The High Line is that rarest of New York attraction that appeals to tourists and locals in equal measure. The former flock here because it’s a unique urban retreat offering unparalleled views of the surrounding cityscape. The latter appreciate its practicality as a pedestrian thoroughfare bounding Manhattan’s West Side. Regardless of why you came, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to leave without getting a good bite to eat. Fueled by the park’s five million annual visitors, the crowded streets tracing this 1.45-mile path have widened into a riverbed of culinary excellence. Here’s how to navigate your way through the High Line, one dish at a time.
Start your journey at SANTINA at the park’s southern terminus in the Meatpacking District. The glassed-in space (designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano) houses the exceptional coastal Italian-cuisine of Ashley Eddie. “You have to try the Cecina–they are our signature dish and they’re fun to eat,” says the executive chef of the popular chickpea pancakes. Capellini with Blue Crab and Neapolitan Style Eggplant Parmesan are also perennial favorites. As is the large-format frozen take on an Aperol Spritz, shared by up to four drinkers. “Our dining rooms make you feel like you’re dining on the Amalfi Coast in the middle of the Meatpacking,” adds Eddie. With one significant advantage over its Italian inspiration: everything here is gluten-free.
Next door is the Whitney Museum. In addition to an array of contemporary American art, the building is also home to Untitled –a bright and funky dining space notable for chef Suzanne Cupp’s eclectic sharing plates. From Fried Fish Lettuce Wraps (served with a purple daikon slaw) to Pulled Pork (with blue cornbread), the singular thread uniting these disparate dishes is vibrant flavor.
Climbing the stairs onto the High Line, there are several snacking options to hold you over as you make your way up to the West Chelsea neighborhood. Check out Hearth on the High Line if you fancy a glass of wine or some local craft beer. La Sonrisa Empanadas is a tasty pitstop offering a smattering of the savory turnovers, including a delectable crab interpretation. Along with the paninis at Tastalu, and the German street food at Berlin Currywurst, they form a dependable trio of daytime dining options above 15th Street. Avoid long lines by coming during off-hours in the mid-afternoon.
Directly beneath you here are some of the city’s finest meal makers: Toro NYC, with its handsome assortment of Spanish tapas courtesy of James Beard Award Winning Chefs Ken Oringer & Jamie Bissonnette; the flawless raw fish of Morimoto; the piping hot pastries at Doughnuttery.
“Over the past decade, West Chelsea has become a destination neighborhood,” observes Mark Maynard, Director of Operations at Porchlight–a cocktail bar one block west of the High Line, on 28th Street. “Before opening bars and restaurants, I was a landscape architect, so I have a personal connection to urban parks. I love the way the native plants are juxtaposed with the intense development of the West Side. I also love that the park is elevated and floats above the hustle of the streets below. I frequently walk on it for five minutes on my way to work, just to energize my day.”
No small sum of patrons at Porchlight do the same before entering the spacious bar located in an historic 19th Century building. If you haven’t worked up a thirst from all the walking, snacks here such as the Sugar and Spice Popcorn as well as the mouth-watering Firecracker Chicken are sure to do the trick. The drinks menu has you covered with its artful panoply of seasonal cocktails assembled from unlikely constituents. The Nightswimming, for example, finds summertime refreshment in a combination of gin, banana syrup, Branca Menta, and absinthe.
From here the High Line curves west, up into its Hudson Yards terminus. Before you bend towards the river, explore the newly completed Spur at 30th Street. Duck downstairs into José Andrés’ Mercado Little Spain for an Iberian food hall like no other. Or grab a corner slice of Grandma Pie at Via Trenta Pizzoteca.
Just north, the park skirts Hudson Yards. What was once a fenced-off lot of urban decay has been converted into the city’s largest development project. Forming its cultural core is The Shed–a decorative depot for performing and visual arts. Inside you’ll find Cedric’s, Danny Meyer’s latest outpost for all-day happy hour. When Beverage Director Nicholas Bennett isn’t busy serving his crisp, low-ABV Peacock Buck (made with rosé, vermouth and ginger), you can find him exploring the local landscape, alongside tourists from across the globe. “There is so much to see and do in Hudson Yards now, and in The Shed in particular,” he says. “There is art, performances, and–now with Cedric’s in the entrance–a great place to eat and drink. And I love that the High Line is this hidden oasis just above our heads. I walk it any chance I get.”
Once you spot the lattice-like Vessel, with its honeycomb of staircases stretching 150-feet into the sky, you’re nearing the end of a 22-block edible odyssey. For anyone who appreciates fine food and beverage, whether from New York or Nagasaki, it’s well worth the walk.