Haute Secrets: World Traveler Peter Jon Lindberg’s New York Favorites

Peter Jon Lindberg, travel connoisseur and Director of Inspiration for Conrad Hotels and Resorts
Peter Jon Lindberg, travel connoisseur, and Director of Inspiration for Conrad Hotels and Resorts

Globetrotter extraordinaire Peter Jon Lindberg has probably been to every spot in the world worth visiting– twice.  An award-winning journalist who held senior-level editorial positions at Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure, Lindberg was recently appointed Director of Inspiration for Conrad Hotels and Resorts. That means he works with the brand’s hotel teams to craft one-of-a-kind travel experiences around the world. We can’t imagine a cooler job! So who better to curate New York than a man who has likely made it to more countries than Hilary Clinton and John Kerry have, sampling the best of the best wherever he goes.

Where you were bornCharlottesville, Virginia—my dad was a professor at UVA, but we moved away when I was 2, and I grew up mostly in New England.

How long have you been a New Yorker? Twenty two years, on and off. I left briefly in 1998 to live in Saigon, but couldn’t quit NYC.

Current neighborhood: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. I’ve been here since the Clinton Administration—longer than I’ve lived anywhere. But I still love the neighborhood, despite or because of the changes since.

OccupationDirector of Inspiration for Conrad Hotels & Resorts. I’m also a freelance writer and journalist, focusing on travel and food; a travel-industry consultant; and, as I see it, a professional leaver-of-town.

Best restaurant, ManhattanFor a splashy night out, price no object? Eleven Madison Park, where they never forget the joy and aren’t afraid to laugh and play, even though they’re dead-serious about great food and service. For a boozy dinner with friends: Pasquale Jones is my current go-to, for chef Ryan Hardy’s soul-nourishing wood-fired pizzas and the always-surprising wine list.

Best restaurant, BrooklynI probably go to Prime Meats more than any other restaurant—for dinner, for drinks, for weekday breakfast—not just because it’s five blocks away, but because it has the most consistent food, drinks, and service in the borough. For my wife [Lindberg is married to Nilou Motamed, editor in chief of Food and Wine] and me, it’s our happy place.

Best steakhouseFor pure old-world atmosphere and solid steakhouse classics, nobody comes close to Keens. (Your great-granddad would likely agree.)

Best vegan restaurantI’ve had delicious dishes at the old Rouge Tomate where I didn’t even realize they were vegan or vegetarian, they were so deeply craveable. I’m psyched for their new location in Chelsea to open this summer.

Best for lunch: My pals Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook just brought their acclaimed Philly Humusiya Dizengoff to Chelsea Market, and it’s ridiculously good. I could eat a gallon of their hummus and fresh-baked pita for every meal. (Thank God I don’t live in Chelsea or I would.)

Best Sunday brunch: Locanda Verde in Tribeca is hard to beat—especially in warm weather when the front windows are open to the breezez. And now that the city will finally let you order a Bellini before noon, getting up early to queue for Sunday brunch isn’t so painful.

Best place for a “power” business meeting: If I’m in Midtown, I’m taking my guests to Gabriel Kreuther on West 42nd facing Bryant Park. The Alsatian-inflected food is fantastic; the room is airy and elegant, and the tables generously spaced; the sound level is quiet, but not too quiet. It’s all the upsides of fine dining with none of the stiffness or stuffiness.

Best Italian restaurantMarea, no question. My mother lives a block away, and I’m often finding a new excuse to take her there for lunch or dinner. There’s always something new and cool on the menu, but I keep running back to that amazing lobster with burrata.

Best French restaurantI just had dinner at Daniel Rose’s brand-new Le Coucou downtown, and have to say it’s already gunning for that title. I love Spring, his celebrated restaurant in Paris, but the food at Le Coucou is closer in spirit to his Parisian bistro, La Bourse et La Vie—mouthwatering French classics done with rigor and flair.

Best dessert in New York: A sugar cone of salted-chocolate, hastily devoured outside Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, as it’s dripping onto the sidewalk on a sweltering summer day. Or, hell, in the dead of winter too.

Best bar: I’m a big fan of Bar Goto, on the Lower East Side, which manages to fuse the LES’s scrappy energy with the elegance and precision of a Tokyo speakeasy. The cocktails are spot-on, and the Japanese bar snacks are exactly what you’re hungry for.

Hotel you recommend for out-of-town guests: The Conrad New York, and not just because I work with the brand! Honestly, in Manhattan’s overheated hotel market, it’s one of the luxury traveler’s best-kept secrets—a killer location, right along the Hudson (check out the views from the terrace bar) and within walking distance of all the new Downtown attractions; a wow-factor lobby that feels like both like an extension of the city and a retreat from it; warm and intuitive service. And it’s only a 15-minute taxi ride from my neighborhood, so I can come meet you at the bar.

Favorite shopping haunt: On weekends I’ll usually avoid the Manhattan crowds and instead walk Atlantic Avenue from the East River up to Flatbush. Some fantastic only-in-Brooklyn fashion and design boutiques have joined the strip’s longstanding antiques dealers, and I always find something cool and fresh (plus there are great spots to eat along the way).

Best gym: Prospect Park! I love biking from my neighborhood over the Gowanus Canal and taking a few laps around the park—prefer that to being cooped up in the gym anytime. Except when it’s sleeting out, then I’ll hit my local gym.

Favorite charity826 Valencia, which helps kids aged 6 to 18 embrace and develop their writing talent. As a writer who discovered my passion a young age, that speaks right to my heart.

Night-on-the-town favorites: My ideal New York night would be 70 degrees, breezy and clear, and I’d spend the entirety of it on the deck at Grand Banks, a restored 1942 schooner moored on the Hudson in Tribeca. It’s now an oyster bar and seafood restaurant run by my friend Kerry Heffernan. Kerry’s food is sensational, and way better than it has to be, given the spectacular location and harbor views. Give me a New Jersey sunset, a lobster roll, and a Provençal rosé, and I’m good till long after dark.

Best museum: I’ll go with an old (and I mean old) favorite: The American Museum of Natural History, which opened in 1877 and sometimes feels like it hasn’t changed since. When I lived on the Upper West Side I would visit the dioramas every chance I got—it was like a museum of museum-going, this cool time-capsule of how we used to experience museums.

Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: Fort Tryon Park and the Met Cloisters, in way-upper Manhattan. Just about the most transportive place in the city, and one of the most peaceful.

Describe New York in three words: Can’t. Imagine. Leaving.

Best aspect of New York: Being able to fly direct to almost anywhere on the planet. And, short of that, being able to find almost every culture and cuisine on earth within the five boroughs.

As a global traveler, what aspect of New York do you miss most when you are away? My wife.

Secret to your success: Not having secrets. I compulsively share everything I know, own, or feel, which is sort of the definition of being a writer (and a traveler).