Spring Flings & Picnicking Things
As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” Spring is in full bloom and despite a mild winter, New Yorkers have been yearning for all of the joys of the season. And what better way to fully soak in the sights, smells and sounds of spring than an afternoon picnic in one of the city’s many picturesque parks. At Crave The Date, it’s our job to make sure you’re smarter – and smoother – than the average bear, especially when it comes to dating. So, before you decide to stuff a shopping bag with whatever’s left in your fridge, check out our tips for picnicking in style.
Five Napkin Burger
You might be familiar with the episode of How I Met Your Mother where the gang attempts to rediscover the best burger in New York. In an over-the-top monologue, Marshall opines on the heralded burger as “no mere sandwich of grilled meat and toasted bread…this is God, speaking to us in food.” Well, we wouldn’t stretch so far as to saying that Five Napkin Burger fits into that description, nor put it in “the best burger in NYC” category, but it is pretty damn good. We recently tried the UWS location, which opened in early 2010 and continues to draw a crowd on a daily basis – see what we had to say.
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.
5 Points Of Linterest
Tired of Lin-sanity yet? Neither are we. Well, even if you are, it can’t hurt to hit the streets and feel the energy for yourself. Here are some of our favorite places to take in any sporting event whether you are there to actually watch the game or not.
Wine bars in NYC might seem like a dime a dozen, but on the Upper West Side, they are few and far between. That’s probably why Osteria Cotta was welcomed with open arms upon opening in late 2011 (even by the likes of Madonna).
Best burger in town? Come see for yourself at this divey West Village landmark, where prices are astonishingly low and burgers & beers are ordered by the masses. The Corner Bistro is one of those places that you’ve got to try as a New Yorker, so bring your buddies, meat-eating girlfriend or parents – just maybe not someone you’ve only started seeing (as devouring a thick, juicy burger tends to get sloppy).
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.
Mary’s Fish Camp
New England. Often regarded as home to the Sawx, Tom Brady and the Kennedy clan. But after a date in the West Village, another other of the region’s assets might immediately come to mind: seafood. The reason? Because at Mary’s Fish Camp, it’s as fresh and authentic as anything you can catch on the Cape.
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.
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.
Lowcountry brings a taste of the South to the heart of Greenwich Village. With an inventive cocktail list that’s not shy on the bourbon and a wide selection of “down home” comfort foods, prepare to check your diets at the door & experience unpretentious charm that’s hard to come by in NYC.
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 seemingly “Mom and Pop” luncheonette by day, a bustling restaurant by night – people don’t go to Jeffrey’s Grocery for a gallon of milk. The cool, relaxed vibe is similar to those at sister restaurants in the neighborhood, Joseph Leonard and Fedora – and token no reservation policy that leaves packs of loiterers outside the door.
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.
The Met’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”
If you haven’t yet been to the oh-so-popular Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met, now’s your final chance. The exhibit, which has been drawing crowds since its opening in early May, is set to come to a close on August 7th – but don’t worry, the museum will be offering extended hours, so there is still time to squeeze in one last visit.
Arguably the best Italian restaurant on the UWS, Spiga’s authentic cuisine and homey ambiance are of a different caliber than what you might find on neighboring Amsterdam. With small square footage and intimate surroundings, you get the best of both worlds – a downtown vibe, but with uptown nonchalance.
The restaurant itself might seem hidden among the brownstones of residential W. 84th Street, but it’s part of Spiga’s understated appeal. The cozy interior is encased in exposed brick and mahogany molding, with matching built-in wine racks that stretch from head to toe. Not overly quiet, the setting can be considered romantic or simply conducive to conversation.
If you haven’t taken a stroll (or biked) across the Brooklyn Bridge, then you are truly missing out on an iconic, crave-worthy date spot – especially if you fall into any of the following categories:
1.) You’ve been on a few dates with someone and are looking to spend a bit more quality time together, engage in some true “getting-to-know-you” conversation.
2.) Family and/or friends are visiting from out of town and you want to show them a true New York experience.
3.) You’re sick of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol and are feeling adventurous.
4.) You want to relive a romantic scene from a movie (we’re talking to you, SITC fans), or play tourist for the day with someone you love.
5.) Your mission is to work up an appetite for some of the best pizza NYC has to offer.
Burger & Barrel
The burger joint for the wino, Burger & Barrel offers an extensive wine list served either on tap or the traditional way, from a bottle. A self-proclaimed “wine pub,” this SoHo eatery is just that and much more – so be prepared to leave very full, yet very satisfied.
Picture your typical burger place, with wood paneling and a few leather booths, and then add a more upscale, downtown-chic vibe to it. Between the food and wine options, the dining room isn’t the only thing that’s sure to get filled to the brim at B&B.
Right on the corner of a quaint West Village street sits this tiny American brasserie, where neighborhood locals can often be found loitering outside in hopes of getting seated. With just seven tables, Joseph Leonard might not cater to the masses, but it surely seems to appeal to the masses.
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.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
New York’s Museum of Modern Art is often known as the most influential museum of modern art in the world. With a collection that includes over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and design objects, the MoMA is a date spot that you can go back to over & over again – whether you’re in the company of someone you’ve just recently met, or someone you haven’t seen in a while.
A West Village watering hole ze Germans can call their home away from home, Lederhosen serves brew in boots and a variety of traditional (albeit artery-clogging) Bavarian goodness.
Authentic German Wurst and Bierhaus starting with a welcome from the seemingly off-the-boat hostess, Uli, right down to the Hasselhoff-sounding tunes pumping from the speakers. The wooden bar is a perfect place to grab a stein (or even a boot) and the front lounge feels like you are in a German grandmother’s living room.
Dine Under the Tuscan Sun right on 7th Avenue at Morandi, a West Village staple known best for its people-watching and lively atmosphere, with tasty Italian fare to boot.
Morandi is a buzzing indoor/outdoor trattoria with a rustic look and ambiance. The distressed wood and exposed brick interior makes you feel like you’re in the Italian countryside, not on 7th Avenue.
Ápizz e pasta are what keeps packing ‘em in at this tiny, cramped UWS Italian spot. With a blazing brick oven and fresh, homemade dishes, Celeste is easy on the stomach and even easier on the wallet.
If it wasn’t for the hoard of people waiting on Celeste’s doorstep, you might walk right past this neighborhood restaurant since its sign is barely visible. Space is limited, but it’s warm and cozy once you’re inside – if you don’t mind the noise and/or incredibly tight quarters.
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.