If you’ve lived in New York for longer than five seconds, you’ve likely listened to someone (maybe even multiple someones) expounding upon the reasons to stay away from Murray Hill. That person probably offered the argument that the east Manhattan enclave lacks everything but frat boys and is a symbol of all that is unflattering about the New York bar scene.There’s little in the way of attractions or artistic endeavors, unless you count overhearing people talk nonsense on cell phones as entertainment.
So I’m just going to throw this out there and let you think about it for awhile: Murray Hill isn’t a bad place to hang your hat–ball cap or fedora–and there’s reason for it to hold a special place in your heart, even if you have no love for the yuppie brotherhood. With its ridiculous selection of restaurants, ease of access, and overwhelming feeling of safety–the only risk posed here is being peer-pressured to chug a Bud–the hate bestowed on Murray Hill isn’t justified. Here’s why:
Note: When we name restaurants here, we’re going on the real estate definition of the neighborhood, which extends about five blocks south of the historical boundaries between 34th and 42nd Streets.
Despite its abundance of button-down-clad gentlemen, Murray Hill’s selection of bars like Joshua Tree and Wharf Bar and Grill does its part to offer something special each and every night, and people respond, packing into rooms shoulder-to-shoulder. And if you haven’t cracked a smile or felt good when Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” comes on the speakers, you probably have no idea what it means to party. And for those well beyond their college thesis years, the perpetually packed Cannibal provides one of the best beer and butchered meat selections throughout the city, proving that sausage parties are not always a total waste.
It’s casual and accessible.
While having a legitimate ID is necessary for entry, one of the best things about bars here is that anyone can get in. Clothing, unlike certain clubs, will not make or break you. You neither need to be on the list nor pay a cover. In fact, the more polite you are, the better your chances of entry. What’s more, it’s accessible off the 6 line, and its central location means taxi fare to here is affordable no matter where you’re approaching from, which makes Murray Hill an easy place to find at any point during the night. The fact that it consistently ranks as one of the safest neighborhoods in New York is a testament to the civilized hordes of revelers continuing to patronize the space.
It has variety.
Any neighborhood that spins off its name to recognize an ethnic food contingency deserves your attention attention. See “Curry Hill,” which memorializes the slew of decent Indian options–favorites include Dhaba, Tiffin Wallah, and Bhojan–in the area. Other grub spots fly under the radar–see, for example, Ethos and an outpost of Zaitzeff (which just made our list of the 10 best burgers in NYC)–while still others, like Resto and an outlet of Blue Smoke, could even be considered destinations. Best yet, many of the spots in the neighborhood are affordable–which sets Murray Hill apart from a number of tonier parts of the city.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 23, 2013