New York's newest retaurants cater to every taste and budget.
Six new shops emphasize regional specialties, wine tastings and informed, friendly service
Cutting-edge design makes seven new boutique hotels places to party as well as to sleep
|Luxury Wine Cellars
In this web-exclusive feature, Mathew Debord examines how stellar cellars have become status symbols in Manhattan's luxury apartment buildings
New for Thursday, April 12
Tracking the Trends
A web-exclusive analysis of menus and wine lists at New York's new restaurants reveals the latest developments in dining
New York is a different place each time you visit it. Look for that charming little restaurant you discovered last time, and the odds are good you'll find a skyscraper or a Starbucks there instead. While most of the world's great cities cherish their pasts, New York cares only for the future. Yesterday's landmarks tumble before the march of progress. Only the strong survive.
This is not always a good thing. Those who loved the old Pennsylvania Station or the Quilted Giraffe know how much has been lost. But the city's endless search for novelty has its advantages. Every day, another talented chef or passionate vendor sets up shop, looking for kindred souls to serve. The unceasing flow of creativity is like a fountain of youth.
Only the most intrepid explorer can keep up with New York's avalanche of opportunities for pleasure and edification. In the three years that have passed since Wine Spectator's last guide to the city (April 30, 1998), whole neighborhoods have emerged from obscurity -- the transformation of the gritty meatpacking district in the far West Village into a hotbed of trendy restaurants and clubs, for example. There are only two ways to separate the wheat from the chaff: spend extravagant amounts of time and money, or find a trustworthy guide.
In this special issue, we present nearly 50 good reasons to visit New York now. Wine Spectator editors scoured the town, hunting down new restaurants, hotels and wine shops. We found and dismissed many pretenders, where style masqueraded as substance, or quality bore no relation to value. What remained were the diamonds in the rough, the most exciting of the city's ambitious newcomers. Together, they make a short list of essential addresses for any wine lover on the loose in Manhattan.
When it comes to restaurants, we have divided the newcomers into four groups, linked by character and culinary goals. Neighborhood standouts are like off-Broadway theaters, where talented chefs hone their skills on intimate stages. Trendsetters may be more noteworthy for who's in the room than for what's on the plate, but we would never steer you to a place where you can't find a good bottle of wine. Well-done steak houses prove the continued vitality of an old theme. And for those who simply want the best of everything, 10 new restaurants with worldly ambitions are challenging the brightest stars in town.
The hotels we spotlight are the best of a new breed of boutiques, small places with big dreams. They have discovered it's not enough to offer a firm bed and a hot shower anymore. These hotels offer elaborate decors by big-name designers, and trendy restaurants with lively bar scenes. Some people may feel it's more fun to visit them than to stay in them. But then, that's what many say about New York itself.
Finally, we point you to some of the most interesting wine shops to have opened since 1998. This new wave testifies, like the hotels, that specialization and niche marketing are keys to success these days. By exploring the different options they represent, you can learn something about your own tastes.
But isn't that why people always have come to New York? They want to explore the leading edges of contemporary culture and, in the process, free themselves from old habits and stifling expectations. As the city constantly reinvents itself, exploring it is an endless process of discovery. We hope this issue can serve as a map that will help you discover the best of the new New York.