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How to impress a southern woman? Help me chowhounds!

Visiting NYC this weekend to meet for a first date of sorts with a lovely young woman who is originally from the South, and a relative newcomer to Manhattan.

What can chowhounds recommend in the Union Square neighborhood for lunch and/or dinner that is bound to impress?

Some place, a true chowhound place, that will make her wonder..."How did HE, who doesn't even live here, know about this great place in my neighborhood that my so-called friends have never even suggested?"

It'll be our little secret. ;)

I throw the southern in for reference merely - any cuisine will do. I say Union Ssquare, but I would love to hear of any gems here, in greater lower Manhattan or in Brooklyn/Queens neighborhoods bordering the East River, for future reference.

Thank you in advance.

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  1. Take her to Union Square Cafe (16th bet. 5th and Un. Sq. W.) for coziness or Gotham Bar and Grill for a little fancy. Nothing impresses like Meyer as far as I'm concerned.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Nick F.

      Thank you for the suggestion of Union Square Cafe.

      Can you also recommend something a little more unknown? The vibe I am going for is wonderment, i.e., something that does not immediately leap off the page of guides, Gourmet, etc.

      The hidden gem, so to speak.

      1. re: Greg Matthews

        Arturo's pizza is GREAT pizza (very New York), in the Village (very New York), has live jazz (very New York), and feels off the beaten path (at least as celebrity chefs and tourists are concerned).

        Add a stroll around the Village and it's a perfect date.

    2. You might want to try Toqueville, also near Union Square (15th and 5th). Excellent food and very romantic. Not as widely known as Union Square Cafe and Gotham, although certainly not a secret.

      1. Cozy, romantic fine dining with Southern nuances?

        A restaurant raved about on these very boards?

        Look no further than The Red Cat. Delicious food, great ambience, good service.

        (Sounds like a cheesy commerical, but it's really very good!)

        1 Reply
        1. Apologies, I obviously misread your post. I am a west village-ite and so I recommend a few places that will be really wonderful for your date over there but over in union square, even though I currently live here, I am unsure if I can give you somewhere truly "unknown". However, for terrifically romantic places in my neck of the woods that will awe your date, I would recommend Snack Taverna, a modern greek place over on a beautiful corner in the West Village (Bedford+Morton). Service and the light are great and the whole place is tiny. Also another tiny place is The Little Owl (Bedford+Grove) (go figure) where the host is the owner and the cook is separated from you by about what amounts to a curtain. Both places are cozy and away from the flow of traffic and you can't even see any tall buildings in any direction if you go to The Little Owl.

          I know this is a little out of the way, but let me know if it helps.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Nick F.

            In that area, I like AOC Bedford - I would call it Mediterranean cuisine - not quite classic - romantic atmosphere - small and cozy, great service and excellent food.

            1. re: Nick F.

              Definitely no need for apologies! Those sound like great suggestions, Nick.

            2. I too would suggest AOC Bedford. I also think people forget about 'March'. You could take her to The Grocery in Brooklyn as well.

              1. Well, a few years ago, I was that woman! A transplanted Southerner, new to Manhattan, meeting my now-husband on a blind date. He took me to a Southwestern place on the UES where we had a great time until I thought that he ended the date somewhat early and abruptly.

                A few days later, he called and suggested another date and I decided to give him a second chance. We went to Les Halles (Park Ave S), where I remembered his charm from the first date and the rest, as they say, is history. The night we got engaged, we went back to Les Halles to celebrate. I happen to like that place a lot, although it gets mixed reviews on this board.

                I don't think Union Square is very "intimate." I might try Artisanal. A little further north than Union Square and large and loud (so also not terribly intimate in setting), but share the fondue -- how fun and intimate for a first date!

                Wherever you decide to go -- good luck! And remember, that manners are key to Southern women. So, pull out her chair, let her go through the door first, etc.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lisette

                  Lisette - thanks for those suggestions and the etiquette tips.

                2. Caceio E Pepe on 2nd avenue and then drinks at Angels Share. A romantic Itallian place with a rustic feel that a little secret hidden bar with wonderful drinks; both are within walking distance of Union Square.

                  1. Maroons is a southern/Jamaican place in Chelsea with some of the best southern specialties I've had in NY but enough Jamaican items featured to be a diverse dining experience.

                    1. I suggest you also ask this question on the Outer Boroughs board if you are interested in Brooklyn and Queens.

                      1. Tides--gets a lot of talk on this board but I don't know that it is well known beyond it . . . seafood, small really neat looking design . . .

                        1. How about Parea on 20th St. between B'way and Park Ave S. Really good somewhat modernish take on Greek cuisine. I have not been since just after they opened, but I thought it was quite great and it isn't too far from Union Square.

                          1. I don't think you mentioned a price restriction, but Veritas is great. It's on 20th b/n Bwy & Park.

                            1. Dinner: go a little farther south to Blue Ribbon Bakery on Downing & Bedford Sts.

                              Perfect for what you want, with charm as an added bonus.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jakew8

                                blue ribbon can get insanely loud, so conversation may be a bit difficult.

                              2. Greg

                                If you could round up some moon pies and bring them to her, she'd be yours.


                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Davwud

                                  hey rc cola and moon pie, you mean :)

                                  1. re: cervisiam

                                    I was just thinking that RC may not be able to get on a plane these days. It's a great southern combo for sure.
                                    My wife has a tee shirt that says "Southern girls know about the 3 M's. Mint Julips, Magnolias and Moonpies."


                                2. I highly recommend The Knife and Fork on 4th Street between 1st and 2nd Aves. Inventive, young, market-driven chef, intimate charming restuarant and a 6 course tasting menu for $45.00. And I guarantee your friend will have never heard of it.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: livetotravel

                                    Sounds like a good place, per your review...but it has gotten decidedly negative reviews on the board here....care to comment?

                                    1. re: Greg Matthews

                                      see below - I replied in the wrong spot!

                                  2. Basta Pasta - Italian with Japanese accents.
                                    Schafer City Oyster Bar

                                    1. I ate there on a Wednesday evening,, early, by myself. I met Damien Brassell, the young chef/owner and found him very charming and very committed to making it here. I had no problem with service, was in no hurry and found the entire evening well paced. I also found the food extraordinarily good, including the bread which the chef bakes on premises. The quail breast, salmon, oysters and venison I had were all delicatable and prepared with care and interesting ingredients.

                                      I think this young guy needs a break - he practically runs this restuarnat single-handed. What he is attempting to do already places him outside the mainstream of "been there did that" restaurants. Everyone just needs to take a deep braeth and give this chef and his retsurant a chance to make it. We should all want places like this to succeed.