Lower Manhattan's new skyscrapers, re-landscaped parks and renovated waterfronts contribute to a dynamic panorama. With so much to see and do, the neighborhood can make a person hungry. Feast on these suggestions, good for every size pocketbook and occasion.
Manhattan's southern tip is steeped in colonial American history, no more so than at Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington said farewell to his troops. Well, say hello to Porterhouse Brewing Company, inhabiting its historic premises and featuring heady brews as well as crab cakes, chicken wings and cheeseburgers. The Paris Café, established circa 1873, blends an antique pub setting with a contemporary menu and major-league beer list served until 2am.
For an afternoon break, head to the cobblestoned Stone Street, a pedestrian walkway lined with eateries and drinking establishments. Stop in at Financier Patisserie for a pick-me-up espresso and an éclair, or settle in at one of the communal tables set up outdoors. When the weather is nice, Stone Street is basically one huge happy hour, the various businesses all blending together and evoking a European beer garden. Outdoor tables offer prime views of street life and busking musicians. A fine brunch option (though on Saturdays only) is Harry's Café & Steak, so popular that reservations are highly advisable. Wonderful dishes, such as duck-and-mushroom hash with poached eggs, include unlimited champagne.
For dinner, get dressed up for Wall & Water, in the Andaz Wall Street hotel, serving stylish, market-to-table comfort food, or head across the island to Battery Park City for North End Grill, Danny Meyer's newest restaurant, helmed by chef Floyd Cardoz (Tabla). Further uptown, located a short jaunt from the seat of NYC's municipal government is City Hall (the restaurant), serving classic American cuisine in a restored 1863 cast-iron building. Craving a steak? The baroquely beautiful Delmonico's, the polished MarkJoseph Steakhouse and Bobby Van's Steakhouse & Grill all fit the bill. If you're looking for a luxurious Italian experience, Cipriani Wall Street operates out of a landmark Greek Revival building that once housed the New York Stock Exchange. Bayard's is another architectural masterpiece, the former home of the New York Cotton Exchange. These days its elegantly appointed dining rooms are reserved for private events, except for the Blue Bar, whose nautical interior brings to mind a clipper ship. Cocktails and light fare are available during the evening Monday through Friday.
BLT Bar & Grill at the W New York - Downtown hotel straddles the fence between chic and casual, a modern, bi-level tavern that offers inventive New American dishes and an extensive bar menu. Les Halles Downtown, a lively French brasserie, is famous as the home base of chef-at-large Anthony Bourdain. It's also the go-to spot for satisfying, inexpensive steak frites and mussels. For Italian dining near South Street Seaport, head to Acqua at Peck Slip Restaurant and Wine Bar, which serves classic dishes for lunch and dinner in a quaint, almost rustic space.
Workers in the Financial District have to hustle, so there are lots of good, quick lunch spots to accommodate them, including the homespun Zaitzeff for Kobe beef and organic veggie burgers, Toloache Taqueria for top-notch Mexican eats, the bare-bones Alfanoose for fantastic falafel, and the charming breakfast-and-lunch spot Made Fresh Daily. Pizza is always a big-time NYC attraction, and at Adrienne's Pizzabar the trays of excellent thin-crust pies are ready to go. For an alfresco nosh during warmer months, cruise over to the sailboat- and yacht-filled North Cove Marina, next to the World Financial Center. There's no better place to picnic than from Ed's Lobster Bar Kiosk or Quality Burger, where the patties are flipped on an outdoor grill, to be leisurely consumed at tables shaded by umbrellas.
While Lower Manhattan is most active during the day, there's plenty of nightlife, so long as you know where to go. Vintry Wine & Whiskey is the classiest of watering holes, with 80 wines by the taste, glass or bottle and more than 100 whiskies, serving until 4am Thursday to Saturday. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Meade's and Jeremy's Ale House both offer a convivial atmosphere in which to imbibe (as well as typical bar fare). Fresh Salt has a nautical vibe, and offers sophisticated cocktails along with everything from brunch to late-night eats. Ulysses' Folk House, dedicated to James Joyce via myriad photos and an Irish-inflected menu, also keeps the party going until the wee hours.