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 Mayahuel
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.
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 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 Cookshop
Address: 156 10th Ave. (19th & 20th St.)
Review: We headed over to this Chelsea newcomer with high expectations. The ambiance and decor are trendy and the dimly lit atmosphere makes it a solid spot for a date. The service was friendly and our table was ready when we arrived for our reservation, something that can’t be overlooked at 7:45 on a Friday. We ordered some tasty oysters to start off and their version of a savory crepe which was a good pick as well. Our main course however fell a little flat. Each dish had a component that was fantastic and one that seemed out of place. With the duck came some sauerkraut type side that didn’t really fit and the lamb dish, while there were some wonderful components, had a little brown sausage that was on the dry side and a completely different flavor profile than the rest of the meat. We’re not sure if it was a bad day or that these entrees just missed the mark. Given the nice surroundings and comfortable feel, it would’ve been a home run if the entrees lived up to the hype. That being said, we’re contemplating giving it another shot in hopes that the other entrees are executed better.
Photo by il Buco Alimentari & Vineria
Address: 53 Great Jones St. (Lafayette St. & Bowery)
Review: il Buco Alimentari & Vineria is the slightly more casual spin off on the nearby il Buco, but by no means is there a step down in flavor. Seated at the bar in the back room we had a view into the open kitchen and were able to watch the bartenders do their thing while getting input and help on how to best pair their impressive wine list with what we ordered. We had some house made ricotta that was melt in your mouth good and some meats from their market as well, but the focus of the meal was definitely the short rib, a piece of meat to be remembered – it was fall of the bone delicious. The portion size was more than enough for two after some starters. Though the service was a bit spotty and slow for some courses and the price tag isn’t too wallet friendly, it’s the amazing food that will have you coming back for more.
Photo by Chop Shop
Address: 254 10th Ave.
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.
Photo by Peels
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!)