I moved from The Financial District into the East Village to the infamous Stuyvesant Town 2 summers ago after being a downtown resident since 2001. But I still spend a few evenings a week visiting my old haunts on Front Street. It was always considered that The Financial District and The Seaport would never really take off as a neighborhood. Though according to the latest reports from the last quarter 2008 close to 20,000 new residents have embarked on it becoming their new home in the past five years. There must be something these residents are doing in their neighborhood. They can’t all be living there and choosing to eat, drink and have merry in the other surrounding neighborhoods? Well maybe they can but that’s probably because they haven’t discovered Front St yet.
So other than the best rental prices plus amazing luxury buildings and lofts the reasons to live in and love The Financial District have to start with, yes, you guessed it, Front St.
It’s a hidden secret only 2 blocks North of the tourist heavy South Street Seaport. The best thing is the tourists have no idea that it exists either. I mean if the residents don’t know about it then come on. Front St had it’s rebirth once the Fish markets left for the Bronx. And after years of negotiations the local community board, the landmark preservation society and progressive architects re-designed the street. 92 residential homes were built into the existing structures that date back to the mid 1800’s. And they had retail space available for those that wanted to be part of building a new neighborhood.
You can choose from a tapas joint, 3 Italian restaurants, a brazilian fusion restaurant, a New Zealand pub, Sushi, A Steakhouse, a Wine lounge and a bar with a stellar jukebox, sawdust on the floor and cheap ass beer.
In fact it all started with the place with the sawdust on the floor, Jeremy’s Ale House serving since 1974. America was only 198 years old. For those that know and love McSorley’s, Jeremy’s is its close cousin.
Salud! came next. The Spanish Tapas Lounge-A tropical touch of Miami Beach Salud! specializes in Pan-Latino tapas and mixes a superb Caipirinha. Come bring your Salsa moves.
For those of you that read this blog and the numbers seem to be growing when you find yourself on Front St no visit is complete without popping into Nelson Blue. New York’s first New Zealand gastro pub. People rave about this beautifully designed corner joint with outdoor seating, delicious food and super friendly service. Ask for Paulie. A burly, ruggedly handsome Kiwi, ex-rugby player who now rides his motorbike and skydives every weekend. The perfect host. And one of Front St’s great pioneers.
There are other venues to discuss but I’ll add just one more both because your time and attention is precious and this newest opening is worth the visit alone.
Onda. – Which is a Latin word for ‘vibe’ offers contemporary Latin cuisine inspired by multiple countries of that origin. The owner Alessandro Passante of famed ‘Naima’ on west 27th street describes his newest creation best “Our team at Onda is very dedicated and enthusiastic. We want nothing more than to share this magnificent energy with the neighborhood”.
With the rich interior setting that has the feel of a jewel box adorned by ruby’s and garnets there is much attention to detail here. Master bartenders mix cocktails with flair and if you’re a fan of bold, spicy, citrus flavors with your food you’ll find great satisfaction here. Try the appetizer Flat Bread smoked duck, manchego cheese, sherry and porcini spread or the Snapper Ceviche agave lime essence, tapioca pearls, aji panca & mint.
I hope you give yourself the opportunity to explore this little hidden enclave where New Yorkers wine and dine on downtown’s new restaurant row.