If you’re looking to explore NYC’s authentic and iconic dining scene but don’t know where to start, Reddit might be of help.
Jake Hook, a savvy Reddit user who goes by the username of Easy_Potential2882, decided to put all of the most iconic landmark restaurants, bars, and cafes of the New York City area together on one map. The rules to make it onto their list are simple: it has to be a classic, local-favorite spot, and it needs to have been established before the year 2000.
When Hook first started creating the map around April/May 2020, they were just doing some good old end-of-pandemic daydreaming. They were just trying to come up with a list of all the spots they wanted to hit after the pandemic was over, but it turned out to become something bigger and much more community-centric than that.
“Another reason [why I created the map] is kind of just reacting against gentrification, which is why I limit it to restaurants 20 years or older,” Hook told Thrillist. “I want people to have these older places in mind so that they can patronize those establishments [and] keep them in business much longer, because a lot of these restaurants are real centers of community for neighborhoods, boroughs, and the city as a whole.”
A Los Angeles native (they also created a very similar LA map), Hook wanted to make NYC their new community, and felt the need to contribute to it by helping local businesses stay on the radar. To them, landmark local businesses are what give a city its true character, while trendy hotspots don’t really encapsulate the city’s authentic vibe.
“I wanted to make sure that, in a city I was once unfamiliar with, I would be contributing to a sense of continuity within this city,” they said. “Not just looking for all the trendy spots that have equally trendy California equivalents.”
When Hook started working on the project, it took them around two or three months of intensive research, and after that, it’s been all about adding and removing entries. Places that have recently closed, old and iconic eateries that Hook hadn’t heard of before, and names they just initially forgot about all became part of the creative process. With over 500 locations listed and daily modifications, it feels like there is no end in sight.
Luckily, there are fellow Redditors to help. The comment section of the initial post is flooded by positive feedback, but every few comments, one can find some important tips.
“In Astoria, Zenon Taverna is permanently closed,” reads one of them. “But you can add Sanford’s on Broadway.”
“Please add: Massawa, 1239 Amsterdam,” notes another user. “Been there since ’88.”
Hook patiently reviews all the tips, and modifies the map accordingly. They’re the main creator, but the map has basically become an endearing NYC community project. It benefits everyone, and it’s a grassroots initiative born from the community for the community.
“This is excellent! And the comments here are collaborative,” reads one of the comments. “This reminds me of good early internet.”
Check out the map below: