Restaurant rows don’t just happen. There must be some precipitating factor: a culinary pioneer (Wylie Dufresne on Clinton Street); affordable real estate (Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue); or savvy developers who know that if you build it, and attach Mario’s name to it, they will come. The story of the incipient Tenth Avenue foodie corridor is really the story of Chelsea Market, Irwin Cohen’s risky remake of an old Nabisco factory into an eating and shopping hub years before the meatpacking district took off. As Ninth Avenue became overrun, Tenth started looking good to restaurateurs wanting proximity (and lots of space) at a comfortable remove. “It’s the best of the meatpacking district without the worst of the meatpacking district,” says Joe Bastianich, who signed a lease on 85 Tenth with Mario Batali after being wooed by Cohen’s management company, which was hoping to reproduce Chelsea Market’s success. With Batali locked in—and a branch of Morimoto opening up across the street—it was easier to sign tenants like Tom Colicchio, who plans to open Craftsteak early next year. These three heavyweights anchor an eight-block stretch that mixes the new (Five Points spinoff Cookshop), the old (Tenth Avenue pioneer La Lunchonette), and those who had the foresight to follow the art scene out of Soho (Bottino). “It’s like the crossroads of the city,” says Bastianich. “You can get in a cab in Times Square and be there in, like, three minutes.” If only you could get a table that quickly.
(1.) The Red Cat, # 227
A mainstay for gallerists and locals, with a comfy bar and tempura green beans.
(2.) Bette, 461 W. 23rd St.
Amy Sacco’s surprisingly welcoming London Terrace hot spot.
(3.) D’or Ahn, #207
A chef with Ducasse and Per Se on her résumé melds Korean flavors and French technique.
(4.) Tía Pol, #205
A toothpick of a tapas bar with inspiring daily specials.
(5.) Empire Diner, #210
An Art Deco diner and neighborhood landmark.
(6.) Cookshop, #156
Daily-changing market menu and a wood-burning rotisserie, courtesy of the Five Points folks.
(7.) La Lunchonette, #130
Classic French that used to be out of the way is now in the thick of it.
(8.) The Park, #118
Gorgeously set-designed playground carved out of a taxi garage.
(9.) Earth NYC, #116A
Indian street food and tropical cocktails served in a soaring candlelit space.
(10.) Del Posto, #85
Cucina classica (and valet parking!) from Batali and the Bastianiches.
(11.) Morimoto, #88
The triumphant Manhattan return of a onetime Nobu (and Iron) chef.
(12.) Craftsteak, #85
Tom Colicchio takes a Craft-y approach to the steakhouse genre.