Not For Tourist 2010 NYC Guide Launch Party, Fontana's, New York
November 17, 2009
I do this thing when people ask me where they should go for a great pulled pork sandwich in NYC or a super-chill beer without any finance dudes around guffawing and hitting on moms: I blank. I've lived in this noisy city for almost six years (I think) and I've called the Upper East Side, the West Village, the lower Upper East Side, and the East Village neighborhoods my homes, yet when asked for recommendations, it's almost like my experience waves cancel out my memory waves and I turn into that silver guy that stands still until you give him some cash. I should be shot if I send one more person to Dallas BBQ (but, oh yum, those dangerous margaritas). Well, my friends, if you're like me, we are the reason "Not For Tourists Guides" exist. And last night I attended the launch party for the 2010 NYC version at Fontana's, which yes, is a recommendation for nightlife in the Chinatown neighborhood.
I walked there. And every time I walk towards Eldridge Street, I remember two things: how much I hate walking by the Bowery Mission (someone is usually screaming, spraying something gross, or murmuring wetly) and how much I hated The Eldridge, that pretentious hole in the soul.
I shook off these unpleasant skin-tag memories and found my favorite buddy, David Factor of ADA Music, waiting for me outside of Fontana's. Jenean Chapman of Agent 16 materialized out of nowhere - and was on her way home. Wait, it was 6:20 p.m., and the party started at 6! "Yeah," admitted Jenean, "I got my free beer, my free book, and I'm done." She also informed us of an odd odor, but I like to call that "Eau De Downtown" -- that distinct smell that can only be found in LES and Chinatown bars. Jenean headed out for food and we entered the fray.
Fontana's was hot, temperature-hot. The place was flooded with people, the tables dressed up with NFT stickers, bookmarks, and mini street maps. And the inside word was that Coney Island Lager was free. Everyone looked super-casual, warmly gathering around the bar tables, sipping from their glasses, probably talking about pulled pork sandwiches. Gretel Going of Channel V Media instantly introduced me to Craig Nelson, Managing Editor at NFT, who was happily weaving in and out of the boisterous crowd.
I escaped to the lower bar area with its slightly elevated (AKA ankle-twisting enabler) butt-rest section and smaller, more sparkly, bar. The room is overseen by a phallic (to us perverts, I guess) chandelier. Also, I wasn't the only to point this out, so yeah. Stuart Farr, Director ("I'm a project guy") at NFT, entertained us for a bit before running off with Craig and Gretel for the front of the house to greet new guests. They had a pretty good representation from the press side, with reps from Travel and Leisure and the New York Daily News lurking about -- as well as, Milos Alcalay, Global Works, LLC, who I keep seeing at almost every party I'm covering.
My putrid sinus/head/throat situation reared its ugly head, and I had to skip out -- with intentions to hop the train to Brooklyn for the Babelgum party, but I needed Sudafed more than I needed free ice cream.
As we emerged from the L on 3rd Avenue, I had a hankering for a hamburger and French fries, but of course, when put on the spot, I couldn't think of anything. If David Factor had let me dig in his bag and retrieve the NFT 2010 NYC guide to the East Village section I could have considered my options like Caracas Arepa Bar or Crif Dogs. Hmm, as I glance at this guide, (in real time, folks, real time! Though, by the time you read this, delayed time) I'm kind of annoyed that the East Village is grouped in with the LES. They're two totally different animals; I wouldn't consider Katz's deli as in my neighborhood. Positive note! I was pleased to see Mama's Food Shop listed as a recommendation! Funky joint, super-delicious, ridiculous tummy busting portions -- and you seriously feel like you're in my grandma's kitchen.
So what's on tap for tonight? I'm heading to the Waldorf Astoria for The Ad Council's Public Service Awards. If you haven't figured it out already, I'm pretty geeked-up to see Tina Fey. Wouldn't it blow your mind if it turns out she's completely unfunny as a presenter? We shall soon find out!
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