New York City has roughly 280 neighborhoods, some tiny (Koreatown), others stretching for 50 blocks (Upper West Side). Disagreements about neighborhood boundaries abound, but in a city as eminently walkable as New York, neighborhoods run together. This short guide covers two neighborhoods on Manhattan's west side: Hell's Kitchen and Columbus Circle and the best places to eat, drink, shop, and stay.
Where To Eat
This is a steakhouse in the moneyed Deutsche Bank (née Time Warner) Center, so deals here are going down almost as quickly as those bottles of Château Margaux. The food is pricey and straightforward—crab cakes with horseradish-mustard sauce and charred cowboy rib steak—but the Central Park views are worth the price tag.
Taboon’s namesake brick-walled, wood-fired oven provides a heartwarming welcome and bakes an incredible plank of bread. Bring a group and graze on zesty mezes like wild mushroom bread pudding with creamy taleggio and romesco. Vegetables aren’t spared the flames either, as evident in a luscious and healthy pile of roasted broccolini splashed with orange oil.
Kudos to Chef Sungchul Shim, who taps into his Korean roots and fine-dining pedigree to create a solid but playful and technically proficient menu. Start with pine nut- and potato milk-soup, or sweet potato-and-sunchoke gratin, paired with a clever doenjang béchamel. Salmon bibimbap mingles pollock roe, candied anchovy, and toasted nori with brown soy-butter rice for a harmonious high point.
Take a seat beneath flattering lighting and order from the menu’s myriad small plates, each of them a refreshing take on Korean specialties. Blocks of soft tofu are quickly deep-fried and boldly dressed with gochujang and a ginger-scallion vinaigrette. Poached daikon rings accompanied by bok choy are glazed with a dark and spicy sauce and stacked high for dramatic presentation.
Fresh, soft-ripened, pressed, washed or blue—no matter what kind of cheese you prefer, Casellula is sure to have it. Better still, take advantage of their helpful tasting notes and try something brand new. Cheeses arrive with creative pairings like pickled fennel, lemon-zested hazelnuts and maybe even a glass of something from their vast wine list.
Where To Go
Museum of Arts and Design
Textiles, jewelry, stained glass installations, graphic design, and sculptures in every material are shown here in exhibitions across four floors—with great views of Central Park to boot. Shows are always bold and colorful, introducing visitors to lesser known artists who impress with their work and storytelling. The museum has a solid calendar of events—artist talks and studio tours, hands-on workshops for kids and adults, and tours.
Where in Manhattan can a Concorde plane, a submarine, and a space shuttle all fit? All the way on the Hudson between 46th and 47th streets, in WWII-era aircraft carrier The Intrepid. Learn about the history of the Space Shuttle Pavilion, the now-defunct Concorde (can you imagine crossing the Atlantic in less than 3 hours?), the Intrepid itself, and the [temporarily closed] submarine Growler. The museum is on Pier 84 where there is a small but nice shaded, grassy area, ideal for picnics.
Manhattan's green lung starts at Columbus Circle, unfurling itself 51 blocks up to 110th street. The park is an absolute hive of action—among 18,000 trees, New Yorkers and tourists alike boat, run, cycle, skate, walk, sit, snooze in the shade, and occasionally sled here. There is nowhere to eat in the park save for two outposts of Belgian bakery Le Pain Quotidien—outdoor seating only—and, for such a large space, there are few bathrooms, so plan accordingly.
Where To Shop
Store at MAD
Like any good museum gift shop, the boutique at Museum of Arts and Design is filled with all manner of chic bits and bobs—moon phase wooden blocks, a bowl that mimics a cantaloup, all manner of jewelry, art books, and tote bags.
This shop is a surprise find just a few blocks from Times Square, where absorbent Swedish dishcloths, a few puzzles, shea butter soaps, marble NYC subway map coasters dot the shelves.
Where To Stay
This temple to luxury hides in plain sight around the corner from the main entrance to Deutsche Bank (née Time Warner) Center. Take the elevator up to 35 and enter the lobby with its wood paneling, marble everywhere, and clean Zen-influenced design. From here the view is of Central Park and pedestrians and traffic down below, zooming around like a time-lapse video. Take it all in it with a drink at MO Lounge which bests neighboring bars with its birds-eye view and drinks like the MO Fashioned—lapsang souchong-infused bourbon, Angostura bitters, and orange zest. The guest rooms are sleek, minimal, with stylish modern furniture, but your eyes will go immediately to the wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Corner rooms, especially, seem suspended in air high above midtown Manhattan, offering a view that’s hard to match in New York’s more traditional luxury hotels—depending on the room, you can watch the sun rise over Central Park or set over the Hudson. There's no getting around the price—it's a splurge. But if it's the view you're after, you can take in Central Park from above the treetops at the bar—no room res required.
Where To Take A Break
Hudson River Park
Walk or cycle along the Hudson River or sit in the shade and at this riverfront park, which runs from Tribeca up to Columbus Circle.
Gotham West Market
Before a stroll along the Hudson River, use the bathroom here and cool down with an ice cream like the Truffle Shuffle—milk chocolate ice cream, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and mini chocolate-covered marshmallows—from Mikey Likes It.
Sullivan Street Bakery
Ample seating, good coffee, and pastries sweet and savory make this a favorite of Hell's Kitchen denizens.
Hero image: Columbus Circle, Museum of Arts and Design in the background.
Photo © ablokhin/iStock