I've spent exactly one afternoon in the financial district. It was maybe 300 degrees out and humid, and my parents and I decided we wanted to explore. We spent the morning walking the circumference of Governor's Island, then took the ferry downtown and wandered up to Wall Street. Sweaty and exhausted, we were, nonetheless, amazed: the financial district is really pretty. Really. I had no idea.
About thirty seconds after I'd begun complaining that I was hungry, we turned onto Stone Street. I don't know why I'd never heard of this street before; I don't understand why it isn't in every guide book ever written about new york city. It's amazing. The street is entirely cobblestone, lined with a dozen appealing-looking cafes and, at least in the summer, entirely filled with wooden picnic tables and brightly colored umbrellas. If someone had told me that I was in Prague, or Vienna, or even Glasgow, I would have believed them.
At random, we sat down outside at the Smorgas Cafe, an adorable Scandinavian spot situated towards the center of the street. The food was delicious - I ordered the hamlet omelette (eggs tossed with roasted ham, asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes), and tried the homemade sparkling lingonberry soda (bet you've never had that before) - but everything looked and smelled fantastic (the woman next to me ordered the scandinavian soft vanilla waffles, which came out smothered in whipped cream and cloudberry syrup - drool away). I'd recommend this place in a heartbeat.
If you've never been to Stone Street, go, and go before it gets too cold. A hidden Manhattan gem.
53 Stone Street (b/w Broad St. and Hanover Sq.)
scandinavian soft vanilla waffles