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A Design Lover’s Guide To Manhattan: 6 Must-Visit Spots In NYC

Picture of Julia Eskins and Aleyah Solomon
Julia Eskins and Aleyah Solomon
Updated: 10 January 2017
New York City is often described as a cultural melting pot, but when it comes to design, the city is a historical mosaic. Stunning gothic architecture co-exists with modern skyscrapers, while neo-dive bars neighbor slick art galleries. For the design aficionado, Manhattan is a visual feast full of opportunities to rouse the senses. While the city is vast, we’ve narrowed down a few of our favorite spots to eat, drink and get inspired.
Tomatoes at Wassail on Orchard St. | © Aleyah Solomon
Tomatoes at Wassail on Orchard St. | © Aleyah Solomon

Dining on The Lower East Side

For adventurous foodies, vegetarians or those who simply appreciate the lively energy of Lower Manhattan, the Lower East Side is the perfect destination for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Take Wassail, a vegetable-focused restaurant and cider bar with a warm and inviting interior designed by Berman Horn Studio. With beautifully-plated dishes such as the tomatoes with Parmesan, olive oil and wheatgrass or the blueberries with birch and ricotta ice cream, Wassail merges the urban vibe of the Lower East Side with the harvest traditions of colonial era New England. Berman Horn Studio also designed a portion of El Quinto Pino with Silvia Zofio. For after dinner drinks, head to Beauty & Essex, a stylish haunt hidden behind a pawn shop.

The Martin Lawrence Gallery SoHo | © Aleyah Solomon
The Martin Lawrence Gallery SoHo | © Aleyah Solomon

Gallery Hopping in SoHo

Known for being the former stomping grounds of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, SoHo is at the heart of New York City’s historical arts scene. While the cobblestone streets, cast iron buildings and artist lofts alone are worth a visit, the neighborhood also boasts an impressive array of high-end galleries. Located on West Broadway for over 25 years, the Martin Lawrence Gallery SoHo used to represent Haring and Warhol and today is home to the largest contemporary art collection in New York. To continue gallery hopping, head over to Opera Gallery and Pop International Galleries for more pop art and contemporary work.

Gelato at A. B. Biagi on Elizabeth St. | © Aleyah Solomon
Gelato at A. B. Biagi on Elizabeth St. | © Aleyah Solomon

A sweet break in Nolita

While New York is full of cozy cafés, A.B. Biagi is sure to appeal to the design lover with its bright yellow storefront, interior decorated with Brazilian trinkets and menu full of artisanal treats. Specializing in gelato and sorbet, owner Antonio Barros Biagi learned the art of making gelato while growing up with his Italian family in the Brazilian countryside. He makes all the gelato in house and also serves up organic Brazilian coffee. For those who like to sip their espresso in an artistic atmosphere, Whynot Coffee on the Lower East Side is a perfect spot to spend the afternoon with a good book.

Courtesy of Erica Weiner
Courtesy of Erica Weiner

Shopping Local

For the fashion enthusiast looking for pieces reflective of New York City’s effortlessly cool aesthetic, look no further than lower Manhattan’s boutiques with a sustainable focus. Head to Coclico for shoes and boots handcrafted in Mallorca, Spain and be sure to check out Reformation’s eco-friendly line worn by Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss. For a piece of Brooklyn in Manhattan, pop into Erica Weiner’s store on Elizabeth Street to shop her array of antique and handcrafted jewelry. Word of warning: you maybe need to bring an extra suitcase home with you.

El Doble at El Quinto Pino on 24th St.  | © Aleyah Solomon
El Doble at El Quinto Pino on 24th St. | © Aleyah Solomon

An afternoon in Chelsea

The High Line’s naturalized plantings, view of the city and site-specific installations attract design buffs from around the world. After walking the 1.45-mile stretch of repurposed railway, head to one of Chelsea’s many tapas bars for a bite. El Quinto Pino serves up traditional Spanish tapas and specializes in a ‘menú turístico’ that changes every few months to focus on a different region. Architect Silvia Zofio has created a romantic interior with a tiled wall behind the intimate bar, chalkboard menus, a rustic woven tapestry installation in the main dining room and mid-century Spanish-inspired chandeliers throughout. The restaurant serves brunch and dinner including cold tapas such as the Tortilla Española egg and potato omelette, hot tapas like the Nuestras Bravas potatoes with spicy aioli and sandwiches including the El Doble, arguably one of the best burgers in the city.

Interior of The Ship NYC on Lafayette St. | © Aleyah Solomon
Interior of The Ship NYC on Lafayette St. | © Aleyah Solomon

Cocktails in Nolita

An evening in Manhattan wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of the city’s many speakeasy-style cocktail bars. Step inside The Ship NYC on Lafayette and you’ll be transported into a nautical-inspired two-floor bar. Founded by Cervantes Ramirez and Joseph Schwatz, the vision for a bar reminiscent of an upside-down shipping vessel was brought to life by partner Steven Choo, and designer and architect Robert Jamieson. The elegant interior is punctuated by reclaimed artifacts such as booths upholstered with vintage sail clothes and ocean liner ventilation shafts from Belgium that have been converted into lighting displays. The bartenders specialize in crafting bespoke cocktails such as the ginger-based Buck Up cocktail by Yoichi Nagano. Kick back with a drink and a few of their signature small bites to cap off a busy day in Manhattan.