A NYC hotspot that’s easy on the wallet? Yes, such a thing exists. Gemma, connected to the stylish Bowery Hotel, is an indoor/outdoor Italian trattoria that draws crowds and celebrities on a daily basis. The lively atmosphere and rustic ambiance makes the perfect setting for pretty much any type of date.
Good things come in threes? First it was Abe & Arthur’s, then it was Lexington Brass, now comes the team’s freshest venture, Catch. Practically next-door neighbors with Pastis, this Meatpacking hotspot is practically live bait for those looking for a bit of a scene and a whole lot of seafood. To fill this three-story, 14,000 square foot restaurant, they reeled in a Top Chef winner and turned the penthouse level into an all-glass rooftop lounge. A combination of an exposed brick loft, bass-thumping club and fish shack, Catch is geared more toward dates with friends, colleagues or couples that aren’t looking for quiet conversation, but loud chatter over shared plates and tasty cocktails.
If you’re craving lousy service, poor quality food and dining amid piercingly loud music, Ventanas is sure to satisfy. You’d think that the team behind Son Cubano and TriBeCa’s Flor de Sol would do a better job with its recent venture. Location and concept aren’t the problem; a tapas restaurant directly below the High Line is pretty appealing. Ventanas just fails to deliver.
The Hurricane Club
A date that takes you on a tropical escape through time? Behold The Hurricane Club – a 13,000 square foot restaurant and lounge that brings a “Tiki-chic taste of the tropics” to Park Avenue South. Decadent and slightly kitschy, this modern take on a Polynesian supper club has been attracting diners and drinkers of all ages and sizes since it opened in September 2010. The massive space is divided into four different rooms that are uniquely decorated, but equally elegant – albeit, an over-the-top portrayal of the exotics of the South Pacific. Between the rum [and shoe shine] fountain and fruity drinks by the watermelon, this is one NYC date spot that you’ve got to see to believe. So, here comes the story of The Hurricane Club.
Practically hidden at the end of a LES alleyway, this “secret” dining den is a haven for New Yorkers who like a scene, but without the hassle of being seen.
Lucky Strike Lanes
Are you an avid fan of the PBA (Professional Bowling Association)? No one is. That doesn’t mean that bowling isn’t a fantastic way to spend a rainy or snowy Saturday. While Lucky Strike has locations all over the country, their NYC installment won’t disappoint.
Maialino is located in the Gramercy Park Hotel, but don’t be fooled by the swank surroundings – if you are looking for a truly elegant dining experience (like sister Danny Meyer restaurant, Eleven Madison Park), you won’t find one. This self-proclaimed Roman-style trattoria is warm and welcoming, with good food & good service as the main focal points.
There’s not a square foot to spare at this South Village/SoHo hotspot. The Dutch, which serves brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night bar snacks, keeps its three spacious dining rooms full & its crowds fresh. Since opening in Summer 2011, The Dutch has proven to be another successful venture by the team behind Locanda Verde and Burger & Barrel. Anyone into clever comfort food and a buzzing scene should have this downtown bar/restaurant on their to-do list.
Top Theater District Eats
Taking in dinner & a show, but don’t know where to go? Don’t fret. We’re giving you some of our favorite pre and post-theater date spots. Curtain’s up!
Lexington Brass isn’t your ordinary Midtown haven for corporate travelers and expense card carriers. A new bistro-style restaurant from the team behind Abe & Arthur’s, who have design, décor and New-American dining down to a science, and it shows. The central location makes a great casual spot for pretty much any type of date – guys’ night out, hosting friends or family from out of town, or a work-related function.
Abe & Arthur’s
Abe & Arthur’s fits the mold of a Meatpacking hotspot – swank décor, sex appeal and could-be models [as Lil John would say] from the windows to the walls.
If you’re craving some romance, conversation or something as simple as grabbing a bite to eat at a nice neighborhood spot, Spasso is sure to get the job done – and likely please, no matter the type of crowd.
From the exposed brick to the hand-painted writing on the wall, this petite tapas restaurant resembles a secret dining refuge you’d find on a side street in Spain. And if it weren’t for the buzz about Lady Gaga sightings, Caliu would be just that, except on Hudson Street in the West Village.
Sauce, gravy, ragú – it doesn’t matter how you grew up saying it, but how you grew up eating it. If you equate Sundays with your grandmother hovering over the stove for hours on end, preparing for an early pasta-centric feast, then you’re in for a real treat at Frank.
Chelsea Brewing Company
The Chelsea Brewing Co., located right on the dock at Chelsea Piers, gives a diner or just a drinker a nice view while tasting their specialty beers brewed in-house.
If the weather permits, grab a drink at one of their tables outside and look out at the serene Hudson River amidst joggers, sailors, families and other passers-by. The outdoor plastic seats won’t exactly dazzle, but the view is sure to please. Or, you can sit inside the 12,000 square foot bi-level restaurant/micro-brewery, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the pier and a number of massive tanks filled with specialty beers – each seasonal ale described on a chalk-written menu displayed throughout the bar area.
Deep in the Lower East Side, on a block that some might remember as being “seedy” way back when, lives this indulging Italian date spot where patrons should plan on coming hungry and leaving drunkenly satisfied, with much of their wallet still in tact.
From large groups to couples, San Marzano draws those who crave pizza and a bargain, without having to sacrifice flavor or atmosphere. There are tons of bars within walking distance – some lean toward the fratty side, others lean toward the hipster side – so it’s an ideal place to grab a bite and get a wine buzz before a night on the town.
A dark West Village wine bar that’s hardly visible from the street, Entwine is a perfect meeting place for a post-work or pre-dinner drink. This neighborhood spot flies under-the-radar, and its homey feel can keep you lingering for a few extra rounds.
While eclectic antique furniture makes for a cozy interior setting, the true jewel of Entwine is the back patio. Always quiet and very intimate, it’s easy to forget that you’re at a drinking establishment and not your friend’s porch.
A lavish addition to the Flatiron District, Nuela’s South American roots run deeper than food. The cool, sexy vibe of this Latin restaurant is sure to bring some va-va-voom to your date, whether you’re rolling with a crowd or part of a couple.
Nuela’s spacious, loft-like interior is vibrant and modern in both decor & atmosphere. The sleek design has a South Beach aura to it, with matching house music to boot.
A multi-tiered maze of a tapas restaurant, Alta offers a variety of Spanish-inspired small plates from octopus to empanadas. For flowing sangria and candlelight, consider this cozy spot with someone you’re just getting to know, or someone you know too well.
Alta appears from the street to be a tiny tapas joint in the Village, but the inside opens up to a bi-level rustic restaurant packed with patrons every night of the week. Candles are lit throughout the restaurant, which gives the interior a cozy and romantic feel.
Otto Enoteca Pizzeria
Great food, great prices – that’s what to expect when you go to Otto. First opened in 2003, this bustling Italian enoteca continues to pack it in every night of the week, though isn’t that the norm for anything with the name Batali attached to it these days?
Enter Otto’s revolving door and you’re immediately swept by the sights, sounds & smells around you. The front entrance was made to resemble an old train station, complete with an old-fashioned split-flap departure board listing different Italian cities that also functions as a way to alert diners when their table is ready.
This West Village newcomer has taken over the prime corner real estate formerly home to Chow and given it an entirely new face. Empellón’s upscale Mexican flair looks and smells the part, but its sub-par service & average food doesn’t live up to the hype. Are the new tenants biting off more than they can chew? Only time will tell.
Beauty & Essex
Located in what appears to be an old-school pawn shop (complete with vintage goods in display counters and dolled up “sales girls” manning a register), this lower east side “see and be seen” restaurant come nightclub defines NYC hotspot.
When you step inside Beauty & Essex for the very first time, you might question whether you’ve gone through the right door. It’s not until you follow the bass-pumping sounds and walk through a narrow hallway that you’ll get an aha moment – when you’re submerged into the sea of New York’s young and fabulous, with some copycat Kardashian clans mixed in.
Sure to be crowded, but sure to impress, this Italian eatery brings a distinct style and modern twist on classic cuisine to the always charming West Village.
L’Artusi is a modern Italian restaurant and pseudo-wine bar that echoes with dinner table chatter and clamor from an open stainless steel kitchen. Albeit crowded, this West Village hotspot boasts two stories of dining areas that are contemporary classic in décor and lively in atmosphere.
It’s fiesta time all the time at this bustling Latin restaurant, where Miami’s vices are an Upper West side virtue, especially on Sundays.
Samba music pulsating across the large, banquet hall-esque dining room combined with bright lights and high ceilings provide more of a fun, party atmosphere than a cozy, romantic setting.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry at this bustling West Village wine bar slash Italian Cantina, where small plates and vino are meant to be shared – and leave you with a satisfying buzz.
The newest addition from the folks at ‘inoteca, Corsino has the same rustic Italian cantina feel, but with a nouveau look and a splash of West Village charm.