For a quick day trip away from the bustle of Manhattan—one with magnificent views of the city skyline—hop on the ferry or the N/R/Q subway lines and check out one of NYC’s most rapidly changing neighborhoods: Long Island City, Queens. Formerly a center of industry, the past 15 years have seen LIC’s commercial warehouses repurposed as art galleries, studio spaces, and great spots to eat and shop. Those changes brought sweeping residential development to the area, along with top-notch restaurants, bars and other hallmarks of a thriving, gentrifying community.
Perhaps one of the most high-profile restaurants in this area is the funky, cavernous M. Wells Steakhouse (43-15 Crescent St.), helmed by French-Canadian Head Chef Hugue Dufour. Not your average chophouse, M. Wells’ menu complements standards such as porterhouse steak for two with enterprising new concepts including bone marrow soup and banana foie gras.
If you’re looking for lighter fare, you can chow down on top-flight sushi at Hibino (10-70 Jackson Ave.), or slurp hand-pulled noodles at Mu Ramen (1209 Jackson Ave.), a favorite with locals. Be sure to cap off dinner with a drink at L.I.C. Bar (45-58 Vernon Blvd.), a laid- back, 100-year-old, brick-and-wood watering hole that looks like the set of a movie and perfectly encapsulates the totally-cool-without-trying-too-hard-to-be-cool vibe.
The craft-beer craze that is sweeping the city is alive and well in Long Island City, and you can swing by the tasting room at Transmitter Brewing (53-02 11th St.) for some of the best local brews in town.
The Brickhouse Ceramic Art Center (10-34 44th Dr.) houses studio spaces and classes for potters and ceramicists: Some of the best output can be purchased and brought home as a one-of-a-kind souvenir from the on-site gift shop.
LIC is known for its world-class art, and a great place to start is MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave.), the edgier, younger sibling of the Museum of Modern Art. Focused exclusively on exhibition as opposed to collecting, PS1 is in the vanguard of the contemporary art scene, and its famed Sunday Sessions are a great way to get exposed to the cutting edge in live performance and moving image.
The Noguchi Museum (9-01 33rd Rd.) was created by Japanese-American sculptor/designer Isamu Noguchi to display his most representative works. The venue is an artistic achievement in and of itself, and an afternoon spent exploring its 10 galleries and open-air sculpture park is an experience you won’t regret.