Help! Last-minute help for birthday dinner & drinks downtown-ish... tomorrow!
Birthday dinner recommendations requested for tomorrow night...
Somewhere fun, new-ish or under-the-radar would be a bonus, good food (not Mexican, Indian, or Italian preferably)... and not too expensive.
South of 14th St would be ideal, though a little further north would work.
(Any drinks recs nearby would be fantastic as well!)
I've definitely been in your shoes. The last minute birthday reservation panic...triangulating btw chowhound, menupages, citysearch, whathaveyou....phew.
Some thoughts on your list:
Ivo and Lulu. Good food, charming owner/chef...but unless you can reserve the whole place - and I'm not sure he does that - you won't be able to accomodate that many people (ie. 4 people will have to wait, 2 people at peak dining times will have a wait too). The place is SMALL and usually first come, first serve.
Zerza. This would be my pic in your choice list. Pros: atmospheric, good-sized space upstairs for a bigger group, and the food's definitely decent (good tagines, etc). Cons: Well, it's also not chi-chi trendy, if you're looking for that. My take is that it's a solid choice for a bigger group that wants to generate its own fun.
Extra Virgin: good food, but the bill will run you more than the last 2 choices. It can also be a little cramped and loud on busy nights.
Euzkadi: heard it's gone downhill.
Havana Alma de Cuba: My second choice on your list. It's got that small West Village vibe going on that some find charming. The food is pleasant (skip the fried fish though.) Pro over Zerza: it might be a little busier so it'll feel slightly more festive. Con: it's expensive for Cuban food but has average price ($15-20/dish) for Manhattan otherwise.
And if you hear anything about Lips, do let me know! Always wanted to see if that was a viable option...