New Kid on the Block: Smyth Tavern

This is the official New Kid on the Block entry for Smyth Tavern, the latest hotspot from John McDonald, the entrepreneur behind Lure Fishbar and Bar Tulix. In the base of the Smyth Hotel on Chambers, he’s created a lively, comfortable, casual yet refined tavern (and he’s doing the same for the bar on the other side of the elevators, which will be called Galerie).

There can be no dispute that McDonald knows what he’s doing when it comes to hospitality — he’s been at it for decades — but not all hosts in this town are so gracious. He’s on site often himself, his staff is lovely and smart about following up on reservations and experience, and the place had a buzz — and was buzzing — from the moment it opened. It’s just fun to be in there.

The idea is New York-centric tavern with a clubby feel — plush leather, no tablecloths, dim lighting. The menu is familiar, but with some special twists: bacon onion jam on the burgers, crispy oysters on the deviled eggs, roasted mushrooms as a side. The portions were generous and we loved all the small plates — especially the branzino sliders on potato rolls (those are now a special) and the yellow fin tuna on what seemed like a perfectly prepared tater tot. NB: the burgers are smashed double patties, with a sesame seed bun. (Also these are their pictures — mine were so poor in that lighting, it was unfair to the chefs.)


I did have a little sticker shock (an entrée-sized cobb salad is $22, the burger is $26 and the menu tops out at $65 for the steak frites), but I think this is pretty much the going rate in Tribeca these days. (John noted that “there is a rather big inflation impact on things past year when it comes to both labor and food etc.”) A glass of wine starts at $16. There is Maine Beer Company on tap and I will pay whatever they ask for that.

“It’s definitely upscale — not just your local pub,” said McDonald. “But there’s a fine line between serious and prissy or precious or fancy. We want this to be serious, but familiar.”

One big bonus: they are now open for breakfast and lunch, both of which are harder to find in the neighborhood than they were pre-pandemic.

The art, which is not hung but resting on ledges throughout the space, will rotate regularly and you can even read about what’s up on the website. And the space is beautiful — Breuer-style chandeliers stretching spider-like over the room; raised booths on the West Broadway side in the window; and everything clad in mahogany and deep red leather.

Tribeca has been on McDonald’s mind for a while (he opened MercBar 30 years ago) — just down the street from his vortex in Soho (where he also lives), and this spot was the perfect opportunity. “I’ve always liked Tribeca and I had seen this space before,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone else to sneak in and take it.”

He’s hoping the bar on the south side of the lobby will be ready soon — maybe as early as this week for a very soft opening and then a grand opening after New Year’s.

Smyth Tavern
85 West Broadway at Chambers
Sunday – Wednesday | 7AM-10PM
Thursday – Saturday | 7AM-10:30PM



  1. The cocktails we had there in late Aug were great. Yes it costs but if you’re gonna pay they might as well do a good job, and they did.

    • Had chicken sandwich here the other day and it was simply not good. McDonald’s does better. guys chicken sandwich is not extra fried tasteless cutlet with mayo slapped on top. The place was also completely empty at lunchtime.

  2. A friend and I went for drinks last week and sadly the bartender didn’t seem like he knew what he was doing. Even 2 other customers walked out as he never asked them for their order. Will give it another try as I’m a regular at Lure.

  3. Been here several times, both for brunch and cocktails in the evenings, and had very good experiences each time. This place is a great addition to the area.

  4. We’ve been there several times. Lunch was great…breakfast didn’t impress.

  5. Here is a project for someone: visit all the bars in the neighborhood and report on how much a gin and tonic costs at each. . . . But don’t do it all at one go —