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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

The New York Meal Deal #3

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

My finalé of our New York culinary & drink tour...

Fast food, casual spots, fine dining, street eats... our exploration of gluttony!


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The Infamous Blues Bar in Harlem evening...

Ya… it didn’t really happen.

Funny story though.

Well... kinda funny.

Maybe.

Not really.


Our days in New York were always full of adventure. Sometimes, we stuck together as a crew, and other times, we veered off and did our own thing. I think the latter kept each of us sane and adventurous. It was fun to come back together, having experienced different things. Our nights were usually fairly open and suggestions were always appreciated.


Stella had briefly mentioned a desire to see a Blues band, and she managed to find a groovy little blues joint in Harlem.


There was a very brief conversation on our NY group chat that resulted in Richard seeking out venues that were slightly little closer in proximity. His search brought him to a joint in Times Square that boasted a big band. Albeit slightly confusing communication, Richard took it upon himself to buy us all tickets for that evening... at $42 a piece.


Uh oh...


CANCEL!!!!!!!!!

Impossible.

Richard ended on the phone with the box office staff, and eventually had to make his way there when the doors opened, to explain the purchase was a mistake.


Admittedly, an evening trip into Harlem seemed more risky and enticing…

We wanted the likes of Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters… and this little blues dive bar seemed the perfect location.


ZeeCee, Stuart, Stella and I made our way north on the subway. We figured it would be foolish to not pop into Tom’s Restaurant, considering we were already there!


As soon as we reached our Harlem station exit, the heavens opened and it began to pour. Pour is probably the wrong word to use. It was torrential. Teeming down. Trying to follow the blue directional dot on Google Maps is difficult enough through dry and light conditions. Trying to navigate the unfamiliar streets of Harlem is not an easy thing in the dark, let alone when your phone is inundated with water, you're scurrying along, desperately dodging traffic and shortcutting through potentially unsafe parks.


Stupid tourists...


But we found it.

Tom's Restaurant, the local Monk's Café famous from the classic TV sitcom, Seinfeld. Tom's Restaurant. Apparently the owner has only watched Seinfeld once.

Typical diner grub.

Open 24 hours Friday through Monday.

After a quick bite to eat and a momentary dry-out... we were back into the rain. Afterall, we had a blues bar to hit up! Once having the reputation for being quite gritty, apparently Harlem is now a wonderful community. The chill vibes, thriving music & cultural scene and proud history apparently makes for a fabulous, very diverse neighbourhood and a phenomenal part of New York to visit.


BUT... not in the dark when we're cold and soaked through. It was hell.

The rain didn’t hold up.

At all.

Not one bit.

No more sketchy parks. No more puddles.

It was super dooper Uber time.

I inserted our Tom's Restaurant address into the Uber app and we were given a 4 minute time frame. Our driver finally showed up, **cheer!** and saved us from the questionable safety of our outdoor awing refuge. We were shockingly happy to see him, but the feeling was not mutual. He ended up being unresponsive to the point of downright aloof and cold. He was Spanish, so I even tried to initiate a conversation with him in his own language... to no avail. It was obvious that our attempts annoyed him, as it forced him to remove his earbuds. We drove the rest of the way in silence.


He dropped us off at the corner we had requested and as soon as we were out of his vehicle, he drove off, without any concern for our destination or surroundings. He left us standing alone, in the pouring rain, in front of a VERY closed nightclub.


Not even closed for the evening.

Closed permanently.

Funny... it didn’t mention THAT on its Google profile.


Shit.

I think we all stood there, bewildered, soaked to the bone, thinking…

“We should have just gone to the one Richard booked.”

Double Shit.


Experience or no experience. We had just ventured into Harlem for nothing more than a cold shower and a crappy diner dinner.

Ok... next move? We needed shelter.

1. Google pubs nearby.

2. Find one close.

3. RUN!!!!!!!

And man, did we run. Unfortunately, I had inadvertently become the navigational expert... and everyone trusted my not so confident directional choices. Of course, my issues with the blue dot reared its ugly head again, and I had us running in the wrong direction for about two blocks before I figured out we were headed in the opposite direction.


Turn around.

RUN!!!... again...


It was an evening story that you couldn’t have made up had you’d tried.

We finally reached our destination - The Fox Harlem.

The staff were closing up, but took pity on us and let us in for a quick sip and a chance to warm up... ever so slightly.


We finally got back to the station that would deliver our soggy asses back to Times Square... but not without a full on rat parade. We had been speaking about how none of us had seen many rats around, considering they were such a staple of the big city. That evening, the rats did not disappoint. They were at each garbage, on every road and even were the highlighting performance of our metro station. At one point, the lady at the booth even screamed to Stella, "Ma'am! Ma'am! Watch out!!!" ... as a rat came running in her direction.

So it was a score for our Seinfeld fans.

An even bigger night for rats.

I'm sure many plants appreciated the h2o inundation.

And I learned that wool coats are not ideal in overly damp conditions.

I also realize I need to figure out how to read a Google map if I intend to be a world traveller.

Good times in Harlem.

 

An absolute favourite of Richards and #1 on his list of things to MUST accomplish while in New York City. It was pinned as New York’s most historical dive bar, and that it was.

The entire group of us made our way in and sat at the very back. It was crowded... and it was definitely a dive bar... but that was the charm we had been seeking! And we got it.


With every drink, you got a free hot dog. We got 3 jugs... which equalled 9! Add in two glasses of wine, and suddenly we had a buffet of 11 weiners in front of us!

Total? $34.00.

!!!

Pays to visit a dive bar every now and then.

That would have been well over $100 in Times Square!

Rudy's, a Hell's Kitchen neighbourhood staple since 1933. This tavern is known for its no-frills atmosphere & FREE hot dogs.

Definitely NO frills.

This was the real New York - to a certain degree. I made friends with a local guy at the bar while I was ordering. My new friend at the bar asked Richard if he was "my fellow" and Richard thought he was asking if he was "my father." There were a few offensive words thrown into the mix... but eventually the miscommunication was sorted out, without going to blows.


I'm not sure I would have enjoyed a bar fight in a dive bar in New York City, as exciting as that might have been!


Thumbs up for one of the real NYC highlights!

 

Little Cafe that ZC and I went to - Hells Kitchen???

Stop in on the walk back.

I have been suffering with knee pain, but I was determined to explore NYC on foot. Nothing was going to stop me. Thought every now and then, a wee wine break is much appreciated.

This place was fabulous and just what we both needed.

A couple glasses of rose.











 

Cassidy’s

Well... what do you know? Another Irish bar in New York City!

Fancy that!

This one happened to be right across the street from our hotel, so it was conveniently located for a few tasty beverages on our final night together in the Big Apple.


Nothing too exciting, but prices were decent, food was good, service was fabulous and we had a few laughs... and might have indulged a wee bit too much!


It was my last opportunity to have a martini! I had always envisioned myself enjoying a Cosmopolitan in a ritzy art gallery, but a coffee/chocolate martini in an Irish pub was a real second best!


Cheers!

And that's a wrap... :-)

 



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