In the city that never sleeps, even fictional characters need to fuel up on coffee, pizza and booze. Thankfully, New York City gives directors plenty of options to choose from. When filming wraps for the day, some of those spots you watch on your tube (or tablet) welcome real-life customers. Like you.
While you may think you’re too good to engage in touristy activities like braving the cold and crowd to see the tree in Rockefeller Center, you can still snap a great Instagram photo West of LI and dine like your favorite characters. Maybe you should check out those LIRR schedules after all.
The Campbell Apartment
Hidden in plain sight on the southwest corner of Grand Central Terminal, the Campbell Apartment is a Roaring Twenties cocktail lounge for the digital age. It’s also the place where in the pilot episode of Gossip Girl Serena van der Woodsen and Nate Archibald have sex on the bar. We’re not advocating that Campbell Apartment may be one of New York’s best-kept secrets but it’s always packed. We are, however, all for pretending to be as glamorous as Serena while enjoying jazz-age cocktail concoctions. Go there.
The Spotted Pig
When craving a burger, April Bloomfield’s beloved West Village eatery is a must-visit. The place makes what may be the best burgers in New York City, maybe even the state, sorry GM Burger Bar. Piper Chapman agrees. In Season 2 of Orange is the New Black she begs to go for burgers and Manhattans during a furlough from prison. The Spotted Pig isn’t the only West of LI location in the show, though. Visit them all.
You know it as McLaren’s. The pub where we fell in love with the characters of How I Met Your Mother and heard their best stories is really McGee’s. An Irish bar on West 55th with decent burgers and Irish beer, it’s where How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas used to hang back when their own show was just a dream. It’s worth a visit when you’re feeling nostalgic for the How I Met Your Mother days. Go there.
Suzanna Vega wrote a song about it, Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer dined at it. Tom’s Restaurant has been a Morningside Heights institution for more than 70 years. The exterior of the Greek-American restaurant was Monk’s Cafe in Seinfeld, although the interior where Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer actually ate was filmed on a soundstage. You can have breakfast all day at the real one. Go there.
Cafe Grumpy has been a must-go for true coffee connoisseurs since Caroline Bell opened the Greenpoint, Brooklyn shop in 2005. These days, we know it as HBO hit Girls’ answer to Central Perk, where Ray delivers quick-witted lines just as well as he delivers a cup a joe. Ray won’t be around if you decide to get your caffeine fix there in real life, but you can get your selfie with the crabby coffee bean in Greenpoint or one of the five other locations in Park Slope, Chelsea, Lower East Side, Fashion District and Grand Central Terminal. Go there.
If you want dinner before you catch a subway at the West 4th Street Station or need to cheaply satisfy a craving after splurging on cocktails or hipster orange wine, Ben’s Pizzeria is the place to go. Just ask Louis CK of Louie, who, in the show’s opening credits, is seen grabbing a slice of cheese pizza there on his way to a gig at the famous Comedy Cellar. Go there.
Keep it kosher by getting your pastrami at the place where Harry met Sally. The kosher-style restaurant on the Lower East Side is where Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) famously had a fake orgasm in the 1989 flick, prompting a customer played by Estelle Reiner to quip, “I’ll have what she’s having.” The table where Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally met is even marked, so you just might be able to pull up a chair, have some corned beef and take a pic. Katz’s Delicatessen is also the site where Joseph Pistone/Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp) met with an FBI contact in Donnie Brasco. Go there.