Five Great Literary Landmarks of NYC: Taverns and Restaurants

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The White Horse Tavern as it looks today


Stay in one place long enough, many bars have found, and you're likely to eventually develop literary cachet. Indeed, many of the city's most venerable taverns - Old Town, McSorley's, and the currently-defunct Chumley's - are or were lined with the dust jacket covers of authors who drank there. Once upon a time authors went regularly to these places to drink themselves silly - nowadays, they're more likely to go for the Wi-Fi. Here are some of FiTR's fave literary hangs.


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Ovidios Bar in Woodside, Queens

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SriPraPhai was closed last night, as it is every Wednesday, but disappointed eaters could at least get a drink right next door at Ovidios Bar, where beer is cheap and the bartenders are friendly. Plus, Ovidios is within walking distance of some of the very best eating in the city in Woodside and Jackson Heights.

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Ciao, Manhattans: Tracy Westmoreland Needs a New Investor

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It's only 11 weeks old, but Tracy Westmoreland's Prospect Heights bar, Manhattans, is in danger of ending up in a place even more chilly than a certain region of the Russian Federation. As Brooklyn the Borough originally reported, Westmoreland's newest dive has found itself on tenuous ground since its main investor announced he needed to pull out of the deal a few weeks ago.

Now, Westmoreland -- whose illustrious Midtown dive, Siberia, was a beloved haunt of both liver-impaired journalists and erstwhile barflies like Anthony Bourdain -- is seeking a new investor, and he's casting a wide net. "You can post my number," he tells Fork in the Road. "I don't think enough people know about this yet."



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Real Dives--Joe's Bar in the East Village

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Real Dives: In which we recommend authentically divey dive bars. A real dive bar (not an ironic dive bar) may be characterized by low prices, clientele over 60, trucker hats only on actual truckers, a long history, lotto, lack of ironic PBR, and a sense that it is not trying to impress you, or anyone else.

Today's dive: Joe's Bar

Clientele: Old men in tee-shirts playing pool; young, skinny guys from Cleveland; a dude who looked a little like a lady sporting tattoos and a cowboy hat.

On the walls: An American flag, several taxidermied deer heads, pool trophies, Oberto beef sticks on sale behind the bar, Red Sox-Yankees on the television.

On the sound system: Various good things like Los Lobos and various bad things like generic sad indie bar rock.

On tap: McSorley's Pilsner Urquell, PBR

What to drink: $4 beers, $5 Jamesons

Overheard: "He's going to beat my ass next time we go out to a bar."
"I swear, I clock out, and she's just standing there, staring at me."

520 East Sixth Street, 212-473-9093


Real Dives--Denny's Steak Pub in Kensington, Brooklyn

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Real Dives: In which we recommend authentically divey dive bars. A real dive bar may be characterized by low prices, clientele over 60, trucker hats only on actual truckers, a long history, lotto, lack of ironic PBR, and a sense that the place is not trying to impress you, or anyone else, ever. The kind of bar you worry will soon be replaced by some godawful glass condo.

Today's Dive: Denny's Steak Pub

Clientele: White men, over 40

On the walls: Stucco; four televisions: one playing My Man Godfrey (1938, Carole Lombard and William Powell), the other three playing baseball; a black and white photo of the original Denny's in the 1950s at 7th Avenue and 9th Street in Park Slope; FDNY crest; a sign that reads: 'Denny's Sports Bar, den of delinquents.'

On the sound system: Frank Sinatra, basic jukebox top 40

On tap: Bud, Sam Adams Summer Ale

What to drink: Stiff pours of Jameson, $4.50, two for one during happy hour

Overheard: "What would you like to hear, some Doris Day?" (A sarcastic comment from a patron manning the jukebox.)

"Can I tell the story first and then you can mock me?"

Said to us, as we left: "Run away, this place is nothing but trouble."

Note: Denny's is right in the middle of what is now the Bangladeshi part of Kensington, so after you get a drink at Denny's, walk just a half block for good Bangla food at Jhinuk or Suganda restaurant. Paan sellers line the sidewalk.

Denny's Steak Pub
106 Beverley Road, Brooklyn

Real Dives: Irish Haven

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Real Dives: In which we recommend authentically divey dive bars. A real dive bar may be characterized by low prices, clientele over 60, trucker hats only on actual truckers, a long history, lotto, lack of ironic PBR, and a sense that it is not trying to impress you, or anyone else, ever. The kind of place you worry will soon be replaced by some godawful glass condo.

Today's dive: Irish Haven

Clientele: Mostly genuinely friendly men over 55, one with a brogue. The bar is open 24 hours, and the bartender noted that things can get rough around 4am, when the fellows come in with "short guy syndrome" or with "beer muscles." (He has a way with a turn of phrase.) Also, he will have you know that he doesn't let the cokeheads snort up in the bathroom.

On the walls
: An Irish flag, and an American flag; the mounted, taxidermied head of a deer wearing a green felt leprechaun hat; poster showing cottages of Ireland; two pictures of the World Trade Center, a movie poster and stills from The Departed, because a scene in the movie was filmed here--the one where Leonardo DiCaprio asks for cranberry juice and the guy next to him asks if he's on his period.

On the sound system: Gaelic folk from a jukebox; Goodfellas on a television

On tap: PBR, Budwieser and Guinness

What to drink: Guinness, $4

Overheard: A patron introducing us to the bartender: "Have you met Fast Eddie?"

Irish Haven
5721 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn



Real Dives: Smolen Bar and Grill

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Real Dives: In which we recommend authentically divey dive bars. A real dive bar may be characterized by low prices, clientele over 60, trucker hats only on actual truckers, a long history, lotto, lack of ironic PBR, and a sense that it is not trying to impress you, or anyone else, ever. The kind of place you worry will soon be replaced by some godawful glass condo.

Today's dive: Smolen Bar and Grill

Clientele: Mostly older lady friends of the older lady bartender

On the walls: The Pope, the American flag, an LCD Quick Draw board, decorative plates painted with the red and white Polish eagle, a framed picture of the World Trade Center, and a big poster of the Budweiser Clydesdale with puppies.

On the sound system: Katie Couric evening news

On tap: Pilsner Urquell, Spaten and Zywiec

What to drink: Krupnik, Polish honey liquor, $5

Overheard: "Looka this guy!" Spoken, with gesticulation, at Bernie Madoff on the television.

708 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn
718-788-9729



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