- New York City’s NoMad Bar was ranked the No. 1 bar in the United States and North America last year on the annual World’s 50 Best Bars list.
- I visited the NoMad Bar to see if it lived up to its epic reputation.
- Here’s what it’s like inside one of the top bars in the world.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
New York City’s NoMad Bar is not your typical hotel bar.
Located inside the NoMad Hotel in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, the NoMad Bar is renowned for its upscale twist on traditional pub fare and New York tavern culture. According to the bar’s website, it “radiates the conviviality and warmth of a classic New York City tavern.”
In October, the bar finished fourth in the annual World’s 50 Best Bars ranking, making it the highest-ranked bar on the list from both the United States and North America.
I visited the NoMad Bar last month to see if it could live up to its epic reputation. I found the the food and drinks delicious – and the service incredible – although you’ll have to judge for yourself whether it deserves its place on the list.
Here’s what it’s like inside the No. 1 bar in North America.
I visited the NoMad Bar after work on a Wednesday evening in April.
The bar has a separate entrance from the hotel, located just east of Broadway on West 28th Street. It’s just north of Madison Square Park, or about a 10-minute walk from Penn Station.
I walked by the bar’s entrance not once but twice before I noticed it. There are no signs marking its entryway, but the dimly lit room inside hinted at a bar-like atmosphere within. I studied the N/M design on the door, and although I wasn’t positive, I assumed it was the NoMad logo and made my way inside.
I was immediately greeted by a hostess after I entered. Incomplete parties are not seated there, so I decided to wait in the bar area for my friend.
I was surprised to find the bar already pretty busy when I arrived shortly after 5 p.m. Although I had arrived a few minutes later than I had hoped, the bar had only been open for 10 minutes.
The bar was filled with professionals. Some people were clearly on business meetings, while others looked to be enjoying a casual drink with a colleague or friend. As a 23-year-old, I was definitely the youngest person there.
Every leather bar stool was taken already, so I squeezed myself at a standing bar a few feet away. A waiter came over to me and handed me a menu almost immediately, which was another pleasant surprise.
The menu was extensive and, quite frankly, a little hard to navigate. There were clearly a lot of drinks to choose from. Although many of them sounded unique and refreshing, I ended up going with a classic mojito. Most cocktails cost between $US16 and $US18.
As I waited for the bartender to make my drink, I couldn’t help but to notice the impressive stock of liquor behind the bar. The burst of light illuminating the liquor collection suggests it’s meant to be on display for guests to admire — and understandably so.
The staff was dressed very well compared to what I’m used to seeing at a typical bar. Each bartender was wearing a white button-down and suspenders, while waiters wore vests.
My mojito was aesthetically very impressive. I loved how the bartenders almost used the ice as a decoration to complement the mint’s leafy texture.
By the time I got my drink, my friend had arrived. We paid the hostess another visit so we could be seated at a table for food. To my delight, our waiter insisted on carrying my mojito on a platter to our table and closing my tab for me. This little act of service was not necessary, but it was extremely appreciated.
The lively, stand-up bar area is surrounded by leather booths where guests can order food. Above them are what looks to be New York City-inspired photography.
The dark, wooden walls gave a sort of luxurious feel to the bar.
There was even a fireplace!
The menu was filled with exceptional food and dessert options, including some foods that are unusual to see at a typical bar. We ordered a round of the bay scallops marinated with yuzu and pistachio …
… herb-seasoned french fries …
… and a dry-aged beef burger with cheddar, red onion, and special sauce. The burger was of a much higher quality than what a typical bar menu offers. And I found each cocktail I tried to be just as refreshing and unique as its appearance. The food came out to $US53 before tax.
In a nice touch, the bar gave warm, moist towelettes to each guest after their meal.
I noticed staff members bustling around the restaurant at all times. Along with four bartenders, there were several waiters serving tables and attending to customers. Again, I’d call this pretty atypical of a busy Manhattan bar, where getting a bartender’s attention can feel impossible at times.
Even the bathrooms had a luxurious feel to them — each stall had its own mirror inside.
One of my favourite parts of the NoMad bar was the upstairs area, where guests were seated along the perimeter.
The seating arrangement allowed guests to observe the busy bar and alcohol display below.
As we were getting ready to leave, the bar continued to get busier and busier. I decided to stay for another drink and soak up the lively and inviting atmosphere.
I settled on the Hair Trigger, a recommended cocktail from the dark spirits section of the menu. It was a mix of Venezuelan rum and Fernet-Branca with added flavours of ginger, lime, and cucumber. I’m usually not a rum drinker, but I found the cocktail sweet and refreshing.
Though the NoMad Bar certainly was elegant, I’m not sure it was worthy of the lofty title of No. 1 bar in North America. Even though I had a nice experience, with such high expectations in mind, I ended up feeling a little underwhelmed by the end of my visit.
That said, even if the scenery and ambiance didn’t completely stand out, the food and drinks were satisfying, and the service was nothing short of spectacular. If I didn’t have to cover the bill or if I really wanted to treat myself after a long week, I’d definitely visit the NoMad bar again.
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