For those looking for a taste of old New York, the first port of call should be the Lexington Candy Shop. Located on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 83rd Street, the Candy Shop is the oldest family-owned luncheonette in the city.
American cities were once graced with luncheonettes, as common as Starbucks coffee shops are today. Luncheonettes were generally small, informal restaurants serving light lunches at affordable prices.
Walking into the Lexington Candy Shop, which opened its doors in 1925, is to step into a bygone era, an Edward Hopper painting come to life. Last renovated in 1948, the luncheonette still uses its original coffee urns and makes milkshakes and traditional New York egg creams with a 1940 Hamilton Beach mixer. Photos of celebrities and other memorabilia adorn the walls, including a picture of Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway, who filmed a scene for the spy movie Three Days of the Condor here.
Today, the Candy Shop is run by John Philis, the grandson of the original owner. It’s a true neighborhood spot, both friendly and charming, serving much the same menu as it did when FDR was president: tuna melts, egg creams, malted milkshakes, and sodas using real syrup. While much of New York constantly changes—torn down and rarely preserved—the Lexington Candy Shop remains one of the city’s most tasty treasures.