I arrived in New York on a Sunday and Midtown was still blue. Between the “For Rent” signs and the businesses that have gone bankrupt, many have been closed. I walked several blocks thinking about what the pandemic was for this city and how bad it was a year after the crisis.
Two days later, this part of the city came back to life. In late June, the government lifted COVID-19 restrictions and many measures became voluntary. People took to the streets happy, a large percentage of the population was already vaccinated and the use of face masks was not compulsory everywhere.
Bryant Park was packed. People were having fun in the street, eating in the restaurant and having a drink in the park. There were singers, weaving lessons and chess tournaments. Life has returned to Midtown: joy has been felt and the neighborhood that had been deserted for many months has begun to reappear (some are not so happy to return to the offices, it will be difficult to get used to the change).
The weather in June is delightful, it starts to get hot, but it’s not overwhelming. There are days when it rains, but in general you can walk very comfortably. Other neighborhoods like Soho, Chelsea, Meatpacking and the Lower East Side are also bustling with life. It feels like a dynamic city ready for the future.
In New York, always in museums
To visit the museums, it is very important to buy tickets in advance on their websites. The major cultural spaces are reopening with successful exhibitions, so you have to be well organized to choose the times and dates. The Met presents an incredible exhibition of Alice Neel, an American painter and feminist who defied all canons. I recommend reading the book Alice Neel, The Art of Not Sitting Pretty before seeing the exhibition to better understand its trajectory.
Don’t forget to visit the terrace where there is a great view of Central Park. There, artist Alex Da Corte has a very fun sculpture.
MoMA has two exhibits. For those who love Impressionism, there is a large exhibition of Cézane’s sketches. The other sample is by Alexander Calder and it’s wonderful. His sculptures that move like mobiles in the air are a sight to behold. The store in this museum is very interesting because they have a curation of the design you want to take home.
The Whitney has the Brooklyn Photography Expo with large format Polaroids. Take advantage of your visit to the Meatpacking area to discover Little Island, a new public park built on stilts in the water. This park has different levels which are crossed by means of stairs and ramps, a theater and a dining room. It’s amazing how this city keeps reinventing itself.
For his part, Yayoi Kusama took over the Bronx Botanical Garden. “Kusama: Cosmic Nature” is a very Instagrammable exhibition. It is really worth knowing this botanical garden; It’s a huge space with an incredible variety of plants, flowers and trees. The exhibition is everywhere, both in the gardens and in certain enclosed spaces. It is worth going there in time to see everything serenely, eat something and enjoy one of the green lungs of this huge city.
Seven restaurants we love
For lunch, the classics are true and I’ve been rounding up a few favorites to see how they taste. You must book through Open or Ressy table, although sometimes you are lucky and there is room for those who arrive at the last minute. Many places have patios or carts where they set up tables on the street for outdoor seating.
PJ Clarkes is a great place near Central Park. Delicious burgers and a championship Reubens sandwich. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon. It’s a classic place, with a lot of history. Here are the ashes of one of the Kennedys, who would rather be visited with tequila in hand than with flowers.
Ignacio Mattos kept Estela and Altro Paradiso alive, two spotless places. Each has a very special atmosphere. Altro Paradiso’s fresh pasta is a treat and the olive oil cake is memorable. At Estela we went at lunchtime. The endive salad is super crispy, with a tangy walnut vinaigrette (addictive) and a terrific roast chicken. You must try their wine selection.
Contra bursts. Getting a reservation is complicated, but it’s worth it. There is a tasting menu, carte blanche (meaning what the chef wants) or you can order a la carte. The sunflower heart salad and the lobster are highly recommended, but the menu changes frequently.
In Soho, I recommend Saddelles and Carbone, which are from the same group and offer a different experience. We went to Sadelles for brunch. The salads are huge and delicious, and the bagels (which are also gluten free) with salmon salad are set up perfectly. Carbon is a super classic. Their pasta is delicious. The freshly made mozzarella with cold meats and the almond cakes are the perfect conclusion.
Finally, Bryan Park Grill is a super classic in the park. There is the grill and the bar which come alive on summer evenings. It is a classic grill where there is no waste. The most beautiful thing is the view. This park has a very special spirit and people appreciate it.