As we lose more and more diners, Neil's Coffee Shop (not vanishing, don't worry) deserves recognition for being a quality hold-out from the old city.
On Lexington and 70th, Neil's has been here for half a century--and it's got the signage to prove it, from the brilliant pink neon sign to the all-caps COFFEE SHOP on the front, to the cursive Neil's suspended on a white cloud around the side.
Inside, tucked up by the ceiling, above the Greek-themed murals, you'll find framed head shots of mostly forgotten stars. But there are a few luminaries. Jim Fowler, originally of the beloved Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, has a place of honor above the register with two photos, right next to Steve Martin.
There's also Tony Randall, Howard Cosell, and Liza Minelli, who draws a heart and writes "Finally!"
Finally what? Finally, she got herself to Neil's Coffee Shop, after longing to do so for a great while? Finally, she brought in the photo she promised? Finally, she tasted the French toast?
One of the things I like about the Upper East Side is that it remains so much itself. It's not trying to be another neighborhood and it's not trying to be cool. It's filled with all kinds of tacky, expensive shops, and none of them are ironic. The rich people there, walking around in full-length furs, look like New Yorkers, and not like Europeans or Midwesterners trying to look like Europeans in New York.
There are also lots and lots of ancient white ladies toddling around, complaining about life, with their hands heavy with diamonds and their eyelids painted pink. They have great faces, and you can watch them go by from the window at Neil's.