This is my friend Justin, you may recognize him from his great work at Food & Wine Magazine. Last time I was in New York, I met Justin for drinks in midtown and afterwards we decided to grab dinner somewhere in Hell’s Kitchen. On the fancy end of the spectrum is Esca, one of New York’s best seafood restaurants (an appealing thing for someone who was about to become a pescatarian) but instead of the high road, I suggested a low road… a road informed by bathrooms. Specifically, my favorite restaurant bathrooms in all of New York, the bathrooms at Vinyl.
Vinyl is the only restaurant I choose to eat in because of the bathrooms. There are four of them and each has a different theme.
You might call Vinyl a gaystaurant, meaning a restaurant frequented by gay people. One day I’ll do a post or write an article about gaystaurants because they’re a fascinating, often ignored part of the larger restaurant landscape; restaurants that serve a very specific community almost always situated in the heart of a gayborhood (see: Midtown Atlanta, West Hollywood, the Castro in San Francisco, etc.)
Hell’s Kitchen is a gayborhood and Vinyl is its centerpiece gaystaurant. Two of the bathrooms reflect that, two don’t.
The ones that don’t are…
Which, when you open the door, looks like this.
Which features this work of art when you go inside.
But I don’t go to Vinyl for the Nelly or Elvis bathrooms. When I go to Vinyl, I go for either…
Which looks like this inside:
(The glass case features a Dolly doll.)
And, the bathroom that rules them all…
Which, when you go inside, looks like this.
You might be thinking, “Ok, the bathrooms are decorated like famous musicians… is that all?”
No, jaded reader, that’s not all. It’s not just how the bathrooms look, it’s also the music. Each bathroom pumps in music from that specific artist. Here’s a video from life inside the Cher bathroom.
Now you get it. See, I told you.
New York is one of the greatest restaurant cities in the country, probably the world, and most people who travel there choose their restaurants based on the food. I do too, only sometimes I choose restaurants for the bathrooms. On my list of the city’s best, Vinyl trumps them all.