Despite its tiny stature, Manhattan is the maddening, fascinating heart of America. We delve to the core of the Big Apple looking for the city’s essentials for 2017. By Nick Walton


Replacing Caffe Dante, a century-old Greenwich Village icon visited by the likes of Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld and Bob Dylan, Dante serves up small sharing plates and beautifully-made cocktails just steps from Washington Square Park. With a brilliant old school vibe and a menu of delectable Italian dishes, which include burrata with roasted tomato; San Daniele prosciutto and figs; flatbread with verde, spicy lamb sausage, mozzarella, and arugula; and pappardelle with wild boar ragu, red wine, and parmigiana, Dante has already made a name for itself for its brilliant-executed signature Negronis – even if you’re not stopping in for a bite, take a window perch and order the Boulevardier, a take on the classic with Elijah Craig bourbon, Luxardo bitters and Dolin Rouge. 79-81 Macdougal Street;

If you’re struggling with decisions or are looking for a bite before walking the Highline, head to Gotham West Market, a fascinating foodie hotspot in Hell’s Kitchen that boasts counter seats, communal tables and a friendly slightly-hipsterish vibe. There’s something for everyone here, including Corner Slice, a neighbourhood bakery; ice cream store Ample Hills Creamery; red meat-driven share plates and craft cocktails at The Cannibal; authentic Mexican tacos by chef Akhtar Nawab at Choza Taqueria; and modern Spanish tapas at El Colmado by chef Seamus Mullen, formerly of Tertulia. 600 11th Ave;

Located in SoHo, on the cusp of the West Village, and created by chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt, two alumni of London’s iconic River Cafe, King is an elegant, airy and refined space that’s ideal for post retail-therapy respite. With a mantra of farm-to-table dining and touches of provincial France and Italy in its short-and-snappy daily-changing menus, King thrusts ingredients into the limelight, from poached Sasso chicken with sauce ravigotte; and slow-cooked borlotti beans with prosciutto; to grilled quail with tapenade and watercress; and a timeless fish stew with lobster, clams, fluke, and saffron aioli. If you’re coming in for a Sunday comfort meal kick off with the signature Breton Brut with Byrrh, with rye and pastis. Entrance on 6th Avenue between King and West Houston;

One of the West Village’s most revered speakeasies, Chumley’s has reopened as a restaurant. Once a popular spot with the likes of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck, before lying vacant (and controversial) for a decade, the new reservation-only eatery, the brainchild of restauranteur Alessandro Borgognome, boasts comfort menus by former Atera chef Victoria Blamey and interiors that smack of the 1920s writer’s pub’s heyday, complete with leather booths wreathed by portraits of literary greats and dust jackets of their tomes. Look out for the likes of Warren Cove oysters with avocado mignonette; beef tartare with hazelnuts and ombra; Arctic char with grenada chilli and shishito pepper; and the signature 86’d Burger with bone marrow and homemade chutney (it’s rumored the speakeasy was the birthplace of the phrase “86ed”, when police would cite the address in reference to removing unruly patrons). 86 Bedford St;

You can’t leave New York without a decent steak. Fortunately, Maxwell’s Chophouse, which recently opened in increasingly vibrant Nomad, specialises in on-premise dry-aged USDA Prime beef, matched with an outstanding wine list with more than 500 vintage bottles. With chef Stratos Georgeadakis helming the grill and mother and daughter duo Babette Haddad and Melissa Haddad Malaga running the regal black, créme and gold-accented dining room, expect steaks executed with traditional European elegance and a touch of Big Apple flare. 1184 Broadway;


When the thirst catches up head to one of the city’s newest enclaves, the Hudson Yards, where southern-inspired cocktail bar Porchlight marries a modern NY cocktail bar persona with the old time charm of a southern watering hole. Although there is a food menu by Louisiana native chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois, you’re here for the cocktails, which include the Harvey Headbanger, a suitably heady blend of Tito’s vodka from NYC, Galliano, orange, vanilla and spiced cranberry; the Creole Negroni, with Clement Canne Bleue, Campari, Amaro Montenegro, sweet vermouth and absinthe; and the Gun Metal Blue, a showstopper with Mexcal Vida, blue curacao, peach brandy, lime and a touch of cinnamon. 271 11th Ave;

If you’re a whisky fan you can’t go past The Dead Rabbit’s Grocery & Grog, a Downtown Irish pub that just landed top spot on Drinks International’s World’s 50 Best Bars list (for the second year in a row). A favourite with the power brokers of Wall Street, The Dead Rabbit boasts 145 Irish whiskies, served in the tap room on the ground level, as well as some pretty spectacular cocktails, served in the laid back-yet-elegant second floor parlor and presented in a menu that’s part history lesson part graphic novel. Punchy choices from the cocktail list include the Papa Smurf, with London Gin, blanc vermouth, cucumber, celery, fennel, lemon, absinthe and a touch of chamomile and citrus bitters, topped with Champagne; the Kissin’ Cousin, a blend of fino sherry, pineapple-infused rum, gentiane, macadamia, mace, lemon, and dandelion and burdock bitters; and the Femme Fatale, with aquavit, Caribbean rum, Swedish ‘punch’, lemon, lingonberry and Peychaud’s bitters. 30 Water Street;

Also by the team behind The Dead Rabbitis newbie Black Tail, a Cuban-themed prohibition-era styled cocktail corner on Battery Place in the Financial District. Part of the massive Pier A Harbour House dining precinct, this wood-panelled enclave features statues of Cuban independence leaders, walls layered with 300 original Cuban photographs by Vern Evans, and brass-accented barstools in the pattern of Hemmingway hangout El Floridita. The comprehensive 50-page cocktail list is packed with traditional punches and highballs served in era-glassware and laced with a special rum blend created to mimic the Cuban rums long forbidden in the US. Many timeless concoctions have also been given a distinctive 21st century twist. The signature Rum & Cola, a take on the classic Cuba Libre, features Puerto Rican rum, Italian Amaro, coke, champagne, and a hint of Orinoco bitters; while the Pineapple Milk punch, with rum, Brandy de Jerez, cream, pineapple, hazelnut, vanilla, cherry, and aromatic bitters is a silky smooth touch that’s ideal for a lingering nightcap. Pier A Harbor House, 22 Battery Place;

For lovers of the craft beer movement, head to Fools Gold, a new Bowery favourite that boasts a 12 metre long bar where more than 30 draft brews (as well as more than their fair share of American whiskies) are served with bar snacks by chef Michael Haigh amidst eclectic, industrial-chic interiors. The beers come crisp and cold thanks to a custom-designed temperature-controlled tap system, which draws in the masses, especially for Taco Tuesdays and the acclaimed oyster-encrusted happy hour. If you’re set on a cocktail, highlights include Bowie’s in Space, with Atlantico Reserva rum, grapefruit, lemon, honey, Aperol,and orange flower water; and The Pineapple Insistence, with Altos Reposado tequila, grapefruit, lime, honey, and a dash of hot sauce. 145E Houston St;

Themed on a hospital waiting room, Sanatorium is a chic, new Alphabet City divan from the controversial cocktail guru Albery Trummer. Dressed with clinical green walls, a marble bar top, high end 1930s medical equipment – think X-ray light boxes and surgical lamps – and tasteful lounge settings across four separate spaces, this edgy yet elegant spot boasts a short-and-snappy cocktail list, with mixed drinks prepared on surgical trays and shots administered via syringe. If you’re getting snacky opt for the Waiting Room, created by Trummer’s bartender son Jakob. This tequila concoction is made with cherry tomato, basil, balsamic, lime and habanero elixir and is topped with freshly-carved Ibérico ham. Alternatively, the O.R, a mix of rum, pineapple, lime-infused sugarcane, house-made vanilla syrup, habanero and cilantro, is a sure crowd pleaser. 14 Ave C;


Sate your appetite for luxury retail shopping at Brookfield Place, a shopping and arts hub in downtown Manhattan. Positioned just south of Tribeca on the Hudson, expect the likes of Hermes, Bottega Veneta and Burberry, and contemporary brands such as Diane von Furstenberg,Theory, Michael Kors, Vince, Lululemon and new-comer Jo Malone of London. There’s also a new 85,000sqft Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as some world-class restaurants and Le District, a 30,000sqft French-inspired food market.

For a touch of culture head to Symphony Space, a multi-disciplinary performing arts centre on the Upper West Side. With two performance spaces – the 760-seat Peter Jay Sharp Theatre and the 160-seat Leonard Nimoy Thalia – this brilliant arts enclave boasts music, dance, theatre, film, and literary readings. In March catch Kicking & Screaming, an exuberant showcase of new theatre dance starring Lorin Latarro and Noah Racey and featuring world premiere music from composers including Debra Barsha and Shaina Taub, alongside classic Broadway favourites. 2537 Broadway;

Get your grove on at the club that’s slated with bringing the electro-dance party back to Manhattan. Flash Factory, a 10,000sqft club in Chelsea, is built for the festival and rave vibe, with a lineup that includes live and experimental techno artists and occasional indie-rock performances. With stained glass windows and a white stone alter doubling as a DJ deck, the new dance hotspot (which has taken over the space that once hosted controversial club Shadow) adds a religious undertone to Manhattan’s best clubbing experience, and one that’s drawing well-heeled club goers from venues in Brooklyn. 229 West 28th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues);

New York City is home to some of the country’s best jazz clubs, including hotspots like Blue Note and Jazz Standard, and boasts a long tradition of lively live music hotspots from Battery Park to Harlem. One of the most iconic spots is The Village Vanguard. Located in a former basement speakeasy on 7th Ave South in Greenwich Village, and opened by Max Gordon in 1935, The Vanguard has offered a stellar jazz-only line up since 1957, with greats like Ben Webster, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Miles Davis, Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk taking the stage. Little has changed at The Vanguard since the jazz greats played and the club continues to foster new and established talents; a resident jazz orchestra plays every Monday night, with acts like the Christian McBride Trio, Ethan Iverson Quartet, and Fred Hersch slated for acts in early 2017. 178 7th Avenue South;


Ever wondered what the difference was between ‘on Broadway’ and ‘off Broadway’? How about the truth behind all that theatrical superstition, or the history of some of Manhattan’s oldest theatres? Take a Broadway Up-Close Walking Tour with founder Tim Dolan and delve into the rich history of New York’s Theatre District. The Public Act 1 tour is 1.5 hours of fascinating real-world trivia from a guide that’s also a full-time actor (they’ll explain why they have time to play tour guide between gigs), and includes iconic theatres like The Lyric, The Nederlander and The Empire. Private tours are also available and cover the rise and fall of 42nd Street, the ruthless competitiveness of theatre owners, the truth about life as a Broadway actor, and the many ghost stories of theatres like Radio City Music Hall, The New Amsterdam Theatre, and The Belasco.

Determined to get great deals on your visit to New York? Tackle the city’s best shopping districts on a private tour with Shop Gotham. Each three-hour tour is crafted around a client’s style, budget and demographic and makes the most of the Shop Gotham team’s connections and insider resources. A popular itinerary is the behind the scenes tour of the Garment District; snap up exclusive items usually reserved for corporate buyers, fashion magazine editors and stylists, and enjoy special discounts of up to 70 percent as you visit a curated collection of boutiques and showrooms.

Live vicariously through the captivating images of The Poetics of Place: Contemporary Photographs from The Met Collection, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (until May 28, 2017). The 60 works survey the diverse ways in which artists have photographed landscapes and the built world over the last half century, and include images by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Dan Graham, and Donald Judd. Also look out for a series of unique Polaroid prints from the mid-1970s by Walker Evans in Hale County, Alabama, nearly 40 years after his classic images of sharecroppers during the Great Depression. 1000 5th Ave;

Escape the big city with an indulgent 45-minute helicopter tour of North Folk on Long Island, where a chauffeured luxury sedan will whisk you off on a tour of some of the region’s leading wineries and distilleries, including Bedell Cellars in Catchogue, where estate-grown grapes are sustainably farmed; Sparking Point Vinery in Southhold, which produces traditional Méthode Champenoise wines, and Long Island Spirits, home to localpotato and grain-based craft spirits. You can stay overnight or head back to Manhattan and finish your tour with a spectacular fly over of the city’s skyline before returning to the Manhattan heliport.

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