New York City loves the limelight. From its parks to its streets, to the city’s countless restaurants, numerous iconic films have set the stage in this metropolis. Unlike other parts of the country where movie sets are built, and sometimes left behind, as in the case of the fictional town of Spectre outside Milbrook, Alabama, from the 2003 film Big Fish, many of New York’s appearances in film are actual places you can frequent. A number of New York’s restaurants offer the chance to enter some of your favorite films for a meal or a drink, just like the characters in the movie. Grab a map and hunt down these New York City restaurants for a bite of the big screen.
A fixture at West 52nd Street in New York City, 21 Club (or just 21), has appeared in so many films that it has probably lost count. Opened as a speakeasy in 1930, the establishment has welcomed quite the celebrity clientele from Humphrey Bogart to Frank Sinatra. Every president since FDR, with the exception of George W. Bush, has dined at 21. Known for its old world New York feel and iconic jokey figurines above the entrance, some of the films to use 21 as a setting include old timers like Sweet Smell of Success and All About Eve. 21 also appeared famously in the 1987 film Wall Street. Michael Douglas’ character advises Charlie Sheen to have the steak tartare on the menu. Since that film, the steak tartare has remained a favorite along with 21’s legendary hamburger.
Tavern on the Green
Perched in a Central Park setting, Tavern on the Green has served everyone from locals, presidents, royalty, actors, and tourists since opening in 1934. Oddly enough, the landmark restaurant was first built in 1870 to house the sheep that grazed Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. Today, sheep aren’t allowed, but the restaurant has invited Hollywood to film at, and around, the establishment for several movies including Wall Street and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. However, most will recognize Tavern on the Green from Ghostbusters when Rick Moranis’ character pounds on the windows of the restaurant as a Terror Dog is chasing him. Movie fans can picture the famous scene while munching on a hearty, rustic menu.
Established in 1975 by an Italian immigrant, Joe’s Pizza has been offering classic New York style pizza ever since. The recipe hasn’t changed since 1975. The simple menu provides perhaps New York City’s cheapest meal where you can grab a cheese slice for just $2.75. While Joe’s has several locations, its Carmine Street storefront was featured in Spider-Man 2, with Tobey Maguire acting as a delivery boy for the establishment.
A favorite of locals, celebrities, and tourists, Serendipity 3 in the Upper East Side is yet another New York restaurant that is no stranger to film. Perhaps most notably, Serendipity 3 had a role in the John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale film Serendipity. The two imbibe the restaurant’s famous frozen hot chocolate. Everyone from Marilyn Monroe, to Andy Warhol, to Beyoncé has been coming to Serendipity 3, mainly for its sweets and frozen hot chocolate. However, the restaurant serves up pastas, sandwiches, hamburgers and salads too.
Established in 1888 in New York’s Lower East Side, Katz’s Delicatessen has become known for their corned beef and pastrami sandwiches. Meats are cured using a slower method that can take up to 30 days to cure, lending some mouth-watering sandwiches in the process. While the deli has welcomed a number of famous diners, it might be best remembered from a scene from the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally. The romantic comedy features the deli with Meg Ryan’s character having, let’s just say, a memorable experience. You can sit where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal sat in the film with a sign in place marking the very table. Katz’s Delicatessen has also been featured in films like Enchanted and Donnie Brasco.
Dining in New York is often an unforgettable experience, especially when you can frequent your favorite films in the process. From “having what she’s having” at Katz’s, to grabbing a pizza like Spider-Man at Joe’s, travelers are sure to find a little slice of the big screen all across the city’s eateries.
Have you been to any of these New York City restaurants? Share your favorite film location in town with us in the comments below.