We don’t tell non-tourists to venture into Herald Square lightly, but that’s exactly what you should do to experience the city’s most exciting new bar, restaurant and subterranean piano lounge.
Now open in a former textile factory, The Rag Trader and its speakeasy bar Bo Peep nod to the Garment District’s past (hat boxes and fashion plates serve as decor) while using its architectural quirks to create entirely different spaces. Roll up to the long bar for after-work drinks, hide away at more intimate tables in the back for a date, or gossip in the cocktail hall on the second floor.
Everything about The Rag Trader is eager to please. A neon sign proclaiming “it started with a kiss” greets patrons. A minibus has been crammed into the upstairs bar with a single coveted table inside. The menu brims with gastropub staples like tuna tartare tacos, barbecue ribs and pizzas so delightfully plush, they just might end the thin crust trend.
It’s all easy and delicious — just like the 30-strong cocktail lineup. The signature Ragtrader drinks like a city version of the pina colada, while Le Nouveau Spritz expertly tempers the bitterness of Campari with bubbles. Craft beers and a wine list are also offered.
For the piano bar — full name Bo Peep Cocktail & Highball Store, named for the manufacturing company that used to be in the building — hang a right at the entrance and head down the stairs.
The intimate club tends to reach capacity well before the night is truly underway, but if you score one of the red pouffes or along the velvet banquettes, you’re in for an old-school lounge experience. Expect nostalgic and modern classics on the keys, with cocktails from the ‘40s and ‘50s, an era of party-ready drinks like tikis, sours and fizzes.
The Rag Trader is now open for lunch and dinner daily at 70 W. 36th St. For reservations, call 917-261-5495 or visit ragtradernyc.com.