Dine Out Downtown

Julie Besonen

In anticipation of the spring opening of One World Observatory, the observation deck attraction at One World Trade Center, here's a look at nearby food picks. Media titan Condé Nast, whose titles include the New Yorker and Vogue, has moved into the skyscraper, adding some flair to this Brooks Brothers enclave. Wall Streeters favor longtime power lunch spots like Delmonico's, Cipriani Wall Street, Morton's The Steakhouse, Bobby Van's Steakhouse & Grill and the Capital Grille. Food trucks galore service office workers in a hurry. For those seeking something in between, perhaps following a visit to the moving 9/11 Memorial & Museum, see our slideshow.

Photo: Melissa Hom

Blue Smoke
255 Vesey St., 212-899-2005, Battery Park City, Manhattan
The Battery Park City offshoot of Danny Meyer's Flatiron District barbecue hit is a smart and lively addition to this buttoned-down neighborhood. An after-work crowd packs into the bar while families bundle into red booths. Both camps blend harmoniously. The bar crowd digs into burgers with house-smoked bacon (not on the official dinner menu, but you can ask for them nonetheless) and chipotle chicken wings with blue cheese dip. Vegetarians are sated by North Carolina salt peanuts and kale salad with sweet tea pecans and pickled grapes. Barbecue lovers will find juicy brisket and baby back ribs, while Cajun fans will return again and again for Louisiana chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois' tremendous take on the shrimp boil.

Photo: Oleg March

El Vez
259 Vesey St., 212-233-2500, Battery Park City, Manhattan
Elvis Presley's fetching cowboy look from movies like Charro! and Flaming Star is on display at this sprawling, Mexican-American saloon with touches of the Old West. Mega-restaurateur Stephen Starr (Upland, Buddakan, Morimoto NY) opened this Battery Park City venue last year following the longtime success of his flagship El Vez in Philadelphia. (El Vez, in case you don't keep up on these things, is a Mexican-American Elvis impersonator.) Cast-iron chandeliers, bunches of chili peppers, Day of the Deadskeletons and dozens of bottles of tequila and mezcal help advance the concept. Huitlacoche quesadillas with Chihuahua cheese and a scoop of guacamole, chicken enchiladas and Baja-style whole fish with pickled jalapeños come in satisfying portions. A quick-serve, lunchtime burrito counter (to open soon) aims to give Chipotle a run for its money.

Photo: Alexander Thompson

Kaffe 1668
275 Greenwich St., 212-693-3750, TriBeCa, Manhattan
Hard-core coffee, tea and cold-pressed juice drinkers: you know who you are. The not so easy to please should head right over to this serious-minded café in TriBeCa, a few short blocks north of One World Trade Center. Kaffe 1668 does not refer to its address but rather to the year New York City's Dutch founders allegedly introduced coffee as a breakfast beverage (replacing beer). Single-origin, direct-trade beans are ground fresh for each espresso and served in pretty, porcelain Iittala cups from Finland (paper cups are available for those on the run). Heavy wood tables, free WiFi, enchanting toy sheep and extra seating downstairs for brainstorming sessions and secluded reading escapes make the place enticing for all kinds of reasons. Fresh-baked goods, both sweet and savory, are available to grab for a snack.

Photo: Mark Abramson

Hudson Eats
Brookfield Place, 200–250 Vesey St., 2nd level, 212-417-7000, Battery Park City, Manhattan
A vista of the Statue of Liberty, shimmering Hudson River and yachts moored at the North Cove Marina make the food taste even better at Hudson Eats, a food hall extraordinaire that opened last year. To find it, follow signs in the massive office complex or take an escalator up from the Winter Garden, a glass atrium with a grove of palm trees and park benches. The 30,000-square-foot space holds 14 fast-casual concepts and can accommodate 600 people. At lunchtime it completely fills up, so try to go in off-peak hours. Choices range from Blue Ribbon Sushi and Black Seed Bagels to Chopt Creative Salad Company and Umami Burger. In short, there is something here for everyone in your party. High marble counters are provided for a stand-and-eat experience, but for something more relaxing try for a window table where you can sit and enjoy the view.

Photo: Ken Goodman

North End Grill
104 North End Ave., 646-747-1600, Battery Park City, Manhattan
While Danny Meyer's Blue Smoke celebrates the American South, the restaurateur's North End Grill has a more local, northerly approach. Chef Eric Korsh, who recently got two stars in the New York Times, offers Wellfleet oysters, house-cured charcuterie, grilled clam pizza with chili flakes and a Berkshire tomahawk pork chop for two. The upscale restaurant sports white tablecloths and a streamlined, contemporary design. Relatively undiscovered wines, New York State–brewed beer and –distilled spirits and more than 150 bottlings of Scotch help make it a destination dining spot rather than just a neighborhood option.

Photo: Alexander Thompson

Underground Pizza
3 Hanover Sq., 212-425-4442, Financial District, Manhattan
Underground Pizza isn't underground, but it is on the down low—apart from local office workers who rely on it for a cheap and filling breakfast or lunch. Around the corner from elegant Delmonico's, this slice joint has lasted since 1979 and looks it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, especially since any slice you get—plain cheese, meaty or vegetarian—is as good as any slice anywhere in the City. Whole pies are available too. In addition to traditional toppings are combinations like bacon and jalapeño, which has a cult following. So does the grandma pizza, squares layered with tomato sauce, three cheeses and fried garlic. The two-tiered, brightly lit spot has a dropped ceiling and walls adorned with Yankees photos, maps of Sicily and hand-sanitizer dispensers. For families on a budget and groups that want something quick, get in line.