I headed once more to a neighborhood I once lived and worked in. In fact I once worked in the very building of the first bar that I visited today. Guardian Insurance outgrew its space where the W Hotel now stands and for awhile rented additional space in various buildings around the area. This was one of them at 225 Park Avenue South.
932) Barca 18
Earlier this year I visited and wrote-up Park Avalon. Barca now occupies the same space and is, in fact, owned by the same people. I guess they just thought it was time for a change. Now it is a fancy Spanish restaurant with a decent offering of tapas and a nice looking dinner menu. The bar has a thick clear plastic top over bright orange, red, and white strips, all very shiny. The front of the bar is a faded orange and there is a foot rail. The bar chairs are dark wood with black leather seats and woven fabrick backs in chocolate brown and gold. A couple of tall glass vases sit on the bar with large bright flowers in them.
The bar back is more functional than decorative, but the size gives it an imposing look. Pretty much just gray coolers separated by a gray pillar with black tiles at the bottom up to the height of the coolers. Liquor and wine bottles sit on top of the coolers as well as some glasses and mugs. Two gray steel beams serve as a shelf for a large selection of wines. The ceiling is quite high and the space above the beams and bottles is filled with a modernistic design of red and brown shades and white lines defining upright rectangles. Made me think of a city full of skyscrapers.
Large spider-leg like lights surrounded by orange fabric in the shape of squares hang from the gray ceiling. Three gray steel beams split the room down the middle. Gray is the predominate color in here. Three large planters at right angles to the bar are filled with gray stones and large leafless trees that looked like they came from a haunted forest. These serve to split the bar in two so it doesn’t seem overwhelmingly long. There is a large dining area in the back and a number of orange banquettes for seating. There is a large yellow banquette under large mirrors on the wall opposite the bar.
Everyone in here seemed quite friendly and I ever ran into a couple of old friends who were just finishing up lunch at the bar. They said the food was very good so I will have to stop back one day and try it out.
I had a bottle of Sagres, a dark Portuguese beer.
933 Dos Caminos
This is a fancy Mexican restaurant and bar that is owned by the same people that own Barca 18 and is just up the street a bit at 373 Park Avenue South. It has a very impressive selection of tequilas. The bar isn’t too big, but more than adequate. It has a black acrylic surface with a dark wood front with a wide silver panel at the bottom from which a flat matching metal foot rest protrudes. The bar stools are a bit on the strange side, thin black metal legs kind of a shallow scooped out elliptical dark seats. You weren’t weather to sit on them like a swing or straddle them like a saddle. I opted for the swing.
Hanging over the bar are two lights that look like they were made out of large tree trunks. Quite impressive even though they didn’t seem to give off much light. The major portion of the bar back is metal coolers below with glasses and a few bottles of wine and liquor on top. Above that is mounted metal cabinets with glass doors filled with bottles of tequila. Above them is a large, to the ceiling, wood framed mirror. To the right are seven fairly narrow glass shelves mounted one above the other and going up to the ceiling. The bottled beer selection is displayed on the bottom shelf and fancy tequilas sit on the other six shelves. To the right of those shelves are two frozen margarita machines and you can have your choice of either a traditional margarita or a prickly pear margarita. More tequila bottles sit on top of them. Next to this are shelves of glasses and above them a large dark orange chalk board listing some of their specialty margaritas and tequilas.
On a section of the wall at right angles to the chalk board is a set of wooden shelves holding another 18 tequila bottles. Above that is a decent sized wine rack and above that shelves of little clay pots holding small cacti. There is a very large dining area that hooks all the way around to another entrance on 27th Street. They have a small serving bar back there as well. Despite the size of the dining area the bar manages to retain an intimate feel because it is set off by dark framework partitions. Again, another place that looks like it would be worth a visit for dinner.
I chatted with the bartender, Melanie a bit about tequilas, the neighborhood, and life in general. We shared our philosophies about margaritas and she whipped me up a couple. No complaints on my part.
Melanie, Purveyor Of Excellent Margaritas
I had a Patron margarita, up with a salted rim and it was so damn good I had another.