If you have been to "Carlos'n Charlie's" in Austin Texas, Mexico etc. or "Senor Frog" in Mexico, The Bahamas, Cancun, Cayman Islands, Puerta Vailarta, Myrtle Beach etc. you will fall in love with "123."
The hottest party place in Manhattan
Experience your vacation all over again.
Or so claims the website of this newish Hell's Kitchen bar and eatery.
Really there are few things more horrifying to me than what 123 seems to espouse. In what started as a joke, then escalated into a dare, I ended up here on a recent Friday night shortly past nine o'clock. The billboard outside promises "The Hottest Staff in Hell's Kitchen," this in addition to those spring break fantasies already alluded to on the website.
The place was completely packed with the exact crowd you'd expect. Lots of Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren buttondown shirts, neatly tucked into J. Crew chinos. Work ID badges clipped neatly to one belt loop, chunky Blackberry holsters to another. Half-drunk girls awkwardly dancing to the same soundtrack that seems to play in every shitty bar across the city. My soul died a little.
But I pushed on, now joined by two brave companions.
After making our way through the fratty foray, we were unable to find seats. The bar was piled three deep and groups were circled around the tables proudly emptying their 100+ ounce beer tubes, complete with EZ-dispense spigot.
"You were in S-A-E at OSU? That's sweet, bro'. I was down at Vandy."
Must push on.
At the back of the restaurant, however, is a doorway that leads to what, relatively speaking at least, can only be described as a garden--or perhaps courtyard is more accurate--of Eden. Out here, somewhat more civil types were enjoying their burgers and beverages in relative solitude. We snatched the last three seats available at the communal picnic tables and perused the menu.
Sliders are $1/piece. Shots, $2 per. Full-size beers will set you back $3. Other items include wings, various fries and fried items. Truth be told, the food actually isn't that bad. In fact, I kind of liked it. Seriously. And as for the hot waitstaff, well as long as speaking English isn't a criterion for hotness, those girls fare alright.
First off, the little burgers are pretty solid. Fried onions, some cheese, a pillowy-yet-not-too-chemically bun, and decent meat. I think we each ate about seven. Wings were tender and crispy, if not hot at all. Waffle fries and sweet potato fries were as good as I've had them in a fast-casual setting. The beer list is also quite solid, and at $3 each is a good deal. I had a Goose Island IPA, Brooklyn Oktoberfest, and a Grolsch. All very respectable beers in their own rights. The shots, well those are terrible. You've got your orgasm, your red-headed slut, and a cringe inducing creation that was new to me named after some kind of impaired surfer. This concoction mixed pineapple, Malibu, and...wait for it...Jaegar. Oh man that was awful.
So, all in all, a pretty good experience. It wasn't as cheap as I would've liked--we spent something like $35 each--but for how much we ate and drank it was a good deal. Just go at an off hour, or brave the elements outside, even in the dead of winter if they'll let you. Just don't let the crowd get you down.