Such contradictions make up Tillman’s, where expensive comfort food is balanced out by the pricelessness of your experience.
A hidden gem within the wasteland that I call Chelsea Heights (27th and 7th Ave), Tillman’s is a small underground bar and dance floor that hosts an eclectic mix of people — from the cute Filipina waitress’s curly tresses and her genuine megawatt smile to the icy cold platinum blonde Russian girl decked head-to-toe in too-tight leopard print — I’m definitely around people who aren’t afraid to be themselves.
Tillman’s is reminiscent of what I’d imagine an illegal speakeasy to be like during the Harlem Renaissance. But we’re a long way from Harlem, baby. Although the commercial bravado of mid-town is forgotten when you’re down here.
In addition to live music sets, guest DJs spin — one of whom is Lesly Bernard, the owner and the man responsible for turning an old lady’s clothing store into a place that’s a heck of a lot cooler.
In the middle of my late-night meal, I meet Talib Kweli (of Black Star) who just finished a set on stage. After a quick photo, I take a bite of this insanely delicious French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwich and think to myself “fifteen dollars for a grilled cheese sandwich?” It’s the last of my cash this week, but it’s well worth every penny.
165 West 26th Street (at 7th Ave)
Images: Patricia Serrano and Citysearch