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Pig & Khao

Pig and Khao NYC

Photo by Pig & Khao

Address: 368 Clinton St. (Stanton & Rivington St.)

Link: http://pigandkhao.com/

Review: A relative new comer to the LES, we were itching to try out Pig and Khao with all of the great reviews it’s been getting. On our walk over from the 6 train we had high hopes for this meal and we weren’t let down.  Once we all arrived and sat at our table with a view of the open kitchen we were informed that there was a tasting menu available for the whole table. Both pairs of our double date went for that option without hesitation. An amuse bouche of tasty/salty sauce and a quail egg, and some beers for the guys and cocktails for the ladies (which could’ve been a bit boozier) was a good start.  The rest of the meal was a mix of salty and spicy that delighted the senses. Fried oysters, more quail egg, and some parts of the pig we wouldn’t have normally touched with some one else’s fork turned out to be absolutely fantastic.  While everything was delicious, the two highlights of the night were the sizzling sisig – an upscale version of corned beef hash, and the lamb ribs – tender bits of lamp perfectly spiced and fall-off-the-bone-delicious.  All in, the food and service were top notch, though the decor and bar left a little something to be desired. It is certainly on the list for off the beaten path spicy eats.  While Pig & Khao seems like a strange mix of different elements – almost take-out like decor, a self-service keg in the back garden, yet top notch food that you’d expect from an upscale restaurant, it all somehow works.

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!

Traif

Traif

Photo by NY Mag

Address: 229 S. 4th St. (Driggs Ave. & Roebling St.)

Link: http://traifny.com/

Review: When making the trek to Brooklyn from Manhattan you always hope that you won’t be let down. Traif (not conforming to kosher dietary laws) lives up to the name serving some awesome pork and seafood small plates. The back patio was full so we grabbed a table inside.  Though space was a bit tight it pulls off a more cozy than crowded vibe.  Small plates offer the chance to sample the multitude of options ranging from sweet salads to blistered peppers, from pork belly to scallops.  Everything we ordered came out in a timely fashion and were devoured before the plate hit the table.  The prices vary and the items are seasonal so how big you go is completely up to you.  Sometimes going a little out of the way to try something new is worth it, this little gem is one for sure.

Forcella

Forcella NYC

Photo by Forcella

Address: 377 Park Ave. S. (26th & 27th St.)

*Also located in the East Village and Williamsburg

Link: http://www.forcellaeatery.com/

Review: One of the more recent openings in the quickly changing landscape of the Flatiron/Park Ave. neighborhood brings us this higher end pizza joint coming over from Brooklyn.  We sat at the bar to grab some beers and a pie.  The bartender was friendly and helpful, giving good recommendations on the new 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.

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.

Les Halles

Les Halles NYC

Photo by Les Halles

Address: 411 Park Ave. S. (28th & 29th St.)

*Also located in FiDi

Link: http://leshalles.net/

Review: Between the two of us we’ve had the pleasure of eating both the dinner and brunch at the two different locations.  Your standard brunch fare at the Park Ave. location does not disappoint.  Friendly service makes up for the outdated decor and cavernous space, which feels a little cold and impersonal.  The food was good, though not very memorable.  Solidly good eggs benedict and sweet dessert crepes hit the mark on a cold rainy morning.  The BF had dinner downtown at the FiDi location which is much smaller and cozier.  It’s a great place to meet up and catch up with some old friends.  The steak frites were a mixed success…amazing fries, average steak.  But yet again the dessert was the game saver – bananas flambee cooked tableside was a great way to leave on a high note.  Bourdain’s Les Halles is an old New York standby and you get that feeling while there, if only he was back in the kitchen.

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.

Claw

Claw NYC

Photo by Claw

Address: 269 W. 23rd St. (7th & 8th Ave.)

*Also located in Midtown West

Link: http://clawnewyork.com/

Review: The lobster roll seems to be a fad that took New York by storm and this Chelsea location offers up their take on it, served with some butter and mayo on the typical potato bread.  They offer the delish but not low calorie surf and turf which compliments its lobster with some tasty bacon chunks.  Though it is clearly not a romantic setting, this place will hit the spot if you’re in the mood for some no frills lobster treats.  They also have some options for the non-seafood eater as well.  The only downside is that there’s no booze at the Chelsea location.

5 Napkin Burger

5 Napkin Burger NYC

Photo by 5 Napkin Burger

Address: 150 E. 14th St. (at 3rd Ave.)

*Also located in Midtown West and UWS

Link: http://5napkinburger.com

Review: The newest 5 Napkin Burger has popped up in the Union Square area on the busy corner of 14th and 3rd.  If you are in the mood for some hearty burgers with a slightly upscale setting this is a safe bet.  Though tiled decor lends to a louder than desired setting, it is a cut above your dine and dash burger joints.  With other options besides just charred beef, like sushi rolls and lobster roll sliders, 5 Napkin provides variety for everyone in your group.  This spot is better suited for something very casual or a group dinner with friends/family.

Coppola’s

Coppola's

Photo by Coppola’s

Address: 378 3rd Ave. (27th & 28th St.)

*Also located in UWS

Link: http://www.coppolas-nyc.com/

Review: Located in Murray Hill, this Italian eatery does its best to give patrons a taste of the good life.  Despite its rather nice decor and somewhat romantic surroundings, the food fell flat.  The chicken parm was drowned in red sauce and had more than enough cheese for a medium size breast.  In lieu of the setting, which is an escape from the norm in Murray HIll, for the money there are other places to go for better food.

Blondies

Blondies Sports NYC

Photo by Blondies

Address: 212 W. 79th St. (Broadway & Amsterdam)

Link: http://blondiessports.com/

Review: Blondies is worth the trip to the UWS for the wings alone. With varying degrees of heat, you can choose just how far you want to go on the Scoville scale.  This is one of the best sports bars in NYC with TVs EVERYWHERE. There are plenty of other food options available, but not many for those counting calories.  With a good beer selection and prices that don’t break the bank, this spot is a favorite for catching the game.  If you and your date are both sports fanatics Blondies can be a ton of fun to check out, and of course it’s always good to get a group of buddies and head here for Sunday Funday.  FYI – Get there early on Sundays and for big sporting events as it tends to fill up quick!

Chop Shop

Chop Shop NYC

Photo by Chop Shop

Address: 254 10th Ave.

Link: http://chop-shop.co/

Review: Though Chop Shop is located slightly out of the way for the non-Chelsea dwelling crowd, here you’ll find a cozy nook that’s got an interesting take on some solid Asian fusion.  Both Thai and Chinese influences lead to a lot of yummy dishes that combo some great flavors.  We came here shortly after they opened and had not gotten their liquor license yet, but they graciously suggested places nearby where we could grab some beers or wine to bring in and have with our meal.  The one downside is that the portions are on the small side so you’ll want to order several plates to fill you up.  Overall we were met with a generally friendly staff who were happy to talk about their new menu and provide us with some suggestions.  As an added bonus for the spring/summer months, they have a nice outdoor garden space in back.

Peels

Peels NYC

Photo by Peels

Address: 325 Bowery (2nd St. & Bleecker St.)

Link: http://peelsnyc.com/

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!)

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.

Sushi Masaru

Sushi Masaru

Photo by Sushi Masaru

Address: 169 8th Ave. (18th & 19th St.)

Link: http://sushimasaru.com/

Review: Recently opened by former Bond St. and Sushi Samba chefs, this Chelsea sushi joint produces some deliciously fun rolls.  It’s clubbish decor and music may be unsettling for those looking for a nice quiet date, but given the right group it could be just what you’re looking for to start a night of club hopping.  Though opened about 2 months ago, they still seem to be ironing out the kinks – the service was a bit all over the place and there was a miscommunication with their VIP card program.  It’s not the best spot for a romantic date, but moreso a good starting point for a fun, lively night with some booze and a tasty meal.

Wilfie & Nell

Wilfie & Nell

Photo by NYCHDR

Address: 228 W. 4th St. (7th Ave. S. & W. 10th St.)

Link: http://wilfieandnell.com/

Review: Wilfie & Nell is a great local bar in the West Village.  It’s got that old tavern look and feel which attracts hipsters and suits alike.  It’s a great spot to meet a date or grab some drinks with your pals after work or on the weekends.  They have a good selection of craft beers and specialty cocktails to choose from.  We have yet to try the food here, which consists of somewhat upscale pub fare, but definitely want to make a trip back for their brunch ($5 bloody mary’s!) It can get pretty crowded/loud on weekends so only take a date here for drinks during the week if you want to be able to hear what they’re saying!

The Redhead

Photo by The Redhead

Address: 349 E. 13th St. (1st & 2nd Ave.)

Link: http://theredheadnyc.com/

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.

Sagaponack

Photo by Sagaponack

Address: 4 W. 22nd St. (5th & 6th Ave.)

Link: http://www.sagaponacknyc.com/

Review: Sagaponack is a classy but casual seafood/new american restaurant tucked away in the Flatiron District.  It’s got a comfy, beachy, hamptons feel and has great seafood dishes to go along with it.  There’s a whole section of their menu dedicated to lobster so of course we needed to try out some of those dishes.  The lobster pot pie and the lobster and shrimp ravioli were great, creative preparations of lobster and the duck and mushroom dumplings are a MUST try.  All in all, Sagaponack is a cute spot to bring your date with it’s intimate and classy, yet casual and comfortable setting.  We’re already talking about going back to try out some of their meat dishes!

Ngam

Photo by D G.

Address: 99 3rd Ave. (12th & 13th Ave.)

Link: http://www.ngamnyc.com/

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.

Cask Bar + Kitchen

Address: 167 E. 33rd St. (Lexington & 3rd Ave.)

Link: http://www.casknyc.com/

Review: Cask Bar + Kitchen is a fun spot to grab a bunch of small plates and drinks with friends in Murray Hill.  We went here with a group of friends for the boyfriend’s birthday, and had a great time.  They have long tables that are perfect for big groups, beautiful rustic decor and a solid selection of specialty cocktails and beers.  The spring rolls, truffle mac and cheese, meatball sampler, tuna tartare and kobe sliders were all delicious.  It gets pretty packed so make a reservation!

Banc

Photo by Banc

Address: 431 3rd Ave. (30th & 31st St.)

Link: http://www.banccafe.com/

Review: Banc is an average restaurant in the Murray Hill area. It has a decent date spot atmosphere but seems like more of an “upscale” after work hang out rather than a place to take your date for dinner.  It’s somewhat loungey and trying to be a hip/sophisticated spot. The food was average, though the truffle mac and cheese was pretty good.  They also have some good specialty cocktails at decent prices during happy hour. So if you’re looking for a not-as-fratty after work option in the Murray Hill area, this could be a good option, though it might be trying a little too hard.

Five Points

Photo by Victoria K.

Address: 31 Great Jones St. (Lafayette St. & Bowery)

Link: http://www.fivepointsrestaurant.com/

Review: Five Points is a great spot for happy hour.  They have good deals on both their refreshing cocktails and yummy small plates.  Their oysters were great! Super fresh and shucked perfectly. The pork shoulder hash was the highlight of the meal, and the waygu beef burger was delicious.  With their fresh decor and nice bar area, Five Points is a good place to meet up for some tasty food and drinks in an inviting setting.

Wild Edibles

Photo by Jon T.

Address: 535 3rd Ave. (35th & 36th St.)

Link: http://www.wildedibles.com/

Review: Wild Edibles is good for a shot of seafood in the land of bar food, aka Murray Hill, though we were a little underwhelmed with the place.  The service was pretty slow to start, and the space is really tight – the tables are right on top of one another and you feel as though your’re intruding on the date next to you.  We had the oysters and calamari – both of which were solidly good but the oysters seemed pretty small and under sized.  Though there is more to their menu, like lobster rolls, crab cakes, and tuna steaks and they do have a couple of fun off the run beers.  Overall, it’s a decent spot to have a quick weekday date with better/healthier options than your typical bars along 3rd ave in Murray Hill.

Agave

Photo by Agave

Address: 140 7th Ave. S. (10 St. & Charles St.)

Link: http://agaveny.com/

Review: Agave has a great variety of delicious Mexican food.  You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu and with the hearty portion sizes you may want to share.  They have solid drinks, especially for the tequila lovers and outdoor seating which is perfect for a spring/summer evening.  Agave is a lively restaurant that gets packed out on weekends – it can be somewhat loud, but not terribly.  This is a good spot to bring a date for some good Mexican food and tasty margaritas in the West Village.

Hill Country

Photo by Hill Country

Address: 30 W. 26th St. (6th Ave. & Broadway)

Link: http://www.hillcountryny.com/

Review: Hill Country has some of the best BBQ in Manhattan.  It’s a great spot to go with a group of friends, get some buckets of beer and some meat.  Tons of meat options, one more delicious than the next – brisket, beef, pork, chicken, and sausage.  Great side dishes as well.  With the live music downstairs, cheap beer and great food, Hill Country is the perfect spot for a fun night out with all of your buddies.

Co.

Photo by Co.

Address: 230 9th Ave. (24th & 25th St.)

Link: http://www.co-pane.com/

Review: Co. has GREAT thin crust, artisanal type pizzas and solid craft beers.  It’s good for a date if you’re in the mood for some more upscale pizza and a nicer atmosphere than a regular pizza place.  Also a good spot for groups thanks to their long wooden tables.  The menu is limited for options other than pizza, but you’re coming here for the pizza any way so that shouldn’t be a problem!  If you’re in the Chelsea area and looking for some awesome pizza, this is the place.

Blue Owl

Photo by Blue Owl

Address: 196 2nd Ave. (12th & 13th St.)

Link: http://www.blueowlnyc.com/

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.

Sticky Rice

Address: 85 Orchard St. (Broome & Grand St.)

Link: http://www.stickyricenyc.com/

Review: Sticky Rice is a fun Thai spot on the Lower East Side.  The Thai food is pretty authentic and really tasty. The duck spring rolls, bacon belly satay and the pad see hew with pork were delicious.  The service is quick but not rushed and the prices are super cheap for how good the food is.  The music is a little on the loud side but it’s got a cool, dimly lit atmosphere and can be a fun spot for you and your date or a whole group of friends.

Rohm Thai

Photo by Rohm Thai

Address: 27 E. 20th St. (Broadway & Park Ave. S)

Link: http://www.rohmnyc.com/

Review: We stumbled upon Rohm Thai on our walk home and we decided to stop in.  Unfortunately there was a loud, obnoxious group of girls when we got there but thankfully they were on their way out.  Once they left it was a quiet, perfect spot for an intimate date night.  It’s a small place with romantic, candlelight decor full of couples on dates.  We were pleasantly surprised at how great the food was – great pork, chicken and duck dishes all at reasonable prices. They have several delicious specialty cocktails as well.  Definitely a great place to bring your date out for some good Thai in Flatiron.

Rare View

Photo by Rare View

Address: 152 W. 26th St. (6th & 7th Ave.)

*Location also in Chelsea

Link: http://rarebarandgrill.com/rareview.php?page=lexington

Review: The Rare View rooftop is a good spot to bring a date in the spring/summertime.  Both locations have amazing, romantic views of the Manhattan skyline, though the Chelsea location has a little bigger space.  It’s the perfect spot to have a cocktail in the summer, as long as it’s not 100 degrees out – there’s no shade at the Murray Hill location so it can get pretty hot when the sun is still out.  The cocktails are pretty pricey – about $15 per cocktail, but you’ll always have to pay a premium at bars with great views of Manhattan.  Be warned that Thursdays get pretty busy after work and late night, so it might be hard to snag a table.

Beekman Beer Garden

Photo by Beekman Beer Garden

Address: 89 South St. (South St. Seaport)

Link:   http://www.beekmanbeergarden.com/

Review: The Beekman Beer Garden has amazing views and a decent craft beer selection.  It’s a great place to grab a beer after a long day of work and watch the sunset with your date.  There’s a mixed crowd of tourists and businessmen given the seaport location and it can get super packed in nice weather, but if you can get there early enough and grab a table or couch Beekman can be the perfect, romantic spot to have a few drinks before heading to dinner.  Though later at night on the weekends it’s less of a romantic spot and more of a get drunk with your buddies type of place.  Also when we went, even though it was fairly empty, the service was slow and not frienldy with one person manning the whole show and a manager helping at times.  If I hadn’t been here before I would’ve thought this place was getting by on location and view alone.

Bakehouse

Address: 113 Horatio St. (West St. & Washington St.)

Link:  http://bakehousenyc.com/

Review: We made the trip over to Bakehouse for French Restaurant Week and were glad we did! It’s a little bit out of the way over on the West Side Highway but the view, food, ambiance and service make it worth your while.  The large windows along the front allow for an amazing view of the sunset over the Hudson River.  They’re also working on getting their outdoor liquor license to add dining tables outside.  As part of their French RW deal we got the artisanal charcuterie plate, croquet madame (an upscale French twist on grilled ham and cheese an egg on top) and 2 glasses of wine for a great price.  We also ordered the seared sea scallops with celery root puree and basil ginger oil.  Everything was absolutely delicious and we’re already planning to go back to try out some of the entrees and their brunch.  They also have a pretty solid selection of European beers, the boyfriend was ecstatic to find a great Belgian beer he hasn’t seen since his trip over there.  The rustic decor and romantic setting make it great for a date night with your beau, and the several long wooden tables make it a good spot to come with a group of friends as well. The service was also delightful and super helpful, Molly recommended a great glass of wine and the scallops for us.  We’re definitely fans of Bakehouse!

Friend of a Farmer

Photo by Friend of a Farmer

Address: 77 Irving Pl. (18th & 19th St.)

Link:  http://friendofafarmerny.com/

Review: Friend of a Farmer is a GREAT brunch spot! With it’s trendy atmosphere and classier decor than most brunch spots, Friend of a Farmer is a good place for a casual, cozy brunch with your beau or somewhere to bring the parents of someone special.  They have a delicious and fresh farm to table type menu with tons of omelette options and tasty pancakes.  We’ve never tried the dinner here but it looks like a pretty decent menu of classic american comfort food.  There’s generally a wait during brunch so try to get there early since it’s first come first serve (you can make reservations for dinner though).  Friend of a Farmer is always showing up on the top brunch spot lists for a reason!

Le Comptoir

Photo by Le Comptoir

Address: 251 Grand St. (Driggs Ave. & Roebling St.)

Link:  http://lecomptoirny.com/

Review: Brooklyn is full of really great restaurants and many of the top chefs in Manhattan are taking their talents across the East River, so in an attempt to get out of our Manhattan bubble we made the trip over to Williamsburg to try something new! Le Comptoir has a great atmosphere – an outdoor garden area, good music playing and a romantic/intimate vibe.  We tried a bunch of different dishes and were wowed by all of them. The warm goat cheese crostini, the steak tartare, the oysters and the soft shell crab (the special of the night) were all super fresh and perfectly executed.  The gnocchi with duck leg confit was out of this world, though it doesn’t seem to be on the menu anymore which is super disappointing. Hopefully the shrimp/bacon gnocchi is just as good.  The specialty cocktails were tasty but could’ve been a little stronger, the service was quick and friendly and they have an awesome dessert sundae.  Le Comptoir is definitely worth the hike to Brooklyn.  Note that it is cash only and somewhat of a hike from the L train so give yourself plenty of time to get there.

Stand4

Photo by Charles H.

Address: 24 W. 12th St. (5th Ave. & University Pl.)

Link:  http://www.standburger.com/

Review: In the mood for some burgers and milkshakes? If you don’t want to wait on the crazy lines at Shake Shack and want some more variety when it comes to your burger toppings then head to Stand4 in Greenwich Village.  You can create your own burger or choose from one of the 14 pre-made options.  The milkshakes are fantastic, and the best part is, they have boozy options too!  You can also catch the game on their big screen tv and they have some good craft beers on tap if you’re not in the mood for a boozy milkshake (but why would’t you be?) Stand4 is definitely a fun date spot if you’re not calorie counting.

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.

AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar

Photo by AYZA

Address: 11 W. 31st St. (5th Ave. & Broadway)

*Location also in West Village

Link: http://www.ayzanyc.com/

Review: We were looking for some drinks and dessert after dinner one night and, having walked past this place numerous times, we decided to give it a shot.  We sat outside in a heated tent (it was February) and ordered the moist chocolate cake with caramel and some chocolate-y cocktails.  The cake  and the Almond Chocolate Martini with hazelnut were both pretty solid and they also have an extensive wine list if that’s what you’re in the mood for.  The service wasn’t the most attentive, though it could have been because we were sitting outside.  All in all, If you and your date are looking for a spot for some drinks and dessert after dinner in the Murray Hill/Midtown East area or the West Village, AYZA is a good choice.

Kuma Inn

Photo by The Lo-Down

Address: 113 Ludlow St. (Rivington St. & Delancey St.)

Link:  http://www.kumainn.com/

Review: We LOVE the Kuma Inn! Nothing beats walking through a sketchy red door into a world of culinary art.  Kuma Inn is an off the beaten path Filipino/South East Asian restaurant with a speakeasy type feel, an intimate atmosphere, and a helpful and knowledgeable staff.  It’s definitely a great date spot! The food is out of this world and it’s all served tapas style so order multiple dishes for you and your date to split.  If you’re having trouble narrowing down the menu, ask the waitress – she’ll tell you the best dishes to order.  We got lucky and were able to sneak in without a reservation on a Thursday night before the dinner rush, but the wait is usually long so we recommend making a reservation beforehand.  Also note that it is CASH ONLY, though the dishes are reasonably priced so it won’t break the bank.  Another plus is that it’s BYOB! So grab your favorite bottle of wine at the liquor store around the corner and some cash and head over to Kuma Inn for a romantic date night out!

Tavern on Third 

Photo by Tavern on Third

Address: 380 3rd Ave. (27th & 28th St.)

Link: http://www.tavernonthird.com/

Review: Tavern on Third is one of the nicer sports bars on 3rd ave.  It’s a good bar to grab craft beers, a bite to eat and watch the game.  Tavern has pretty solid, more “upscale” bar food and a large beer list.  They have some pretty good specials throughout the week with $3 beers on Monday’s and Wednesday’s and $15 buckets on Thursday’s.  Our favorite part of Tavern are the individual draft tables where you can pour your own beer right from the table – though beware, drinks add up quick!!  Tavern on Third has a fun, young crowd, especially on Thursday nights or when there’s a big game on. Not a date spot, but definitely a fun spot to check out with all your friends.

Edo

Photo by Edo

Address: 9 E. 17th St. (5th Ave. & Union Square W)

Link: http://www.edosushinyc.com/

Review: Edo Sushi was a great find – it’s a fun cheap spot to grab really good sushi in Union Square.  It’s incredibly inexpensive considering the quality of the sushi.  With a long list of creative specialty rolls, delicious gyoza and shumai, and 1/2 off beers during happy hour – you can’t go wrong.  The dimly lit and intimate atmosphere and the fact that you rarely have to wait for a table make this is a great spot to go on a casual date night.  We’ve been back to Edo multiple times – it’s one of our go-to sushi spots when we’re in the mood for an inexpensive, delicious meal.

Mason Jar

Photo by Mason Jar

Address: 45 E. 30th St. (Madison Ave. & Park Ave.)

Link: http://www.masonjarny.com/

Review: The Mason Jar falls flat on the brunch front.  We came here to have some brunch while catching the football playoffs.  The menu has your standard brunch items, some with a little southern flair.  The food wasn’t terrible but it was nothing memorable.  Also, the service was insanely slow for there only being 4 other tables occupied in the whole place.  The Mason Jar is definitely better served as a sports bar, solely a spot to grab some beers, bourbon and wings with your bros while watching the game.

Peep

Photo by Peep

Address: 177 Prince St. (Thompson & Sullivan St.)

Link: http://www.peepsoho.net/

Review: Despite the weird, club-like décor, Peep has pretty solid Thai food.  We stumbled upon Peep during an afternoon of shopping in Soho and were pleasantly surprised.  If you’re in the mood for some noodles/Thai dishes after a long day of shopping Peep is a safe bet, but it’s not really a place to seek out otherwise.  They also have good cheap cocktails during their happy hour from 4:30-6:30pm every day (try the mojitos!)

Penelope

Photo by Penelope

Address: 159 Lexington Ave. (at 30th St.)

Link: http://www.penelopenyc.com/

Review: Penelope has an AMAZING brunch, as you can probably tell by the line out the door on weekends.  Everything on the menu is delicious from the nutella french toast to the egg dishes to the chicken apple sausage to the cinnamon buns. They also do a little bit of a different spin on their brunch cocktails and they’re fantastic.  You can also order for pick up to skip the wait, and this is usually a better bet unless you have a Saturday morning/afternoon to sit around waiting.  All in all, Penelope is a cute, trendy brunch date spot that you’ll be craving every time Saturday morning rolls around.

Lallisse

Photo by Ellen D.

Address: 161 Lexington Ave. (30th & 31st St.)

Link:    http://lallisse.com/

Review: Lallisse is a Mediterranean take on brunch, but not in a good way.  We came here because the line at Penelope’s (across the street) was too long.  The nice cozy rustic decor seemed really promising until the food came.  The menu is very limited and overpriced and the service was super slow.  The eggs benedict and the Mediterranean omelette were bland and tasteless, and a little on the cold side.  Even the strawberry mimosa was subpar, I guess they were going for a “fresh fruit” thing but it was really just mashed up strawberries floating in champagne. You’re WAY better off waiting it out at Penelope’s or just going elsewhere.

Defonte’s

Photo by Kathleen R.

Address: 261 3rd Ave. (20th & 21st St.)

Link:   http://www.defontesofbrooklyn.com/

Review: Defonte’s originated in Brooklyn but has, thankfully, spread its wings to the Gramercy area.  This sandwich shop has awesome classic Italian sandwiches.  It’s not a date spot but it’s great for meeting up for lunch or grabbing a sandwich and taking it with you to the park or some other fun NYC activity.   Definitely go for one of their hot heroes, the eggplant parm is fantastic.

Mishima

Photo by Mishima

Address: 164 Lexington Ave. (30th & 31st St.)

Link:  http://www.mishimany.com/

Mishima is your typical neighborhood sushi joint: small place and not the nicest atmosphere for a date, but good for a quick decent dinner.  They have a pretty typical Japanese menu with standard sushi rather than specialty rolls, as well as teriyaki, tempura and udon entree options.  We went with the gyoza and some sushi to share.  Overall the food was good, nothing spectacular and the service is quick and friendly.  Mishima is a solid choice for a quick bite or take out if you’re in the Murray Hill area.

Hecho en Dumbo

Photo by Hecho en Dumbo

Address: 354 Bowery (Great Jones St. & E. 4th St.)

Link:  http://www.hechoendumbo.com/

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.

Land NorthEast Thai

Photo by Jane K.

Address: 1565 2nd Ave. (81st & 82nd St.)

*Location also in the Upper West Side

Link:  http://www.landthaikitchen.com/eastside/

Review: Land Thai is a UES restaurant with a great romantic date night atmosphere and decent thai food.  The drunken noodles with chicken were very very spicy so don’t order this dish unless you like that! The pad thai with shrimp and the spring rolls were solid choices, albeit pretty standard choices you can get at most decent thai places.  The pluses were the friendly and attentive waitstaff and the Thai beer the boyfriend had been looking for since he got back from his trip to Thailand.  We wouldn’t send someone on a trip up to the UES for this place but if you live in the area it’s definitely a decent spot for a date.

Blue Ginger

Photo by Connie C.

Address: 106 8th Ave. (15th & 16th St.)

Link:  http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/blue-ginger/menu

Review: We ended up going to Blue Ginger because Momoya was packed and we didn’t want to wait.  While the place was pretty empty on a Sunday night, we were pleasantly surprised.  Blue Ginger has above average sushi and a good selection of creative rolls at a decent price.  If you’re in this neck of the woods and don’t want to wait it out for Momoya, Blue Ginger is a solid call for a good, casual sushi dinner.

Luke’s Lobster

Photo by Luke’s Lobster

Address: 93 E. 7th St.

*Locations also in Financial District, Upper East Side and Upper West Side

Link:  http://www.lukeslobster.com/

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.

Republic

Photo by Leslie D.

Address: 37 Union Square West (16th & 17th St.)

Link:  http://www.thinknoodles.com/

Review: We went here as a last minute date spot since we were in the mood for noodles and planning to catch a movie afterwards in Union Square.  The boyfriend had the BBQ pork which was amazing and I had the curried duck which was good but nothing in comparison. Delicious noodle dishes, fast service and solid specialty cocktails make this place worth a visit.  Though seating is at communal tables and it can get VERY loud so its not ideal for a first date/getting to know you type of place.  Republic is a good last minute date spot for the food but don’t expect to have much of a conversation since you probably won’t be able to hear the person across the table from you.

Rodeo Bar

Photo by Rodeo Bar

Address: 375 3rd Ave. (at 27th St.)

Link:  http://www.rodeobar.com/

Review: If you’re in the mood to booze and eat bar food Rodeo Bar is a solid choice in Murray Hill.  Good for a cheap margarita or beer and some  nachos, quesadillas or cowboy kisses (shrimp and jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon).  They also have a surprisingly decent brunch and usually have live music in the back room.  Rodeo Bar is a throw your peanuts on the floor type of place so not an ideal spot to impress a date but a good spot to get drunk and pig out with a group of buddies.

Bare Burger

Photo by Bare Burger

Address: 514 3rd Ave. (34th & 35th St.)

*Locations also in Greenwich Village, Chelsea and East Village

Link:  http://www.bareburger.com/

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.

Summit Bar

Photo by Summit Bar

Address: 133 Ave. C (8th & 9th St.)

Link:  http://thesummitbar.net/

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.

The Smith

Photo by The Smith

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

*Location also in Midtown East

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.

The Cellar at Beecher’s

Photo by Nils V.

Address: 900 Broadway (at 20th St.)

Link: http://www.beechershandmadecheese.com/Locations/NewYork/TheCellar.aspx

Review: The Cellar at Beecher’s is the perfect date spot for wine and cheese lovers.  Comfortable lounge seating, great selection of cheeses and wines, and a super knowledgeable staff.  We just told the waiter what flavors of cheese and meats we generally like and he suggested 6 GREAT cheese and charcuterie options and brought us the perfect white wine to go along with it.  We shamelessly ordered seconds of the cheese because we had to have more! They also offer entree options and we’re dying to go back and try the mac and cheese.  Definitely a cool place to check out below the Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shop for an intimate date night for all you wine and cheese connoisseurs.

Lillie’s

Photo by Rich R.

Address: 13 E. 17th St. (Broadway & 5th Ave.)

Link: http://lilliesnyc.com/HOME.html

Review: Initially we were headed to Rye House but waited WAY too long for drinks so we walked back down the block to Lillie’s.  Lillie’s is a great spot to grab beers around Union Square.  It’s a little nicer than your Brother Jimmy’s/13th Step with a decent, somewhat fratty crowd.  Plus, they have really good bar food if you get the drunk munchies!  Grab your significant other and all your buddies and head here after work on Thursday nights or over the weekend.

Rye House

Photo by Rye House

Address: 11 W 17th St. (5th & 6th Ave.)

Link: http://ryehousenyc.com/

Review: Rye House is a good spot for a strong cocktail in somewhat of a hipster/trendy atmosphere.  They have a good specialty cocktail list and great selection of dark liquors.  We’ve never been here for dinner but it’s a great spot for some apps and cocktails.  Could be good for a more casual “let’s grab drinks date spot”, but also a fun place to grab a long table in the back to booze all night with friends. Truffle grilled cheese and truffle beer cheese are fantastic snacks to nosh on while enjoying your cocktails.  They have a pretty solid Southern style brunch as well.

Stone Creek

Photo by Stone Creek

Address: 140 E. 27th St. (Lexington & 3rd Ave.)

Link: http://www.stonecreeknyc.com/

Review: Stone Creek is a good spot to jump in, catch the game and have a beer.  It’s a small neighborhood bar with pretty good food for how divey it seems.  They also have a fun Wednesday night trivia night so definitely grab a group of your mutual friends and stop in on Wednesdays to get your trivia on and have a fun, atypical night out with your date and your friends.

PS450

Photo by Brian G.

Address: 450 Park Ave. S. (30th & 31st St.)

Link:  http://www.ps450.com/

Review: Steer clear of PS450 unless you’re here for a party.  There’s a good bar scene but not the greatest brunch food. The boyfriend got sick after eating here and while they have cheap prices for brunch, its not worth it – there are much better brunch places in the area.  Never tried the dinner here but can’t imagine it’d be much better, plus if you can botch something as easy as brunch I wouldn’t trust the dinner menu. So unless you’re grabbing beers with friends, we do not recommend PS450.

Nobi

Photo by Priti J.

Address: 437 3rd Ave. (30th & 31st St.)

Link:  http://nobisushinyc.com

Review: Nobi is our favorite neighborhood sushi spot. They have great specialty rolls, quick service and you can always snag a table.  The best part is – it’s CHEAP! So if you’re in the neighborhood and want some awesome sushi with great options for special rolls, this is the place to go for a quiet, casual date.

Half King

Photo by Half King

Address: 505 W. 23rd St. (10th & 11th Ave.)

Link:  http://www.thehalfking.com/

Review: The Half King is perfect for anything post- Chelsea Piers area.  This is our drink spot after the boyfriend’s hockey games.  It’s a great neighborhood bar with surprisingly awesome food for a bar – specifically great wings and mac and cheese.  There’s a fun lively crowd most nights of the week, a decent beer selection and it’s a good spot for a big group/your sports teams.  So after your date watches you tear up the ice, court or soccer field, bring them here for some good eats and to meet all your buddies.

Vertigo (now Brewhouse)

Photo by Vertigo

Address: 354 3rd Ave. (25th & 26th St.)

Link:  http://www.vertigobarnewyork.com/

Review: When you’re looking for a sports bar to watch the game with your buddies, Brewhouse is a good option.  They have a good beer selection and decent bar food/appetizers – basically the kind of food you would expect from a bar.  The bartender is always really nice and they have multiple big screen tvs.  While its not a date spot, if you’re  both into sports you can come here to catch the game with all your friends.

Max Brenner

Photo by Sean K.

Address: 841 Broadway (13th & 14th St.)

Link:  http://shop.maxbrenner.com/

Review: Max Brenner is a large Union Square chocolatier.  The food here is average but they have GREAT desserts and super sweet and delicious cocktails – chocoholics rejoice! The white Russians and chocolate lava cake are must trys.  It’s more of a family type, large format spot for dinner so we wouldn’t suggest having the dinner portion of your meal here, but Max Brenner’s is definitely a fun place to venture over to for some dessert and after dinner drinks.

Wildwood BBQ

Photo by audrey k.

Address: 225 Park Ave S (18th & 19th St.)

Link:  http://www.wildwoodbbq.com/

Review: Wildwood is a large format, Park Ave. BBQ spot.  We’ve had both brunch and dinner here.  The decor is pretty kitschy but don’t let that fool you.  Wildwood has solid BBQ dishes for brunch, lunch and dinner.  It’s a decent place to grab a casual bite to eat if you’re in the mood for some good BBQ with your significant other or a bunch of buddies.  They also have a ton of tv’s around the restaurant and bar if there’s any game you want to keep tabs on while eating.

Brother Jimmy’s

Photo by Brother Jimmy’s

Address: 181 Lexington Ave. (at 31st St.)

*Locations also in Union Square, Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Midtown West

Link: http://www.brotherjimmys.com/

Review: Ahh Brother Jimmy’s.  The boyfriend and I met here and it’s definitely not a date spot – we like to say we fell in love in a hopeless place.  This is the type of bar you come to to chug cheap PBRs or down fishbowls with your buddies.  It’s a sloppy mess of newly minted NY bros and chicks.  Bro J’s is always a scene in the summer so get there early or the line will be around the block.  Obviously it’s not a spot to bring a date but if you, your significant other and all your friends are looking to celebrate, Bro J’s is a good choice.  So grab all your buddies, get sloshed and enjoy some awesome southern BBQ to soak up some of that alcohol.

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