At almost 20 years old, the Half King has become a Chelsea institution, but back when it was founded by journalists Sebastian Junger (author of The Perfect Storm) and Scott Anderson (Lawrence in Arabia) and filmmaker Nanette Burstein, this part of the neighborhood was relatively desolate after sundown. The three wanted a place for writers and artists to be able to meet for drinks and to share ideas over meals. Today, on many nights, the patrons aren’t cultural icons, just people looking for a good burger and a cold beer. The menu here is decidedly unpretentious: Chicken tenders, jalapeño peppers, and club sandwiches are among the choices. There’s a patio that’s popular in the summertime. The bar and restaurant stay true to their roots with a series of book readings, while works by young photographers hang on the walls.

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