We are constantly being told to live in the moment, but sometimes it’s just fun to travel back in time. No, we haven’t figured out time travel in the way so many science fiction writers have imagined, but some New York City hotspots do a pretty good job of having you feel like we have. From retro decor to carefully curated playlists and menus featuring the spirits and bites of the era, some of the best places to hang out in New York City offer guests a chance to go back to their favorite decade.
The little red brick saloon opened in 1884 and has since become legendary for its famous regulars over the years. Think Frank Sinatra, Jackie O and Elizabeth Taylor. Johnny Mercer wrote “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” on a bar napkin there. The 19th century decor has remained in place over the years, and the faded dark wood paneling and penny-tile floors give P.J. Clarke’s a lived-in feel you thought you’d only find in black-and-white movies. Go.
The Campbell Apartment
The secret is out about The Campbell Apartment. Cocktail conceptions like Prohibition Punch and Flappers Delight and the sweet sounds of Bing Crosby make what was once the private office and salon of tycoon John Williams Campbell the cocktail lounge of choice for those who wish they were born in the Gatsby era. Go.
The Monkey Bar
With the repeal of Prohibition close at hand but America still in the midst of the Great Depression, the Monkey Bar opened its doors on the ground floor of the luxurious Hotel Elysee in Midtown and quickly became a place of respite for men in bespoke suits. Today, when a guest walks through the saloon doors and sinks into a plush red bench they get a break from the athleisure and baseball cap trends in favor of a little Jazz Age glamour. Men shouldn’t leave home without their ties and ladies without white gloves in their purse. Go.
Aspiring writers will love sitting in the same space that was once a favorite of literary legends like E.E. Cummings, Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound, carnivores will be thinking about their next trip after one bite of steak and history buffs will love that Minetta Tavern resembles a 1930s parlor. The Greenwich Village watering hole boasts an intimate 70-person dining room decorated with photos of the city’s past like Eva Marie Saint and boxer Jimmy Braddock and steaks that will make even the proudest Chicago native swoon. Go.
Best known for its multiple appearances on 90s sitcom Seinfeld, Tom’s Restaurant transports guests back to the 1950s. Vinyl booths, hanging light fixtures, and menu items like egg and bacon sandwiches with sides of corn beef hash are available all day long. Count on friendly-but-thick-skinned waitresses to give you the retro vibes you crave when you walk into a diner. Go.
Bob Marley fans, consider Kingston Hall your new haven. The 60s-style Jamaican-themed bar is adorned with palm trees, bright floral arrangements and fruit baskets that will not only take you back to a groovier era but to a place where the weather is warm all year long. Go.
If you miss the days when the hair was as big as Tom Cruise’s star power, relive those glory days of the 80s over a microbrew at Joshua Tree. Located between Penn Station and Grand Central Station, hear live tunes from Bruce Springsteen cover bands and catch your favorite music videos from the decade (remember when MTV played those?) before grabbing a train home. Go.