Meatpacking District, West Village
Concierge.com's insider take:
Not so long ago, this was New York City's version of the Wild Westa warren of cobblestone streets abutting the West Side Highway, home to butchers and alternative-lifestyle night owls. Very little of that world exists now that the beef carcasses have moved out and the megaclubs, boutiques, and restaurants have moved in, with the stiletto-and-Prada crowd tottering swiftly behind. Still-standing stalwarts include Hogs & Heifers, where the shtick of bullhorn-shouting female bartenders who berate patrons and cut off their neckties with scissors was born (859 Washington St.; 212-929-0655; www.hogsandheifers.com), and the first upscale joint to move to the hood, Keith McNally's always good, always packed bistro, Pastis (9 Ninth Ave.; 212-929-4844; www.pastisny.com). Others haven't been so luckythe classic all-night diner Florent, whose walls could no doubt tell some hair-raising stories, was shuttered as of mid-2008, pushed out by exorbitant rents. Lately places seem to open up more quickly than one can followthe Hotel Gansevoort and clubs like Aer already seem kind of, well, old. While the neighborhood is fun and the shopping can be stellar (or should that be Stella?), it's also seeing the inevitable backlashstop by during the week; weekends are elbow-to-elbow with way-too-drunk amateurs. Still, everyone can agree that the High Line elevated park and the hip (and affordable) Standard Hotel have gone a long way towards bringing the best of Meatpacking's past into its hip future.