Manhattan. Specialising in local produce from NY and its neighbouring States, The East Pole is our favourite place for dinner in the city, a recommendation from Liberty London Girl a while back. It’s in the refined vicinity of Park Avenue at 133 East 65th and it’s an absolutely lovely place to unwind after a mega day.
From here, get a cab back to your hotel, unless you are clinically insane and fancy walking down to Grand Central for a bit of a drunken dance round this most iconic of New York Icons.
And so to bed.
Words by Richard Huntington
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