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Toward a more civilized Grand Central bar scene
RESTAURANTS & BARS • Commuter Cocktails
For years, the best place to get a pre-commute drink around Grand Central terminal was Campbell’s Apartment, now just The Campbell, the robber baron's office-turned-speakeasy (turned-Gerber Group bar). It’s still a beautiful venue if you can push your way through the after-work melee. Outside, the Campbell Palm Court satellite bar is more forgiving, but there are less crowded options nearby:
→ Bergamo’s, 26 Vanderbilt Ave. (above): One hour wait for a table at The Campbell? Lead your co-worker crew across the street and up the stairs to this smartly appointed bar for a top-shelf Manhattan and cacio e pepe dip with Sardinian bread.
The Ticket: The bar is bros pitching bros, but the back booths and two-tops lining darkened corridors provide space for a more intimate tête-à-tête.
→ Cornelius, Grand Central Terminal Vanderbilt Hall: The restaurant, part of City Winery’s Grand Central invasion, may still be trying to find its legs, but the earnest bar staff will welcome you for civilized nightcaps and oysters Vanderbilt. (N.B. cooked bivalves only, Grand Central Oyster Bar has an exclusive on raw oysters in the terminal building.)
The Ticket: The wine list is 100% City Winery house wines. Francophiles can opt for well-executed classic cocktails.
→ Le Pavillon, One Vanderbilt Ave.: Craving bar snacks by Daniel Boulud, but don’t have a Black Amex in your wallet to gain access to Centurion New York? The 2nd floor bar at Pavillon is no reservations, first-come-first-served, with a Chrysler Building view to boot.
The Ticket: Be discreet and keep cool. This may be 2023’s best quiet drink spot in Midtown.
→ Beer Table, Grand Central Terminal Graybar Passage: This to-go window has an excellent selection of rotating craft brews and a knowledgable staff. Perhaps something from Maine’s Oxbow Brewing and a bag of Zapp’s for your ride to Larchmont?
The Ticket: Unless you have a bottle opener in your EDC, have the cashier pop the top on glass bottles before boarding. (As on the streets of Berlin, it’s legal to open carry alcohol on Metro North and LIRR platforms and train cars.) –William Tigertt