Self Guided Tour of Seinfeld New York
With landmarks, catchphrases and neuroses aplenty, “Seinfeld” is possibly the most New York sitcom in television history. The last episode may’ve aired over 15 years ago, but many of the locations featured in the show remain today. Visit that iconic restaurant exterior, the infamous “Soup Nazi”, and the YMCA were Jerry first met the New York Mets Keith Hernandez, among so many others.
So if you’ve ever double dipped a chip, had a pretzel that’s made you thirsty, or thought someone “spongeworthy”, well it’s time to “Giddy Up!”, say “Hello… Newman” and enjoy our self-guided Seinfeld tour of New York City.
TIP: If taking on this tour sounds too daunting, you may consider Kenny Kramer’s Reality Tour. This is the actual person who lived across from Larry David, and inspired “Kramer” character.
The Subway – 1
There’s nothing more New York than the subway, and it features in countless Seinfeld episodes. In particular Season 3 No. 13 – during which Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine all embark on their own subway inspired (mis) adventures. So we begin by catching the Red No. 1 train up to West 110th Street on the Upper West Side.
- Upper West Side
Tom’s Restaurant (aka Monk’s Café) (2880 Broadway, cnr Broadway and West 112th Street)
The famous exterior from nearly every episode, and while all scenes inside were filmed on a set in Los Angeles, that set was modelled on the inside of this very restaurant. In typical Seinfeld style grab a table, two or three friends, and order a coffee and a bagel. Then completely overanalyze each other’s lives, while getting involved in all manner of awkward shenanigans.
(2626 Broadway, between West 99th and West 100th Street)
Remember when Elaine was trapped in a bathroom stall, and implored the woman in the next stall over to “spare her a square”? Or when George confronts some movie hecklers which ends, as do most confrontations on Seinfeld, with a series of calamities? It all went down at the long.
Back onto the subway at West 110th Street, catch the Red No. 1 train downtown to West 72nd Street.
Gray’s Papaya (2090 Broadway, on Broadway at the intersection with Amsterdam Avenue and West 72nd Street)
If you think movie food in New York is too expensive, well Kramer agrees. It’s the classic comedy of errors, as the four make plans, remake plans, wreck their plans and then Kramer needs a hotdog. In the show it’s a Papaya King, but this Gray’s Papaya is the closest hotdog stand to the Paragon Theatre. Just make sure you’re back in time for the show…
Jerry Seinfeld’s Apartment (129 West 81st Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenue)
While this was Jerry, Kramer and Newman’s official address in the show, it doesn’t look like the same building used in Seinfeld, for one very good reason. The actual exterior used in Seinfeld isn’t even in New York – it’s at 755 S. New Hampshire Avenue in Los Angeles. Also this Manhattan address is far less lively than its counterpart portrayed onscreen. No Kenny Rogers Roasters is likely to move in anytime soon, but it’s a tranquil area that’s well worth a visit.
Royale Pastry Shop – (237 West 72nd Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue)
The pastry shop known as Royale Bakery and Schnitzers in the show may’ve produced a marble rye worth mugging an old lady for, and a black and white cookie that could bridge racial divides, but unfortunately the shop itself is no more. Perhaps quite fittingly, now in its location is a Jenny Craig.
La Boîte en Bois (75 West 68th Street, just off Columbus Avenue towards Central Park)
Date nights were nearly always a disaster on Seinfeld and at this French restaurant, George’s date Karen had a very animated reaction to a particular risotto dish while eating here. Luckily it’s no longer on the menu, and everything else that’s available is both far safer and tastier.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (10 Lincoln Center Plaza, West 64th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Ave)
In the Season 6 episode entitled “The Beard”, Elaine attends the ballet at the Lincoln Center, enacting the role of “beard” in front of her gay friend’s employer. She subsequently develops a crush on said gay friend, and tries to turn him straight. Out of everything she gets up to during this episode, really only the trip to the ballet should be recommended. And remember, the bathrooms at Alice Tully Hall are excellent, as per George.
West Side YMCA (5 West 63rd Street, between 8th Ave and Central Park West)
Former Mets baseball player Keith Hernandez first meets Jerry at the West Side YMCA. Hernandez is then accused and acquitted of spitting on Newman and Kramer, and dates Elaine. In real life he still makes around $3,000 a year in royalties from reruns, so just imagine what the main characters are raking in.
Mount Sinai Roosevelt (1000 10th Avenue, between West 58th and West 59th Streets)
Have you seen the pigman? When the not-so-fab-four head to the Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital, to meet friends who’ve just had a baby, a mental patient commits suicide by landing on George’s car, Kramer claims to have seen the pigman (half pig, half man), as well as being the setting for the Junior Mint episode. This is also the hospital where John Lennon died after being shot outside the Dakota Apartments.
The Original Soupman (259A West 55th Street, at West 55th Street and 8th Avenue)
“No soup for you!” is exactly what you shouldn’t say when visiting The Original Soupman. The character is based on Al Yeganeh, who still controls the soup recipes and is sometimes seen in the store. Jerry and the crew actually visited this store in the real world for years, and lines outside the shop often stretched around the block, which lead to Yeganeh developing the strict rules: “Pick the soup you want! Have your money ready! Move to the extreme left after ordering! And if you don’t stick to the rules? No soup for you!”
Edison Hotel (228 W 47th St, between 7th and 8th Avenue)
In the very same subway episode mentioned at the start of this tour, George is led to the Edison Hotel, where he’s expecting to spend some sexy time with a beautiful stranger. Instead, the woman handcuffs him to a bed and makes off with his only good suit, as well as everything else including his dignity. The Edison Hotel is also used in The Godfather.
The Improv (now closed) (358 West 44th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenue)
Whenever Jerry was performing stand-up during an episode, he was often on his way to, or from, or was at “The Improv”. Unfortunately it’s now closed, but you can still visit the site where this actual comedy club once stood, now The Producers Club.
Sardi’s (234 West 44th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenue)
After Kramer receives a Tony while serving as a seat filler during the awards ceremony, he accompanies the award to Sardi’s, where he’s forced to fire an extremely fired up Raquel Welch. Sardi’s has been in the same location in Manhattan’s theater district since 1927, and is renowned for the celebrity caricatures that adorn the walls, as well as mixing a quality cocktail.
30 Rockefeller Center (30 Rockefeller Plaza, West 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue)
Remember when the characters in Seinfeld, a show about nothing, visited NBC to pitch their idea for a show about nothing? That all went down at the real life NBC studios at “30 Rock” inside the Rockefeller Center, which also boasts “Top of the Rock” – one of the best top-floor viewing decks in the city.
Mendy’s Kosher Delicatessen (37 West 48th Street at the Rockefeller Center, between 5th and 6th Avenue)
“Is soup a meal?” Thanks to Seinfeld this is now an immortal question, and the beginning of many all-night debates. It all began at Mendy’s when Kenny Bania, who Jerry owed a free meal, opted for soup. “Soup and sandwich, that is a meal!” Jerry would later proclaim.
When Elaine interviews for a job at Viking Press, she pretends to have flown in from Florida so receives a suite at The Plaza. She begrudgingly bequeaths it to Jerry’s parents, who pass it along to Uncle Leo and Nana, and they trash the place. The Plaza has also been featured in The Great Gatsby, among countless other books and films.
Pendant Publishing (600 Madison Avenue, at 57th Street)
Pendant Publishing, Elaine and George’s employer at different times, might be a fictitious business but the building where it was housed is as real as bricks and mortar. A stunning office building, it is currently home to hedge funds, Ugg Boots and the finest Mount Blanc pens.
Barneys New York (660 Madison Ave, at East 61st Street)
Elaine buys a dress on sale that appears fantastic in store at Barneys, but once home it looks awful. She returns it to Barneys and accuses them of using “skinny mirrors” that make people appear thinner than they are. While Barneys is very real, apparently the mirrors are not. However, the only true way to find out is to try it on for yourself – both the clothes and the mirrors.
From Barneys, skip across to the Lexington Avenue then down two streets to East 59th, and catch the Green No. 4 or No. 5 downtown to East 14th Street.
Pete’s Tavern (129 East 18th Street, between Irving Place and 3rd Avenue)
Kramer follows Barry the sniffing accountant to Pete’s Tavern, where he attempts to blend in by chugging a beer with a cigarette in his mouth. It doesn’t end well but it does end very Kramer, who then attempts to catch Barry in a nefarious act, which he doesn’t manage, however he does snap a photo of Barry in a different act – on the toilet. You could learn more about the surrounding neighborhood on our self-guided tour of Gramercy Park and Union Square.
One final subway ride! Take a jaunt back down to East 14th Street from where you just alighted, and this time catch the Green No. 6 train down to Bleecker Street.
The Nexus of the Universe (Intersection of East 1st Street and 1st Avenue)
Kramer calls Jerry from this location, which he describes as “The Nexus of the Universe”. This episode’s fame has resulted in the very real “Nexus Lounge” and “Famous Original Ray’s Pizza”, which came out of NYC’s legendarily confusing lineup of previous Ray’s pizzerias – famous, original, both and neither. This spot is across the street from the starting point of our Lower East Side Food Tour.
(1 East 161st Street in The Bronx – catch the Green No. 4 train to 161st Street – Yankee Stadium)
George Costanza’s most famed place of employment, and this particular long-running sub-plot was made even more memorable with Larry David himself acting the role of a rambling and crazed version of recently deceased team owner George Steinbrenner. Yankee stadium also features in several other episodes, including when Elaine refuses to remove her Orioles hat at a game.