New York’s East River waterfront has long been industrial, but recent developments are bringing restaurants, bars and arts to its shores. The East River Ferry, which connects Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens to each other, makes for a relaxing way to explore new neighborhoods and enjoy unbeatable skyline views. Here’s a foodie-friendly guide to exploring New York via the East River Ferry.
Photo courtesy of @watermarkny
There aren’t many places in Manhattan where you can get a drink right on the water, but South Street Seaport is one of them. Take in the East River views at Watermark Bar, an open-air cocktail spot on South Street. The drink menu is standard—classic cocktails like the Dark & Stormy ($12), $13 margaritas and an appropriately-named East River Martini ($14)—but the views can’t be beat.
Watermark Bar: 78 South St., 212-742-8200
Photo courtesy of @jacquestorres
DUMBO isn’t served by the NYC subway, so the East River Ferry is the best way to reach the historic area. Wander the neighborhood’s cobbled streets, lined with galleries and shops like Powerhouse Arena—an art-focused bookstore. Sample sweets at Jacques Torres Chocolate, a European-style shop featuring the namesake chef’s chocolates, or get a hand-made scoop from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Grimaldi’s Pizza, with its 100-year history of making coal-fired, brick-oven pies ($14) is a NYC must. Make a reservation at The River Café with pinch-worthy views back to Manhattan. For special occasions, splurge on the chef’s signature tasting menu ($155 for six courses).
Powerhouse Arena: 37 Main St., Brooklyn, 718-666-3049
Jacques Torres Chocolate: 66 Water St., Brooklyn, 718-875-1269
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory: Atlantic Highlands, Pier 11, Brooklyn, 718-246-3963
Grimaldi's Pizza: 1 Front St., Brooklyn, 718-858-4300 The River Café: 1 Water St., Brooklyn, 718-522-520
Photo courtesy of @maisonpremiere
Just two decades ago, South Williamsburg was a haven for artists seeking cheap rents. Now, it’s one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Sample the brunch at the retro-chic Diner, where the menu changes daily. It’s been around since 1999, but the crowd that rolls up is more well-heeled than ever. Maison Premiere draws a similar set for its oysters (from $2.35), cocktails (from $12), served either at the U-shaped marble bar or in the back garden. Peter Luger Steak House, meanwhile, has watched over the neighborhood since the 1880s, serving some of the city’s best steak all the while. Nearby Semilla is a vegetable-forward, 18-seat restaurant with an $85 set menu.
Diner: 85 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718-586-3077
Maison Premiere: 298 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, 347-335-0446
Peter Luger Steak House: 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718-387-7400 Semilla: 160 Havemeyer St., Brooklyn, 718-782-3474
Photo courtesy of @jooinnyc
There’s even more to see and do in North Williamsburg. Fette Sau is a popular dry-rub joint serving the (Zagat-certified) best barbecue in New York. Nearby, Nitehawk Cinema serves craft cocktails and multi-course dinners to moviegoers as they watch first-run or classic films. Top off a visit to the neighborhood with a treat from Momofuku Milk Bar. The popular dessert spot from pastry chef and Masterchef host Christina Tosi is famous for its oat-crusted, butter-y “Crack Pie,” and and cereal milk soft-serve ice cream.
Fette Sau: 354 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, 718-963-3404
Nitehawk Cinema: 136 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, 718-782-8370
Momofuku Milk Bar: 382 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, 347-577-9504
Photo courtesy of @lobsterjoint
Like DUMBO, restaurant-filled Greenpoint is hard to reach by subway, so arriving on the East River Ferry is the way to go. Try the Greenpointer pizza ($15) at Paulie Gee’s with fresh mozzarella, baby arugula, olive oil, fresh lemon juice and Parmigiano Reggiano. There’s almost always a wait—but it’s worth it. After, head to upscale Ramona on Franklin Avenue for a classic Sazerac ($11). Budin, the Nordic-inspired coffee bar, serves Dansk Mjod Klapojster by the glass ($8). Head further east to Manhattan Avenue for a more laid-back experience. Lobster rolls ($21), oysters ($2.95 each) and cocktails ($8) are on the menu at Lobster Joint, and can be enjoyed in its beach-themed backyard, while Troost is a neighborhood-favorite coffee shop that turns into a hip, low-key bar at night.
Paulie Gee’s: 60 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, 347-987-3747
Ramona: 113 Franklin St., Brooklyn, 347-227-8164
Budin: 114 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, 347-844-9639
Lobster Joint: 1073 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, 718-389-8990
Troost: 1011 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, 347-889-6761
Photo courtesy of @momaps1
Arrive in Long Island City and head to Gantry Plaza State Park—the neighborhood’s waterfront park that offers sweeping Manhattan skyline views. Not far from the ferry, MoMA PS1 is celebrating its 40th anniversary with multiple exhibitions, including a survey of American artist Vito Acconci (till September 18), and “Forty,” a retrospective look at the artists who took part in the groundbreaking museum’s earliest years. (through August 28).
Corner Bistro: 47-18 Vernon Blvd., Queens, 718-606-6500
MoMA PS1: 22-25 Jackson Ave., Queens, 718-784-2084