HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >


For the fun (and not necessarily the food) of it.

Are there any restaurants you go to regularly for the atmosphere--the food, not so much?
For me it's Nana in the Slope with it's groovy DJ, well built cocktails and vibrant crowd. And Sahara on CIA because my kids are wild for the gypsy trinkets and fruit fondue served in a pineapple. The food at both is quite passable, IMO, but it's prolly the vibe that keeps us going back.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Poindexter, I see that no one has responded to your post. I guess that, for chowhounds, it's ONLY about the food!

    2 Replies
    1. re: parkslopemama

      That would appear to be the case. And sometimes it is all about the food for me too--I certainly don't go to DiFara for the ambiance. But I'm a little surprised others don't sometimes make similar concessions in the opposite direction in the interest of aesthetics/comfort/hygeine etc. (or perhaps they're simply unprepared to admit it).

      1. re: Poindexter

        I am prepared to admit it and I think many of us do it without realizing it. I read this earlier and did not answer because I could not think of a particular place to site, but how many of us have not gone to a place because we want a fun place to have good drinks and some food with friends or to a place that we know our kids (ok, personally I don't have any kids, but...) love? We seek out places with admittedly no ambience because we want the chowworthy food. But there are times I do the opposite. Not bad food, mind you, but not something you would clamor to tell people about. There have been nights where my BF and I (ok, me) wanted a romantic dinner (for example once we picked 718 in Astoria). We didn't feel like going far from the place we saw the movie, maybe, so we have found nice, ambient restaurant to sit outside with decent food and a nice bottle of wine and we had a great night together. Would I go back though? Unlikely, but it served its purpose. There have been beautiful Saturday afternoons, where maybe we and friends wanted a fun place to sit out together and enjoy the company and the sun and good drinks and some eats - which in Queens is not to easy. Again, not chowish...but great fun with good friends. A place like this might be Louie's in Port Wash. Food not that awesome, but I have had a a lot of fun with friends and some decent meals with great weather views of the bay.

        Yeah. I make comfort concessions for great food, but am not above making some food concessions for comfort and fun. If that makes me less of a chowhound, so be it. I like to have fun either way!

    2. Honestly - I feel most restaurants on Newbury Street fit that description. I was unimpressed by Sonsie and Stephanie's .. though the outdoor seating made both dinners fantastic.

      1. I know what you mean. I think L&B Spumoni Gardens is like that. It is fun to go to on a not too hot summer night with kids and sit outside and watch the crowd. The pizza is kind of insipid but definitely OK and absolutely fun.

        1. Patois - on a cold rainy night I immediately think of their fireplace. Good food and a great deal on fixed price nights, but I go more for the ambiance.

          Hope and Anchor - nice cocktails, fun atmosphere (esp on karaoke weekends)... the food is serviceable but not life changing.

          Trout/Pacifico/Gowanus - way more about the scene.

            1. re: Mandymac

              The original Nathan’s in Coney Island has good atmosphere. And if you want more then try the freak show down the block before they [literally] raze the roof.

              Though not a restaurant, Sheepshead Bay still has a small active fleet of fishing boats which you can charter (prices are very reasonable and they include bait & tackle). Stop by around 3:P.M. when the 1st trip is over and go haggle with the deck hands for today’s catch-of-the-day.

            2. I will absolutely go to a fun chain restaurant if I like a particular location, like Charlie Brown's in Staten Island. Their Salad Bar is great and very well supplied and maintained. All you can eat Salad Bar is less than $10 and an enitre entree with Salad Bar included can cost as litle as $13. The wait staff is friendly and accommodating
              On some nights they have cheesy, but fun, promotional novelty drink specials that contain little alcohol but lots of everything else. You can hang out as long as you like.
              and if you asked to be seated in The Library, you're in very comfortable relaxed surroundings For sports fans, there are TV's in the bar room. Great, inexpensive fun.
              and delicious, fresh Salad Bar with dynamite bread for less than $15? Can't be beat.
              As a bonus, If you have them, it's kid friendly

              1. Only if invited by people with whom we want to hang out. The company is what makes going to places "with atmosphere" fun. We (wife and I) don't see the purpose of going somewhere to dine just for the atmosphere unless the food is exceptional. If it's not for the company, then dining out is either for the food or for convenience. We choose to not reward "atmosphere" or style over the substance of kitchen skills and service.

                1. Although a struggle to get to (by bus or car) during the summer because of the traffic, Johnny's Reef Restaurant on the tip of City Island is fun (in the Coney Island Nathan's sense). The picnic tables and waterfront views is great. And the food, while expensive for the shack atmosphere, is actually pretty good for fried seafood.

                  1. Once a month or so, when the weather's nice, I'll definitely get in the mood to go to Fabianne's in Williamsburg..food is on the boring side, but its a nice place to sit outside with a book and run into everyone you havent seen in a few weeks.