A guide of what to do in the Meatpacking District – all the best things to do, must try restaurants, and places to shop in this NYC neighborhood.
This small area within the West Village is known for it’s upscale shopping and trendy restaurants. The neighborhood’s cobblestoned streets and sidewalk cafes make the Meatpacking District stand out. It also has been featured in enough television shows and movies to feel recognizable, even if you haven’t been before.
What to Do in the Meatpacking District:
This museum found by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932 is known for hosting blockbuster traveling exhibitions as well as being home to an impressive collection of 20th and 21st Century American Art. The Whitney Biennial takes place every two years and is an invitational exhibition featuring works created in the past two years. It will take place in 2021 next.
The museum is located along the High Line. Buying tickets in advance for special exhibits is highly recommended. The rooftop of The Whitney offers some of the best views of the area.
The High Line
What was a set of abandoned elevated railway tracks has now become an urban footpath and park. Since the Highline’s opening, the immediate area has sprung to life with many restaurants and shops.
Walking the Highline is a popular activity and a way to see the city from a new angle, plus a way to get come place to place without constantly waiting for traffic lights.
Where to Eat in the Meatpacking District:
Pastis is legendary, and for good reason. This iconic French eatery closed and reopened in a new space, but the charm and the quality of the food remains the same. I love Pastis because they serve three meals a day, take reservations, and you can always count on getting a great meal.
On a 2004 episode of Sex and the City, Carrie refers to Pastis as “the only restaurant that seemed to exist”. It was one of the restaurants that make the Meatpacking District a place to go. On my most recent visit, I had the burger – the server described it as a gourmet big mac and it was wonderful while Charles had the steak sandwich which was perfect in every way. If you only have time to dine at one restaurant in the Meatpacking District, it should be Pastis.
A trendy spot known for serving seafood and steak. The restaurant has two levels of dining and a rooftop lounge. It’s a bit pricy, expect to pay $100 a person for an appetizer, entrée, and glass of wine, but the food is excellent. I had spaghetti with a creamy sauce, mushrooms, and tomatoes and it was wonderful.
This spot serves American comfort food. It’s a low-key alternative to neighboring restaurants that are place to see and be seen. Dine on meals like chicken pot pie, burgers, fried chicken & pancakes, or gumbo. Save room of the peanut butter pie.
A coffee shop with lots of plants that serves light breakfast with a selection of toasts in the mornings (I recommend the ricotta toast with honey). By night, the space is a cocktail bar that serves charcuterie. This is a great place to grab a no-fuss breakfast or to meet up with a friend.
This Italian eatery is a NYC staple with 10 locations in Manhattan. The menu has a big selection of pastas, plus pizza, seafood, and meat options. They serve lunch and dinner on weekdays and brunch and dinner on weekends.
A Mexican spot serving up big bowls of guacamole, tacos, enchiladas, and margaritas. The cuisine is more Tex-Mex than authentic Mexican, and the food is easy to share making it a popular destination for bigger groups.
Restoration Hardware Rooftop and Wine Terrace
Restoration Hardware occupies a large building at the center of the Meatpacking District. In addition to housing furniture showrooms, you can find a restaurant and rooftop wine terrace on the top level.
It is fun just to browse through the space, and the rooftop is a beautiful place to have a drink or meal. At night the rooftop is illuminated with trees bedecked in twinkle lights giving it a romantic atmosphere.
The idea behind Starbuck Reserve is to turn going to Starbucks into an experience. It’s touristy but you can try food and drinks you can’t find at a traditional Starbucks location. You can learn about how coffee beans are roasted or partake in an espresso tasting. It is important to know two things: they don’t serve all the menu items or sizes that are available at a traditional Starbucks and the prices are higher.
If you want to grab a quick bagel, muffin, sandwich, or snack this deli is the place to go.
Food Halls in the Meatpacking District:
This large market is a destination for both tourists and locals searching for lunch. Some can’t miss food stands are Los Tacos No. 1, Big Mozz (which has giant freshly made mozzarella sticks), and Very Fresh Noodles.
It does get crowded at lunchtime. It’s much easier to go earlier in the morning or after 1:30 when you can have your pick of restaurants without waiting in a long line. (If you want to be super technical, this is two blocks outside the Meatpacking District, but I wanted to include it).
Small in comparison to Chelsea Market, Gansevoort Market is a food hall almost across the street from Chelsea Market. Inside you will find vendors selling wings, pizza, curry, burgers, poke, hot dogs, sushi, and more.
Where to Shop in the Meatpacking District:
The Meatpacking District is a place where you will find high-end designers and some big name retailers like Lululemon, Patagonia, and Arhaus. I am focusing more on the luxury shops that aren’t as easy to find in this guide.
The primary attraction at Chelsea Market is the food, but there are some shops in the building as well. There is a large Anthropologie, a Pearl River Market, an Artist & Fleas, plus some small boutiques and a florist. In addition, there are some spaces that are used for seasonal pop-ups. Downstairs in the basement you will find purveyors selling grocery and specialty food items.
Artists & Fleas
Located within Chelsea Market, you can find a mix of pop up shops from vintage sells and artists here.
This designer is known for creating women’s clothing and swimwear that embraced bold colors and patterns.
A British fashion designer and friend of Megan Markle has her first permanent location at 654 Hudson Street. Her designs seamlessly go from work to weekend.
You can find feminine designs with floral patterns and pastel colors here.
Korean fashion designer Lie Sang-bong’s avant-garde creations have been worn by Lady Gaga and Beyonce. You and find his ready to wear collection at his Meatpacking District location.
This luxury retailer has a large two level space in the Meatpacking District.
Alice and Olivia
This shop has classic pieces as well as attention grabbing looks. I love their dresses.
Hotels in the Meatpacking District:
This hotel is well known and is associated with being cool and trendy thanks to its rooftop pool and bar. I had expected the hotel to feel more upscale. The room décor is a bit tired and I have never stayed at a hotel that offers $18 woman’s panties for sale in the guests’ bathrooms.
The reason to stay here is the rooftop pool. Be aware that the rooftop is a scene during warmer months, there is a nightclub beside the hotel, and it can be wild on the weekends. If you are looking for a place to spent a romantic getaway, this may not be it.
Located along the High Line, rooms with floor to ceiling windows provide views of the city or the Hudson River. The penthouse is a discothèque and rooftop bar and there is a biergarten on the ground level. This is a hotel that balances nightlife and luxury.
The Jane Hotel
Located nearby in the West Village, The Jane Hotel is a landmark building with views of the river. Pay attention to which type of room you book here – some accommodations have shared bathrooms. The bunk bed cabin with two single beds is probably one of the best deals for the price when it comes to NYC hotels.