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Best people-watching cafes/bars

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Hi everyone! I'm going to meet up in NYC at the end of Sept with a friend from Europe who has never been there (she's been to Boston, where I live). I've been printing out a ton of restaurant info from this board, and now we are looking for advice on:

Cafes and/or bars with the best people-watching

Bars with a view (I always used to take people to the Greatest Bar on Earth, so something along those lines)

Best BYOB restaurant (not sushi, I hate sushi)

I've been reading great reviews about Baraonda, Cuba Cafe and Gonzalez Y Gonzales - are those places still good and fun?

Anything else you think we absolutely cannot miss when it comes to food/drinks/fun (we're in our early 40s, so fun but not college-age type of stuff)

Any info is greatly appreciated!

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  1. I like people watching at the union square coffee shop

    1. as already mentioned union square cafe is fun, esp if you sit outside and dont expect much from the food.
      my fave cafe is Dante in the West Village, nice desserts and coffee.
      I think Pastis and Balthazaar are good for people watching too..

      I used to go to Baraonda on Sun nites, they have a sortof eurotrash crowd but lots of dancing and fun music. Havent been there in a while so I dont know if they still do that on Sundays. The food was pretty good, from what I remember. But its a tight space.

      Im sure youll get lots of responses on the bar with a view (sorry havent been to the Greatest Bar on Earth)...i think some standard great view bars are gansevoort, 230 5th avenue...the service at these places though is usually pretty bad and the drinks are overpriced. But the view is great !

      1. All depends on what kind of people you want to watch. Meatpacking district has several places that are great, look into Vento. Union Square area has a lot of places with outdoor seating, the corner table outside of Blue Water Grill is a good vantage spot. Across from Lincoln Center you have Bar Boulud with a great outdoor area.

        1. Ppl watching: Cafe Gitane, Pastis, Freeman's

          Bars w/ view: The Lobby Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, 5th floor rooftop at the MET Museum

          www.thelunchbelle.com

          3 Replies
          1. re: LeahBaila

            Thank you all for your suggestions! We'll make sure to try at least a few of them.

            1. re: Cattie

              Nice Matin on the UWS has a definitely Euro crowd. Also, the bar in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Columbus Circle has a gorgeous view.

              1. re: brendastarlet

                Hi everyone! So it's been a while since our trip, but I just wanted to let you know how things worked out. We did end up going for drinks at the Mandarin Oriental and my friend loved it. We drank the most expensive Cosmos I've ever had ($25 a piece! so we had two each...) but I have to say that they were also the best.

                We also went to the Blue Water Grill on a rainy night, but it was still warm enough to sit outside (which my friend was amazed about, since it was late September and you're already wearing gloves and scarves is Sweden at that point). The food and service was great (can't remember what I ate though..), and not too expensive either.

                Thank you all for your input and advice! :-)

          2. BYOB, call 1st, policies change.
            http://www.littleviews.com/home/newyo...

            Bars w/ best views - beware, you pay for the booze AND the view
            Mad 46 @ Roosevelt Hotel, 230 Fifth, Salon de Ning @ Peninsula Hotel, Lobby bar @ THE EMPIRE HOTEL, Rise @ theRitz-Carlton Hotel,