10 things to do in the Meatpacking District
The Meatpacking District may be one of New York‘s coolest neighbourhoods, but its name reveals a shadow of its rougher origins. A century ago, Meatpacking was teeming with tenements, crammed with packing plants and grisly round the edges, thanks to the area’s many slaughterhouses.
But these days, you’d never know it. Home to many of the borough’s coolest clubs, most exclusive eateries, and priciest designer boutiques, Meatpacking attracts quite the jet-set crowd. The opening of the now-iconic High Line in 2009 and the renovated Whitney Museum of American Art in 2015 have further cemented this petite’s neighbourhood’s elevated status. Visit these 10 locations to discover Meatpacking’s unique energy (Pro-tip: unless you’re a highly practiced fashionista, those cobblestones will murder your sky-high heels).
The High Line
The High Line beautifully symbolises the Meatpacking District’s renaissance. Once an elevated railway track, this most unconventional of public parks has transformed the ex-industrial site into a beautifully green expanse. With verdant walkways spanning a mile and a half, the walk is crowded on sunny days, but offers some incomparable views of the downtown skyline.
Founded in 1931, and a long-time resident of the Upper East Side, The Whitney Museum of American Art relocated to the Meatpacking District in 2015. Designed by starchitect Renzo Piano, the new, nine-storey building includes much more space for masterworks by Jackson Pollock, Louise Bourgeois, Mark Rothko and numerous others, while its outside viewing platforms provide ineffable cityscape panoramas.
Ground Zero Museum Workshop
For a moving and intimate homage to the victims and survivors of 9/11, Meatpacking’s Ground Zero Museum Workshop definitely merits a visit. Built in collaboration with FDNY members, affected families, and others touched by the tragedy, the museum is small but packs powerful emotional weight thanks to its collection of artefacts recovered from the Twin Towers, never-before-seen images, and first-hand accounts from rescue workers and those who assisted in clean-up and recovery efforts.
Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC
No doubt about it: the Meatpacking District’s got style. Credited by many with helping to kick-start its buzz, the eternally trendy Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC opened here in 2004, and it’s still attracting beautiful people more than a decade later. Book a stay at the design hotel – its guestrooms are populated with large-scale artwork and bright pops of colour – to fully immerse yourself in the neighbourhood scene. Otherwise, a night out at upscale Provocateur (or the more relaxed rooftop bar, Zerzura at Plunge) should suffice.
Just north of 15th Street and therefore technically in Chelsea, Chelsea Market is still just steps from Meatpacking’s outer edge – and, given its status as a bona fide foodie playground, should be on the must-do list for anyone with a growling stomach. The historic indoor food hall encourages heavy grazing, thanks to shops like Cull & Pistol (come for the oysters), Chelsea Creamline (a must for artisan dairy), Corkbuzz Wine Bar (run by Master Sommelier Laura Maniec), and a little restaurant called Morimoto.
Jeffrey New York
Jeffrey New York has retained cult status among the fashion set since opening in 1999. Packed with Bergdorf-calibre brands and a shoe department to make coveters weep, Jeffrey nevertheless distinguishes itself with its brand of downtown cool, as evidenced by the DJs who provide shoppers with a thumping backbeat and the friendly staff who take a personal approach to their customer service. Once you’re laden with bags and light of wallet, you can skip along to the many other designer boutiques in the surrounding blocks.
Meatpacking’s not short on destination restaurants, either. Del Posto is a particular favourite; scooping four stars from the New York Times in 2010, the palatial restaurant – co-run by celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich – has imbued the neighbourhood with high-end Italian hospitality. You can sign on for a lavish five-or eight-course prix fixe menu, or line your stomach with dishes like spaghetti with Dungeness crab and pork and orecchiette with lamb neck ragu.
Del Posto is a must for the gastronauts, but if you’re hungering for scene, Catch exerts an almost magnetic attraction for A-listers and high rollers. The tri-level, 400-cover restaurant is helmed by ‘Top Chef’ winner Hung Huynh, whose kitchen turns out colossal seafood platters, oysters with a side of Krug and seriously impressive sushi. Join the crowds in indulging in the fruits de mer before heading out for the late-night revelry.
In a neighbourhood as full of nightclubs as this, just how do you choose where to spend your evening? If dancing and deep house are what you seek, then make Cielo your destination for all-night partying. Famous for its roster of big-name, international DJs as well as its cosy dance floor – and strict door policy – this club is one of the few spots where New Yorkers really let their hair down.
Le Bain at the Standard Hotel
And then there’s Le Bain. The Standard Hotel’s penthouse club – with its gape-worthy views of the High Line, Hudson, and beyond – is famous for its dance floor plunge pool that’s frequently filled with frolicking, skimpily attired swimmers. During the summer, head up to the roof, which has the feel of a pool party thanks to stacks of towels and kitschy Astroturf. Few other nightlife spots feel quite as exciting – or as New York – as this.
Written by Claire Bullen