New York City Tour: Chelsea
New York’s predominantly gay neighborhood is ground zero for the city’s best art galleries—and much more.
The closest subways to Chelsea only go as far west as 8th Avenue, which may explain why this neighborhood—which sits roughly between 14th and 30th streets, and 7th Avenue to the Hudson River—feels like one of Manhattan’s quietest. But with the calm comes the buzz of high-end retail, warehouse art galleries, an indoor market (also home to the Food Network’s studios), and—perhaps the most talked-about development project in recent city history—the High Line. A converted rail line, this elevated urban park offers views of the river and New Jersey, plus the bustling-yet-still-tranquil streets down below.
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Morimoto, New York
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto brings superb Japanese and Asian fusion cuisine to the Chelsea neighborhood with his trendy restaurant Morimoto. The sleekness and simplicity of the decor is reminescent of traditional Japanese homes but with modern touches: a large water bottle wall, canvas ceilings and translucent partitions. Maintain tradition by enjoying Morimoto's sashimi—cubes of hamachi, salmon, eel and seared toro—or embrace the modern and try the tuna pizza (bluefin with anchovy aioli) or the yellowtail pastrami (togarashi, creme fraiche and candied olive). Either way, your meal is sure to be a sensation.
This inviting Chelsea eatery, owned by Marc Meyer, Chris Paraskevaides, and Vicki Freeman, serves a menu of American- and Mediterranean-influenced comfort food. The dishes are reflective of chef Meyer’s appreciation of sustainable ingredients, local produce, and humanely-raised meats. Diners can enjoy such dinner selections as rigatoni pasta with chanterelles and spit roasted all-natural chicken with sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. The restaurant creates a welcoming, home-like atmosphere with large glass windows, red leather banquettes, and simple artwork adorning the walls.
Established in 1976, this non-profit is the largest in the world dedicated to the promotion of artist-made publications. Inside the brightly lit space, you’ll find 15,000 titles—plus rare reads.
Who would stock a Manhattan mini-bar with a harmonica and furnish a bathroom with denim bathrobes? The answer: cult-favorite Grupo Habita, the inventive Mexican company behind Hotel Boca Chica (It List 2010), in Acapulco. The steel-and-glass aesthetic of the 56-room hotel matches the creative vibe of Chelsea’s burgeoning gallery scene. The High Line is a stone’s throw away; contemporary-art dealer Paul Kasmin has a new annex across the street. Americano frequently hosts exhibition opening after-parties, and the tapas restaurant has become the de facto canteen for the city’s art insiders. While the property could use better door service for 10th Avenue taxi pickups, we love that New York’s of-the-moment neighborhood finally has a stylish hotel to call its own.
Named for the flavor-packed crust that forms on the bottom of the paella pan, this small spot embraces Spanish culinary traditions—from the menu to the long communal tables. One tip: As good as the crispy potatoes, spicy chorizo, and other tapas look, don’t fill up on them. Here, the paella is the star; go for the Socarrat version, a mélange of chicken, beef, sepia, shrimp, cuttle fish, mussels, cockle clams, and green beans. Or, go for the version made with vermicelli noodles called fideua.
This home décor store is the kind of place you can get lost in for hours. Every inch of space (ceiling included) is overflowing with charming gift-worthy items, such as brightly colored Yves Delorme mohair throws, owl-shaped salt and pepper shakers, and Savon de Marseille soaps.
Gallery Hopping in Chelsea
With seemingly countless galleries lining its streets, Chelsea is essentially a museum—one displaying everything from experimental art from up-and-comers to more staid works by longtime greats. (A few must visits: Gagosian Gallery, The Pace Gallery, Matthew Marks Gallery, Paul Kasmin Gallery, and David Zwirner.) With so many spaces from which to choose, it’s best just to wander up and down the blocks. And the beauty is you don’t have to pay to look.
If there’s a sport, you can probably play it at this expansive complex set along the Hudson River with facilities for everything from bowling and rock climbing to year-round ice skating and golf (especially popular because you get to whack balls into nets overlooking the water).
The department store’s Chelsea location closed down in 1996, but this airy, edgy outpost—set inside a warehouse satisfies the needs of high-fashion shoppers. Both men and women head here for everything from designer jeans to of-the-minute accessories. If you’re in town in February or August, don't miss the twice-yearly Warehouse Sale, where you can snag designer goods for up to 75% off.