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Favorite tiny restaurant?

I'm looking for recommendations on restaurants that are small -- great food but only 8 or 9 tables. I'm also certain there is likely to be a good story associated with your favorite tiny restaurant -- so please share that, too!

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  1. One of my favorite tiny joints is Westville. Great burgers, salads, and "market sides," not to mention the eggs w/ turkey hash on the weekend. It's one of those places where the cooks in the kitchen have to step aside to let you get to the bathroom.

    1 Reply
    1. re: billyeats

      Westville is one of my fave restaurants, not just the small ones. I almost always get the market plates.

    2. Le Gigot on Cornelia. No story, just a tiny, sweet, space!

      2 Replies
      1. re: simetrias

        Fig & Olive on the UES is a charming, small walk-down that specializes in healthy Mediterranean food (they use olive oil instead of butter and you'd never know the difference!)
        La Boite en Bois -- a French bistro walk-down, very tiny with the flavor of being in Paris.
        I'm with you. I happen to prefer small, intimate restaurants as well.

        1. re: simetrias

          Cornelia's a happening place! Love Home at 20 Cornelia--delicious, homey (go figure ;) ) food. Went there this winter, but apparently they also have a garden in warm weather. Homemade ketchup and yummy mulled cider.

          The counter at La Esquina late at night--delish simple tacos.

          Also second Fig & Olive. Gotta love a place with olive oil tastings! Don't know if I'd consider it *super*tiny though.

        2. My favorite tiny restaurant that delivers BIG is Tides (in the LES), less than 450sq ft. Seafood is their expertise. Their food is absolutely fantastic and the decor is nothing like you've ever seen before --- their entire ceiling is made out of bamboo stalks. They do a lot with the space and I've never felt cramped. Very reasonably priced, most bottles under $50, their mussels are a must. Its romantic, yet has that grounded trendy edge. You won't feel rushed and you'll never forget this place. I love it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: viniferaNYC

            A favorite of mine as well, and viniferaNYC has done an excellent job of describing the teensy seafood "shack" that is Tides to a "T"! :-)


            1. re: RGR

              I guess I should try it again - but I was sorely disappointed with my food there and so haven't been inclined to thus far. I did like the room.

              1. re: MMRuth


                Even though I like Tides, given how you felt about your first time there, I can understand your reluctance to try it again since I rarely return to a restaurant when my initial experience has been disappointing. This is along the lines of my theory that a restaurant has only one chance to make a first impression.

                I'm trying to think back on exactly what disappointed you, but I'm drawing a blank and am too lazy to do a search. In any event, unless you thought the food was horrible, if you are inclined to give restaurants that don't quite measure up a second chance, then you should go to Tides again.

                1. re: RGR

                  I think I thought the lobster roll was weak - didn't like the dill in it - and the other people I was with felt the same way about their food, other than someone who had a whole fish, which was quite nice.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    The lobster roll is definitely not traditional since it's always "spiced up" with an herb such as basil, tarragon, or, in you case, dill, and there's also some chopped cucumber in mayo. Not to everyone's taste, but I like it.

          2. Itzocan on 101st and Lexington.

            2 Replies
            1. re: nancyl126

              The original one on E. 9th is TINY! (And not so good anymore...)

              1. re: scarlet starlet

                what? what happened to it? i haven't been in a few years and was just missing it recently - is it not worth going back to?

            2. Le Veau D'Or

              This place has been open for decades and was once a top restaurant in town. It hasn't been a top restaurant in town since elevated trains rumbled past on nearby 2nd and 3rd Avenues though. The owner is an amazing Savoyard who was a member of the French resistance. Stories and wine are guarenteed. The menu is still straight out of super old school Escofier French. It has to be virtually unchanged in over 40-50 years now, menu included. Interesting time capsule. The only servers they have are old as dirt too. Oh yeah, Hemingway and Bogart used to frequent this place.

              1. Uskadar - Turkish on 2nd Ave about 74th. That whole block was/is wall to wall little restaurants. A day or two after 9/11, I went there just to be supportive. Every other restaurant on the block was completely empty while Uskudar was about 1/2 full. Patrons all gave one another a knowing look, but nothing was said. We were all there for the same reason. Owned by a very nice family.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Jane A.

                  Prune is still my favorite tiny-size restaurant.

                  1. re: Jane A.

                    Jane, very cool. I'm going to give this place a try. Are the other restaurants on the block mostly Turkish, or are there all different sorts?

                    1. re: cimui

                      Think there are other Turkish, but I like Uskadar best. There's been some turnover. Walk along the 2 blocks - and browse menus. Think they've torn down 1/2 of one block for development.

                  2. Green Table in Chelsea Market is a lovely, small place. The restaurant is supposedly just a side show to the catering business -- but it's quite a good sideshow with excellent service!

                    1. degustation, hands down. seats 16.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: thew

                        I SECOND THIS MOTION.... Degustation is the definition of what a small restaurant should be. it is almost perfection

                      2. The Stage Restaurant 2nd ave and 6ish - best pierogis and blintzes in the tristate.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mistercreosote

                          2nd Avenue between 7th and St Marks. By STOMP! And the Washington Mutual.

                        2. well i'm not sure how small you want to go. Bonsignor is real smal i think 2 tables great soup and sandwich. Upstairs at boulez i like small, great food , can mix sushi and lambchops or scallops or italian ,,, crowded but small Pistahon filipiono food and small.
                          No stories except i like Upstairs because there is no sign , no name ,,kinda like Chumley's in that regard..

                          1. i really like 9th street market. Not for brunch- its a mob scene. But you can usually get a table for dinner and its just very quiet, calming and the food is always consistent. I've read some negative things on chowhound about the service at 9th street- but thats never been my experience. Oh and yes, the fire is amazing, the smell and the sound are so soothing.

                            1. Caracas Arepa Bar in the EV. But, you must be prepared for tiny tables in a tiny place to avoid annoyance, and then it can be quite delightful.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: chompchomp

                                  The price of arepas there is outrageous. They're tasty, but it's like 5 bucks for something isn't as good as what would cost me 50 cents to a dollar in Jackson Heights. I love their juices though!

                                2. I've always loved Mexicana Mama in the WV - awesome food, but you're practically on top of your neighbors (they push all the tables together!)

                                  1. Mole-great Mexican on the LES-maybe 10 tables and while it was BYO a while back I don't know if it still is.

                                    1. You didn't specify upscale, downscale or whatever, so I'm going to say B&H Dairy on 2nd Ave. by St. Mark's. It doesn't get much tinier than that! It's a friendly (albeit cramped) place with good, hearty comfort food.

                                      1. 26 seats on 13th and b. Delicious reasonably priced french food in an adorable closet.

                                        1. Delicia Brazil. Just make sure you don't have plans afterwards - the service is very slow, but very friendly and the food is delicious.

                                          1. I love the Hummus Place on 74th and Amsterdam. It's got about 6-8 tables depending on how many people are there, in the basement of a brownstone, and the hummus is unbelievably tasty. Fresh pita, too.

                                            1. I second Le Gigot. It is really lovely.

                                              For something a little pricier, Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar. Upstairs is tasting menu only, delish and probably 4 tables. I do love Degustation as others have suggested but note it is counter seating only.

                                              1. Carino, 1710 Second Avenue, I've been going here for years..

                                                The owner "Mama Carino" is the CUTEST little 98-yr-old Italian lady who at one time years ago was the chef, but now she is there every day just to walk around and makes sure everything is ok The food is delish, their bar is next door and their cocktails r great, and their chocolate mousse is to die for! It's right across from Elaine's, so you can't miss it.
                                                They put out really Great food, and are reasonably priced, non fancy, just a cute Italian-home-style ambience.

                                                1. I'm going to have to say Ta'im. Considering how small it is and how good the food is, although I've never tried to go there during lunch rush time. Amazing falafel.

                                                  1. Instantly conjures Wondee Siam 1 on 8th Ave and 53rd or so. So tiny you kind of get to know the other people in the joint just by looking around. When you ask for the country curry extra hot, it'll singe your tonsils. To me that's a good thing. I go to Wondee 2 under duress from friends, but still miss the impossibly Lillipution scale of the original.