by Michelle Slade
Prohibition ended, hmmm, 80-odd years ago? So why are so many bars still hiding awaybehind hot dog stores, underground, at the back of cake shopsso that you need to be “in the know,” well-connected or stonking rich to even get beyond the threshold? Is it really so great to make your business that hard to find?
Not according to these new bars. They stand out proudly as "Places Where You Can Purchase Alcohol"! They’re easy to find, serve good drinks and food, and don’t require you to be dripping in coolness (or know a secret knock) before they’ll even consider letting you in. Here's to the joints that let you in without all the effort.
Jacob’s Pickles on the Upper West Side definitely won’t be hard to find: there’s a big, old-fashioned swing sign outside, an open front and lots (really, LOTS) of eager staff waiting to greet you and take down your cell number so they can text you when a table becomes available. (See? You don’t even have to hang around expectantly on the street corner until they mutter your name and give you five seconds to claim your seat.)
Once inside, you’ll find a buzzy atmosphere, 25 different kinds of domestic beer, cocktails served in mason jars, and of course, an ultra-impressive line-up of pickles (hot sours, thyme jalapenos, sour green tomatoes, pickled eggs and more).
If a bar wanted to hide away unnoticed, it probably wouldn’t decide on bright green outdoor seating in which West Villagers could try out a German brew or few. Nor would it encourage a ridiculously delicious smell of bread, cakes and tarts to waft through large double doors and into the street. We can therefore safely assume that Landbrot Bakery & Bar is definitely not trying to be an “invite only,” “tell us the password,” or “walk down three steps, turn right and then push open the trap door to enter” sort of place.
And thank goodness, for as many people as possible need to find and experience the brilliance that is German beer downed with German baked goods. Also on offer are open-faced sandwiches, brats and schnitzel.
And if you like to be architecturally as well as gastronomically impressed, behold the cool industrial design (wood, marble and iron), floor-to-ceiling windows, cute loft area and, most impressively of all, the 30-foot glass dumbwaiter that lowers food from the upstairs in-house bakery to the cafe below.
Traffic Bar & Restaurant
The shiny signage, retractable garage-style doors and corner location in Hell’s Kitchen make Traffic a meeting spot that’s as easy to find as the clock in Grand Central.
And what a meeting spot: modern, beautiful, spacious, with an almost comically huge bar area and enough flat-screen TVs to ensure you don’t miss a minute of the game (basketball, soccer, hockey... you name it, they show it).
The food and drink don’t let the side down either. If you want to catch up with friends over a post-partying brunch, try the deliciously devilish “Hangover” mega-meal: pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, home fries and toast. Or if you’re just in the mood for some post-work or post-meal drinks with friends, Traffic has a cocktail, wine and bar list that’s long enough to keep everyone happy.
There’s more: the Scoutmob app will give you a traffic-stopping 50% off absolutely anything you order. (There’s also a Scoutmob deal for another Traffic location in midtown.)
Michelle Slade is a writer and editor, working mainly for fun and wacky websites. She's also the author of If I'm Not Mistaken, That's Bacon: Kosher Guidance for Confused Jews as well as Haggadah Good Feeling About This: Passover Guidance for Confused Jews. Both are available on Amazon.