LOT ON TAP isn’t hard to miss trekking down West 30th Street from 10th Avenue. It’s juxtaposed between a construction project and the beautiful new section of The High Line: a true urban beer garden straddling the grit and beauty of everyday New York for your drinking pleasure.
I met with two friends by the barricaded entrance, where the breeze swirled a choking stench of fresh black top and dust that could turn anybody away, but I also caught a whiff of golden carbonation and my liver quivered, ready for its weekly exercise. Drink tickets are sold from a ticket booth; buy as many as you want if, well, you want to drink. Beer is $7, wine is $9, water is $2 and juices/ sodas are $3.
Lot on Tap was opened by famed Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio (and sons). It’s a good old-fashioned biergarten full of music, food and laughs, but with a New York tinge
(you can literally see the huge neon New Yorker sign in the distance). Everything was open, airy and friendly. Food trucks were sprinkled about in the back, contributing the smell of delicious grease vapors.
Tickets in hand, we moved to the huge bar stretched in front of the seating area. The taps stuck out like bad hair and our beers were served with a good frothy head (and it seemed no one expected tips, which was fine by me). The back walls are lined with bright orange boards, but I wasn’t sure if this was a cute way to match the ongoing construction project or an inadvertently apropos style choice. The beer menu is small (only five seasonal brews from Brooklyn Brewery), but I was told they rotate to spice things up. I went with The High Line Elevated Wheat all night, a Belgian pale ale with a light flavor and hint of fruit made especially for the new addition of The High Line. I was feeling especially fruity that night.
By the time the sun went down, the patrons turned clique-y. Hipsters scrambled to one corner, tourists to another, and my two friends and I were left sliding into one of the dozen finely polished wood tables, happily buzzed after a few drinks. (Word of warning: Be careful if you sit on the edge of a bench by yourself; you will tip it over.) Looking above, we waved to High Line stragglers peering their heads over the side. Then fluorescent lights were lowered from the tracks, temporarily blinding us.
Music blared from a few old speakers, reaching every part of the lot. The mix was as eclectic as the crowd; I never heard the same song twice, a phenomenon that bogs down so many bars in the city, and I barely heard the same genre twice. It was as if the music represented the people who cross The High Line daily.
I was drinking on an empty stomach, so my friends and I headed to the food trucks, which operate on a rotating schedule and are worked by a butt-load of hipsters who take cash only. The popular guys seemed to be Rickshaw Dumpling and Eddie’s Pizza, so I indulged. Six dumplings for $6 gives three choices: edamame vegetable, Thai or Chinese. Go for the Thai if you’re drinking pale ale.
Still hungry, we hobbled over to Eddie’s Pizza and created our own whole wheat pie. Starting at $7, these "bar pies" are made fresh to order. The pie was thin as cardboard and drenched in oil, but our time at Lot on Tap meant we didn’t care.
Upon leaving, the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck (known for its artisan, chemical-free ice cream) started calling out to my sweet tooth. Reading the list of abstract flavors like palm sugar and red currant, I just couldn’t resist topping off my night at the tap. A small cup or cone is $4.50 and you don’t need any more than that, trust me. I played it safe and went for old-fashioned vanilla, not regretting a thing as I saw the sad look on my counterparts’ faces as they dove into the palm sugar.
"We need water to eat this. Too sweet." "Water?" I asked incredulously. "Have another beer!"
>> LOT ON TAP Southwest corner of W. 30th St. & 10th Ave., www.thehighline.org/the-lot.