Plot Points: A Literary Mini Map Of New York

10.01.2016

12 city bars and restaurants where you can raise a glass with (or at least surreptitiously stalk) publishing’s biggest stars.

Molyvos: Everything at this upscale Greek eatery is fantastic, but author Jillian Medoff (I Couldn’t Love You More) sticks to her favorites when she meets there with her editor.  “They have lots of spreads, and we have lots of wine.”  If you go there twice, you’re bound to see every editor Random House has ever employed and every author they publish. Try the Santorini Fava. 871 Seventh Avenue, (212) 582-7500.

Aroma Espresso Bar: The Upper West Side location is a favorite among that neighborhood’s many authors; Linda Yellin, who penned What Nora Knew, loves to write outdoors on the upstairs patio—unless someone is on a cellphone. 161 West 72nd street, (212) 595-7700.

The White Horse Tavern: This ale house opened in 1880 but didn’t achieve fame as a literary haunt until the 1950s and 60s. It is rumored that Jack Kerouac lived in a cramped apartment upstairs, and Dylan Thomas’s regular booth is now commemorated with a brass plaque. 568 Hudson St, (212) 989-3956.

Momoya: A go-to spot for literary agents in Chelsea because it’s a cut above the typical neighborhood sushi place but with prices well below those at Nobu. Try the seaweed salad. 185 Seventh Avenue, (212) 989-4466.

Old Town Bar and Restaurant: Frank McCourt was a regular and so were Nick Hornby, Billy Collins, and Seamus Heaney. Madonna shot a video for "Bad Girl" in 1983 at marble-topped downstairs bar, outfitted with hanging gaslights and tall wooden booths. Plus: they have ceramic walk-in urinals in the men’s room and a great cheeseburger. 45 East 18th Street, (212) 529-6732.

Buvette: Stephanie Danler based her soon-to-be–published novel Sweetbitter on her experiences at Union Square Café, although she actually met her editor while she was waiting on him at this adorable French restaurant in the West Village. There is no better place to eat fennel. 42 Grove Street, (212) 255-3590.

Minetta Tavern: In 1937, this red sauce dive became home to Reader’s Digest bigwigs and was the preferred drinking spot of Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Eugene O’Neill, and E.E. Cummings. Despite its 2009 renovation, the restaurant retains its original ambiance and celebrity patrons, including Malcolm Gladwell. 113 Macdougal Street, (212) 475-3850.

The Odeon: This 35-year-old Tribeca bistro has been entwined with the literary community since the days when its seductive neon sign adorned the cover of Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City. It is currently a favorite deal making spot for the hot shots at Harper Collins. 145 West Broadway, (212) 233-0507.

The Four Seasons Restaurant: If you are overdue for a power lunch, the Grill Room is the place to people watch and make deals while you eat an overpriced sirloin burger and sip Bloody Marys. It is “home” to novelist Mary Higgins Clark and famed former author and editor-in-Chief of Simon & Schuster Michael Korda. Hurry, though. Their lease runs out in July 2016. 99 East 52nd Street, (212) 754-9494.  

Union Square Café: This famous publishing mainstay recently closed but is set to reopen on Park Avenue South next year. The question is which menu items will survive the transition? Publisher Brownwen Hruska of Soho Press and author of Accelerated hopes to once again indulge in oysters and Sancerre at the bar after work or a side of brussels sprouts at an author’s lunch in the main dining room. 235 Park Avenue South.

The Half King: Sebastian Junger of Perfect Storm fame is a co-owner of this Chelsea drinking hole. PS: You’ll probably find us sitting at the bar too, with a book and a gin and tonic. Come say hello! 505-507 West 23rd Street, (212) 462-4300.

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Story contributed by Karen Bergreen, author of Perfect Is Overrated and Following Polly, stand-up comic and New York City resident.