Mayahuel

Mayahuel NYC

Photo by Mayahuel

Address: 304 E. 6th St. (1st & 2nd Ave.)

Link: http://www.mayahuelny.com/home.php

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.

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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.

Cannibal

Cannibal NYC

Photo by Cannibal

Address: 113 E. 29th St. (Park Ave. S. & Lexington Ave.)

Link: http://thecannibalnyc.com/

Review: Continuing with the transformation of Murray Hill, this beacon of meat, cheese and beer has arrived on the scene.  But Cannibal does not have the cold cuts and bud lights of college dorm days past, rather an array of salumi and aged hams, carefully selected cheese and a selection of craft beers from brewers worldwide.  We ended our night here for some late night grub and some suds.  We sat at the bar and were served by the very friendly and helpful barkeep who pointed us in the right direction for both our food and drink orders.  So long as you don’t go crazy you can get your fill on a tasty selection with out feeling the pain in your wallet.  Cannibal is a good option for a first date for sure – start with some small plates to see how things go, then move on to something bigger if all is well.  Plus you can always judge a person by what drink they order from their massive selection!

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.

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.

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!