Night life

New York’s Top Retro Bars And Restaurants – Forbes Travel Guide Stories


The Leopard At Des Artistes

New York City may be at the cutting edge of all that is hip, new and in fashion, but it also offers plenty of places that pay homage to the past. After all, Delmonico’s, one of the first restaurants in the country, opened in downtown NYC in the late 19th century. From there, you have grand Midtown institutions such as Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Plaza Hotel and Five-Star The St. Regis New York that have promoted grandeur and good times for decades. But the air of nostalgia hovering above the city isn’t limited to these ancient institutions. Here are three more great venues for transporting you to another time.

21 Club

Though this old-school speakeasy has remained almost the same since its inception during the Prohibition era, it does have a few new tweaks that would have guests from the 1930s jitterbugging in their graves. First, anyone can come in now, as long as men wear jackets and no one has on sneakers. Second, back in 2011, 21 added a downstairs concept, dubbed Bar 21. And while it matches the original décor, Bar 21 lets you indulge in a perfect Blood and Sand (Whistle Pig rye, orange juice, vermouth and Cherry Heering) or another signature tipple in a more informal setting. Whether you decide to have a fine-dining experience upstairs or just linger at Bar 21 or the legendary Bar Room, make sure to walk around the entire space, soak up some New York history and, maybe, tap into the energy of Ernest Hemingway, Lauren Bacall and other famous guests who used to visit.

Golden Cadillac

Golden Cadillac

Golden Cadillac

The era of Saturday Night Fever has landed at this newly opened bar and eatery in the East Village. “The 1970s in NYC was known for being one of the most exciting and fun times to live in,” says Golden Cadillac co-owner James Tune. “We decided to focus on a time period that has not been done before and, more importantly, we wanted to have fun with it.” With that ideology in mind, they filled the jukebox with vintage tunes and stuffed the menus with ’70s classics such as cheese fondue, Jell-O molds, the Harvey Wallbanger (Galliano, vodka and clarified orange juice) and the Hot Buttery Nipple (cacao-and-butter-infused Jameson, Demerara sugar and whipped cream). The décor also speaks to the time period; low neon lights, vinyl booths and a retro bar may even inspire you to don a pantsuit and act out a John Travolta impression.

The Leopard at des Artistes

Located in the historic Hotel des Artistes building on the Upper West Side, this Southern Italian restaurant not only serves a vintage European meal, but also sets a Roaring 1920s vibe at the same time. The first part that showcases this era is the iconic murals painted by Howard Chandler Christy, which, in 2010, got refurbished by owners Gianfranco and Paula Sorrentino. The famed images depict nymphs frolicking nude across water-colored landscapes of blues, greens and muted yellows. The work may not conjure imagery of the early 1900s at first glance, but it certainly speaks to the playfulness of the time. The service also mimics exquisite dining experiences moneyed guests of yore may have had. As for the food, it tips its hat more to mid-1800s Italy than it does 1920s Big Apple. With dishes such as braised artichoke ravioli with burrata and tomato marjoram sauce, veal Milanese and traditional cured meats and cheeses, chef Vito Gnazzo helps transport you to another delicious place and time.

Photos Courtesy of The Leopard at des Artistes and Daniel Krieger

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