Frankie Manning knew some of the best places to eat around the city of New York. Here, we’ll share a collection of places around New York City you could have spotted Frankie. Now you can retrace his steps and dine in true Lindy Hopper fashion.
If you want to eat just like Frankie, here’s a few good tips. Frankie loved to hang out in restaurants with a water view. His favorite cuisines were New Orleans and Southern-style soul food. There’s no shortage of those around the city. His favorite meal was a catfish sandwich (or “sammich,” as he liked to call it). Some nights, it would be a red snapper instead. Always have soup before the meal and tea afterward. If you’re in the mood for dessert, Frankie loved sweet potato pie, or butter pecan ice cream. And if you want to drink the way Frankie drank, his signature was Bacardi Dark Rum and Coke, or sometimes a fine chardonnay.
New York changes every day. Many of the places Frankie and the others in Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers used to frequent have closed their doors and passed into history. However, here’s a collection of several that are still around.
Bayard’s Ale House
533 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014
Formerly known as Sazerac House, Bayard’s Ale House has an excellent selection of beers and a full menu of pub food. Cynthia Millman sometimes interviewed Frankie here for their book, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop. If you want to sit where Frankie sat, look for the tables against the wall by the windows facing Charles St.
86 University Pl
New York, NY 10003
An affordable Tex-Mex restaurant Frankie loved to come to after a night of dancing, located nearby Union Square. Come for the crazy decor and the margaritas, and enjoy your meal on the wood deck terrace.
63-88 Woodhave Blvd
Rego Park, NY 11374
If you’re feeling adventurous, London Lennie’s is a fish-n’-chips restaurant in Queens. Frankie loved the catfish sandwich here. The restaurant has been family owned and operated since 1959 and serves a variety of seafood served fresh. Try their award-winning raw seafood bar!
Make My Cake
121 St. Nicolas Ave
New York, NY
Frankie used to go to a bakery called Better Crust, hunting for sweet potato pies. While Better Crust has closed, Make My Cake now occupies the space where it once was, still serving fantastic desserts for your sweet tooth.
Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too
366 West 110th St
New York, NY 10025
A 1950’s-style kitchen with a motown soundtrack specializing in barbecue and Southern soul food. This is another spot where you just might run into somebody famous. Try the Louisiana catfish or the BBQ ribs!
Sylvia’s Harlem Restaurant
328 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10027
A classic staple of New York’s restaurants with some of the best soul food in town. It’s also one of the most famous restaurants in the world. Not only was it one of Frankie’s favorites, but Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, and various other dignitaries and celebrities have eaten here. Try the absolutely delicious chicken & waffles, the collard greens, or the mac & cheese.
349 West 46th St
New York, NY 10036
A staple of New York’s jazz and dance scene, featuring the George Gee Swing Orchestra as its house band. Local dancers frequently make their way out here for weekly dances. Frankie would come here all the time, sit at a table near the floor, and dance the night away. Great drinks, great food, amazing bands, and wonderful dancers. What more could you ask for?
315 West 44th St
New York, NY 10036
While the original closed in 1965, this famous jazz club was Frankie’s favorite (probably because it had catfish). It’s been home to many acts, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lester Young. It made an appearance in Jack Kerouac’s famous novel On the Road. It even appeared on the children’s TV show Sesame Street.
Blue Note Jazz Club
131 West 3rd St
New York, NY 10012
A mainstay attraction in the West Village if you like jazz with your dinner. Watch out for the cover charge!
116 East 27th St
New York, NY 10016
A restaurant in the basement of the Blue Smoke Jazz Club, Jazz Standard features great barbecue and live jazz performances. While you’ll need to pay a cover charge to get in, the music is well worth it and so are the food and drinks.