Heading to the Whitney? Here’s Your Ideal Day in the Meatpacking District
New York City’s Meatpacking District is far from up-and-coming, but the opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new $760 million building means the southwest Manhattan neighborhood is reveling in a visitor resurgence. And the new arrivals don’t stop at the Whitney: there are plenty of boutiques, restaurants, and other worthwhile detours to keep visitors busy. Ahead, our ideal itinerary for a day spent in and around the new Whitney.
Breakfast at Gansevoort Market
Start your day at the 6-month-old Gansevoort Market, where 24 vendors serve up everything from coffee to Basque tapas. The recently renovated food hall is on the site of the original Gansevoort Market, which was the country’s largest outdoor trading post in the 1800s. Grab a cappuccino from Champion Coffee and a brioche-muffin filled with savory treats at the Bruffin Café. Or stop at Yiaourti Greek yogurt bar, where the yogurt is made on-site. Mismatched tables and chairs provide seating under a skylight, and vines snaking up the walls add to the ambiance.
Whitney Museum of American Art
After breakfast, head up the street to the Whitney’s new Renzo Piano-designed home on the waterfront. Since it re-opened on May 1, this 85-year-old art institution has claimed its place as the neighborhood’s largest draw. The inaugural exhibit, a survey of American art from 1900 to the present, culls from the museum’s holdings to bring new light to familiar icons and obscure works hidden away in storage for decades. Take the elevator to the top floor and work your way down, making sure to head outside and admire the sweeping views from the terraces. The exhibit is organized by theme and unfolds chronologically. The section devoted to identity, race, and gender—with works by Nan Goldin, Mike Kelley and others—feels especially poignant today.
Lunch at Untitled
By the time you reach the ground floor of the museum, you may have worked up an appetite. At Untitled, Danny Meyer’s newest restaurant, Gramercy Tavern chef Michael Anthony pushes the limits of farm-to-table sourcing, not only getting produce from the Union Square Greenmarket and local farms, but also participating in a dock-to-dish community-supported program. Dishes that seem simple on the menu, like the smoked clams, arrive with red onion, yogurt, braised kombu, and perfectly square cubes of Persian cucumber. The small plates format works whether you just want a quick bite or several share plates. Don’t leave without ordering the warm chocolate chunk cookie, served with a mini bottle of vanilla milk.
Pick up a Souvenir at Artists & Fleas
Tucked inside Chelsea Market, Artists & Fleas houses indie vendors selling everything from jewelry to screen-printed t-shirts. With a few exceptions, everything in here is affordable, making it a great place to pick up a unique souvenir or gift. Among our favorites: Pamela Barsky’s canvas clutches adorned with cheeky word art, Cycling Industry’s jewelry, and Brooklyn-based artist Kevin Marcell’s paintings stenciled onto New York City maps.
Get a Contemporary Art Fix at Milk Studios & Gallery
There are hundreds of galleries in Chelsea, and if you’re not an art world insider, choosing which ones to visit can be a daunting task. For big-budget shows, Gagosian and David Zwirner can’t be beat, but for cutting-edge photography at the intersection of fashion, music, and film, check out Milk Gallery. Past exhibits include Richard Corman’s 1980s photographs of Madonna, Tom Kelly’s nude portraits of 20th-century icons like Marilyn Monroe, and a retrospective of work by Burt Glinn, who documented the 20th century’s most important cultural and political happenings and figures from Fidel Castro to Andy Warhol. Currently on view are Tim Richardson’s futuristic photos.
Stroll on the High Line
Friends of the High Line recently mounted two new art installations that will remain until spring 2016 and there’s another one coming in June. Rashid Johnson’s Blocks is a mixed media work composed of steel black grids that will house a variety of objects and intertwine with the plants on the High Line.
Especially exciting is Panorama, which features works by eleven international artists examining the concept of vistas and vantage points. Pieces will range from Olafur Eliasson’s imaginary cityscape made with two tons of white LEGO pieces to Belgian artist Kris Martin’s steel replica of the Van Eyck brothers’ Ghent altarpiece with the religious paintings removed, framing the views surrounding the High Line instead.
Window Shop at Chamber
Tucked under the High Line at 23rd Street, it’d be easy to miss this concept store opened last fall. Inside, you’ll find limited edition art and design objects curated by a different design influencer every year, plus rotating capsule collections. (Currently it’s the Belgian duo Studio Job’s turn, and a capsule collection by Gala Fernández Montero and Sung Jang has just been released.) Inspired by the idea of a cabinet of curiosities, owner Juan Garcia Mosqueda has created a hub for collectors that’s become one of New York’s most stylish design boutiques.
Dinner at Santina
The neighborhood’s most buzzed-about opening is Santina, a glass cube sprouting palm trees under the High Line. Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi found inspiration in Italian coastal villages, which shines through in details like the Venetian glass chandeliers and colorful painted plates imported from the Amalfi Coast. Menu highlights include octopus spiedini and melt-in-your-mouth tortellini stuffed with sheep’s milk ricotta and served with basil pesto in a puddle of barely cooked marinara. Even the music transports you to Italy with a soundtrack featuring Sophia Loren and Fred Buscaglione. Oh, and don’t forget the cannoli, fried to order and filled with cherry, coconut, and pistachio-flavored ricotta—a playful reference to the colors of the Italian flag.
Check in at the High Line Hotel
Entering the Gothic brick High Line Hotel feels a bit like stepping into a Wes Anderson film. The landmarked building—formerly part of the General Theological Seminary—was reimagined by legendary design firm Roman & Williams. For the 60 rooms and suites, the design team sourced Victorian or Edwardian antiques, taxidermy, Oriental rugs, and 1920s rotary phones, which combine to create a sophisticated throwback vibe. This month, the seasonal bar and restaurant Alta Linea opens in the front garden serving Italian aperitivi, perfect for those warm nights ahead.