What happened there...

By Rebecca Flint Marx

  • Minetta Tavern

  • La Fonda del Sol

  • Monkey Bar

  • The Oak Room

Minetta Tavern

Minetta Tavern
Minetta Tavern was once a haunt for writers (like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald) and the writer's-blocked: Joe Gould, whose dry spell was famously recounted in Joseph Mitchell's Joe Gould's Secret, was a regular.
In the 1920s, the inaugural issues of Reader's Digest were published in the tavern's basement by DeWitt and Lila Bell Acheson Wallace—who would later become magazine giants.

La Fonda del Sol
La Fonda's original designer, Alexander Girard, was one of the 20th century's most influential textile designers. He, along with Emilio Pucci, is credited with revamping the look of the defunct Braniff Airways and sexing up stewardess frocks.
$5.50: The cost for a lot of five matchbooks from the original La Fonda, now

Monkey Bar
Though Monkey Bar opened in the '30s, its simian murals weren't painted until the '50s.
Tennessee Williams made his home at the Hotel Elysee above the Monkey Bar. He died there in 1983, allegedly from choking on a bottle cap.
Tallulah Bankhead also lived in the Elysee and was known for her provocative behavior at the restaurant—one tale has her on the piano wearing a mink (and nothing else).

The Oak Room
Frank Lloyd Wright liked to conduct business inside the Oak Room (he lived at the Plaza in the '50s). His one complaint: The bartenders consistently blundered his regular drink of Old Bushmills neat, serving it with ice cubes.
In 1964 Betty Friedan—author of The Feminine Mystique—was denied service at the Oak Room. Said the waiter, "I'm sorry, madam, we do not serve women in the Oak Room at noon."

Go for the old
From Monkey Bar to Minetta Tavern, revivalist restaurants are taking over.

See more in Restaurants & Bars