It took only 10 years for West Chelsea to transform from an area of windswept blocks dotted with taxi garages to the undisputed center of the international art world. Now, European and Asian tourists are seen unfolding maps as they decide where to get off the High Line to look at paintings. And in the past few months, some of the biggest galleries in all of New York have opened between 10th Avenue and the West Side Highway. Much of the action is walking distance from Penn Station. Your Chelsea Art Guide begins here.
David Zwimmer Gallery (537 W. 20th St., davidzwirner.com): You won't find a more architecturally deluxe space anywhere, starting with the burnished wood facade. Next month, this brand new 30,000-square-foot gallery features a show of renowned sculptor Richard Serra's early work.
Hauser & Wirth (511 W. 18th St., hauserwirth.com): Hard to believe this soaring mini-museum used to house the legendary club the Roxy (if you remember it, you weren't really there). The inaugural show is "Dieter Roth. Björn Roth," a high-concept stunner involving, among other things, the production of chocolate sculptures that perfume the air.
Michael Rosenthal Gallery (100 11th Ave. at 19th Street., michaelrosenfeldart.com): Occupying the ground floor of architect Jean Nouvel's shimmering tower, this historically minded gallery shows artists both new and old. Now hanging are figurative paintings by the late Benny Andrews, ripe for rediscovery by today's art audiences.
Arman: The late, great French-born American painter-sculptor may be the most important conceptual artist the public has never heard of. His bicycle-based works are now on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery (293 10th Ave., paulkasmingallery.com).
Helen Frankenthaler. Gagosian Gallery (522 W. 21st St., gagosian.com) has mounted a blockbuster show of one of the 20th century's true maestros of the brush, curated by Matisse expert John Elderfield. The focus is Frankenthaler's 1950s abstractions painted in New York City.
Best sandwiches: Bottino to Go, (246 10th Ave., bottinonyc.com), try the roast beef ($7.25); Rocket Pig (463 W. 24th St., rocketpignyc.com), offering just one incredible spice-rubbed pork 'wich ($14).
Best java: Joe Coffee (405 W. 23rd St., joenewyork.com), high-octane fuel (large cappuccino, $4.25) for art-watching.
Best pastries: La Bergamote (177 Ninth Ave., labergamotenyc.com), authentically Parisian baked goods and an almond-filled croissant to die for ($3.25).
Best throwback: La Luncheonette (130 10th Ave.) was here before the galleries arrived, and probably will outlast them. Offering French classics such as skate ($21) and braised leeks ($7.50).