Chelsea is one of NYC’s quintessential gay neighborhoods. Located on Manhattan’s west side, from 14th to 28th Streets between Sixth Avenue and the Hudson River, the area is home to plenty of thriving gay bars, not to mention the occasional window display of a mannequin dressed in leather. Beyond its fabled nightlife, Chelsea features some of the City’s best art galleries and museums, most in-demand restaurants and, yes, a few shops where you can dress for excess. Here are just a few of our favorites in the neighborhood.
Chelsea Market’s ground-floor eats include Mexican cuisine (Los Tacos No. 1), Israeli street food (Miznon), baked goods (Sarabeth’s) and many more. While it can be crowded, there’s good reason for its popularity—this is one of the best markets in New York City, or anywhere.
Is there a gayer restaurant on earth? This fashionable eatery is one of Chelsea’s longstanding cornerstones. Expect a menu of upscale comfort food, along with a lively bar.
Helmed by gay chef Roberto Santibañez, Fonda—which has two other locations in the City—specializes in delicious items from Puebla, Oaxaca and the Yucatan. Don’t miss the tasty frozen margaritas, either.
Another hit from NYC food legend David Chang, Momofuku Nishi fuses Italian and Korean cuisines—but it’s the restaurant’s Impossible Burger that has all the folks talking. It looks and tastes just like a gourmet burger even though it’s totally meatless.
This superfun spin-off from the Williamsburg original features vintage arcade games and a great selection of craft beers.
Barracuda is a laid-back, no-frills spot where locals (or, really, anyone) can meet in a loungy space. The venerable neighborhood institution features regular 2-for-1 drink deals.
Bathtub Gin is a Prohibition-style speakeasy hidden behind a secret door inside a coffee shop on Ninth Avenue. The vibe is sexy, noirish and Gatsbyesque. While it isn’t gay per se, the aesthetic is definitely queer.
A queer sports bar with a buzzy atmosphere, Boxers hosts good-looking patrons—and better-looking shirtless bartenders. Come during an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race to really see the craziness in action.
The Eagle NYC
This classic leather and fetish bar features two indoor levels with pool, dancing, theme nights and an in-house leather shop. Don’t miss their popular Sunday beer blast on the rooftop.
This nightspot is a great space to chill early on—and then becomes a packed dance club. Drinks are cheap and creative, but the real fun comes from the drag shows, DJs and Show Tune Sundays party. Note: there’s occasionally a cash-only cover to get in.
Things to Do
Chelsea Gallery District
Located on the neighborhood’s far west side—mostly in the West 20s between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues—are some of the City’s finest galleries. It’s free to look, and easy to make a day out of visiting famed institutions like 303, Gagosian and David Zwirner.
The High Line
The High Line is a New York City gem—green and gorgeous. The 1.5-mile stretch of elevated parkland run through Chelsea and has become one of NYC’s best-known attractions.
The Museum at FIT
Free exhibits at the museum showcase fashions and couture throughout the centuries. The current exhibition, Minimalism/Maximalism, displays a range of extremes.
Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin is a masterpiece, featuring Indian and Himalayan art along with Buddhist and Chinese artifacts.
This homegrown label sells sportswear as well as fetish, club and street apparel. It’s worth a visit to Chelsea for the brand’s one-of-a-kind “shredders,” hand-distressed sleeveless shirts sold only in-store.
When you’re looking for a 1950s dress, a sleek fedora or a pair of suspenders your dad would wear, you go to Mimi’s, on the Cheslea–West Village border. It’s a little pricier than your usual vintage shop, but amid the ruffled pirate shirts you’ll find old-school treasures.