Street of the Week

Street of the Week: Front Street in South Street Seaport

Why this cobblestone slice of NYC history shouldn’t be overlooked.

Photo by Sayaka Ueno

We all have a street. The one we always seem to gravitate to for coffee, first dates, window-shopping, and horse yoga. In our column Street of the Week, What Should We Do editors and writers will share the stretches of pavement that mean the most to us, and what you should eat, drink, do, and check out if you decide to walk a few blocks in our metaphorical shoes (we need our real ones!). Next up: WSWD editor Danielle Murphy takes a stroll down her fave South Street Seaport street. 

“That area is super-expensive.” “Everything closes at 10 p.m.” “Isn’t it just for tourists?”

These are just a few of the many questions I had to bat when telling people I was moving to the Financial District back in 2017. Having lived in New Jersey most of my life, I didn’t have a clue where to start my apartment hunt, depending heavily on one of my college besties to lead the way. Before signing on the dotted line of our lease, we decided to explore the area—making sure the move into a studio/home-office space with a third roommate was worth the very tight squeeze. Here’s how we knew the answer was a resounding yes.

  1. Everything shutting down at 10 p.m. means less FOMO when deciding to Netflix and chill on a Friday night.
  2. The neighborhood Papaya Dog is open 24-7. (It has the best chicken sandwich in Manhattan. Don’t try to argue with me on this one.)
  3. The neighboring South Street Seaport is in the middle of a major glow up.
front street
Photo by Sayaka Ueno

Steps away from my apartment is Front Street, New York City’s largest preservation project and a beloved neighborhood rich with 200 years’ worth of history. A myriad of shops, restaurants, and beautifully restored brick buildings line the cobblestone road, and the fairy lights that span from building to building give it an old-timey, whimsical look that I simply fell—and continue to fall—in love with. It was also easy to fall for nostalgic breakfast menus, avant-garde shopping experiences, and wines I can no longer live without—all found in my favorite Seaport spots.

Made Fresh Daily

Remember that feeling of excitement when your mom surprised you with breakfast for dinner? (Or that entirely separate feeling when your dad made breakfast for dinner, because he didn’t know how to make anything else? Just me?) Well, this wholesome café and eatery will remind you of the good old days—but with a more mature menu. Simple breakfast sandwiches are elevated to buttermilk biscuits stuffed with fluffy eggs, ham, and Cheddar, while memories of biting into Pillsbury rolls are replaced with Balthazar croissants and homemade cookies. Want to get fancy? Upgrade your regular buttered toast to Atlantic smoked salmon, caper cream cheese, and arugula on rye, or settle with the frittata with sea-salty focaccia and chive butter. And if you’re wondering if everything is made fresh daily, just look at the name on the front window.

front street
Photo by Sayaka Ueno

Taco Playa

This Mexican cantina might be closed for the winter season, but you’ll want to put it on your radar once we reach no-parka-needed temperatures. I celebrated my friend’s midweek birthday here with (way too many) $5 happy-hour tequila shots, margaritas, and Coronas—though its $12 blood orange margarita is worth the splurge any day of the week. Get the queso cotija and chili powder sweet corn (order two or more plates to avoid bickering among friends) and anything the chef whips up with chorizo that day.

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South Street Seaport Museum

The history of Front Street goes far beyond its beautiful cobblestone road. The architecture found in the district has been around since the early 1900s, and the Seaport played a major role in the growth of trade and immigration. Although buildings have been restored and a plethora of shops and restaurants can now be found here, you can learn more about the area’s past at the South Street Seaport Museum, where you can explore various collections of artifacts, historic records, over 30,000 ship plans, and more than 18,000 vintage books and magazines.

10 Corso Como

Being a jack-of-all-trades isn’t usually a positive quality, unless you’re 10 Corso Como, which is the master of everything. Art, design, fashion, books, jewelry: You name it, it’s selling the best of it. The Seaport shop is one of five found around the world—Milan, Seoul, Shanghai, and Beijing—and was originally opened by former fashion editor Carla Sozzani, whose intention was to introduce a “living magazine” via a shopping experience. Presentation is key in this high-end boutique, where perfume bottles are stacked as if showcased at David Zwirner; mannequins are dressed in garb only seen on the runway; and futuristic lighting is seemingly borrowed from a spaceship.

front street
Photo by Sayaka Ueno

Seaport Food Lab

One-of-a-kind restaurants aren’t easy to come by, and when you do actually find them, it’s even harder to get a reservation. Well, I’ll let you in on a little, delicious secret hidden on Front Street. It’s called the Seaport Food Lab—an experimental pop-up that invites chefs from around the world to prepare multicourse prix fixe meals for lucky diners (which will hopefully be you, once it announces the 2019 lineup). Each chef has six days to create their best dishes and show off their singular techniques and talents. Last year’s group featured an all-female list of culinary game changers, including meat-master Angie Mar of the Beatrice Inn and Hija de Sanchez’s Rosia Sanchez. Tickets are pricey, but the experience is priceless.

iPic Theaters: Fulton Market

It’s not every day you get to eat top-notch culinary creations made by a three-time James Beard Award–winning chef—and certainly not from the kitchen of a movie theater. At iPic Theater’s sophisticated take on the dinner-and-a-movie experience, you can choose from sweet and savory selections of gourmet snacks, all curated by acclaimed chef Sherry Yard. (Good luck finding Parmesan truffle fries, lobster rolls, and banana pudding pie at your local AMC.) And don’t worry about how you’ll carry all that food to your seat—they’ll deliver the goods to you.

Bin No. 220

When the last four digits of your business phone number spell out WINE, you better have some damn good vino to back it up. Bin No. 220’s diverse bottle selection does that and more—but getting to that point may have been easier said than done for co-owners Calli and Sandy, who do not share the same palate when it comes to their reds and whites. Each menu is divided into two columns to match the exact type of wine you’re looking for. Prefer something dry and full-bodied? Sandy’s list has a Tuscan Chianti with your name on it. In the mood for light and fruity? Calli’s got you covered with her favorite German Riesling. Personally, I’m usually at the bar staying neutral with a glass of rosé.

Photo by Sayaka Ueno

Van Leeuwen

I’m about to say vegan ice cream, but I need you to not roll your eyes. In fact, vegan ice cream might become your new favorite treat after trying one of Van Leeuwen’s crazy-good flavors. Sure, it has your regular vanillas and chocolates, but the specials here are hard to resist. Take, for instance, the limited-edition Planet Earth scoop; you’ll be won over by a generous helping of spirulina-flavored, cashew milk–based ice cream packed with homemade matcha green tea cake pieces.

front street
Photo by Sayaka Ueno

Don’t worry, we’ve got recommendations for all the streets. Download our mobile app for the very best of New York, wherever you are or plan to be.