It’s official: The legendary NYC-based series Sex and the City returns this week on December 9 with And Just Like That…, a new HBO Max reboot slated for a 10-episode run featuring most of the original cast (minus Kim Cattrall).
If you’re a fan, you might remember that NYC restaurants were practically a fifth main character on the original show—with pivotal scenes taking place inside actual hot spots of the time (although some had made up names like Denial, Balzac, and Raw). So we couldn’t help but wonder: how many of the real-life restaurants seen on the show are still open today? Below is a list of still-standing SATC filming locations to get hyped for the relaunch (cosmos not included).
The Pan-Asian clubstaurant has been a fixture of NYC nightlife since the late ‘90s, a trend prominently featured on the show. Buddakan first opened in Philadelphia in 1998 from restaurateur Stephen Starr and, eventually expanded to the Big Apple in 2006 (two years after SATC’s last episode had aired) and was an instant hit for its lavish digs (inspired by 16th-century France) complete with dramatic chandeliers and crown moldings, celeb clientele, and actually excellent Asian cuisine. In the first movie, Carrie and Big (Chris Noth) hosted their engagement party inside a ritzy private dining room here, and it’s also the spot where Miranda tells Big that “you two are crazy to get married” after a fight with Steve (David Eigenberg), inciting a rift between the longtime besties that would play out later in the film, after Carrie gets jilted at the altar.
This Chelsea standby came about in what some might call the golden era of the neighborhood when it was gloriously the epicenter of NYC’s robust LGBTQIA scene back in 1998. It began as a late-night, post-club hangout thanks to its 24/7 service and proximity to the area’s bustling club scene. This longtime comfort food favorite, popular for brunch, had a kitchen originally run by Food Network chef Tyler Florence. The restaurant was the real-life setting for the iconic brunch restaurant where the foursome so famously had brunch on the weekends to rehash their escapades from the night before.
Opened in 1989, this longstanding West Village favorite is known for its Tex-Mex and Southwestern comfort fare, kitschy decor, and strong neighborhood restaurant vibes. In season 3, Carrie and Miranda are passing by when they spot their ex-boyfriends Aidan and Steve having beers with their new girlfriends and dogs in the restaurant’s outdoor seating area that’s famously adorned with wagon wheels and wooden barrels.
The infamous lunch in which Big tells Carrie he’s engaged to Natasha (Bridget Moynahan) in season 2 happens at EMP, back when it was still part of the Danny Meyer family of restaurants. The swanky spot originally opened in 1998 in the MetLife Building by Meyer but eventually changed hands when Will Guidara and chef Daniel Humm purchased it from the restaurateur and in 2010, completely remodeled the space. Over the next ten or so years, the upscale tasting menu garnered many awards and widespread acclaim. But in mid 2019, Humm bought longtime partner Will Guidara out, just before COVID hit in early 2020, departing to take his Make it Nice family of restaurants elsewhere. EMP reopened this June with the debut of chef Humm’s entirely vegan tasting menu priced at $335 per person.
Any faithful fan of the series will surely remember the episode in season 4 in which Carrie turns 35 and her friends decide to throw her a fancy dinner party that no one ends up showing up to. The restaurant is even name-checked by Samantha (Kim Cattrall) as she and Bradshaw discuss potential birthday plans. The longtime Village Italian fixture is still in existence believe it or not, serving handmade pastas, sought-after wines, and other soul warming Tuscan fare, to local and celebrity clientele.
If any spot in NYC was made by its appearance on SATC, it was Magnolia Bakery. The tiny West Village neighborhood bakery known for its pastel-colored cupcakes was briefly featured in a now-famous scene in which Miranda and Carrie share treats outside the Bakery in Season 3, shortly after Carrie first meets Aidan (John Corbett). That brief appearance launched a cupcake empire. The bakery, opened in 1996 by Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey, was sold in 2007 to Steve and Tyra Abrams. The spot quickly expanded to open other locations uptown and around the city and eventually internationally to places like Dubai, Qatar, and the Philippines. The cupcake selection includes vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet, among others, but our personal favorite is the equally popular banana pudding, made with Nilla wafers.
Perhaps the most featured restaurant on the series, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) once described Pastis as “the only restaurant that seemed to exist” late in season 6 during a particularly cold stretch of winter. It was the spot where her and then-boyfriend Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov) spent some cozy winter nights, and in season 4, she also brunched there with her buddy the gay shoewear rep, Oliver Spencer (Murray Bartlett). In its heyday in the early aughts, Pastis was indeed a celebrity hangout, and one of the first higher-end restaurants to open in the then rough-and-tumble Meatpacking District. Some have pointed fingers at the restaurant for helping to gentrify the area. The neighborhood itself was a prime filming location for the show during its later seasons, as it was previously home to a bustling LGBTQIA and nightclub scene. (These days it looks more like a Dubai mega mall.) If we were writing this list in 2018, Pastis wouldn’t have made the cut, as it was closed for nearly five years while Restoration Hardware took over its former space and built a massive Meatpacking District store with a restaurant of its own. In 2019, owner Keith NcNally miraculously revived Pastis in partnership with restaurateur Stephen Starr in the space across the street at 52 Gansevoort (formerly Gansevoort Market).
SATC’s early seasons glamorized NYC restaurant openings and the PR world surrounding them. But in seasons 1 and 2, they were often based on real restaurants that had fictionalized names, like Balzac (in real life, based on the opening of SoHo’s Balthazar). Cut to season 4, and actual restaurant openings were not only name-checked on the show but fictional versions of their opening parties were recreated on the series. Tao is the most prominent example of a fictionalized restaurant opening that actually happened around the same time. Fans of the show will remember this is where Carrie brings her date Ray King (Craig Bierko), along with Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha and her lesbian artist friend, Maria (Sonia Braga), when she runs into Big and a model companion. A dramatic scene plays out in which Samantha tells Big off for playing with Carrie’s emotions, and is a turning point in the physical relationship between her and Maria (i.e., it gets physical shortly thereafter Samantha’s lionhearted speech). In real life, TAO’s opening was in fact, a big Manhattan event. Opened in a former Vanderbilt Carriage home in fall of 2000, the Pan-Asian clubstaurant was an instant hit and nearly 20 years later, now includes a family of spinoffs that include both a Downtown location and others in Vegas, Miami, LA, and Chicago and siblings like LAVO, Marquee and Bodega Negra.
Opened in 1986 in a former Sinatra hangout, this restaurant and live music venue is one of the few Manhattan enclaves that honors and preserves Russian cuisine and culture. Mikhail Barishnikov was one of the co-owners at one point, and subsequently appeared on season 6 as Carrie’s love interest, artist Alexksandr Petrovsky. Their first date on the show takes place here in an upstairs dining room, wherein Petrovsky teaches Carrie about Russian food and the tradition of tea with black cherries.