Midtown East

Obao

Obao NYC

Photo by Obao

Address: 222 E. 53rd St. (2nd & 3rd Ave.)

Link: http://www.obaony.com/

*Also located in FiDi

Review: As we were walking through Midtown on a windy night we came across a couple of inviting restaurants on 53rd St.  In the mood for some food to warm us up, we ducked in for some noodles and bbq at Obao.  Despite its relatively obscure location, Obao does not disappoint.  It has a very inviting interior: soft lighting, wood and Asian accents, a garden area in the back, and sky lights above the middle table.  We couldn’t decide on just one thing that we wanted, but there were plenty of items that caught our eyes…so we ordered them all, moderation is not our strong suit.  The pork belly was delish with out being too fatty, the dumplings felt like authentic southeast Asian dumplings (less doughy), and the fresh shrimp rolls took the BF back to his trip over there.  We knew we couldn’t leave without at least one noodle dish so we finally decided to go with the vermicelli noodles with pork and shrimp – a colder dish that still hit the spot.  Washing everything down with a glass of wine and pint of beer, Obao turned out to be the right pick for a last second date.  Friendly and fast service made for a great evening with a tab that makes us ready to go back and try more.  This restaurant was recommended by the highly acclaimed Michelin Bib Gourmand two years in a row for a reason! Definitely a must try!

Ramen Sanshiro

Ramen Sanshiro NYC

Photo by Keiko T.

Address: 249 E. 49th St. (2nd & 3rd Ave.)

Review: Speakeasies seem to be the hot new trend for bars these days so why should food not follow suit?  This speakeasy-ish noodle joint is only open after 11 pm and does not take reservations or credit cards.  Sidle up to the bar in this “closed” Japanese restaurant (called SEO during dinner hours) and feel as though you just got off a day long plane trip to the far East. In no time we were chomping down on succulent pork and tasty noodles.  It’s a great place to end a long night out without that neon sign outside advertising $1 slices or some other greasy cooked slab of meat.  The food is absolutely delicious and the service was friendly and fast, though there is definitely a language barrier.  If your date has lasted long enough to warrant a midnight snack, this could be your best bet before calling it a successful night out.

Hofbrau Bierhaus

Bierhaus NYC

Photo by Hofbrau Bierhaus

Address: 712 3rd Ave. (44th & 45th St.)

Link: http://bierhausnyc.com/

Review: Located in Midtown East, not to far from Grand Central, is one of our favorite watering holes.  Though the German food they make is authentic and generally pretty tasty, you come here for the beers, and lots of them, ranging from 1/2 liters all the way up to the sizeable 2 liter boot! You can come here with some buddies for a boozy night or some polka and hops.  Bierhaus could be a fun date spot for the outgoing and beer swilling, but is better served for a large group of pals ready to gulp down some of Bavaria’s finest.

The Stag’s Head

The Stag's Head NYC

Photo by The Stag’s Head

Address: 252 E. 51st St. (2nd & 3rd Ave.)

Link: http://www.thestagsheadnyc.com/

Review: The Stag’s Head is our new local watering hole.  It’s a great place to go grab a craft beer from their impressive selection – they have 16 rotating beers on tap and 50+ in bottles that you won’t likely find elsewhere.  Though we have yet to have dinner here, we have gotten a couple small plates which always go well with some tasty cold beers (who wouldn’t love truffle popcorn!)  The staff is super helpful in breaking down the diverse selection so you can find what you’re looking for.  This isn’t a sports bar per se, but TV’s dot the walls so you won’t miss the game while you’re trying out some new beers.  Grab a spot in the back, upstairs or out in the garden if you’re looking to cozy up to that special someone away from the bar.

Tsushima

Tsushima NYC

Photo by NYMag

Address: 141 E. 47th St. (Lexington & 3rd Ave.)

Link: http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/tsushima/menu

Review:  Tsushima is a great spot for sushi in Midtown if you want something nice but don’t feel like spending this month’s rent check.  This small sushi joint is a close walk to Grand Central and while, from the outside it may look like your typical Midtown sushi spot, inside they have a nicer, more sleek decor than most.  Tsushima has plenty of options of high quality, super fresh fish without the price tag.  The service is friendly if not overly quick to keep you moving, so it might not be the best place for a romantic date, but if you’re looking for some yummy sushi while running around Midtown or coming in or out from Connecticut, it’s a good bet that Tsushima will hit the spot.

Lexington Brass

Lexington Brass

Photo by Lexington Brass

Address: 517 Lexington Ave. (48th & 49th St.)

Link: http://emmgroupinc.com/restaurants/lexington-brass/

Review: Lexington Brass is a nice upscale bar located in Midtown East.  It’s got a hopping after work bar scene, tasty small bites and great upscale bar food – burgers, truffle fries, fried chicken and everyone’s favorite – lobster mac and cheese.  They also have a decent selection of cocktails and some great microbrews on tap.  Being that it’s located in Midtown, it’s packed to the hilt with suits, but the friendly service helps dull the overall corporate feeling of the clientele.  If you’re looking for a place to stop in and refuel after a long day of climbing the corporate ladder, this is the spot.

Rosa Mexicano

Photo by Rosa Mexicano

Address: 1063 1st Ave. (57th & 58th St.)

Link: http://www.rosamexicano.com/newyorkcity/

Review: Rosa Mexicano is a large format chain Mexican restaurant with 3 locations in NYC – Union Square, Upper West Side and Midtown East.  But even though it is a chain they have great, more upscale Mexican dishes with deliciously fresh ingredients.  They have a large menu with tons of different options and lots of great tequila cocktails as well.  You of course need to order the guac which is freshly made at your table, their ceviches are solid and the fundido (Mexican fondue type dish) is super cheesy and terrible for you but oh so good and a must order for the table to share.  If you’re looking to have a fun dinner out with friends and/or family, this is a great choice.  Though beware, at busier times the servers can get over whelmed, service can get pretty slow and one for got an app we ordered.

Pampano

Photo by Pampano

Address: 209 East 49th St. (3rd & 2nd Ave.)

Link: http://www.richardsandoval.com/pampano

Review: Pampano is a high end Mexican seafood spot located in Midtown East.  It’s not a far walk from Grand Central and it has really nice outdoor seating among the tall buildings in the area.  You have 2 options here – you can eat off the tapas menu downstairs at the bar if your looking for some small bites, or eat off the full dinner menu upstairs (either indoors or out).  Everything we tried was truly fantastic.  The scallops were prepared perfectly, the braised pork shoulder was savory and delicious and the lobster tacos and red snapper quesadillas were super tasty appetizers.  They also have good specialty cocktails, nice decor and quick, friendly service.  So if you’re in the mood for some great Mexican food but want to keep it on the healthy side, this is a great spot to bring your date for a nice night out.

Dos Caminos

Photo by Dos Caminos

Address: 373 Park Ave S (26th & 27th St.)

*Locations also in Meatpacking, Flatiron/Gramercy and Soho

Link: http://www.doscaminos.com/

Review: Dos Caminos is a chain Mexican restaurant that puts out solid grub, though on the pricier side.  The menu consists of a more upscale take on your standard Mexican dishes.  You MUST try the delicious made fresh to order guac, queso fundido with chorizo, the trio tasting of ceviches and of course one of the fresh fruit tequila cocktails. We also split a couple of the taco options (carnitas and pollo were our favorites).  When you’re in the mood for some delicious Mexican and refreshing margaritas in a trendy, intimate atmosphere, this is a great option.  You’ll want to make a reservation because it’s usually packed most nights of the week.

Social Eatz

Address: 136 9th Ave. (18th & 19th St.)

Link: http://socialeatz.com/

Review: Social Eatz is Angelo Sosa’s restaurant in Midtown East (from Top Chef).  This was a great last minute date night find for us.  Everything on the menu has a really interesting/different flavor than you’d expect, in a good way.  He takes standard comfort food dishes and gives them an Asian twist.  The kimchi wedge is refreshing with a tangy dressing, the steamed pork buns were good (but could use some more pork/less bun), the tuna pastrami on rye with mustard is a well-executed new age twist on a New York classic, and the Korean fried chicken is fantastic – cooked beautifully, crispy on the outside and super moist on the inside. For dessert we had the strawberry shortcake in a jar with peppercorn whipped cream, it was a really cool twist on dessert and insanely delicious.  Though we didn’t have it, the bibimbop burger also sounds like a must try.  They have surprisingly tasty and refreshing signature cocktails as well. Overall, we definitely recommend Social Eatz for a casual date night out in Midtown East.  Be ready to try new things, the dishes will throw you for a loop but they are all executed very well.  With the doors opening out to the street and the refreshing drinks and dishes, Social Eatz is a great summer spot to take your date.

Grand Central Oyster Bar

Photo by Jazz F.

Address: Grand Central Station

Link:   http://www.oysterbarny.com/

Review: Grand Central Oyster Bar is a cool spot with old history.  It’s generally packed with commuters on their way home after work, but it’s worth the trip to Grand Central even if you’re not heading out of town.  The seafood is always fresh and generally quick, and while not a bargain, the prices are reasonable.  You have 3 dining style options – countertop, tables and the bar.  It’s not really a romantic date spot since it’s packed with business men waiting for their train home, but it can be a great spot to grab some delicious oysters and a cocktail before heading elsewhere for dinner or up to Connecticut for the weekend with your significant other.

Haru

Photo by Haru

Address: 280 Park Ave. (47th & 48th St.)

*Locations also in Financial District, Flatiron/Gramercy, Midtown West, Upper West Side, Upper East Side

Link:  http://www.harusushi.com/

Review: Haru is your chain sushi place that churns out solidly good sushi with decent creativity with their rolls, but this is not a place for the sushi purists.  They have good apps like the crispy duck and shrimp and mushroom shumai, a bunch of good specialty cocktails ($13 a pop) and solid rolls.  Haru is a better spot for a group dinner rather than a date, but nonetheless, an above average last minute place when you’re in the mood for sushi.  The menu isn’t the cheapest out there but the wait is never too long so reservations aren’t really necessary.

The Smith

Photo by The Smith

Address: 55 Third Ave. (10th & 11th St.)

*Location also in East Village

Link:  http://www.thesmithnyc.com/

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.

Hillstone

Photo By Hillstone

Address: 378 Park Ave. S. (26th & 27th St.)

*Location also in Midtown East

Link: http://www.hillstone.com/hillstone/

Review: Hillstone is a solid place for a more expensive date night.  It’s generally populated by business suit wearing types after work and has round booths where you and your date can cozy up and have a romantic meal together.  They have a very mixed menu from burgers to sushi to pan roasted salmon, so it’s a great spot if you don’t know what type of food your date likes or both are in the mood for different types of cuisine.  The higher end, classy atmosphere, the eclectic menu and the large wine list make it a great spot to bring your date.

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