The Grandlife Guide to South Street Seaport
Get to know one of the city’s most sleek, visually captivating, and historic entertainment districts in all of downtown.
Known simply as “The Seaport” to friends, NYC’s South Street Seaport got its start as a port for the Dutch West India Company during the 1600s. Centuries to follow saw it evolve and morph into a hub of local commerce, landmark buildings (the oldest to still exist, Capt. Joseph Rose House, was constructed in 1773), and attractions. Today it represents one of the city’s most sleek, visually captivating entertainment districts for tourists—the views of Brooklyn Bridge stretching from Manhattan to Brooklyn alone are Insta-bait—and functional destinations for locals in search of a power meal, drinks, remote work site with tons of laptop-friendly space outdoors and in, or post-work playtime.
While retaining some of its historic essence and cobblestones, the Seaport has continued to see modern upgrades and additions quite recently, which include tech-forward art and collaboration spaces like 3FiveTwo and Ox.17, restaurant openings (there’s a location of Brooklyn’s exalted Di Fara pizzeria, although locals admit it lacks the original’s magic), and stunning rooftop venue at Pier 17, a sleek, glassy, multi-level waterfront structure with no shortage of places to drink, eat, and incredible views, which hosts a live concert series between May and October (just a sampling of past acts: Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Macklemore, Eric Nam).
Below you’ll find Grandlife’s curated picks for a perfect Seaport outing whenever you’re planning to go.
While urban food halls are all the rage, we-love-him chef/restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten truly dropped the mic in late 2022 with his 53,000-square-foot Tin Building complex. Former home to the historic Fulton Fish Market, which relocated way uptown to The Bronx in 2005, this century-old structure received a complete renovation and contemporary redesign and represents a mix of restaurants, bars (including one dedicated to craft brews), fast casual stalls, and diverse range of cuisines. Some of the upscale highlights include a raw bar and international seafood dishes at Fulton Fish Co. (yes, a nod to the former tenant), plant-driven vegetarian and vegan abcV, Chinese fusion House of the Red Pearl, French (of course!) at T. Brasserie, and incredible Italian-meets-French pizzas and pasta at The Frenchman’s Dough, while fast-casual eats entail poke and ramen, sandwiches and salad, Mexican, burgers and breakfast, coffee and pastries, and more.
96 South Street
South Street Seaport Museum
Founded in 1967, the museum’s tagline is “where New York begins,” and indeed its exhibitions are themed around both the city at large and the Seaport District’s history as the world’s busiest port (drawing from a collection of over 80,000 items and historic records). General admission is pay-what-you-wish, and includes current exhibitions “South Street and the Rise of New York,” “Millions: Migrants and Millionaires Aboard The Great Liners, 1900-1914,” and a room full of artwork by children’s book creator Eric Carle, plus the opportunity to tour at least one of its fleet of historic vessels (timed entry to the latter required, so check online!).
12 Fulton Street
View this post on Instagram
Bowne & Co.
One of the most unique shops in both the Seaport and NYC, Bowne & Company operates as a 19th-century letterpress printer (descended from the city’s largest and oldest printing firm of its kind). Located at the South Street Seaport Museum in a former cast iron stove warehouse, one can have an interactive printing experience or choose from an excellent selection of pre-printed cards, stationery, room decorations, and of course Museum mementos.
209 Water Street
The Seaport location of New York’s beloved indie bookstore microchain (there are five total), housed within an 1811 Schermerhorn Row brick building, features two floors of intensely curated books and magazines, signings, appearances, conversations with authors, and even a chance to sip a cuppa in its adjacent coffee shop.
4 Fulton Street
View this post on Instagram
Pasanella & Son, Vintners
Given the photogenic decor, it’s no surprise that this wine shop’s owners, Marco and Rebecca Pasanella, boast serious design and decor credentials—the former taught at Parsons School of Design while Rebecca previously served as home and decorating editor for Martha Stewart Living and works as a stylist and interior designer—which includes a 1964 powder blue Fiat and wall of antique pie pans. However, this 17-year-old gem is best known for its tastemaking selection of international and local natural wine, sake (including Brooklyn’s own Kura label), cider, spirits, and more. There is a free weekly wine-tasting event on Thursdays from 5.30-7.30pm, and the Pasanellas (they live above the shop) are worth chatting up for honest opinions and recommendations for products and NYC at large.
115 South Street
Beginning as a weekend Hester Street Market stall during summers, drawing hungry crowds for its legit Brazilian Pão de Queijo (cheese bread puffs), Patoro opened a permanent brick-and-mortar location here in 2016. Besides those tasty Pão, offered in original cheese and seasonal flavors, the menu includes brekkie and lunch staples – quiche, sandwiches, and empanadas – with Brazilian twists, plus pastries and a full coffee and beverage menu with a Brazil-style yerba mate iced tea (“made just like in Rio”!).
223 Front Street
The Little Shop
Not to be confused with the Little Shop of Horrors revival, this unassuming side street bodega, with an inspired selection of international goodies, also functions as a hidden gem daytime counter for coffee and, come evening, speakeasy for serious craft cocktails and spirits. Hot tip: since things can get busy, book a table in advance via Resy.
252 Front Street
View this post on Instagram
Celebrity Chef Andrew Carmellini’s Italian chophouse takes advantage of its two-floor Pier 17 location by serving up scrumptious waterfront and Brooklyn Bridge views alongside a top notch menu of fresh pasta, raw bar and tartare, seafood, and of course beef and chops including wagyu from purveyors Snake River Farms and, for the vegetarians/vegans, a 12-ounce smoke-roasted beet “steak.”
Pier 17, 89 South Street
Chef Helene Henderson’s SoCal-inspired venue is part of a chain, that actually got its start in Malibu as a cafe on the Malibu Pier, but one that emphasizes seasonal and locavore, something-for-everyone fare at its respective locations, from Mexican soft tacos to Hawaiian poke to flatbreads, with loads of vegetarian and vegan options. If South Asian spice is what you’re craving, however, the female, queer POC-owned TAGMO by acclaimed Chef Surbhi Sahni—a veteran of NYC Michelin-starred Indian restaurants, whose colorful mithai sweets are insanely addictive and gorgeously packaged—at 226 Front Street is a must.
89 South Street
WORDS Lawrence Ferber
FEATURED IMAGE Courtesy carnemare.com