05 Apr The MAPPETITE MILE: HUDSON STREET
When thinking about small town USA, New York City is not the first place that comes to mind. However, if you go a bit beyond its main grid and squint ever so slightly, the stretch of Hudson Street running through the West Village is more apple pie than Big Apple.
From Leroy to Gaansevort Streets, Hudson Street is a mix of row houses, small commercial buildings and a hodgepodge of apartment houses. There are lots of charms to this setting owing to the low scale of the streetscape set against the city’s all consuming urban skyline on the other.
At THE CHURCH OF ST. LUKE IN THE FIELDS get ready for a you-could-be-in-London moment – the simple Federalist style architecture and adjacent gardens make for quite the quaint local parish church setting. Heading north to where Hudson Street morphs into 8th Avenue ABINGDON SQUARE is another tranquil, albeit small, Anglo-edged reprieve replete with benches, lampposts and, come springtime, beds of well orchestrated tulips. Kids in tow? Just diagonal to the Square is the BLEECKER PLAYGROUND, a monkey bars, slides and jungle gym wonderland.
Need a portrait of Fido or a prescription for Junior? No worries with a pet photography studio and a children’s pharmacy among the quirky retail stores fronting Hudson Street. Add to the list MYER’S OF KESWICK and, Queen’s Jubilee or not, you can satisfy your English groceries list.
Visual engagement gets a jolt with old-school liquor stores and their very cool bygone times neon signs. For the home accessories shopper LEO DESIGN is a pottery treasure trove and THE END OF HISTORY a 20th Century bric-a-brac and furnishings find. The specialty food shop takes an unexpected and welcome turn at THE MEADOW with its salt-meets-chocolates-meets-fresh flowers offerings. The curated lifestyle connoisseur might find retail satisfaction at the high-brow MONOCLE SHOP but if fashion is on your mind it makes sense to skip over the smattering of boutiques on Hudson street and sidle over to the mini-Madison Avenue that is Bleecker Street or the nearby haute-mallness of the Meatpacking District.
Even with the fashion forward hordes of trust fund endowed, media and banking-rich peeps gobbling up the highly treasured West Village real estate, it’s easy to get homey on Hudson Street with a slew of homespun yet often sophisticated restaurants.
American comfort plate places include the rustic-edged ALEXANDRA and HUDSON CLEARWATER. While they’re both good it’s Clearwater’s fine tuned food that stands out along with its speakeasy style come dinner time when you’ll need to furtively enter around the back of the resto. For saloon like style, THE WHITEHORSE TAVERN (no website, 567 Hudson Street) and COWGIRL HALL OF FAME pairs brews with easy-to-satisfy burgers and unassuming and unexceptional comfort food. It’s all waffles, moules and frites at the cutesy Belgian PETIT ABEILLE but if you’ve got a yen for Japanese, better to skip over the smaller restaurants (yikes, a “B” rating does not bode well with raw fish) and head to EN BRASSERIE, a polished tofu-centric sushi house. Lots of carnivores in Japan would appreciate the offal heavy TAKASHI where you’re in charge of handling your own meat at built-in tabletop grills. Dim sum is center stage at REDFARM as creative and culinary collide in an East-meets-West sensibility with the likes of Pac-Man shrimp dumplings and Katz’s pastrami egg rolls – the cholesterol worried need not apply. From there the FATTY CRAB is a staged Southeast Asian dive for spicy plates and cracking crustaceans that are sure to satisfy.
In NYC there’s no shortage of great Italian restaurants. This most certainly holds true along Hudson Street where SPASSO and CORSINO are trattorias with a you-could-be-in-Italy feel. Italian goes American – Ciao, Francesco Rinaldi! – in tavern environs at the Brooklyn import FRANKIE’S 570 SPUNTINO and table-clothed family-style PICCOLO ANGOLO where red-sauce classic feed the waiting crowds as reservations are not an option. Hit the other side of the boot and the Mediterranean continues to play itself out well at MEME in simple, if predictable, food like falafel, hummus and grilled fish. The culinary cross section of Hudson Street gets if South-of-the-Border sating with MEXICANA MAMA’S (no website, 525 Hudson Street) haute tacos, enchilladas and Mexican plates.
All these eats – not bad for a ten block strip that starts where Hudson Street transitions from a business-minded district at Houston Street and disappears completely at 14th Street. It’s almost a mirage, an oasis of homeyness in the otherwise frenetic environs of New York City.