There are no lack of cool places uptown. Once you get above 40th Street the parking gets a little easier and, depending upon the date and time, the waits get a little shorter, especially at the places that, aren’t strictly-speaking destination restaurants. What we’ve compiled here is a list of places that aren’t just cool, though. They also are cold and perfect places to beat the heat. Midday can be tough. For some it is too early or too hot to eat and, if you need a respite from the beach finding a quiet place can be a challenge. As a general rule, visit places that are known for their nightlife in the early afternoon, and you will find it is easy to chill out with good food and drinks.
Early Birds at Assawoman Bay Brewery
Head Brewer Jason Weissberg was making beer when I came through the door, so I popped my head in to chat about some of the things they have going on there. Like many brew pubs, there is a glass enclosure where the people who drink the beer can see how the beer is made. Assawoman is different because it is in the front of the building; the glassed-in brewing equipment is the first thing you see. It was easily as hot in the brewery as it was on the street, maybe hotter given the humidity, which made the temperature in the restaurant all the more shocking.
It wasn’t uncomfortable, but the air conditioning clearly was cranking up in anticipation of a busy happy hour and dinner rush. At 3 p.m., though, there was the combination of small tables of people seeking relief from the sun that you would expect. A couple of young women were enjoying a pint and a glass of white, respectively, and older and mixed couples lingered after a late lunch or took advantage of the cool and quiet in anticipation of the coming evening.
There was a table of 12, that had just gotten their drinks and were waiting on their food. They arrived early to get the seating they want and the attention that is tough to provide a table of 12 once the big dinner rush starts.
Greene Turtle, into darkness
Farther uptown, the Original Greene Turtle is built like a pre-A/C bar. Dark and east-facing by noon you need a watch to know whether the sun still is out. Lots of rich wood and a cozy atmosphere get it through the winter, but in the summer, it is the sense that sunlight is for outside.
The A/C was pumping, though, and like many of the uptown places, parking was a breeze. I don’t have my own mug at the Greene Turtle. Sometimes I feel as if I should make the investment, especially as the frequency of my visits starts to coincide with the Greene Turtle expansion in all directions, radiating from the Eastern Shore.
The bar may look old-timey, but you can grab more than a something fried at the bar (although, and let’s be clear, there is nothing at all wrong with grabbing something fried at the bar). Since it is bayside, if you decide to venture out, you’re likely to get that bay breeze that makes the evening all the more comfortable.
Lenny’s: Shadowland at the beach
No one would confuse Lenny’s, the beach bar at the Clarion Fontainebleau a dark place, but hanging out and listening to the mid-day band play, it had the feel of one. There is plenty of cover at the Clarion, including a low-ceilinged deck that is both all shade all the time and has a spectacular view of the beach. Over at the main part of the bar, where they serve the drinks and keep the band, is open to the sun much of the morning. By midday, however, it benefits from the massive hotel attached and provides shelter from the sun as well as an ocean breeze that keeps it a full 10-15 degrees cooler than out in the baking streets.
The most surprising thing to me, though, was the dog park. The Clarion is a resort hotel and, as such, provides a play area for guest’s dogs. It isn’t a direct factor in keeping you cool, but it is a cool thing worth noting, because it emphasizes the attention to detail they have.
Swim, refresh, repeat at the Crabcake Factory
As with Lenny’s the Crabcake Factory at 120th Street relies on one-two punch of AC and ocean breeze to keep the place cool. When I stopped by I noticed for the first time that the dining area is set off from the bar by glass. It was air conditioned and packed, as people were grabbing early dinners in anticipation of a night out. The bar was cooled as much by its shelter from the sun as the breeze and ambient AC, but there were people on the deck as well, enjoying the breeze away from the chill provided inside.
I ran across three recent beach-goers who had stopped off for a drink on their way up the street from the beach. The ladies were dressed in wraps and loose dresses and sported a fresh-off-the-beach glow that is a combination of both SPF 45 and potential sunburn. They were game for a photo, which always is a pleasure. Vanity and embarrassment are two cousins easily killed with alcohol. We’re all at the beach for a little fun, and these ladies (who, let me be clear, were sober but relaxed) were taking complete advantage.