New York is back. If you're craving a sense of normalcy and the vibration of a high-energy city that, as they say, never sleeps, it's time to plan a cross-country voyage to the Big Apple.
For while it's true that many New York businesses didn't survive the last two years, dozens of new restaurants, bars, hotels, and attractions have popped up in their place—so many that we couldn't possibly cover all of them here. But we did round up 15 can't-miss spots that'll yank your soul out of Covid-induced hibernation, even if it's practically freezing (just don't forget your gloves and winter coat).
We get that a city of eight million people might not sound like the safest place to visit right now, but rest assured that New York is doing everything in its power to return to its pre-pandemic self. All businesses require proof of vaccination at the door for patrons looking to eat, drink, or simply hang indoors, and we can confirm that they vigilantly check.
Where to Stay in NYC Now
(Courtesy of the Arlo Midtown)
You'd be hard-pressed to stay in a better location than the new Arlo Midtown. In just a few minutes walk, you can find yourself in Times Square, but if that's not your scene, the hotel is removed enough from the chaos that you'd never guess the bright lights were flashing a few blocks away. Everything about the Arlo is glamorous and sophisticated (even the high-tech elevator system—you have to see it to get it), and lush greenery throughout makes the whole place feel a little less urban despite being smack in the middle of Manhattan. While the majority of rooms are small, the city views through massive windows are the perfect tradeoff. There are plenty of luxe spaces for eating and drinking including the hotel's Italian-American restaurant Nearly Ninth, but the best is definitely the rooftop bar perched 26 stories up, a great spot for catching the sunset. The Arlo also offers complimentary bikes to guests for getting around the city in record time. // 351 W 38th St. (Garment District, New York), arlohotels.com
Ace Hotel Brooklyn
The new Ace Hotel in Brooklyn is the perfect jumping-off point for exploration within Brooklyn or in Manhattan, which is a quick subway ride away. The rooms are warm, light-filled with floor-to-ceiling windows, and as cozy as Ace's signature sweatshirt robes. But it's the communal gathering spaces at this Frank Lloyd Wright-esque hotel that'll draw you in most. From the gorgeous lobby bar to a garden atrium that will soon become a natural wine bar to the bakery and coffee counter you don't want to miss the corn cake with sour cherry compote and miso butter), no detail was spared in the design. The restaurant As You Are also serves a killer dinner if you feel like staying in one night (octopus mezcal ragu, confit lamb ribs, need we say more?) and the classic, Muscle Beach–inspired gym is a fun place to sweat out all of your New York City indulgences. // 252 Schermerhorn St. (Brooklyn), acehotel.com
Play: Where to Soak up All the NYC Skyline Views
(Courtesy of Summit One Vanderbilt)
Summit One Vanderbilt
Make no mistake; this is a tourist attraction through and through. At times, you'll feel like you're boarding a ride at Disney, but this experience at the One Vanderbilt skyscraper in Midtown, which opened this fall, is also totally worth the song and dance in exchange for unmatched views of the city through floor-to-ceiling glass walls (alongside trippy, mirrored floors and ceilings) that give the Empire State Building's observation decks a run for their money.
Summit is great any time of day, but timing your visit at sunset is worth the extra $10; just make sure you account for about 20 to 30 minutes of wait time before you actually get in, despite the timed entry that must be reserved in advance. Beyond the main room, there are a few interactive exhibits, a cocktail bar, and the option to ride a glass elevator on the outside of the building all the way to 1,200 feet. // 45 E 42nd St (Midtown, New York), summitov.com
Edge at Hudson Yards
The controversial, 150-foot honeycomb-like structure known as The Vessel opened within Hudson Yards in 2019. The unique spiral staircase is currently closed (sadly due to a string of suicides), but it's still an interesting work of architecture to swing by on a city walkabout. While you're in the neighborhood, visit Edge, touted as the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere. Suspended in mid-air with glass walls, Edge, which first opened literally days before having to shut down due to the pandemic, gives the sensation of floating 100 floors above the city. If you need some liquid courage, you can add a glass of Champagne to your ticket; true adventure junkies can book a skyscraping experience and literally climb the side of the building. // Located between 10th and 12th Avenues from West 30th to West 34th Streets (Hudson Yards, New York), hudsonyardsnewyork.com
From Hudson Yards, take the High Line—a raised, pedestrian-only walkway repurposed from a disused railway viaduct—to the Meatpacking District and Little Island, a futuristic, artificial island park built over the Hudson that opened this past summer. The 2.4-acre oasis is a great place to stop for some quiet reading or to enjoy a cup of coffee while looking out at the city skyline (food and beverage concepts from local vendors are closed for winter and will reopen in the spring of 2022). There's a small amphitheater and playground, making this a great stop for families as well. For now, you can stroll right up to the island and explore, but in spring and summer, they'll resume timed entry reservations. // Pier 55 in Hudson River Park (Chelsea, New York), littleisland.org
The Places to Eat + Drink in NYC Now
(Courtesy of Sushi Lab)
One White Street
A restaurant from two Eleven Madison Park alums—you might recognize Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson from the Somm documentary films—Tribeca's One White Street is set inside a cozy brick townhouse located at, well, 1 White Street. Reservations are necessary for their tasting menu served upstairs and, while not cheap, it's priced more reasonably than a meal at the now plant-based Eleven Madison. The downstairs is open for walk-ins and serves up a-la-carte fare like half roasted duck and white truffle gnocchi. The wine list is, unsurprisingly, stellar, offering the chance to splurge on a $600 bottle of Champagne if you feel so inclined. // 1 White Street (Tribeca, New York), onewhitestreetnyc.com
The Chemistry Room at Sushi Lab
A few blocks from Times Square (and just far enough from the crowds), the new Chemistry Room at the Sanctuary Hotel's rooftop Sushi Lab is truly a one-of-a-kind dining experience that opened this November. Upon check-in, you'll be sent to wait in the hotel lobby before your party and just a handful of others are escorted one at a time into an intimate room consisting of a few tables, a small bar, and a sushi counter. For $100 (a steal, really), you'll be guided through an incredible, 13-course omasake menu where some of the world's greatest delicacies, from caviar and truffles to Wagyu and quail eggs, accompany small bites of fresh tuna, uni, scallops, eel, and more. Pair the menu with some sake or a craft cocktail, like a smoking Old Fashioned. // 142 W 47th St (Midtown, New York), sushilab.nyc
This neighborhood brasserie opened in Williamsburg at the end of 2020 inside an 1800s bank building. Formerly of San Francisco's Cotogna, executive chef Christopher Cipollone might be a familiar name to Bay Areans, but he's since returned East and left Italian cuisine behind to cook up traditional, hearty French dishes like lobster ravioli and côte de boeuf (thankfully, pasta is still a big part of his menu at Francie). Come hungry, for you might start the evening with oysters and duck mortadella before moving on to the pasta course, the main, and then the cheese cart for dessert. // 136 Broadway (Brooklyn), franciebrooklyn.com
One of New York's newest and buzzed-about restaurants, Ci Siamo, set in Hudson Yard's new Manhattan West development, is the ultimate comfort food restaurant, specializing in live-fire Italian cooking. Start with a traditional bites like mortadella with pistachio. For your main dish, choose between pasta, like lobster cavatelli, wood-fired meats, or fish. For drinks, a negroni is an obvious choice, but the Ci Siamo martini (Irish gin, Occitan gin, blanc and dry vermouth, and orange bitters) is a solid alternative. // 100 Manhattan West Plaza (New York), cisiamonyc.com
If you want to get some warm and fuzzy pre-pandemic feelings, Thai Diner brings the energy. The Nolita eatery is positively buzzing and takes very limited reservations, so it's best to just show up not quite starving and wait for a table to open up. The inside feels dark and old school (in a good way) and the menu is chockfull of comforting and often spicy Thai-American dishes, like laab, Thai disco Fries (smothered in Massaman curry with red onion, peanuts, and coconut cream), and "phat Thai." The apple dumplings can't be missed for dessert, and if you knew of the Thai Diner team's former concept, Uncle Boons, you'll find some favorites from there, too. They also serve breakfast—think, lobster omelets and Thai tea babka French toast. //186 Mott St. (Nolita, New York), thaidiner.com
Runner Up (and Winner)
Despite opening right before the pandemic in 2020, lines have continued to form daily at the Park Slope bakery Winner; chef/owner Daniel Eddy has just opened up a sister concept next door, called Runner Up. An entirely outdoor restaurant and wine bar that doesn't accept reservations and has just nine tables, Runner Up's menu is short and sweet, consisting of some bakery items from Winner (yes, please on the garlic and cheddar monkey bread), small plates, and a handful of mains like herb-crusted pollock. The star of Runner Up is really the killer wine list, most of which is quite reasonably priced, but in addition to the wines, there's a fun list of original cocktails, aperitifs and digestifs, and beers. // 367 7th Ave. (Brooklyn), winnernyc.com
This new West Village wine bar and restaurant was designed for exploration, so more than 100 wines are offered by the glass. This means you can jump from France to the Finger Lakes in under an hour and, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, pay a visit to Lebanon or Cyprus. You can also sip red, white, or orange, sparkling or sherry—get the gist? They've got a little bit of everything. Start early at breakfast when you can order up shakshouka and toast and a chickpea pancake. For dinner, small plates range from "two-dollar popcorn" to a Lebanese lamb burger; on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays you can test your blind tasting skills for $30. // 49 Carmine St. (West Village, New York), temperancenyc.com
Natty wine lovers should check out the aptly named Skin Contact, a small dimly-lit wine bar on the Lower East Side where the list of funky natural wines features plenty of grapes you've likely never heard of and can't pronounce—that's part of the fun. Choose from sparklings, whites, rosés, and reds, plus more than a dozen skin-contact bottles better known as orange wines. There are also a handful of small plates to munch on like sardines, cucumber tea sandwiches, and pickled veggies. // 76 Orchard St. (Lower East Side, New York), skincontact.nyc
Brooklyn Dumpling Shop
One of the best parts about New York City is the sheer amount of late-night eats. Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, which is confusingly located in the East Village but is also opening more NYC locations soon, hits the spot at 2am and is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. These aren't your typical dumplings—think unique fillings like French onion soup, PB&J, pastrami, and Philly cheesesteak. The Dumpling Shop is also made for the Covid era. Place your order via a contactless system and, once ready, your food comes up in a vintage vending machine-like concept called an Automat (they've recently been making a return to NYC). It's a little gimmicky, but fun nonetheless. // 131 1st Ave. (Bowery, New York), booklyndumplingshop.com
Eleven Madison Park
ICYMI, this famous three-Michelin-starred restaurant made headlines earlier this year when chef Daniel Humm announced that he'd decided to go fully vegan. That means every dish on its eight to 10-course tasting menu is now plant-based (and no, this doesn't mean it's suddenly cheaper to dine there). The move has brought its share of critics and skeptics, but it's certainly a unique fine dining experience for the burgeoning meatless crowd—you can decide for yourself if they've pulled it off. To save a little money, try to snag a reservation for the bar menu. // 11 Madison Ave. (Madison Square Park, New York), elevenmadisonpark.com