Tour And Taste Of Soho

by Joey Arak SOURCE Gotham
Photo Credit: Jimmy at The James Hotel

The neighborhood south of Houston Street has reinvented itself more times than Madonna. Castiron factories and warehouses replaced creaky houses in the 19th century, and when manufacturing jobs fled NYC, artists took over the abandoned loft spaces and coined the nickname for the area. Now locals, celebrities and tourists alike jostle for space on some of Downtown’s most popular, and pricey, streets.

What's Hot
When the sun goes down, the crowds go up—to airy rooftop bars, few of which can match the 360-degree views from high atop the new James hotel. Jimmy’s first summer means night owls can finally spill out from the indoor lounge to the poolside deck, decorated with an outdoor fireplace and chaise lounges. 15 Thompson St., 212-201-9118;

Leave the grass skirt at home when hitting this upscale tiki bar, where the flavors are tropical but the ingredients are mixed with all the seriousness of a modern artisanal cocktail den. Apologies to the state of Hawaii, but Lani Kai might serve the world’s best mai tai. 525 Broome St., 646-596-8778;

Tucked inside the new Mondrian hotel, this Chinatown-inspired lounge is the work of former Bungalow 8 gatekeeper Armin Amiri, who briefly retired from nightlife to act in films like The Wrestler and Reservation Road. He’s been welcomed back with open arms: Mister H’s first parties, during Fashion Week in February, were attended by the likes of Kanye West and former first daughter Barbara Bush. 150 Lafayette St., 212-389-0002;

Restaurants to Love
Dovetail chef John Fraser will tell you himself that his experimental new Soho restaurant won’t last long. That’s always been the plan. Part dining destination, part art installation, What Happens When opened in January for a ninemonth run, and every 30 days the restaurant debuts a new “movement”—new design, lighting, music and, in what would drive most chefs crazy, a completely new menu. 25 Cleveland Place, 212-925-8310; whathappenswhennyc.comTHE DUTCH

Andrew Carmellini is one of the best Italian chefs around, so it makes perfect sense that his follow-up to the wildly popular Locanda Verde in Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel would be an American restaurant called The Dutch. Confused? Carmellini sees American cuisine as a melting pot, and his new eatery, coinciding with his second cookbook, American Flavor (out in October), has been described by the chef as a combination of a steak joint, greenmarket, taqueria and pancake house. 131 Sullivan St., 212-677-6200;

Italy’s northern region of Emilia-Romagna is the inspiration for this newcomer from chef and owner Michael White, which means enough buttery pastas and cured pork to give cardiologists nightmares. Boisterous crowds and a casual décor of farmhouse tables and multicolored chairs have cemented Morini as a neighborhood sensation. 218 Lafayette St., 212- 965-8777;

Neighbors (Past and Present)
Justin Timberlake, Mike Myers, Jon Bon Jovi, Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, Carmelo Anthony, Samuel L. Jackson, David Geffen, John Mayer, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, Brian Vickers, Vikram Chatwal, Thierry Henry, Meg Ryan

Best Addresses
Soho’s luxury loft boom shifted into overdrive in the mid-’90s, when this building was converted to full-service condominiums (its name comes from the prior tenant), and at 12 stories, it’s also one of the neighborhood’s tallest prewar structures. One of the building’s penthouses was purchased by Jon Bon Jovi for $24 million in 2007. 158 Mercer St.

Reason number 1,026 why New York City beats LA: Our celebrities don’t hide inside private compounds; they live on top of each other. The roster of past residents in this small redbrick edifice (Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, Harvey Weinstein) and reported current ones (Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, Samuel L. Jackson, Gawker Media’s Nick Denton) is like an East Coast Walk of Fame. 76 Crosby St.