Cool NYC Restaurant to take Out of Town Guests??
October 12, 2014 7:37 PM   Subscribe

Manhattanites and NYC'ers all over the boroughs: please help me find the perfect restaurant to bring my relatives to!

Looking for a great place to take my cousin, his wife and a friend (We will be a party of 5)
for this Friday night (time flexible, but prefer the usual)
It should be in Manhattan. (They are staying at a Midtown Hotel) but willing to take a subway or cab to get there.

Off the table are Thai, Sushi, and Indian food.

Preferences they mentioned included steakhouses, Chinese, American, and Italian.

Hoping for a place that has both great ambience and great food with kind of a cool factor.

Price is not a huge issue, but mid range would be preferable.

Also if you have any recommendations for interesting pre-dinner cocktail places that would be great!

I sure appreciate your help as I'm not so savvy when it comes to "the place" to go in Manhattan anymore.
If they were coming out to Brooklyn, it wouldn't be such a quandary :)
posted by Kensational to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I really like Keen's Steakhouse. It's pretty old fashioned, so it might not fit your "cool" factor, but I think it's fantastic.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:39 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Babbo (one of Mario Batali's places, ) would fit the bill.
posted by third rail at 8:11 PM on October 12, 2014

Best answer: DBGB or Resto would be my suggestions-- gastropubs with good selection of food and hip ambience without being too exotic for your guests.
posted by deanc at 8:12 PM on October 12, 2014

Seconding Resto. My other go-to would be Craft - not in Midtown, but easy to get to via cab or subway and should fit your requirements.
posted by bedhead at 8:23 PM on October 12, 2014

Best answer: Eeeek. Book a restaurant ASAP. You have a last minute dinner, a large-ish group of 5 people, and you want something this Friday night (only 5 days from now), primetime (7-9pm), and all the cuisines you named are pretty "safe," which limits your options. Plus... you want great ambiance, great food, and it to be somewhat "cool"? All in a cool neighborhood south of 14th Street, I assume? I assume you're looking to impress your 20/30-something year old cousin? The hottest places really need to be booked a month in advance, not five days.

Sidenote: any place with great food, great ambiance, and a cool factor is going to be loud at primetime on a Friday night. I'm assuming that's what you want: some amount of buzz in the atmosphere for the out of towners. I wouldn't really call any steakhouse here cool, unless you're speaking of somewhere like Minetta Tavern (which is not a steakhouse, per se).

And make sure you manage your price expectations, since "mid-priced for Brooklyn" is not the same as "mid-priced for Manhattan," you know?

Love love love Keens but it's old school New York, great history and steak and service, but it's pricey, and they only seem to have 10pm for 5 this Friday (no early reservations on

Babbo is great, too. Maybe a bit long in the tooth / too established enough to be considered "cool" with "cool ambiance"; unfortunately, it is also extremely popular. It is unlikely you'd get a table for 5 people on a Friday except very early or very late. Maybe on a Tuesday or something, but I wouldn't expect many openings unless you lucked out last minute. You'd have to call and ask.

Craft only has 6pm or 9:30pm for 5 this Friday, and is potentially a bit too subdued for what you seek.

DBGB and Resto are both showing good availability on OpenTable. I've been to both and like both, but both can get rather loud; and not sure I'd call either one truly "of the moment" though. Resto is dark and boisterous, and the noise from the beer bar next door bleeds into Resto, just so you know. I also find DBGB to be slightly overpriced for what you get.

If you do Resto, try Middle Branch for cocktails. Or the Roof at Park South (from the creators of O Ya in Boston) if you're feeling fancy. Near DBGB, I'd make a reservation at the Experimental Cocktail Club.

Note: a Friday night walk-in after dinner at some of the nicer craft cocktail lounges (that don't allow standing) is going to be tough, especially with five. Limited availability at restaurants may mean you're eating at 6pm and looking for post-dinner cocktails, not pre-dinner cocktails.

Other restaurants I'd consider (which are currently showing some OpenTable availability) are Recette, All'Onda, Louro, Toro, John Dory Oyster Bar, Pearl and Ash, Lafayette, Public, and Saxon + Parole. Louro and Saxon + Parole in particular have good craft cocktails. At the John Dory Oyster Bar, you can hang out at the Ace Hotel afterwards. Louro, Pearl and Ash, Public, or Recette might be too adventurous; check the menus first.

Also, I wouldn't necessarily eliminate options for not being in their desired cuisines, given how diverse the restaurant scene is here. Do they have Australian food at home? Spanish? etc. So if they're willing to try something in a different cuisine, look at Ilili. It has a hip vibe, can handle large groups, and also executes well on food (it's much better than it "needs" to be).
posted by kathryn at 9:38 PM on October 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

Stanton Social down on Stanton Street on the Lower East Side might be a good option. It's a small plates restaurant, which makes it great for sharing, and it has a reasonably high cool factor. It's a fun area of town, as well.
posted by holborne at 10:33 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ok - La Sirene is probably my favorite restaurant. Small, cozy, amazing french food - but dressy casual for a reasonable price. They're down in the village and it isn't impossible to get a Friday reservation right now. They're BYOB with no corkage fee (and a wine store about 2 blocks away). It's not a big name - but definitely amazing french food.

I HiGHLY recommend the curry mussels.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 5:28 AM on October 13, 2014

My continual mid-town recommendation. Koreatown. Fried chicken. Crazy drinks. Odd, speakeasyish atmosphere. Turntable.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:47 AM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Omg, Cafe Mogador. So it's Morrocan food which is not on your list of preferred cuisines but... I'm super picky and my friends are super picky and all like different stuff and yet I had my birthday party there and EVERYONE raved about the food. Cafe Mogador

I walked in on a Saturday night, without rsvps, and with 15 people for dinner, and they were able to accommodate us. Granted, this was the Cafe Mogador in Williamsburg, but I'm told the East Village one is similarly chill.

Crazy delicious food and cocktails, decent prices, and just a cool vibe all together.
posted by silverstatue at 12:14 PM on October 13, 2014

Lupa, another Batali place, is my go-to in NYC.
posted by Splunge at 1:31 PM on October 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks EVERYONE! Even if not marked Best, there are great ideas for future or just us to try before the next family visits. Thanks again.
posted by Kensational at 3:11 PM on October 14, 2014

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