If there is one thing New Yorkers can’t stand – it’s winter.
Sure they may ‘ooo’ and ‘aah’ over the first snowfall as they naively embrace the deceivingly beautiful elements and wander over to see the first fresh blanket adorning Central Park, but as the weeks progress into January with no end in sight – the moniker ‘fml’ never feels more appropriate.
After months of trekking through sidewalks consistently lined with piles of snow that no one in their right mind could describe as pristinely white, mornings spent in freezing apartments trying to find something to wear to work that’s somehow simultaneously warm and corporately appropriate, hundreds of delayed vacation flights and cancelled trains, the sudden disappearance of vacant taxis, and skin so dry it causes one to contemplate the possibility of an ancestral lineage tracing back to dinosaurs – there can only be one Savior – the first day of Spring.
Only this year the first day of Spring looked like this:
It wasn’t until this past weekend that the Redeemer finally arose from hibernation to grace the outside world with alluring sunshine, warmth, and every local in an 8 mile radius. The long awaited moment for restaurants to once again prop open their doors, deign al fresco tables, and serve iced beverages finally arrived.
Not a moment was wasted as Manhattanites began the long awaited pilgrimage to their favorite outdoor neighborhood haunts to take full advantage of the first (truly) Spring weekend. Even I wasn’t immune and soon found the pavement dancing beneath my feet as I bounded round the corner of my apartment towards Stone Street in the Financial District.
Rumored to be the oldest paved street in New York City and evocative of Old World European lanes and alleyways, this pedestrian-only cobblestone path dotted with shaded picnic tables, lies rich in history between a row of revived buildings now occupied by several restaurants and bars that prepare delicious food, mix indecently strong alcoholic beverages, and pour bracingly cold beer.
Home to various festivals and block parties and just an all-around fun day-drinking venue for obscure holidays, Stone Street remains a local highlight in this quiet residential area of NYC.
A Pub, a Pub, a Pub, and Another Pub
Perhaps the fact that New York City holds the largest Irish-American population is to blame but not one can say Manhattan is lacking in the pub department. Stone Street certainly is no exception to that rule with its host of taverns offering special menus, indoor and outdoor seating, traditional pub quizzes, live entertainment, and premier sports viewing. These elements combined with their close proximity to one another make self-made bar crawls an easy feat.
Ulysses Folk House – Hands down my favorite bar in NYC. I know I’ve said that in a previous post but I stubbornly proudly stand by my conviction. What’s not to love with its line-up of lobster nights, brew-of-the-month Tuesdays, $1 oysters, live music Saturday Sessions, and unlimited Sunday brunch followed by a night of engaging trivia? Throw in sexy Wall Streeters in pressed suits for weekday happy hour and you’ve got yourself a deal.
Beckett’s Bar & Grill – A local sports bar that cleverly fuses traditional nuances with modern technology, Beckett’s is situated on the site of New York City’s first printing press in a building dating back to 1603. Interior exposed brick meets 24 large TV screens (4 of which reach 10ft) to create the ultimate platform for catching the big game.
The Dubliner – More representative of a typical Irish pub and inspired by the ones frequented in Dublin (just in case the name didn’t give it away), this authentic establishment is ideal for private events, supping a Guinness after work, or chowing down on delightfully messy Guinness-infused wings which go for only 25 cents on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.
Stone Street Tavern – This conventional American-style pub embodies a genial and stress-free milieu for colleagues grabbing a late after-work pint to gripe about challenging clients or demanding bosses who never see the light of day so believe you shouldn’t enjoy it either.
Diverse Cultural Cuisine
Not to be outdone by loftier streets in neighboring Tribeca and the West Village, Stone Street houses its own mini-melting pot of gastronomies.
Smorgas Chef – This trendy restaurant focuses on sustainable and local ingredients while specializing in ‘New Nordic Cuisine’. The eatery operates its own farm upstate in the Catskills and is known for incredibly fresh and delectable Scandinavian fare including Swedish meatballs, Icelandic cod, and house-cured salmon.
Mad Dog & Beans – Festal banners promoting Cinco de Mayo revelries can already be found draped around the bucolic barn wood and worn furnishings that decorate this characteristic Mexican cantina. This is the place to go downtown for Mezcals, Margaritas, and guacamole dished in stone molcajetas.
Route 66 Smokehouse – As the name suggests, good ole American food reigns supreme with creamy blue cheese wedge salads, BBQ brisket and ribs straight from the pit, and hearty sides of beans and slaw. April and May are littered with special appearances from local bands stylistically ranging from rock music to bluegrass.
Cozy Date Night Spots
While the pubs may be better suited for those jittery first date drinks or for meeting up with that might-be-a-serial-killer-type who mutually swiped right on Tinder, Stone Street does boast more intimate second or third date scenes. If you’re chronically single like the rest of Manhattan, they are also fantastic alternatives for entertaining your overstaying-their-welcome parents.
Vintry Wine and Whiskey – It’s hard to disguise anything on this miniscule street but somehow Vintry Wine and Whiskey manages to convey the atmosphere of a speakeasy with velvet curtains drawn closed in the windows, whiskey based designer cocktails poured from an array of distilleries as far reaching as Japan, and a collection of sophisticated wines that would make even the most discerning wine amasser jealous.
Adrienne’s Pizza Bar – 18 1/2″ square pizzas? Yes, please. This upscale Italian bistro has flavorful insalatas, rich gnocchi, and unsurpassed brick oven pizza from the old-fashioned margherita to classic pies topped with broccoli rabe, anchovy, eggplant, or arugula for the more distinguished palate.
The Growler Bites & Brews – Aptly ornamented with oil-paintings, motifs, prints, and statuettes of dogs and pups, the Growler is known for its rare and distinctive craft brews found from coast to coast. Hidden down below amidst the building’s foundation lies Underdog, the refined cocktail bar ingeniously reviving the flips, fizzes, and matutinal drinks of the 1800’s.
I’ve lived around the block from Stone Street since first moving to the city over 4 years ago and have been frequenting it ever since. Whether it’s for a holiday block party like Cinco de Mayo or St Patrick’s Day, an annual event like September’s Oyster Festival, or just a casual Wednesday happy hour – this historic strip never disappoints.
Where’s your favorite local springtime hangout? Let me know in the comments below!
Why Suffer From FOMO When You Don’t Have To?
Taking on the classic “round-the-world” route, the next Travel Dispatch journey kicks off Nov 15 as I travel east to west, looping the globe over a period of 12 months with $25,000. Now’s your chance to get in on it from the very beginning!