Ask Playbill.com is a weekly Playbill.com column that answers questions about theatre, generated by readers and Playbill.com staff, every Thursday. To ask a question, email AskPlaybill@Playbill.com. Please specify how you would like your name displayed and please include the city in which you live.
If your question is used in our column, you will receive a Playbill.com mug.
This week's question comes from the Playbill.com staff.
Question: Where do actors go to hang out after a show? Answer: Just like those of us in the audience, actors sometimes like to grab a bite or a drink to unwind after a show. Legendary theatre-district establishments Sardi's and Joe Allen have been welcoming performers for decades, but since it opened in 2001, Angus McIndoe (pronounced MACK-en-doo) has become a popular late-night destination for many actors.
Located next door to the St. James Theatre, the three-tiered, 160-seat Angus McIndoe (which counts frequent patrons Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane and Mel Brooks among its investors) has built a reputation for treating both actors and audience members like stars. When he's not ruling his underwater kingdom in The Little Mermaid, Norm Lewis can frequently be found at Angus, munching on the Vietnamese steak salad or some crispy calamari. But wait—should a merman really be eating his fellow sea creatures?
"I know, right?" Lewis says, laughing. "When I first got the show, I was like, 'Oh man, I feel cannibalistic—this is part of my kingdom!'"
After shows, Lewis looks for places that "have some pop to them…not too noisy but yet have some excitement going on." On Wednesdays and Saturdays, though, relaxation between shows is his top priority. The intimate trattoria Cara Mia, on Ninth Avenue, is his favorite restaurant to bring friends and family to because it's "quaint, the food is really good, and it's actually affordable…The management is just so nice, even though it gets really crowded." Sometimes, though, Lewis' favorite place to go before second call is Central Park.
"I just love people-watching," he says. "I'll either get a sandwich or I'll go to Whole Foods and go to their food bar downstairs, and then just go and sit in Sheep Meadow."
For many actors, choosing a favorite after-show spot depends on where their current theatre is located. Barrett Foa, recently of The Drunken City at Playwrights Horizons, lists the West Bank Café as one of his favorite after-show hangouts when he's in the neighborhood. A 42nd Street mainstay since it opened in 1978, the West Bank Café also features an 80-seat performance space, the Laurie Beechman Theatre, downstairs. "I remember one week when I was there every single night after a show," says Foa. "I never got sick of it. They have great wine and a butterscotch pudding to die for." Also on Foa's list from his days in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is The Palm, located across the street from Circle in the Square Theatre. "They always treated us so well, and we gave them a lot of business," says Foa. "We always ordered a few Half and Halfs (cottage fries and fried onions), and the steak on toast. Sarah Saltzberg and I always ended up singing 'steak on toast' to the tune of 'Girls on Film' by Duran Duran."
When he ventured downtown to do Tio Pepe for the Summer Play Festival, Foa frequented the restaurant Five Points, located on Great Jones Street. "Our play only had a one-week run, but I found myself eating two dinners and big Sunday brunch there," he says. "Try the house-cured pork chops with peaches, the scallops, or the fennel pork sausages on biscuits topped with runny eggs for brunch. Delish."
Even though she's in Seattle right now for Shrek The Musical's pre-Broadway run, Jennifer Cody still knows her favorite places to go after a show. "I love Nizza, on Ninth Ave. They have a great late-night menu that has some light vegetarian options — I highly recommend the broccoli bruschetta with avocado and walnuts." The Pinnacle Bar, located in the Hilton Times Square, offers half-price drinks to Broadway actors, Cody says, and the outdoor oasis of Worldwide Plaza is a lovely place to drink margaritas in the summer, although it gets "crazy crowded." A new find before leaving for the West Coast was Five Napkin Burger: "I'm obsessed with the Inside Out Burger, and their wine list is incredible."
Manhattan has no shortage of restaurants and bars to visit after an evening at the theatre, but sometimes the difficult decision comes down to one simple criteria: "I tend to like a quiet place with a great glass of cabernet," says Cody. "If you know of any other places, let me know!"
Lindsey Wilson, who is temporarily filling in for Zachary Pincus-Roth, is a theatre writer whose work has also been seen in The Syracuse Post-Standard. She can be reached by emailing LindseyAnnWilson@gmail.com.