Address: 304 E. 6th St. (1st & 2nd Ave.)
Review: Though we have never sat down to enjoy a full meal, Mayahuel is worth the trip to the East Village for the cocktails alone. In the middle of the East Village, just off 2nd Ave., lies a mecca for fun and original tequila and mezcal cocktails. With a plethora of options to choose from it’s tough to go wrong. We have nibbled on snacks like spicy popcorn and chips and guac that were a nice treat to accompany our drinks. Those ordering full meals around us were waiving in sizzling plates of shrimp and succulent pork belly..looks like we are going to have to show up with the intention of sampling the fare and not just the libations! A dark and cozy bar with a couple side rooms lends itself to a great spot for a quiet conversation, though, like many of the cocktail establishments in the EV, there can be a wait (normally not TOO bad), but dont let it deter you from the chance to transport your palate to some place south of the boarder.
Address: 175 2nd Ave. (11th & 12th St.)
Review: Situated in the East Village, Kanoyama offers an array of both food and sake options. During the week they do take reservations, but Friday and Saturdays are walkins only which can lead to a lengthy wait at times, though the selection and freshness generally rewards those who have the patience. Kanoyama has often tough to find, off the run varieties of fish, great fresh daily specials and a great selection of seasonal oysters as well. With options to grab a table or sit at the sushi bar; a la carte or omakase (chef’s choice), it’s the quality and selection that keeps people coming back for more. Though the space is a bit tight and the bills are not cheap; its a great option for a nicer date spot with a wide array of sushi, sake and oysters to keep your palate entertained for the night.
Address: 334 Bowery (Bond St. & Great Jones St.)
*Also located in the Flatiron/Gramercy and Williamsburg
Review: Friendly and helpful staff, giving good recommendations on the menu. All the options had a wide array of cheeses and toppings. However, the crust fell a bit short – the base of the pizza was a little soggy and couldn’t hold the toppings up when we lifted it to eat. Though disappointing, the quality of toppings helped make up for it. It could have been some new growing pains as we visited Forcella right as it opened, or maybe it was just an overload of toppings…a debate we wouldn’t mind settling with a return trip. With its relaxed atmosphere, Forcella is a good spot for a casual date when you’re in the mood for something a little nicer than that $1 slice pizza joint on the corner.
Address: 325 Bowery (2nd St. & Bleecker St.)
Review: Located in the East Village/NoHo area, this is a terrific spot for a cozy date with some delicious food as well. The decor is stylish but comfortable. The booths upstairs are a favorite and work well for a quiet conversation or can even accommodate a double date with some of your pals. They do a good job of executing some old comfort food standbys – fried chicken, burgers, and shrimp and grits. With prices that won’t break the bank, Peels is a good spot for a cozy date on a cold winter night to sip on some hot cocktails and fill up on some home style cooking. (They have a great brunch too!)
Address: 149 2nd Ave. 2nd Floor (9th & 10th St.)
Review: Kingston Hall is a nice break from the chaos that can be the East Village bar scene. This sudo speakeasy is a great place to bring a date or a group (though avoid Thursday through Saturday for a date as it can get pretty loud/rowdy on weekends). There’s comfy lounge seating, a pool table and a back room that’s great for groups. Fun cocktails give Kingston Hall a classier feel than the standard East Village bar catering to the beer swilling masses.
Address: 349 E. 13th St. (1st & 2nd Ave.)
Review: The Redhead is a cozy spot in the East Village for some tasty dishes that have that home-cooked feel. The service is quick and friendly and the buttermilk fried chicken was AMAZING, rivaling the fried chicken we had over at David Burke Kitchen. The duck confit flatbread was a great starter and they have some good specialty cocktails and craft beers as well. With the exposed brick, dim candlelit atmosphere and limited seating, this is a nice, intimate spot to bring your date for some good eats and some good conversation.
Address: 99 3rd Ave. (12th & 13th Ave.)
Review: We stumbled upon Ngam as we were wandering down toward the East Village on a Friday night. It had some good looking specials on the board outside and smelled great so we decided to stop in for a quick dinner and were not disappointed. Ngam has yummy seasonal dishes and quick, friendly service. The decor is modern and industrial with exposed brick walls and an open kitchen in the front of the restaurant – it’s much nicer than your typical Thai restuarant, and it’s great for groups with their long wooden tables. The soft shell crabs had great flavor but were a bit heavily deep fried. The fresh oysters with a spicy thai sauce were fantastic and their pad thai was pretty solid. Also, the cocktails were very refreshing, though not the strongest. All in all, Ngam is a solidly good, nicer Thai spot in the East Village if you’re looking for a place to go with a group of friends.
Address: 196 2nd Ave. (12th & 13th St.)
Review: We weren’t blown away by Blue Owl. We went there around 10pm on a Thursday looking for some cocktails, cheese and some charcuterie but their kitchen was already closed and the place was pretty empty. They had a decent cocktail selection but we expected more from this place. The layout was a little weird with a DJ playing some hipster music in one room and couples sitting/canoodling in the other room. Though we could’ve been there at the wrong time, seems more of a happy hour/weekend type place. All in all, there are definitely better options for cocktails elsewhere in the East Village, but if you want to stop in for a quick one there’s a decent selection here.
Address: 413 E. 12th St. (1st Ave. & Ave. A)
*Locations also in TriBeCa, Murray Hill and Chelsea
Review: If you love your wine, Terroir Wine Bar is the place for you! They have a great wine selection and a very knowledgeable and helpful staff in case you can’t decide from the huge wine list. They also have some delicious small bites – chicken liver bruschetta, lamb sausage, and some great cheese and charcuterie plate options. The candlelit, romantic atmosphere makes it great for a date, but the longer tables against the wall can accommodate bigger groups as well. Either way It’s the perfect spot to go and try out new wines!
Address: 433 E. 6th St. (Ave. A & 1st Ave.)
Review: Death and Company is another one of our favorite speakeasies in NYC. With its trendy, intimate atmosphere, perfectly crafted unique cocktails and friendly, knowledgeable staff – Death and Co. is a great spot to impress your date or enjoy a night out with a small group of friends. If the lengthy cocktail menu is too much for you to handle, just tell the bartender or waitress what you generally like and they’ll whip you up the perfect concoction. They also have some delicious small bites for you to munch on, like truffle macaroni, crispy pork belly and seared petite filet mignon. Their no reservation policy makes for long waits, so get there early to put your name in and be extra nice to the doorman as he is the gate keeper. You can sit up at the bar and watch the mixologists at work or cozy up to your date in a plush booth.
Address: 113 St. Marks Pl. (1st Ave. & Ave. A)
Review: The only reason we’ve ever eaten at Crif Dogs is because we were waiting for our table at PDT, but this place warrants a visit on its own if you’re in the mood for a quick bite of amazingly delicious hot dogs and a cold can of PBR (and honestly, who isn’t in the mood for that every now and then?) As their site touts, they were voted NYC’s #1 Weiner and we couldn’t agree more. With several bacon wrapped hot dogs and ~23 topping options from fried egg to pineapple to jalapeños to cream cheese, Crif Dogs is definitely worth the visit when you’re in the East Village, and luckily for us their menu is available once you’re sipping your cocktails in PDT as well!
Address: 113 St. Marks Pl. (1st Ave. & Ave. A)
Review: PDT is your speakeasy prototype, a hidden cocktail lounge through a phone booth in a hot dog shop (Crif Dogs). It’s as equally hard to find as it is to get in, but once inside it’s a great place to sit and hang out for an hour or two sipping on amazing unique cocktails. As expected with any speakeasy, the cocktails aren’t cheap, but they’re definitely worth it. The waitresses are super knowledgeable, if you’re having some trouble picking from the large cocktail menu just tell them what type of liquor or taste you’re in the mood for and they’ll bring you exactly what you’re looking for. PDT is the perfect spot for a different/fun date, whether it be 1 on 1 or a group date, as well as a great place to hang out with a bunch of friends or take some clients. Awesome snacks are also available from Crif Dogs next door, if you haven’t already eaten some hot dogs while waiting for your table. We suggest getting a reservation on Thursday-Saturday or you’ll be waiting forever, you’ll have more luck just walking in on off nights.
Address: 354 Bowery (Great Jones St. & E. 4th St.)
Review: Great place for solid upscale Mexican food. We walked in on a Friday night without reservations but didn’t have to wait too long, and the delicious margaritas at the bar while we were waiting didn’t hurt. We got seated at the chef’s table which was actually really fun and cool to watch them make your meal right in front of you. They have some great cocktails, especially for the tequila lovers like me. The food comes in good sized portions so we split the Tacos de Tuetano (bone marrow and waygu beef), Queso Fundido de Chorizo and the Carnitas Campechanas (tons of pork!) – all equally amazing! We unfortunately didn’t have any room for dessert but they all looked pretty delicious being prepared. The only downside is that the place can be a little cramped for room when busy and can get pretty loud, but Hecho en Dumbo is a great place for a date (as long as it’s not a first date) or a group dinner.
Address: 93 E. 7th St.
*Locations also in Financial District, Upper East Side and Upper West Side
Review: We’re pretty obsessed with Luke’s Lobster – super fresh seafood from Maine right in the middle of the East Village (and FiDi, UES and UWS). We always seem to end up here whenever we are in the area! They have delicious lobster, shrimp and crab rolls, lobster and shrimp being our favorites. Really good sodas and chips as well. But since it’s locations are all pretty small take out places, it’s not ideal for a date but more of a place to stop in if you’re looking for a quick bite before heading elsewhere. Also not the cheapest meal for a take out sandwich but they do drive the seafood down from Maine daily and it’s definitely worth the price. Luke’s Lobster is a great spot to grab a bite to eat and has the best lobster rolls you’ll find south of Cape Cod. Great healthier alternative to a slice of pizza when you’re out in the East Village or near one of their other locations.
Address: 85 2nd Ave. (1st Ave & 5th St.)
*Locations also in Greenwich Village, Chelsea and Murray Hill
Review: Bare Burger is a great spot if you’re in the mood for some red meat and beers. It’s a great neighborhood burger place that now has multiple locations. Good craft beers and tons of different meat and vegetarian options (bison, elk, beef, chicken, veggie, portabella mushroom, etc.). It is one of our favorites for a more sophisticated beer and burger joint. The Jalapeno Express is great if you’re in the mood for something spicy and if not, the Western is a solid choice. Bare Burger is good choice for a casual date or a dinner with friends.
Address: 133 Ave. C (8th & 9th St.)
Review: Summit Bar is a great off the beaten path cocktail bar. Space is tight but if you get there a little early you can snag a seat at the bar and sit there all night. Good music, nice ambiance and great specialty cocktails. Meat, cheese, and veggie platters also available. The “Ground to Glass” was my favorite cocktail, tequila + a little spicy + a little sweet = amazing. It was a little hard to get the bartender’s attention when it got really busy even though we had seats at the bar, but that’s to be expected on a Saturday night during peak hours. Cocktails range from $8-12 so won’t break the bank like some other specialty cocktail locations. Summit Bar is a perfect for a “let’s grab drinks” date, a double date or meeting up with friends.
Address: 55 Third Ave. (10th & 11th St.)
*Location also in Midtown East
Review: The Smith is a fun, trendy, somewhat sceney spot in the East Village to grab some brunch or a group dinner with friends before heading out. They have a solid brunch menu and you MUST try the candied bacon…it’s amazing. Great bloody mary’s and mimosas as well. And brunch is til 4pm so you can sleep in! We’ve only been for brunch but it always looks pretty packed for dinner and the menu is large with something for everyone. Good spot to go in the spring/summer when they open the doors out to 3rd Ave. The Smith works for anything from a hungover brunch to a casual date spot to a group night out.
Address: 8 Stuyvesant St. (2nd & 3rd Ave.)
Review: Angel’s Share is a hidden date spot gem in the East Village. It’s a really cool speakeasy that you have to walk upstairs and through a Chinese restaurant to an unmarked door. It’s the perfect place to impress a first date (The boyfriend brought me here for our first date and it obviously worked!) Their specialty cocktails are AMAZING, the bartender is SUPER knowledgeable and they have some small plates like cheese and oysters if you get a little hungry. Drinks aren’t the cheapest but with the amount of work that goes into them and how delicious they taste, it’s definitely worth it. There’s a no reservation policy so get there early on Thursday – Saturday nights or you’ll be waiting on line for a while.