Photo by Pig & Khao
Address: 368 Clinton St. (Stanton & Rivington St.)
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.
Photo by Obao
Address: 222 E. 53rd St. (2nd & 3rd Ave.)
*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!
Photo by NY Mag
Address: 229 S. 4th St. (Driggs Ave. & Roebling St.)
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.
Photo by Forcella
Address: 377 Park Ave. S. (26th & 27th St.)
*Also located in the East Village and Williamsburg
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.
Photo by Rosemary’s
Address: 118 Greenwich Ave. (Charles St. & 10th St.)
Review: With the turn over that restaurants have in New York it’s tough to say when something will really last, but the people behind Rosemary’s seems to have a hit on their hands. Couple great food, a comfortable setting and affordable prices and you have your explanation for the aggressively long waits. The no reservation policy for parties smaller than 8 may be a turn off for some, but not enough to have an empty table in sight. Rosemary’s is the one of the better spots we have been to for a group dinner setting. Grab 4 or 5 buddies and brave the wait to be rewarded with tasty foccia, fresh pastas and succulent meat plates. A great assortment of cheeses, meats and veggie sides accompany their Italian classics. All bottles on their great wine list come in at $40 a pop, also making for an affordable feast. We recommend getting here early or be prepared to put your name on the list and wait for a while (as in 2+ hours), this one doesn’t look like its slowing down any time soon!
Photo by Cannibal
Address: 113 E. 29th St. (Park Ave. S. & Lexington Ave.)
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!
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.
Photo by Les Halles
Address: 411 Park Ave. S. (28th & 29th St.)
*Also located in FiDi
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.
Photo by Hofbrau Bierhaus
Address: 712 3rd Ave. (44th & 45th St.)
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.
Photo by The Stag’s Head
Address: 252 E. 51st St. (2nd & 3rd Ave.)
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.