Mad Men returns with seven final episodes on Sunday, April 5th. In celebration, NYC & Company is hosting Mad Men Dining Week. You can get your Don, Joan, Peggy, Pete, or Roger on with $19.69 two-course lunches or two-cocktail lunches at select Manhattan restaurants through March 29th. And, as we count down the days until the season premiere, we’ve rounded up the classic restaurants that your favorite Mad Men characters have — or should have — dined at in Los Angeles and New York.
Manhattan in the 1960s didn’t have as many fine restaurants as New York City (or anywhere, really) in the 2010s, but there were some gems that are still in business. Get your Mad Men fix on with a look at the real restaurants that have been plot points and settings on the show.
Restaurant: AJ Maxwell’s (aka The Forum of the Twelve Caesars)
Location: 57 West 48th Street, New York, New York
Episode: “The Suitcase,” season 4, episode 7
The Dish: I’m fudging here a bit as AJ Maxwell’s wasn’t exactly featured on Mad Men — but its location was. In this will-she-stay-or-will-she-go Peggy Olsen-centric ep, the devoted-to-Don-Draper working girl misses her big birthday dinner at The Forum of the Twelve Caesars, much to the great chagrin of her family and boring beau Mark. Steakhouse AJ Maxwell’s opened in the same space as the opulent The Forum of the Twelve Caesars, which closed in 1975, but some of The Forum’s over-the-top charms remain.
Insider’s Tip: Order the classic Caesar salad and look around for The Forum’s original murals in the restaurant.
Location: 321 West 46th Street, New York, New York
Episode: “The Summer Man,” season 4, episode 8
The Dish: This theater-district Italian restaurant holds several distinctions outside of its Mad Menappearance. It is the oldest restaurant in New York that is still owned by the family that founded it, the oldest Italian restaurant in New York, and the oldest restaurant in New York’s Theater District. On top of all that, a newly single Don Draper squires the sassy Bethany to Barbetta, only to run into Betty Draper and new
father husband Henry Francis in “The Summer Man.”
Insider’s Tip: Don’t miss dining in one of the city’s best gardens.
On the heels of our rounding up New York City restaurants that Don Draper dined at, we also wondered where he and the rest of the Mad Men characters might dine in the Big Apple in future episodes!
Restaurant: 21 Club
Location: 21 West 52nd Street, New York, New York
Casting note: Open since 1929, we’re certain that the stylishly clubby 21 Club would be a must-eat for the agency’s out-of-town clients, so we’re not sure how this icon of Manhattan’s power-dining scene hasn’t yet received its close up. Also, how dashing would Don Draper look sitting beneath the Bar Room’s fabled toy ceiling-scape?
Restaurant: Café Carlyle
Location: 35 East 76th Street, New York, New York
Casting note: A favorite of café society, and wildly popular since the mid 1950s, Café Carlyle could provide the perfect opportunity for new parents Pete and Trudy Campbell to enjoy a stylish night of the music of George Feyer and fine dining sans baby. The murals by Marcel Vertes remain intact, leading us to believe Café Carlyle’s star turn isn’t far off.
We’ve rounded up sumptuous suggestions for where we’d like to see the Sterling, Cooper & Partners crew dine in the City of Angels, circa 1969, including The Galley, Lawry’s The Prime Rib, The Smokehouse, and more.
Restaurant: Dal Rae
Location: 9023 E. Washington Boulevard, Pico Rivera, California
Now and then: Your favorite mid-century classics reign supreme at the Dal Rae, which began serving diners at this location in 1958. Its truly retro and not-at-all ironic menu features the staples that defined upscale American cuisine for an entire generation, including Chateaubriand, Rack of Lamb, Pepper Steak, and Cherries Jubilee. Known for their world-class hospitality, the Dal Rae is operated by brothers and second-generation owners Kevin and Lorin Smith. Recognizable from afar thanks to its neon, atomic-age signage, the Dal Rae features live entertainment in the piano bar.
Tasty tidbit: The Smith brothers note, “The Dal Rae is where the drinks are strong enough for Roger, and the steaks are man enough for Don.”
Classic dish not to miss: Steak Diane, Lobster Thermidor, Veal Oscar, and the tableside Caesar Salad, just to name a few.
Restaurant: The Derby
Location: 233 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, California
Now and then: The Derby opened in 1922, but became The Derby in 1938, when it was purchased by legendary jockey George Woolf (known for riding Seabiscuit to victory over War Admiral in 1938). Walking through the doors of The Derby is definitely a stroll back in time to the heyday of California’s 1930’s horse racing culture. Pristine yet unfussy, this meat mecca attracts a hip crowd of all ages who appreciate a great steak, a stiff drink, and live music. Woolf’s ghost is said to haunt the establishment, spinning his favorite bar stool at closing time. A nostaglic Pete Campbell would definitely appreciate a meal at The Derby.
Classic dish not to miss: The Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon that made The Derby famous and Noni’s Brashioli.