People-Watching Home Base Needed!
I'm headed to NYC for the weekend from DC and am looking for a great bar or restaurant to sit for possibly hours, drink, nosh and people watch. Somewhere in NYC that is not a tourist place, but rather embodies New York and allows my friend and I to have nice, casual conversation with a knowledgeable bartender without feeling like we're being hurried. I'll be there for the weekend, so the dynamic may change. Any suggestions???
Bar 89 in SoHo. If you sit upstairs, you can watch all the people below. If you sit at the bar, you will find the bartenders friendly, but busy. You can make a meal by sharing a couple of appetizers, or get one of the great sandwiches. Atmosphere is quiet enough that you can have a conversation (unless you go late). I would suggest lunch. The chicken wings are very good. The drinks are big, potent and pricey, but the food is inexpensive.
I've had good people watching/knowledgeable bartender experiences at Del Posto (located in Chelsea). It's a dark, film noir kind of place.
Other atmospheric favorites include the Flatiron Lounge and the Cub Room.
This might be more than you planned for, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art is open late on Friday and Saturday nights. They serve drinks on the second floor with a small classical or jazz ensemble playing in the background. As far as people watching goes, you will get quite a variety.
I have not yet been, but I hear the bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel is an elegant affair.
I second the Flatiron (great classic cocktails). Gramercy Park Hotel is nice, but you need impossible reservations for any time worth going (after 9pm or something like that). I guess you could go early and camp out though. GPH is very much a 'scene'. Flatiron has an old new york, speakeasy feel.
Sunday night, linger over martinis served by Jimmy, and order the bar steak at Raoul's in SOHO. I'll be there.