BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
In an area between the Fashion Institute of Technology and nameless high rises – where the grubby wholesale junk shops of 6th Avenue are just steps away lies the surprisingly happening block of West 26th street between 6th and 7th Avenues. It has only recently become the hub it is in recent years. The garment district has steadily seen a decrease in area since its heyday – around the turn of the century, when this block housed one of the first garment workshops in the area. Now, the only thing that remains of the garment industry is the home for the garment workers union which lies at the corner of 26th street and 7th avenue in the Lefcourt Clothing Center Building.
122 West 26th Street – The Ainsworth
Outfitted with more TVs than you can handle, this sports bar in Chelsea is much more than just a sports bar. The space is reminiscent of a ski lodge complete with tasteful Evergreen shrubbery and rustic chandeliers and offers a full dining area (within view of the TVs, of course). Curious menu items like the Peking Duck Burrito and a goat cheese stuffed lamb burger make this place a cut, or two above your average pub.
125 West 26th Street – Prime Cafe @ the Holiday Inn
Reserved mostly for guests of the hotel; Prime Cafe serves 3 meals a day and comes complete with an expectedly sleepy hotel bar. The scene is livelier during warm weather due to a good happy hour and street front outdoor seating. The Italian food served at dinner time is a surprising treat for those who stumble in.
127 West 26th Street – Black Door
Opened in 2002 when this stretch of 26th Street was still a sleepy one, Black Door was able to stay under the radar until recently. Best suited as a less rowdy, more grown up after work option, Black Door is low-key go-to if you’re in the area, but may not be worth it if you stop by on an especially crowded night.
128 West 26th Street – Tre Dici
An option for the older set in the area, filled with 50 and 60 somethings – this very grown up, romantic Italian is best enjoyed if a reservation is made for the more inspiring (read: younger) second floor steakhouse. Speakeasy style, as is the trend these days – walk down the second floor hallway to an unmarked door and enter the New Orleans inspired space for a solid selection of reasonably priced steaks and homemade pastas.
143 West 26th Street – Burgundy Wine
Burgundy wine holds nightly tastings and wine events complete with live music for an all around good wine-store experience. Focusing mainly on wines from the Burgundy region of France this is definitely a niche store and great if its French wine you’re looking for.
152 West 26th Street – Rare Grill
For a modern, slightly upscale but nothing super special take on the burger joint, Rare Grill is your answer. If you’re in the area, or staying at the Fashion 26 Hotel, which it shares an entrance with the restaurant Rare Grill is a solid option.
152 West 26th Street – Rare View
Rare Grill’s answer to the rooftop bar, Rare View is a perfect place to meet a group and have a few of their signature fruity cocktails while admiring the view of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. Located on the 16th floor of the Fashion 26 Hotel and done up, floor to ceiling in beachy wood planks Rare View is a rare treat in the city.
165 West 26th Street – Tillman’s
Bringing some soul to Chelsea, Tillman’s features live music and DJs most nights. A food menu features their gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches inspired by soul and comfort foods. Some say the scene isn’t worth it, but it’s definitely closer for most than traveling to Harlem.
165 West 26th Street – B & B
Although decor is non-existent at this African-American buffet style hole in the wall, you won’t walk away hungry or dissatisfied. Selections include curried rice and meat dishes to collard greens and plantains. Don’t let your surroundings fool you, this place is good to the last drop, and you WILL be eating to the very last drop.
175 West 26th Street – Subway
This Subway franchise is a tiny hole in the wall, but does the trick if you’re in the mood for one of their signature sub sandwiches!