New York's Historic Hangouts and Hideouts


New York City's culinary scene has a rich history spanning centuries. From taverns and oyster houses to hip restaurants and celebrity hotspots, the city's restaurants have reflected its evolution and growing diversity. This article will explore some of these historic places that have played crucial roles in shaping the city's unique culture.

Downtown Crowds Seek Sanctuaries in the 1970s

As the 1960s gave way to the 1970s, the downtown crowd sought solace in a new restaurant: One Fifth Avenue. Located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street, this nautical-themed spot became a beacon for celebrities and rising stars. With its elegant atmosphere and proximity to many art galleries, it attracted the likes of Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith, and Anna Wintour, who would later become a fashion icon. One Fifth Avenue set the stage for the trend of showcasing art and attracting the artistic crowd.

Coffee Shop: A Melting Pot of Artists and Celebrities

In the 1990s, Coffee Shop on Union Square West was a haven for celebrities and artists seeking a laid-back atmosphere. This restaurant welcomed everyone, from Uma Thurman and her daughter to Gerard Butler and the boy band Hanson. It was a place where servers, including the author, had memorable experiences and honed their skills while experiencing the frenzy of a busy brunch shift.

Who Ate Where?

New York City's restaurants have served as more than just places to eat; they have been the backdrop to history, both grand and humble. From Mayor Jimmy Walker's regular appearances at the Casino in Central Park to the more intimate gatherings at Coffee Shop, restaurants have woven together the fabric of the city's culture and society.

The Rise and Fall of the Stork Club

The Stork Club, open from 1929 to 1965, was a landmark in New York's social scene, known for its stellar view of Fifth Avenue and Manhattan's skyscrapers. It was a must-visit for socialites, celebrities, and politicians, with regular guests including Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Stalin, and Frank Sinatra. From epic birthday parties to secretive political deals, the Stork Club was a fixture of the city's elite social life during its time.

The Restaurant That Changed McNally's Career

In the fall of 1976, a new restaurant opened its doors on Third Avenue and Eighth Street. Called One Fifth Avenue, it became a pivotal moment in Keith McNally's career as he worked as a waiter before going on to open the legendary Odeon and Balthazar. One Fifth Avenue's mix of elegance and downtown vibes attracted celebrities and rising stars, setting the stage for McNally's later success.

AOC's Journey from Coffee Shop to the James Beard Award

From waiter to owner, the author's journey at Coffee Shop was transformative. It provided lessons on hard work and the dedication needed to survive in New York City's restaurant world. The author, now known as AOC, went on to open her successful restaurant, which recently won a James Beard Award.


New York City's restaurants reflect its diverse population and history. From the downtown artists' hangouts to the elite social clubs, these restaurants have shaped the city's culture and character. They are more than just places to eat; they are living monuments to the city's past and present. As the city continues to evolve, these restaurants will continue to serve as landmarks of a New York that is constantly changing yet timeless. Gentrifier Coffee Shop Mammoth esophagus-themed restaurant

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