As followers in the footsteps of New York City’s long list of boozy writers, we’ve been resting on our Algonquin and White Horse laurels for way too long. Those two bars barely scratch the surface of their particular genre, and yet they’ve assumed preeminence whenever someone asks for a recommendation of a classic literary watering hole. Here are eight others you could point to instead…
In the early 1980s, this was the only place in Tribeca and the place to spot well-known artists, actors, and writers. The Odeon played no small part in making downtown Manhattan “happen,” and althought the area around it has changed a lot, the restaurant itself looks just like it did 30 years ago. 145 W Broadway (Manhattan).
Literary Patrons: Jay McInerney, Tom Wolfe
One of the more charming bars in all of New York City, the Brooklyn Inn has been hanging around the corner of Bergen and Hoyt for over 20 years, although it feels a lot older. Jonathan Lethem has been known to frequent it, and even set part of Motherless Brooklyn here. 148 Hoyt Street (Brooklyn)
Literary Patrons: Jonathan Lethem, Jonathan Ames
Splitty (formerly Rope)
In Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Nate takes a date to Rope, one of the author’s favorite bars when she was living nearby on Myrtle Avenue. Rope has since closed and been replaced with Splitty. It’s a different bar, but still a good bar. 415 Myrtle Avenue (Brooklyn)
Literary Patrons: Adelle Waldman
There was a time in the mid-aughts when this Keith McNally brasserie in Soho served as the unofficial Gawker clubhouse. Gawker’s grown a little less clubby since, but breakfast is still a prime to to spot a writer there. 80 Spring Street (Manhattan)
Literary Patrons: Every Gawker writer ever.
Café Loup (shown in the image above) is the kind of spot it’s easy to assume no longer exists in Manhattan–a solid, unassuming French bistro with a long bar and basic but strong drinks. It’s allure to writerly types is, perhaps unexpectedly, as strong as ever. 105 W 13th Street (Manhattan)
Literary Patrons: Susan Sontag, Paul Auster
Once, an old boss who happens to be well-connected in the Manhattan media world took me out to lunch here, where we ran into Joan Didion’s agent, whom she knew fairly well. That’s the kind of scene that owner Graydon Carter draws to this Midtown restaurant that does its damndest to insist that everything literary hasn’t decamped to points further south and east. In earlier days, Tennessee Williams lived in the hotel upstairs and became a regular by default. 60 East 54th Street (Manhattan)
Literary Patrons: Graydon Carter, Joan Didion’s agent, Tennessee Williams
Norman Mailer and Arthur Miller are both said to have been regulars at this Italian spot in Brooklyn Heights, which closed in 2008 after 80 or so years in business, but reopened after a light renovation in 2009. 143 Montague Street (Brooklyn)
Literary Patrons: Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer
Perhaps because it’s so close to the practical epicenter of Brownstone Brooklyn, the bars on the stretch of 4th Avenue near the Atlantic-Pacific subway station have become the best place in the city to run into you literary editors and writers Foremost among them, in our minds, is Pacific Standard.
Literary Patrons: The ones you haven’t heard of, yet.