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Our Favorite Retro Spots in NYC

Image source via Flickr 

It’s no surprise that New Yorkers have stepped into the past, embracing speakeasies, classic cocktails, and traditional dining, all while making throwback style statements. Life is cyclical, and amid New York’s ever-changing atmosphere, it’s nice to draw some inspiration from the city’s rich heritage. Luckily for the city’s visitors and residents, there’s no shortage of architectural wonders, landmark shops, classic restaurants, and retro bars to explore, embrace and enjoy.

Here are some of our favorite NYC originals:

21 Club

Speaking of NYC speakeasy bars, the 21 Club used to be just that in its earliest days of earnest prohibition. Thoroughly legitimized now, it’s one of our favorite NYC restaurants and bars. Nearly every president since FDR has patronized the 21 Club, and the list of frequent celebrity diners is too long to fit on this page. So make a reservation, put on your Sunday best, and step into the past at this NYC landmark.

21 Club
21 W 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019



A household name to every American and more, there’s nothing like going to the flagship Herald Square location. The sheer size can be overwhelming and/or exhilarating. It reigned as the world’s largest department store for over 85 years, encompassing 2.2 million square feet and an entire block of prime NYC real estate. It has also played home base for every kid’s favorite parade since 1928. Inside there are 11 levels of shopping, with everything from Gucci to McDonalds, so you’re all set to shop, window or not.

Macy’s Herald Square
151 W 34th Street
New York, NY 10001

The Strand

The Strand is probably the most impressive retro spot on this list. Any second-hand bookstore that remains open in 2015 is a feat nowadays, but especially one with such a large space in such an expensive neighborhood. Ben Bass opened the store in 1927, and his son Fred moved it to its current location two blocks south of Union Square in the late 1950s. Fred is now 86, but still buys full-time at the store to keep its slogan true: “18 miles of books.” The Strand also has a long history of employing the city’s artists and musicians, most notably Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine, of retro act Television. Come by and check out its well-known discount racks that line the sidewalk.

The Strand Books
828 Broadway
New York, NY 10003


McSorley’s Old Ale House

Irish pubs often try too hard to foster an atmosphere that evokes their supposed heritage. Forget all the pretense and be transported into the past when you step into one of the oldest bars in the city. Another era of presidents used to frequent McSorley’s — think Abe Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. That’s how retro this spot is. Established in 1854 (or 1862, depending on whose recounting of history you believe), McSorley’s has found a way to flourish in a neighborhood filled to the brim with the newest and hottest bars. The bar serves two drinks. Both beer. Light and Dark. Take your pick.

McSorley’s Old Ale House
15 E Seventh Street
New York, NY 10003
no website



A list of favorite NYC retro spots would not be complete without a pizza place. Open for more than 75 years, Patsy’s is an icon in East Harlem, located 117th Street and 1st Avenue. The list of one-time regulars includes Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Yankees Joe Rizzuto, Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio, Rudy Giuliani, and Francis Ford Coppola. Rumor has it that Ol’ Blue Eyes would fly pies to Vegas when he was missing his hometown favorite. The pizza is still as good as ever. Super simple, but done to perfection. Its coal-fired oven is the secret giving the thin crust its flavor and just the right amount of crunch. Hands down, Patsy’s is still the best pizza in New York City.

Patsy’s Pizzeria
2287 First Avenue
New York, NY 10035

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