At 249-253 East 50th Street, sits the remains of a restaurant that keeps reappearing in pop culture. The Lutèce was recreated in AMC’s Mad Men and referenced in the film Crossing Delancey. In the 1980s, Zagat named it America’s best restaurant for six years, but since the place closed in 1994 it hasn’t been the same. Though the building that housed this world-renowned restaurant is now empty and decaying along with its sister buildings, home to Kate Kearney’s and The Leopard, the myth of the Lutèce has captured the imaginations of many a writer. 

We recently took a visit into The Lutèce to see what remains. With a crumbling fireplace and peeling wall paper, it’s the shell of its former self. Nonetheless, while standing there you can almost hear the sound of silverware clinking, napkins rustling, and laughter filling the darkness; an eerie and empty room infused with jovial sound.

Lutèce; see rear opening. This is the terrace dining that looks out to the dining space below:

Fireplace remains Lutece Fireplace now

Lower Level dining room Lutece

Lower level lutece


Lutece spiral stairwell

Lutece memo

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