Australians triumph in coffee and an unbeatable smashed avocado; New York, well, New York triumphs in about everything else. The pulsing streets brim with overflowing cafes, bars that spill out onto the streets, hidden speakeasies, under-the-radar art galleries and vibrant marketplaces at any given time of the year.

We know how overwhelming it can be to figure out an itinerary if you’re only there for a short amount of time, so we’ve done it for you. Here’s where to eat, drink, stroll and explore with 24 hours in downtown Manhattan.

Words by Shylie Rimmer


9am – Visit one of the many Australian cafes that are taking over New York

Banter NYC: Soho—the heart of downtown Manhattan—is the spot to be and be seen. It’s also a neighbourhood where your choice of which café to dine at is your number one problem. One of the many that are taking the best of Aussie breakfast to the streets of New York is Banter NYC. Loved by locals, this light-drenched spot serves up anything from an acai bowl to a big breakfast with bacon, mushrooms, avo and halloumi (which is harder to find than you might think).

11am – Do as the locals do and stroll the High Line

High Line: Did you really visit New York if you didn’t walk (or run) along the Hudson River? From Banter, head west towards the river and take the stairs up to the High Line: A public park perched above the streets of Manhattan’s west side and built on an ancient freight rail line. Besides being a great place to people watch, you’ll catch some epic views down the grid-lined avenues of Manhattan – as well as feel a much-welcomed breeze.


1pm – It’s not a trip to New York without a taco

Los Tacos No.1: When you start feeling peckish, drop off the High Line around Chelsea Markets and head to Los Tacos No. 1—the closest New York will get to the bustling taquerias found on the street corners of Mexico. If you’re looking for true authentic Mexican flavours, opt for the adobada taco—a corn or flour tortilla with guacamole, salsa, coriander and pork marinated in a traditional spicy red sauce. You’ll never look at tacos the same way again.

1:30pm – Discover just one of the many marketplaces

Chelsea Market: After you’ve enjoyed a Mexican lunch, a walk around Chelsea Market is a must. A food hall, shopping mall, pop-up market hybrid; you can find almost anything here. With spaces for pop-up designer outlets—which are well worth a visit if you love finding fabulous clothes for a quarter of the price—New York’s freshest lobster rolls, some of the best desserts you’ll lay eyes on and worth-the-wait coffee, you could spend hours roaming the industrial halls of this indoor marketplace.


3pm – Walking, walking and more walking

West Village: A city best explored by foot, a visit to New York means you should pack your walking shoes. After you finish up at the market, stroll back down to Soho through the star-studded, tree-lined streets of the charming West Village—home to classic brownstones houses, quaint side streets that have strayed from the classic grid-lined city layout, the famous Smalls Jazz Club and Carrie’s stoop from Sex & the City (found on Perry Street).

5pm – Rub shoulders with the who’s who of New York

Jimmy at The James: On the 18th floor of Soho’s beyond-chic The James Hotel you’ll find a swanky cocktail lounge that’s a classic of the city’s nightlife and is adorned with New York’s elite. Decked out with blue velvet seating and an outdoor roof deck decorated with a pool, the dramatic downtown views you get from this bar perched above the city’s hustle is well worth the US$25 cocktails you’ll likely buy.


7pm – Head to a local secret that’s worth the wait

Kiki’s: Nestled in the back streets bordering the Lower East Side and Chinatown, the always-busy Kiki’s is where you go to feast on hearty Greek food and cheap wine with a bunch of your friends. With a wait of one to two hours on most nights, it’s worth arriving early (which by New York standards means around 6:30pm) to secure your name on one of the only lists that you’ll be happy you waited for.
Tip: They have the best tzatziki in town!

9:30pm – It’s hidden. It’s fabulous

Apotheke Cocktail Bar: In the unassuming heart of downtown’s pulsing Chinatown, you will find—or try to find—hidden speakeasy Apotheke. Concealed behind a typical alleyway door—recognisable only by a sign above reading “Chemist” and the usual line of downtowners trying to get in—the complex, up-market cocktail concoctions justify the likely wait. If you stay past 10pm, expect an eye-locking burlesque show by some of the city’s best.


11pm – New York will never let go of the hidden speakeasy

La Esquina: If you think you’ve found all the hidden bars in New York, think again. La Esquina, however, is worth the find. Literally meaning “the corner” and cheekily branded as “the corner deli”, this underground Mexican Restaurant (that turns into a perfectly-crowded bar on any night of the week) sits underneath a Taqueria on the corner of Kenmare St and Lafayette St. Sip on a refreshing margarita as you dance to a fusion of Caribbean, Spanish and hip-hop music.
Tip: Dinner here showcases some of the tastiest Mexican food in the city. I once ate dinner seated next to Paul McCartney, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us.

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