Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Cadillac of Burgers

P.J. Clarke's saloon opened in 1884 in a plain brick building at the corner of 55th and 3rd Avenue. The building is a holdout. As 3rd Avenue became lined with office blocks in the 1960s, the stubborn owners refused to sell to the developers, with the result that a skyscraper was built around it.

It's long been a favourite eating and drinking den, and it still serves one of the best burgers in the city. Nat King Cole declared their bacon cheeseburger "the Cadillac of burgers".

There's a long bar in the front, which gets packed on weeknights but is a little more manageable at the weekend. The restaurant is in the back, with red-and-white checked tablecloths and old paintings and engravings on the walls.

Frank Sinatra was a regular, and Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman got engaged here (the marriage only lasted two months). Popeye Doyle ate here in The French Connection II. And in the latest confirmation of the bar's old-school credentials, in the Mad Men television series the staff of the Sterling Cooper ad agency drink here.

P.J. Clarke's
915 Third Avenue
New York

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