After 9/11 it seemed the city would never be the same. But almost immediately, New Yorkers went back to doing what they do best--going out, seeing friends, living life. And just as the world looked upon lower Manhattan in disbelief, it bounced back. Here, T+L celebrates downtown one year later. New restaurants and exciting galleries, chic hotels, and cutting-edge boutiques still fill the map below 14th Street. Not to mention plenty of places to sip the "drink of the moment" (not a Cosmopolitan) and toast the city that never sleeps.
Is Nam (110 Reade St.; 212/267-1777; dinner for two $50) too good to be true?This evocative Indochine-chic room has the best coconut crêpes and crispy fish this side of Hanoi, at Chinatown prices. That you can still score a Friday-night reservation is one of New York's biggest mysteries. Just down the street, at David Bouley's Bouley Restaurant (120 W. Broadway; 212/964-2525; $150*), cocoon yourself in dim plushness and feast on delicate sea urchins with kaffir lime, or squab with foie gras and cabbage. The zucchini blossom-and-pea pasta and wild watercress soup have made chef-owner Jonathan Waxman's Washington Park (24 Fifth Ave.; 212/529-4400; $110) New York's newest foodie mecca. The duo behind Chelsea's Red Cat have taken their ingeniously tweaked American bistro food--calf's liver, pan-crisped skate, fried clams--to the Harrison (355 Greenwich St.; 212/274-9310; $90), TriBeCa's instant classic. At Butter (415 Lafayette St.; 212/253-2828; $125) you'll forgive the long wait and occasionally overcooked fish for designer Andrew Phillips's pinewood and birch oasis near the Public Theater. A well-executed modern American menu and New York's best grapefruit tart distract you from people-watching at Thom (60 Thompson St.; 212/219-2000; $95). Stephen Hanson's split-level Fiamma Osteria (206 Spring St.; 212/653-0100; $120) delivers exquisitely crafted pastas (grab the tortelli), Italian salads, and cured meats that rival those you'd find in Bologna.
Chef's Picks: Lower Feast Side
If the Lower East Side has become a food mecca, chef Wylie Dufresne and 71 Clinton Fresh Food definitely had something to do with it. While putting the finishing touches on his new restaurant, WD~50 (50 Clinton St.; no phone yet; opening in October), he shared some of his latest neighborhood favorites.
1. NYC ICY (21 Ave. B; 212/979-9877; from $2). Sublime ices. Try: apricot-ginger or bracingly bitter café con leche.
2. Supper (156 E. Second St.; 212/477-7600; $45*): Grilled fish and lemon risotto amid brick, wood, and chandeliers.
3. Lil' Frankie's Pizza (19 First Ave.; 212/420-4900; $25): Like a living room with a wood-burning oven; try the polpettini (meatball) pie.
4. Clinton Street Baking Co. (2 Clinton St.; 646/602-6263; breakfast $12): The most luscious muffins around.
5. Aka Café (49 Clinton St.; 212/979-6096; $50): New York's coolest sandwiches. Lamb's tongue with almond butter, anyone?
6. Alias (76 Clinton St.; 212/505-5011; $60): House-cured sable and lamb spareribs in a tiny bistro.
When the going gets tough, New Yorkers get comfortable. Alison Nelson and Matt Lewis turned their addiction into Chocolate Bar (48 Eighth Ave.; 212/366-1541), a cocoa-lover's haven where dark chocolate-covered peanut butter-and-jelly bars are served alongside espresso blends in martini glasses.
It's always teatime at Teany (90 Rivington St.; 212/475-9190), Moby's Lower East Side shop, which offers nearly 100 different blends. Just because rice pudding is the only dish on the menu at Rice to Riches (37 Spring St.; 212/274-0008) doesn't mean your decision will be easy. The super-stylish cantina has 19 flavors of the tasty dessert--from vanilla to pistachio jasmine.
And if you're looking for a twist on a childhood favorite, SoHo's Bar Veloce (17 Cleveland Place; 212/966-7334) will hit the spot with pressed ciabatta, smoked ham, and Taleggio. Not exactly your mother's grilled cheese.