Tom’s Restaurant at 2880 Broadway was used for the exterior shots of the restaurant where the “Seinfeld” gang hung out.
Think television plus New York and a dozen cop shows come to mind, but for a certain slice of self-absorbed, middle-class, Big Apple neuroticism, nothing beats “Seinfeld.”
Which is odd, since the show was filmed in California, aside from the occasional exterior shots.
But it can be fun tracking down some of those exteriors or the many references to New York City that crop up in the show.
For a start, Tom’s Restaurant (called “Monk’s” in the show) was where Jerry Seinfeld and friends seemed to dine in most episodes. The real Tom’s is situated at 2880 Broadway and is a major hangout for students from Columbia University, a few blocks north.
“Tom’s has been a staple in Morningside Heights, taking care of the locals as well as Columbia students,” says the restaurant’s website, which also claims “the best milkshake in New York!”
Tom’s is open from 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. from Sunday through Wednesday and 24 hours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
A serious man makes a serious soup. Follow the posted rules and Al Yeganeh might sell you some soup at 259A West 59th Street.
Original Soup Man
Another classic dining experience on the show was the “Soup Nazi.” This story thread was based on a real hole-in-the-wall soup stand called Soup Kitchen International and run by the no-nonsense Al Yeganeh. Yeganeh hated the label applied in the show, but was smart enough to parlay the resultant notoriety into a franchised chain and grocery operation. He’s also opened a new stand at 259A West 59th Street near 8th Avenue, where patrons who follow the rules (“Pick the soup you want! Have your money ready! Move to the EXTREME left after ordering!”) are allowed to be served.
One “Seinfeld” episode in season 3 focused on New York’s subway system, often mystifyingly complex for out-of-town visitors. Some lines are demarcated by numbers, some by letters; there are express trains and locals. In that episode, Kramer rattles off a bewildering alphanumeric blitz of alternative routes from Manhattan to Coney Island, Elaine rants at delays en route, and Jerry talks with a portly, naked man in a rumbling subway car about the Mets’ chances that year.
The subway episode is one of many examples of how the show elaborated the ordinary minutiae of everyday life to the point of comic weirdness. Ultimately, who would have imagined that a show that was explicitly about four people doing “nothing” would run for nine years, plus many more in reruns?
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.