No one in New York needs to be told to stay away from the Meatpacking District, that little slice o' damnation by the Hudson just below 14th Street. Why, then, does the place continue to pulse like Sodom, Gomorrah, and the Las Vegas Strip all rolled into a giant distasteful enchilada? The obvious answer — especially if you spend time there — is that the Meatpacking District is increasingly populated by tourists hailing not just from outside Manhattan, but outside New York, or even outside New Jersey. Of course, there's still plenty of local lookie-loos and eager guidos who call the Meatpacking District their second home most every weekend night. They don't even realize that most of their brethren have already moved eastward to befoul what's left of Rivington Street. Therefore, as a public service, we're passing along the only message worth hearing about the Meatpacking District: Stay away. Get out. Don't go. It's that simple. All this week, we'll beat this drum till it carries beyond Manhattan, to the ears that most need to hear the warning.
To start things off, we've created an annotated map of the Meatpacking District and the 30 principal hells to be found there. Hardcore geographists used to limit the Meatpacking to 14th Street on the north, the Hudson River on the west, Hudson Street on the east, and Gansevoort Street on the south. Unfortunately for its neighbors, though, the Meatpacking District's vibe is creeping beyond its borders. Big-name restaurants are climbing 10th Avenue up to 16th Street, and a few other establishments are popping up further east on 14th Street. Our general rule is that if you can see the venue's door crowd from within the original District, it might as well be part of the monster. Feel free to disagree, but better safe than sorry. After the jump, full map of the Meatpacking District and 30 reasons why not.
1. 5 Ninth - Williamsburg chef Zak Pelaccio cooks popular fusion cuisine in a room too small for you to ever get a reservation.
2. Apt. - One of the original "secret" lounges, now overrun with crowds who realize they've been had a mere eight steps from the entrance.
3. Buddakan - Decent nouveau Asian fare overwhelmed by rambling patchwork of funhouse rooms.
4. Buddha Bar - Obnoxious Parisian export megaclub draws same douche crowd, slightly different accents.
5. Cielo - Tight face control on this small DJ lounge favors Eurotrash, those who love Eurotrash.
6. Comix - Grand experiment in Meatpacking District comedy club sure to bring in date crowd for financial/spiritual deflowering at neighboring venues.
7. Craftsteak - Bizarre spawn of NYC's Craft, which mutated to Las Vegas as Craftsteak and has now returned to haunt its parent restaurant.
8. Del Posto - "Molto" Mario Batali plants a restaurant-cum-ATM in the neighborhood, charges more for minimal changes to menus from his other establishments.
9. Fatty Crab - One of the few area restaurants locals ever set foot in, this pseudo-casual Malaysian has longer waits than some glitzier joints further in.
10. Florent - Neighborhood early-adopter clings to shreds of street cred by serving predawn fried eggs and frites to drunks and coke fiends.
11. Gaslight - Former hipster-bar bivouac now largely conceded to overflow from nearby joints with more severe doors.
12. Gin Lane - Beloved vomitous stenchpit Village Idiot now transformed into luxe cocktail/raw bar, in move roughly akin to building a gift shop on an Indian burial ground.
13. Highline - Surprisingly reasonable and tasty Thai with dork retro decor is still one of few outposts on Washington Street.
14. Hog Pit - Pork and BBQ faux-roadhouse serves militantly sub-par pig to shellshocked tourists.
15. Hogs & Heifers - Once had at least a slight claim to legitimate dive-bar status, H&H's rambunctious vibe actually masks a nearly fascist code of frat-boy behavior; one of the easiest places to get painlessly ejected from in all of downtown.
16. Hotel Gansevoort / Ono / G-Spa - The Death Star of the Meatpacking District draws B&T crowd like moths to flame: restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow's Ono restaurant packs in spendy diners, G-Spa turns humid basement into exclusive lounge, and hotel's rooftop bar geneartes a ground-floor line from dusk onward.
17. Lotus / Double Seven - Elder statesman of overpriced Meatpacking clubs with disproportionate door attitude; recently opened Double Seven side-lounge in attempt to re-ignite at least a pretense of exclusivity.
18. Markt - Once little more than a grudgingly accepted fallback if you couldn't get into brunch at Pastis, this place now gets almost as crowded as Pastis due to clueless foot traffic wandering down 14th Street.
19. Morimoto - Former Nobu chef Masaharu Morimoto slings endless courses of stunt-fish, denuding expense accounts Manhattan-wide.
20. One Little West 12th - Tiresomely repetitive lounge room now catering almost exclusively to bottle-service swells.
21. P.M. - Tropical lounge/snackery offers small plates for grazing would-be models and their handlers.
22. Pastis - Original bustling brasserie that may well have pushed the Meatpacking cancer into full malignancy.
23. Pop Burger - Greasy gourmet fast food in front, cocktails in the rear, bingeing and purging encouraged.
24. Rare - One of the few live music venues in the area gives the place a distinction quickly overwhelmed by rote faux-chic lounge.
25. Sascha - Chef Sascha Lyon serves a mishmash of New American comfort food to anyone with indifferent tastes and disposable income.
26. Soho House - Private club with rooftop terrace looms over 9th Avenue like disapproving English governess.
27. Son Cubano - Cuban food, drink, and music, reinterpreted for the sensibilities of inebriated bankers.
28. Spice Market - Gigantic Balinese monstrosity from Jean-Georges Vongerichten occupies structure that looks like a set from one of the more inferior James Bond movies.
29. STK / Tenjeune - Forthcoming mod steakhouse/lounge will likely raise the price ceiling for giant platters of meat and ocean creatures.
30. Vento - Rustic Italian fare used to lure marks into lounge/club, where higher profit margins lurk.