Tradition at the Tavern
Tradición en la Taberna

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Tradition at the Tavern

Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer

The corned beef and pastrami sandwich is a signature dish at Yankee Tavern. “Always fresh,” said a regular patron.

The corned beef and pastrami sandwich is a
signature dish at Yankee Tavern. “Always fresh,”
said a regular patron.

There are more than just brews and bites at The Yankee Tavern.

The 14 flat-screen televisions offer a veritable buffet of New York City sports.

On the menu this past Sun., Sept. 16th : the Yankees facing off against the Tampa Bay Rays, while on other screens, the New York Giants squared off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It is a moot point to tell someone to enjoy the game here.

“Which one?” asked Philippe Dussek, a long-time patron.

But there is little denying that the hometown heroes just a stone’s throw away win the popularity contest.

Baseball fans shared full-throated shouts of joy as the Yankees scored a run against the Rays in the 4th inning, and when they emerged with a 6-4 win, keeping them ahead in the American League East.

“People also come here from all over the world,” said owner Joe Bastone, who has run it for over 25 years.

“People also come here from all over the world,” said owner Joe Bastone, who has run it for over 25 years.

Still, even on less victorious occasions, patrons of Yankee Tavern can take heart that regardless of whether their team wins or loses, the tavern’s signature sandwiches will make them feel like winners.

“It’s always fresh,” said Dussek of the corned beef and pastrami sandwich—which is served on thick slabs of rye bread.

Yankee Tavern was founded in 1934, and has become a local institution with decades of history.

Yankee Tavern was founded in 1934, and has
become a local institution with decades of history.

“Our pastrami and corned beef are to die for. It’s not the favorite; it’s the best around. People come from far away for the pastrami and corned beef,” added bouncer Marc Anthony Seda.

Owner Joe Bastone attributes the quality food to the fact that everything is made from scratch, from the pizza dough to the Dijon-marinated chicken cutlets.

Yankee Tavern was founded in 1934, and Bastone’s father bought it in 1964.

It has expanded into a restaurant in the past 26 years under Bastone.

In its early days the tavern floor was carpeted in sawdust and didn’t serve women “unless they came in with the right guy,” noted Bastone.

He started working there as a busboy at age 12, and has rubbed shoulders with many Yankees greats.

“It’s a really great neighborhood bar,” said staffer Marc Anthony Seda.

“It’s a really great neighborhood bar,”
said staffer Marc Anthony Seda.

“Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle,” he listed. “All the players used to come
in here.”

Though they are long gone, their faces grace the walls of the tavern, which is a favorite hang-out among locals and stadium employees.

“People also come here from all over the world,” said Bastone.

There are 11 items on the lunch special menu. Chicken Parmigiana, meatballs and pasta, pork chops with rice and beans are just some of the menu items you can get for $6.95.

A steal worthy of note, as for the same amount of money, you might be able to get a hot dog, or a bottle of water, but definitely not both, at the Stadium.

It is the food, the reasonable costs and the ambience that keep them coming back.

“Aside from the Tavern’s history, it’s a really great neighborhood bar,” said Sena. “This is like “Cheers.” I’m not just making that up. Everyone’s known on a first name basis.”

Dussek, who has been patronizing Yankee Tavern for 15 years (long enough to have spotted Mariano Rivera popping in for a visit), said the atmosphere is the best during the playoffs.
“The playoffs bring everyone together,” he noted, “and I like the camaraderie.”

Whether the Bombers make the playoffs or not remains to be seen; what is guaranteed is that a seat at the Tavern will always mean a good time.

The Yankee Tavern

72 East 161st Street

The Bronx, New York 1045

718.292.6130