Foodie Finds In FiDi

While Manhattan’s Financial District shed its reputation of being “all work and no play” years ago, most coverage of the local dining and imbibing scene tends to focus on the neighborhood’s bigger-ticket, made-for-expense-accounts offerings. But FiDi is also home to some intimate destinations that residents of 101 Wall Street condos will be proud to claim as local haunts.

Keg No. 229 | 229 Front Street

Tucked away on a historic block built two centuries ago in the South Street Seaport District, Keg No. 229 offers a low-key reprieve from the bustle of the district’s center. Grab a pint as well as a bite from the sophisticated but classic bar menu featuring offerings like buffalo chicken wings and crispy artichokes with spicy lemon aioli. In addition to rotating drafts on tap, Keg No. 229 features a “pour your own pint” option: several high-top tables are outfitted with decidedly 21st-century technology that keeps an ongoing tally of ounces of beer poured. Exposed brick and reclaimed wood tables lend to Keg No. 229’s industrial, Old World charm, making it the perfect modern bar for such a historic neighborhood.

Bin No. 220 | 220 Front Street

Vino lovers take note: Keg No. 229’s sister bar, a wine bar called Bin No. 220, is located just across the way.

Cowgirl Sea-Horse | 259 Front Street

Farther down Front Street, near the district’s edge, is the FiDi outpost of beloved West Village restaurant Cowgirl, appropriately named Cowgirl Sea-Horse. Whimsical trappings on display include nautical ropes and netting, seahorse decor wherever possible, lights fashioned from ship wheels, and an antler chandelier (because, why not?). The seaside theme extends to the menu, which includes options such as “Buttermilk Channel Baskets” (Southern-fried seafood) and “Beach Baskets” (sandwiches and boardwalk-inspired eats) in addition to the casual Southwestern fare synonymous with the Cowgirl name.

Mooncake Foods | 111 John Street

Another local favorite is Mooncake Foods, a New York City micro-chain of four compact restaurants serving up fresh takes on Asian comfort food. The small Mooncake storefronts provide a sharp contrast to the oversized pan-Asian flavors served up in bold dishes like Shanghai pork and shrimp wonton soup, spicy Thai steak salad, miso-glazed grilled salmon, and tofu kebabs in a curry peanut sauce. Mooncake Foods doesn’t sacrifice health for taste, however: all entrees are grilled, steamed, or roasted (no woks or fryers here), and everything is made on site, down to the chicken soup stock base. Delicious food coupled with fair prices? It’s easy to see why Mooncake is a favorite for quick eats, take-out, or delivery for residents of nearby Financial District condos.

The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog | 30 Water Street

FiDi’s ambitious newcomer, The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, offers a tri-level taproom, parlor, and event space in a converted 19th-century brownstone on historic Water Street. The taproom has a convivial, Irish pub atmosphere, while the upstairs parlor is a proper cocktail lounge. Since opening in 2013, the Dead Rabbit has won numerous awards, claiming the title of “World’s Best Bar” last year at the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail industry event.

The cocktail list here is based on vintage 19th-century recipes, an era when “Dead Rabbits” — a gang of Irish-American immigrants — ran Water Street and parts of the Financial District. Hence the name of the bar, co-founded by Jack McGarry, himself an Irish expat. While the cocktails garner the most attention, the food is by no means an afterthought. Both menus lean toward pub classics with a refined touch: Scotch eggs and Cumberland sausage rolls, baby lamb chops, mini crab cakes, fish and chips, chicken pot pie. At brunch on the weekends, the Dead Rabbit offers a full Irish breakfast. No doubt, the namesake gangsters would approve.

Image Courtesy of  ©