This trendy, up and coming gem of a neighborhood sitting pretty South of Houston St.—hence the name—, is a NYC must. While most travel to see the dancing Rockettes in Radio City, ice skaters in Bryant Park, beautifully adorned windows on Fifth Ave, and lighting of the world famous Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center in the winter, others enjoy the peaceful, lesser-crowded localities comprising the city under the summer sun. And Soho is the perfect place for that.
Not only are these cobblestone-lined, cast iron building-adorned streets home to some of the most picture-perfect corners, but also to some of New York City’s greatest art. Aside from being the art hub that it is, SoHo is also chock full of pit stops you’ll want to be making. While some parts of SoHo tend to bait large crowds of shoppers, matcha aficionados and locals wandering off the tourist-ridden beaten path, a day in SoHo will leave you feeling far more relaxed than an hour in Times Square ever would. So, yes, life in SoHo moves slow—as “slow” as a NYC neighborhood can get, at least. But, like every other metropolitan locality, its vibrant energy contributes to the traditional hustle and bustle of the city, and the nightlife and social scene is nothing to underestimate.
With a plethora of swank bars, street-side cafes, posh lounges and some of NYC’s finest eateries, this Lower Manhattan neighborhood is guaranteed a trip well taken. So whether you’re looking for an elitist cocktail bar or a mysterious underground dive bar, a zesty rooftop setting or an intimate wine bar, SoHo has a little something for everyone. While nighttime unveils an ambiance unmatched by SoHo’s neighboring districts, the daytime shopping scene sets a standard all of them would die to meet. And if SoHo is known for anything beside its art scene and à la mode mannerisms, let it be the shopping.
SoHo’s fashion scene includes everything from smaller designer boutiques to promising pop-ups to luxury brands and internationally known retailers. And, in traditional New York City fashion, the street vendors advertising artisanal, wire-coiled jewelry and hand-crafted leather accessories put the cherry on top.
Needless to say, there’s a whole lot comprised north of Canal Street and between Broadway and Crosby. But, if you need some direction for your next visit, here are some of our favorite spots to hit.
Calling all brunch fanatics. Jack’s Wife Freda is your new BFF and the front of your upcoming weekend whereabouts. Located at 224 Lafayette Street, this intimate street-side café is the epitome of a Sunday morning brunch spot, or—considering they’re open every day of the week—a brunch spot for literally any other day of the week. The storefront facade is lined with home-y greenery, propped-open doors and many waiting to hear their name called for a table.
Tile flooring, sweet-message-adorned sugar packets, servers dressed in their favorite striped tees, romantic lights dangling from the ceiling, and far too many brunch-crazed locals crammed into a dining area that seems to be smaller than an NYC studio makes Jack’s Wife a SoHo staple.
The cuisine is kind of all over the place, and we couldn’t be more in love. While lesser known for its dinner menu, Jack’s Wife is, in its essence, an all-day bistro. And it just might sell you as an intimate bar setting when the sun goes down. A colorful array of rose water waffles, matzo ball soups, Bloody Mary mussels, poached eggs, avocado toasts and everything in between will give your traditional brunch grub a run for its money. Whatever you order, we promise you’ll leave with a satisfied belly and Instagram-worthy food snaps.
The menu is largely inspired by each of the owners’ upbringings in both South Africa and Israel, two cuisines that have somehow formed the most serendipitous marriage we’ve tasted. Hard to imagine, we know. Perhaps New York Magazine described it best:
“If you were going to give the cuisine a long and unwieldy name, it might be South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine.”
Doesn’t make much sense? Oh, well. We guess you’ll just have to try it for yourself. We promise, disappointment is impossible. That is, unless you order nothing.
If you’re a big shopper, you might want to dedicate an entire day to filtering in and out of SoHo’s many fetching shops. There is simply not enough time in an afternoon to hit them all, and there is really no method to navigate through them, either. One might start where Canal Street meets Broadway—the street on which most shops are located—and work their way up North. Others may find it useful to begin their shopping spree on Broadway’s perpendicular counterparts —down Prince, up Spring, and then down Broome. Whatever which way you choose to meander, just know you’re in for a treat.
On Broadway you’ll be met with dressed-up storefront windows of big names like H&M, Club Monaco, Bloomingdale’s, and Madewell. But perhaps the most impressive storefront you’ll find is Prada’s, located at the corner of Prince and Broadway. This luxury retailer’s SoHo location single-handedly made the brand famous in the architectural world, as if it wasn’t already famous enough in the fashion one. The building’s 1882 construction, dark emerald paint, billowing indoor wooden exhibit, and glass accents makes Prada’s SoHo location an art gallery in and of itself—how fitting for SoHo. FreePeople, Lululemon, Zara, Converse and Nike are other staples perched on Broadway.
Chanel, Longchamp, Adidas, and COS adorn Spring Street while Isabel Marant, IRO and Kate Spade sit pretty on Broome. And how could we forget about Glossier on Lafayette? The moral of the story is: put on your walking shoes and get ready to splurge. Your SoHo shopping expedition awaits.
As much as we’d like to, we’re not going to pretend we’re experts on the art scene in SoHo. All we know is that it’s definitely something to check out. And, considering there are art galleries on every corner, finding one (or more) to visit should be a breeze. Here are a few famous ones we’ve heard far too much about to pass up sharing:
Bortolami Gallery: 39 Walker Street.
Ronald Feldman Gallery: 31 Mercer Street.
Staley-Wise Gallery: 100 Crosby Street, Suite 305.
TEAM Gallery: 83 Grand Street.
Morrison Hotel Gallery: 116 Prince Street #2nd.
The Drawing Center: 35 Wooster Street.
Swiss Institute Contemporary Art New York: 38 St Marks Place.
If you’re sticking to a budget, any SoHo street vendor’s nickname is “artist.” Their art is original and their prices are unmatched. Oh, and be sure to stop by the Museum of Modern Art Design Store on Spring Street for one-of-a-kind for-sale items displayed in the MoMA itself. Trinkets, cutlery, toys and all sorts of collectibles can be purchased there as well.
When you’ve finally reached your shopping limit, if that’s even possible, a drink at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels might be just what you’re looking for. Located on Centre Street between Broome and Grand, this French wine bar is the perfect place to unwind after a long, dressing room-frequented day. Its wine list abounds and its French and Mediterranean small plates serve as the perfect complement to any tall glass.
It’s rustic, it’s swank, it’s modern, it’s intimate. But most of all, La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels is suitable for any occasion—a solo drink, a romantic date night, or a happy hour for you and your shopaholic girlfriends. If you’re looking for a chic setting to enjoy a glass and a few bites, this is your place.
Hopefully you didn’t fill up on hors d’oeuvre during happy hour—a dinner at Balthazar is one to save some room for. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner are just a few things that this French brasserie does best—aside from dessert and cocktails, of course. If there’s anything we’ve learned from this review it’s that SoHo is a must visit, and the French sure know how to wine and dine.
This perfectly, dimly lit bistro offers a wide variety of courses, and the dinner menu is by far our favorite. The menu impresses with a steak tartare, escargot, the most delicious steak frites you’ve ever tasted, and a duck confit, a $36 dish that makes the plats pour deux, or “dinner for two,” price tags look cheap. And, not that it matters, but the bathroom signs read “Toilettes.” How posh.
A line full of NYC’s elite and a hefty bill are to be expected at this SoHo gem, but we can assure you both the wait time and the price tag will be well worth it.
Did someone say Cronut?! Founded and owned by the world-renowned, award-winning Parisian native and pastry chef himself, Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery can be credited for the creation and mastering of the serendipitous croissant-donut hybrid we all know, love and drool over. Despite Ansel’s bakeries in New York, London and Los Angeles, this SoHo must located at 189 Spring Street holds the fame for the Cronut’s conception. We highly recommend a visit.
Assuming you’re simply not in the mood for a Cronut—because there is just no way you wouldn’t like one—no need to fret; there’s a whole lot more to Ansel’s exquisite menu. A fan favorite is the chocolate-chip-cookie-turned-shot-glass filled to the brim with the bakery’s house-infused Tahitian vanilla milk. First, you drink the milk. Then, you eat the cookie. Like a tequila shot followed by a fresh lime slice, but with chocolate and far more delicious. Make sense?
Other hot features at Dominique Ansel Bakery include a frozen s’more, a sweet treat layered with torched honey marshmallow, chocolate, and Tahitian vanilla ice cream—served on a stick, of course; Ansel’s best-selling “DKA,” a caramelized croissant-like dessert with a soft inside and crisp outer layer; a floating fluffy chiffon cake served in a balloon, and so much more. Seriously, the list goes on.
If you won’t take our word for it, Zagat sums things up nicely by describing Ansel’s pastry wonderland as “a fantasy land of desserts.” Now tell us, is your mouth watering yet?