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Travel: Best of the Best Destinations: New York City

Bobbie Leigh

It didn’t take long after the September 11 attacks for New York City to pull out all the stops and regain its glamour. To paraphrase Henry James, it is still an extraordinary growing, glowing, glittering, good-natured, cosmopolitan place. Not to mention that New York, with its decidedly “been there, done that” air, continuously reinvents itself and offers more to see and do than any other destination.

This year has been no different. The city’s cultural scene received a boost with the opening of two sensational museums. Formerly a Vanderbilt mansion, the Neue Galerie on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 86th Street is devoted to German and Austrian fine and decorative arts. The museum’s Café Sabarsky, a dead ringer for a classic Viennese café, has become the “in” place—not just for lunch and Sacher torte, but for dinner and cabaret as well. Also, the American Folk Art Museum has a new home on West 53rd Street, and it is one of the finest spaces in the city for admiring art. Downtown, Chelsea now outshines the traditionally arty SoHo with Matthew Marks, Robert Miller, and other cutting-edge galleries.

In Manhattan, restaurants and fashions do indeed come and go in a New York minute, and the latest trends in those realms have some of the city’s most talented chefs and up-and-coming designers relocating to a formerly drug-ridden zone on the Lower East Side, now reinvented as one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods. The new dining highlights include 71 Clinton Fresh Food, serving eclectic American fare at 71 Clinton St., and Suba, featuring French-Spanish fusion at 109 Ludlow St. If you’re scouting new fashions, check out designer Mary Adams’ shop at 138 Ludlow St., where all dresses are handmade.

While New York is best known as the city that has it all, the metropolis never had a top-notch barbecue restaurant until restaurateur impre-sario Danny Meyer opened Blue Smoke at 116 East 27th St. in March. After feasting on baby back ribs, head downstairs to the Jazz Standard for live music.

Apart from jazz, always a city staple, the flourishing club and cabaret scene makes New York the late-night capital of the world. Other nightlife noteworthies include the Carlyle hotel’s classic Bemelmans Bar, which recently underwent a makeover, and the totally updated Café Carlyle on Madison Avenue.

After a severe slump in tourism, New York’s hotels are rising from the ashes—literally. The new Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, situated a mere two blocks from Ground Zero, features rooms with ideal views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and New York Harbor. Also brand-new is the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South, with equally postcard-perfect views. Debuting this year in the theater district was the trendy W Times Square hotel with its whale-size seafood restaurant, Blue Fin, and coming soon to Columbus Circle is the Mandarin Oriental, New York.

In Manhattan, the restaurants, hotels, and attractions in vogue change at a frantic pace. The one thing you can count on is that what’s hot during one visit will be “so five minutes ago” the next. As if we’d have it any other way.

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Photo by Dominic James
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