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1950's style restaurant

Looking for a 1950's style restaurant...not a retro-place like Ellen's Stardust, but something that is either an older establishment/time capsule, or a newer place that is a time warp.

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  1. Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop- Fifth Ave and 22nd St.is definitely a time capsule. it hasn't changed it's decor or menu for many decades. Katz' s Deli also looks the same ( and saves the same food) as it has for many years.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ann900

      B&H Dairy could be a good place too... it's been around for about 65 years, placing it's opening in late 1940s. Hasn't changed much since it opened.

        1. Grand Central Oyster Bar is pretty timeless. Stick with the food at the counter.

          Peter Luger's too is the same now as many decads ago.

          Nom Wah tea parlor.

          Heidelberg, on the UES.

          1. Keens always comes up in these posts, and righfully so. pre 50s though.

            4 Replies
              1. re: Sneakeater

                While some of the places being suggested have been around for some time( like Keens) my sense was that the OP was looking for places with a 1950's vibe, not just places that have been opened since the 50's.

                1. re: Ann900

                  I agree. If the OP just wanted Old, he/she would have asked for Old. Not '50s.

                  The Four Seasons has a very Early '60s vibe. But I don't think it's what the OP is looking for.

                1. Are you looking for 50s decor or specific 50s menu items?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Riverman500

                    Both if possible, but if I had to choose I'd lean toward menu and vibe over just decor.

                  2. Stage Restaurant on 2nd Ave. It's not as old as it looks, but it looks like a 50's luncheonette.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: hungrycomposer

                      How's the food there, compared to B&H Dairy? The menu at the latter is more up my alley, but I like a good tuna melt as much as the next girl.

                      1. re: small h

                        Good, reliable, honest food. I like their chicken soup, pierogies, and beets, for example.

                          1. re: small h

                            And their kasha is also good. It's worth going there, if you are in the neighborhood.

                        1. re: small h

                          The biggest difference is that B & H is Kosher, Stage is not. I haven't been to B and H in a long time, but I generally prefer Stage. Their pastrami sandwiches are actually pretty good. And I agree with Pan's comments. Don't expect fantastic food, but it's affordable and fun.

                      2. Not exactly 1950s, but Monkey Bar is a great older establishment that still retains a lot of the original age-appropriate charm.

                        1. i'm not really sure what a 50's style restaurant is. B&H is like your corner luncheonette in the 50's with one thing lacking, hamburgers. Big Nick's although it started in 1962 has a 50's menu and retains its original look. Great burgers , shakes sandwiches. John's Italian in East village, Gene's, Gaetano's, or Ponte's for Old look and Old School Italian/American.
                          Otherwise, for a 50's diner vibe the Brooklyn Diner on 57th might be a good choice.

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            Thanks for the suggestions. Will definitely try some of these, Barbetta and Donohue's are especially intriguing, as is B&H. Brooklyn Diner is exact opposite of what I'm looking for, but if anyone has other suggestions, please keep them coming.

                            1. re: tonylazzeri

                              El Quijote. I'm not sure when time stopped there, but the '50s seems like a good guess.


                                1. re: small h

                                  Wow, this looks great...thank you!

                                  1. re: tonylazzeri

                                    El Quijote sucks, though, in my experience of two meals, and I'm not using hyperbole. Those two meals were terrible.

                                    1. re: Pan

                                      Can't agree-and the crowds of regulars out the door many nights apparently wouldn't either.

                                      1. re: addictedtolunch

                                        Popularity is no argument for quality. If it were, McDonald's would be the greatest restaurant in the US. I'll be specific about El Quijote: They didn't seem to be able to even get lobsters with butter right. Their lobsters were tough and overcooked, but service was so poor that they weren't sent back but just eaten. And that's only one example.

                                    2. re: tonylazzeri

                                      You're welcome! What's the reason for your search, if you don't mind sharing it?

                                      1. re: small h

                                        My dad, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's, specifically asked my brother and I to take him out for his 75th birthday at a place that reminded him of his youth growing up in NYC in the 1950's. Thank you all for your suggestions.

                                        1. re: tonylazzeri

                                          Ah, I see. It's a nice thing you're doing. Has your dad mentioned a particular restaurant or type of restaurant?

                                          1. re: small h

                                            No, just going off past conversations/experiences. Thank you again.

                                    3. re: small h

                                      Have always always wondered about this place, as I walk past almost every day. The most random assortment of people are usually standing out in front under the awning. Have you actually been?? How's the food?

                                      1. re: charmedgirl

                                        I used to live in the building next door, and I ate at El Quijote a few times. It's old school Spanish food - mariscada, paella, etc. - and I thought it was decent enough. But that was in the mid-'90s, so for all I know it's gotten worse (or better! it happens). More opinions, pro & con, here:


                                        1. re: small h

                                          the building next door? the Chelsea?

                                          1. re: coasts

                                            No, the Carteret, just to the east. El Quijote's on the ground floor of the Chelsea.

                                            1. re: small h

                                              ah ha...i had already deduced that you were Ethan Hawk.

                                              1. re: coasts

                                                I hadn't considered the possibility that I might be Ethan Hawke, but I do think Uma Thurman's really pretty, and he actually married her, so...maybe. Maybe I am.

                                  1. Wo Hop in chinatown is almost completely unchanged over the last 50 years. If you're looking for a nostalgic NYC chinese vibe, this'll do it. For french, Le Veau D'or, if it's still kicking, was always one of the most classic old school mid century time capsule restaurants. Also, El Parador cafe is the oldest mexican in the city (from the mid to late 50's I think), and still - as of a few years ago - retained some old school charm.

                                    1. Le Veau d'Or! Talk about a 50's time capsule in every sense!

                                      Also: Bamonte's in Williamsburg for classic red sauce

                                      Sam's in Carroll Gardens for pizza

                                      1. The original Junior's in Brooklyn dates from 1950 and I think it probably looks similar to when it opened and probably more like a 50's style place than anything in Manhattan that I can think of.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: boccalupo

                                          Actually, Junior's on Flatbush looks like a mid 1970s diner. Hideous.

                                          The Airline diner near LaGuardia in Queens has real 1950's style. Just avoid the gray steamed burgers.


                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                            Their can be a fine line between hideous and kitch. However, I checked and it seems like the Junior's interior was updated in 1983 after a major fire hit the restaurant. Bad mid-1970's decor might even quality as kitch. 1983...not so much. I do like the interior of Sam's though, I am not sure what era that is. And their pizza is good. Prime Burger in Midtown might have been a good choice. Too bad they had to close this year.

                                          1. I would definitely recommend Gene's, on West 11th Street. It has a very 50's vibe because I don't think the decor has changed a bit since then. When I went there the first time and they put a relish tray (celery, carrots and radishes) on the table, it brought me right back to the 1950's. I've always enjoyed going there -- a real time warp in a city that moves faster than time.

                                            I also go to El Quiojte's quite often -- I love their broiled lobster special. If you go, make sure you sit in the front room with the great wallpaper. I noticed in an earlier post someone said that this place was not good, but, I disagree.

                                            1. Cafe Edison on 47th street.