Sometimes people like to take a break from the trendy, high-end restaurants and bars in the Meatpacking District and try to find a spot that is a bit lower key. Gaslight seems to be that perfect spot with its comfy seating arrangements, no cover charge, music, and drinks that are not priced quite as high as others in the vicinity. And if at any point a need for some pizza arises, Gaslight Pizzeria is conveniently located right next door.
In keeping with the original nautical theme from the 1960′s, each room in the hotel has a porthole window and is decorated with teak wood. In 2014, the hotel’s restaurant La Bottega closed to make room for La Sirena by Mario Batali. The Cabanas, open in the spring and summer, is on the rooftop and offers a welcome reprieve from the city streets when the weather permits.
Trendy and filled with beautiful people, the Dream Hotel has created quite an aura around it. Sitting in the lobby is certainly entertaining at any hour of the day, but in the evening the action really kicks in. There is a DJ in the lounge area right off the lobby and not far from the entrance is Bodega Negra, with a Mexican menu. Also attached to the hotel is a restaurant called Fishbowl, with a 5000 gallon fish tank behind the bar. On the rooftop, the PHD Club tends to play top 40's music, and downstairs is the Electric Room, which is described as a rock club.
We almost missed the entrance leading down to this subterranean bar on 15th street. Unassuming is an understatement. The glass-faced double doors look as if they could lead to any former factory turned "office block". Only the small, burnished gold sign indicates otherwise. The Barretts, father and son owners, prefer it that way. They have run a hotspot before, The China Club, for nearly twenty-five years, so when this basement space in the Nabisco building opened up in 2011, they could not resist the opportunity to operate The Tippler. Michael, the son, explained that The Tippler fills an odd niche in the Meatpacking District: a “post-dinner, pre-club” spot, that attracts a laid-back after work crowd during weekdays and gets a bit more crowded on the weekends when a DJ is pumping out music. Whatever the clientele, the aesthetic manages to match. Brick archways, exposed steel support beams, books, Persian rugs, unfinished wood tables and chairs, bare bulbs behind wire mesh, string lights, and concrete floors all play into the part-industrial, part-hip dive bar aesthetic. There is a revolving selection of draught, bottled, and canned beers, house, and classic cocktails (like the Charming Snake - a mix of bourbon, Garam Masala seasoning, and habanero bitters).The ambience and drinks are matched with small plates of spiced nuts, olives, and pickles or toasts topped with anything from mashed deviled egg and crispy prosciutto to chicken liver pate. The Tippler is where comfort and class meet for a quiet drink.
From the bright yellow revolving doors, to the adorable little ice skating rink, to the bar, the lobby, the rooms with the views, this is quite the place to see and be seen. Located in the Meatpacking District, where so much of the city's nightlife takes place, this hotel is definitely one of the more popular places to visit... but some of us prefer it during the daytime when you can really appreciate all that it has to offer...including its proximity to the High Line. That being said, if you are a night time person who loves the party scene, then do check out Le Bain, the rooftop club that opens at 4:00pm.
Beneath the Spanish Benevolent Society lies La Nacional, one of Manhattan’s most authentic Spanish restaurants and the most easily accessible part of the society. Just by walking down the steps into the dimly lit basement lounge, we felt the bustle of 14th street quickly recede and we were transported across the ocean. La Nacional has the same relaxed, no frills atmosphere as most tapas bars in Spain. We gazed at the old photographs from the society’s earlier years on the walls and then had the option of sipping a drink at the bar, sampling some classic simple Spanish tapas such as tortilla de patatas, croquetas or chorizo, or dining on a full meal of paella. Perhaps the most authentic option, though, was to simply have a seat by the television to watch the fútbol game - it is always on. For visitors from Spain who want a taste of home, those of us pining for the Spanish travels of our past, or New Yorkers simply curious about a new culture, La Nacional is the place to go.
Babycastles, randomly named in honor of a Japanese pastry, is a gallery and community venue for video game designers. However, according to Todd Anderson, one of the members of the Babycastles collective, Babycastles is about more than just gaming. It is an “incubator” of fresh artistic thought, a place to go with unconventional ideas to be welcomed by individuals who can see those concepts into fruition without red tape and hefty price tags.Using his own story as a case study, Todd told me about how he moved to New York from Chicago in order to pursue digital poetry, a relatively new genre that plays with the interaction between technology and language (for example, using a keyboard to control the delivery of a poem in the same way a conductor guides an orchestra). Todd turned to Babycastles, inquired about hosting a monthly poetry event, and was met with great support. He found a home for his art, and has been invested in Babycastles ever since.Sharing a building with Hack Manhattan, Babycastles hosts a wide variety of events for all ages including concerts, lectures, game launches, and even yoga. The Babycastles team curates exhibitions that spotlight independent video game designers and define their work in the larger context of fine arts. Oftentimes, custom game cabinets are built to accommodate the works on display.Game creators and other artists are invited to apply for the Babycastles residency program, which allows them to take advantage of the bright, sunlit co-working space and receive inspiration from an artistic community where they can freely test their latest ideas. For an application to the program, check the website; new members are admitted regularly.
How happy were my husband and I when we came to the end of 17th Street, this particular day on our bikes, and there was Artichoke Pizza waiting for us (the entrance is on the side street)? We went in and ordered individual slices of whatever we could fit in one box, put it on the back of our bike, and headed home quickly so that we could savor every bite. Read about the original 14th Street location.