I KNOW it’s hard to believe, but I do occasionally leave Brooklyn for that little island across the river.
One of my favorite places for lunch is closed-to-traffic Stone Street in the Financial District, where about a dozen restaurants put tables out on the cobblestones in warm weather.
Deep within the canyon of massive buildings and hard to find (I invariably get lost), the small scale of Stone Street — an intact row of Federal and Greek Revival townhouses, built soon after the Great Fire of 1835 destroyed most of the area — gives it the quality of a well-kept secret. A marvel of architectural survival in the face of unrelenting commercial pressure, the street still retains the curve it had in the mid-17th century, when it was first paved.
Stone Street is a madhouse from noon to 2, so come late, and don’t expect food to be much more than adequate. I like Smorgas Chef, a Scandinavian chain; there are also pubs like Brouwers, Ulysses, and the Stone Street Tavern, and decent pizza at Adrienne’s.
Remember Stone Street (it’s also lively at night) when you have out-of-town visitors; I also like to surprise native New Yorkers who even don’t know it exists.