Low rise old warehouses mix with soaring Jenga-style glass towers. Chi chi restaurants vie with cozy eateries. TriBeCa’s influx of well-heeled residents has transformed what was once an industrial hub and artists’ haven – while keeping pockets of quirk and innovation.
- Eat: Arcade Bakery literally is the foyer of a non-descript office building on Church & Worth Streets, so it is open only Monday to Friday. The hazelnut croissant is unbelievably delicious – a soft, moist pastry with a crunchy chocolatey base. Zutto‘s quirky Japanese American pub serves rich, flavorful ramen and fantastic steamed buns filled with Angus beef or short rib. For simple, fresh sushi and sashimi in an authentic minimalist setting Takahachi is my favorite place in the city. The staff are wonderful.
I love the delicious schnitzel with lingonberry preserve and big warm pretzels with mustard at Austrian restaurant, The Blaue Gans. During the World Cup football tournament, the place is bursting with European expats glued to the games on pull-down projection screens. For the best value in the neighborhood, head to Max, a cozy Italian joint with exposed brick walls and enormous portions – order the black squid ink linguine with shrimp followed by the tiramisu.
- Shop: The Saturday farmers market on Greenwich Street has fresh produce from the Hudson Valley and is a great place to pick up a filling bialy. Rather randomly, Korin sells knives and kitchenware to enthusiastic culinary pros and occasionally hosts interesting talks on Japanese food culture. Stocked with every imaginable whodunnit and piece of “Sherlockiana” is The Mysterious Bookshop – which is so specialized, it’s a miracle that it has survived the age of Amazon.com. Even if you are not going to buy anything, viewing the huge, vivid vintage posters at Philip Williams is such a treat.
- Caffeinate: Laughing Man‘s teeny tiny coffee shop in Duane Park has a bench outside the door. Families congregate there with their dogs and lattes in hand for a real community feel. I often take my laptop with me to the lobby of Smyth hotel and sip one of their almond milk cappuccinos while working. There is good light and often a roaring fire.
- Cocktail: Grand Banks is brilliant in the summer. It is a beautiful wooden schooner built in 1942 that has been moored at Pier 25 and converted to an oyster bar . The views to Battery Park and across to New Jersey are stunning at sunset. Macao Trading Company is a dark, intimate, almost theatrically lit and decorated restaurant inspired by 1930s Macao opium dens. Leave the barman to rustle up an imaginative cocktail.
- Culture Up: TriBeCa has traditionally been home to terrific artists. That has dwindled over time as bohemians have been priced out of real estate, but there is still local talent. A visit to the studio of pop artist Peter Tunney is a riot – he is such a character – and Diane Detalle often has exhibitions of her exquisitely expressive paintings in neighborhood galleries. The Roxy Hotel’s cinema hosts movie screenings – a different line up each day – and for drinks afterwards, the cellar is home to the Django, which has nightly live jazz.
- Work Out: Overpriced niche exercise classes have sprouted up all over the neighborhood, but a few do deliver a bang for your buck. Tracy Anderson Method Studio attracts disciples, not customers – it really is that amazing. Founded by the eponymous celebrity trainer, the dance-based studio adds ankle weights and room heat to high-cardio dance classes. I love that the instructors don’t just talk at you – in fact, they don’t speak at all, they just do the full work out while you follow along. The music is DJ-quality and the moves never get boring. Lyons Den Yoga has no-nonsense but supportive instructors who guide you through speedy flow sequences in a heated studio on Church Street. I come out 3 pounds lighter from sweating and feel so energized.
- Wind Down: Aire is a marvel. It is a huge Roman style bath house underground on Franklin Street, with decadent hot, warm, cold and salt pools – it understandably books up weeks in advance! Follow a massage with a sit in the 4-glass-walled steam room. Eden Day Spa has reasonably priced foot massages and the staff concentrate so hard on kneading out all knots.
I took a mindfulness meditation course with Elizabeth Coleman. Herself a former partner at a law firm, Elizabeth teaches a lot of professionals looking for practical stress reduction techniques without the “om”. Classes are held in her loft and it is a wonderful place to cocoon: the walls are painted in warm earthy colors, there is an open kitchen stacked with gloriously sparkling copper pots, and her floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are filled with artsy hardcover books. She is also a gifted classical guitarist – she plays at one point in the course and her music invokes such joy.
© Ann Berry.