Friday, March 9, 2018

THE FRIDAY 5: Theater District Watering Holes


Over the years, Mike and I have been known to enjoy an adult beverage or three during our Broadway binge trips. We like to try new places, but tend to go with the familiar.  Here are our 5 favorites in the theatre district.  Most are also restaurants, and we do eat at these places, but this list is based on the drinks, not the food. Both of us separately graded about 10 of our favorite places on ambiance, quality of drinks, value, location relative to the Times Square area.  Here's how the tally shook out:

5. MOTHER BURGER (329 W. 49th Street) 

This place is small, but it is CHEAP, and not just for NYC. That's why this place got the highest score for value. I love the red sangria, and they have some great frozen drinks, as well. Not a bad burger, either... Great for a matinee day or pre-show drink (only open late on Fridays and Saturdays). Close to: Avenue Q (and anything at New World Stages - it is literally over the space!), Wicked, Once On This Island, The Book of Mormon, Chicago, Bruce Springsteen on Broadway, A Bronx Tale, Angels in America, Waitress, The Band's Visit

4. IRON BAR (713 8th Avenue) 

This place feels both comfortable and trendy, and always seems packed, but we've never waited for a seat or table.  It is pretty pricey, but what you get is high quality.  Mike recommends the tasty, but small margaritas, and I enjoy their strong rum and Cokes.  What this place has in spades is hours (open daily 12PM - 4AM) and location.  Close to: Kinky Boots, The Phantom of the Opera, Anastasia, Hello, Dolly!, Lobby Hero and Frozen

3. JUNIOR'S (1515 Broadway, but you access it from 45th Street and Shubert Alley)

Here's another place high on the location scale.  The food here is really the star - their cheesecake is world-famous. The menu and the portions are enormous, and it isn't too expensive, but not cheap, either.  This is also the most family-friendly place on the list, so it might surprise you that thee drinks are pretty terrific.  They serve a big margarita, and I've had an equally large rum and Coke and screwdriver there over the years. Get in line - the wait is rarely as long as they tell you it will be, and you can eat at the bar if available. But again, location, location, location! Close to: The Lion King, The Boys in the Band, Come From Away, Three Tall Women, The Iceman Cometh, Carousel and Dear Evan Hansen

2. CHEVY'S (249 West 42nd Street)

Okay, so a chain Mexican restaurant might not be high on your list in the first place, but we love it there, because the food is decent, and the drinks are high quality.  Margaritas by the pitcher or glass, other exciting specialty drinks and very well poured classics - the bartenders here are great.  Go early, go late, we never have to wait long, and they encourage you to linger!  Upstairs is quieter, but sometimes the hustle bustle downstairs and at the bar can be a blast, too.  Close to: The American Airlines Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Aladdin, Beautiful, Pretty Woman

1. REUNION (357 West 44th Street)

This place is small, and close to 9th Avenue, but you can't miss it.  There's a giant surfboard and life guard chair and lots of colorful lights to tell you where it is.  It is in the basement of its building - be careful going up and down the steps! It looks small, but holds a lot of people comfortably.  They have a small menu of things to eat, including interestingly stuffed hot dogs.  Hit this place for happy hour and it is super cheap.  Off happy hour isn't that much more.  We've tried a variety of their drinks and they are all good and very nicely poured.  Reunion scored highest in ambiance - take the time to read all the signs! And the location is great if you want to be close to the Broadway action, but not overwhelmed by it.  It's also close to some great eats. Close to: Kinky Boots, The Phantom of the Opera, Frozen, Lobby Hero, Hello, Dolly! and Schmackery's (for cookies), Two Boots Pizza (for gourmet slices) and 5 Napkin Burger (for...burgers).


We just discovered this place on our most recent trip, since we treated ourselves and stayed there.  But we'd go back.  It's a nice, bright open place, with a great view of Times Square.  As you might guess, it's pricey, but not too outrageous.  We had excellent service at both the bar and in the lounge seating area.  Large drink menu and decent sized menu of eats. (Try the house made chips and dip - maybe the best onion dip I've ever had!) Close to: Escape to Margaritaville, Hamilton, Summer, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Parisian Woman, School of Rock, The Band's Visit, Waitress

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