Places We Love: Murray Hill Edition
By Bradley Scott, Co-Founder, Etch
Welcome to “Places we love” where we’ll share some of our favorite spots and why we love them. Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not, but hopefully you’ll discover something great!
Today we’re going to talk about my 4 favorite spots in Murray Hill. Why 4 and not the more traditional “top 10”, or even “top 5”? It’s not because I’m lazy, I promise. These were just the ones that came to mind and 4 seemed just as arbitrary as 5 or 10, so I’m just embracing that it’s a little bit unusual and I’m going for it.
First, a (very) brief overview of Murray Hill: It got its name from a family of Quaker merchants who came to New York in the mid-1700s and built a house and farm in the middle of the area in Manhattan bordered by 40th Street and 34th Street from the North to the South, and the East River and Madison Avenue from the East and West. There’s plenty more information in the Wikipedia page, but one interesting tidbit is that Mary Lindley Murray is credited with delaying the British Army in September 1776 by inviting their officers in for tea. She kept them there enough to allow the American Army to retreat and join forces with George Washington, saving the lives of an estimated 4000 men.
Anyway, today Murray Hill is largely famous (infamous?) as a slightly more affordable area of midtown Manhattan populated by recent college grads and young professionals, full of dive-y sports bars and… not much else. Well, as a not-so-recent college grad and a recovering young professional living in Murray Hill, I feel it my responsibility to shine a light on some of the gems of the neighborhood, because there are many!
So without further ado, my 4 favorite spots in Murray Hill (in no particular order):
NORMA Gastronomia Siciliana
I LOVE this place. It has many of my favorite things: incredible pizza (Carrettiera with house made sausage, mozzarella, and broccoli rabe), perfectly pulled espresso, and heavy-handed wine-pourers. You can balance out the pizza with a bright and refreshing arugula salad, and still have room for another pizza. I’ve yet to try their taglieri (charcuterie) plates, but they look incredible.
It takes more than just good food to get me to use the L-word, though, especially in all-caps. Everything in the place looks like it came straight from Italy, including the brick walls. Actually I’m told that everything DID come from Italy, including their wood-burning oven. I’ve never been to Italy so I can’t say for sure, but I trust them. And you should trust me, NORMA is worth a save.
#Rustic #Pizza #WineBar
3rd Ave between 30th St and 31st St
My tastes are probably starting to become apparent… Pino is also a small, rustic, wine bar with really tasty food, but this spot has attitude (and a couple patio tables). Jay and Jason are the owners and there almost every night, whipping up flat breads and small plates in an impossibly small kitchen area behind the bar, while a James Brown inspired playlist titled “Funky Drummer” creates a fun and energetic vibe. It’s a small space, so perfect for a date or a group of 3–5 people, though I admit I’ve been lured in on my walk home once or twice for a solo nightcap.
#DateNight #Patio #FunkyDrummer
33rd St between 3rd Ave and Lexington
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[Editor’s note] Alright, I know, both of these places are technically a block or two south of the “official” Murray Hill boundary, but it’s my list, so indulge me. I promise the rest are legitimate.
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TED’S Corner Tavern
Ted’s is my default post-work spot. I have a cousin and two uncles who live a couple blocks away from me and this is where we meet every week or two to discuss politics and family stuff and why I’ve yet to produce any grandchildren. TMI, sorry. Anyway, Ted’s is perfect for a proper classic cocktail or draft beer (they have 30 on tap). They have a beautiful long wooden bar, a few high-top and communal tables in the front, and some more traditional seating in the back. Also, it took me a couple visits to realize it, but all the pictures on the walls are of famous Teds (duh) so you can compete with your uncle or friend or date to see who can name the most and the first person to run out has to buy a round. Don’t play this game with me though because I’ve been here a bunch and can name lots of Teds.
#CocktailBar #DateNight #Local
35th St and 3rd Ave on the Southeast corner
FRANCHIA Vegan Café
Yup, you read that right, vegan. Not only is it vegan, but it’s Korean fusion vegan. It’s seriously good, I promise. My recommendations have been good thus far, right? Stick with me.
I was equally skeptical when a good friend brought me here a couple years ago. It’s definitely not my wheelhouse but I trusted him and I’m glad I did. Now I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a fan of everything on the menu, but I can definitely recommend the Bibimbap and Stone Bowl rice dishes. My go-to is the Hainan Seitan “Chicken” but the Curry Soy “Chicken” is great too, as is the Vegetarian Curry Hot Pot. The set up is interesting too — on the ground level it feels open and airy because of the tall 3-story ceiling, but there are two more tiers of seating upstairs that feel more private. To drink they have a large list of Sake and organic wine, and they do Soju and Nongju (aka Makgeolli) cocktails. There is also an expansive tea menu, though that’s not really my thing so I can’t vouch for it. I occasionally do take-out during the week, or on a Sunday if I’ve had a particularly unhealthy weekend and need some nutrients in my body. So while I’m at no risk of becoming vegan full-time, Franchia has opened me up to a really delicious way to enjoy an animal product-free meal once in awhile.
#Vegan #Soju #Healthy
34th St and Park Ave on the Northwest corner