Some places in New York are classics for a reason, like Katz’s and Grimaldi’s. But it’s much harder to find an authentic place on the blocks adjacent to Times Square, aka my personal nightmare town, that’s able to walk that fine line between being a draw versus being a tourist trap. Sardi’s is that place for me.
My mom was the one to introduce me to Sardi’s. I can’t remember if it was my first night in New York (I suspect it was), but it’s become a tradition of sorts for us to go to a show and then to the restaurant’s bar, and I absolutely love our little routine. Old-school fancy and a little dated, Sardi’s has served as Broadway’s gathering spot for more than 90 years, and we aren’t the only ones to flock to the upstairs bar once the shows let out. The faces are almost always new and rarely from the city, just passing by and stopping in for a little slice of New York history. The drinks are classic and well made, served up by a bartender I suspect is a ghost because he’s always there.
And while that bartender is pretty amazing (the things he must have seen with all of his ghost years!), I’m mainly a sucker for the kitsch of Sardi’s decor. Plastered on the walls, columns, and any available space are caricatures of the famous faces that have passed through Sardi’s doors over the years—the restaurant has some 1,200 “friends of the house” hanging on the walls, all done by only four artists. Rumor has it that Maureen Stapleton hated hers so much that she stole it off the wall and burned it, which is how I typically feel about my caricatures, so…respect, girl.
Sardi’s also gets my love because it is a primo spot for engaging in weird conversations. Every time we’re there, I swear my mom gets hit on. My mom is a total fox, it’s true, but the patrons of Sardi’s have a real soft spot for my mom and her flaxen locks. But the clientele doesn’t just have a boner for my mom. Dom and I stopped in after seeing Waiting for Godot (side note: totally worth it, McKellan and Stewart were perfection) and ended up talking with an older couple from California who may have actually been us time-traveling from the future with fake identities. We ordered rounds and talked food and drinks and how the woman would just bounce on her husband and go traveling without him whenever she pleased. It sounded lovely. And that’s kind of how Sardi’s is. A bit dated, definitely not trendy, but always lovely.
234 W. 44th St., New Yorksardis.com