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Destination Non-Traditional Birthday Restaurant in Outer Boroughs

I want to take my boyfriend out for a nice/interesting dinner for his birthday but want to take him somewhere outside of Manhattan (where we both live and eat 99% of our meals) that will be exciting and worth the trip out (however long the subway ride may be). I'm not looking for the traditional "expensive restaurant," though. I obviously want somewhere that has great food and would be appropriate for a birthday dinner, but would love suggestions for a place that is either off-beat, serves an unusual type of ethnic cuisine or has an amazing and "different" type of atmosphere.

Any suggestions?

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  1. Malagueta in Astoria is romantic in a low key kind of way.
    The food is great also.
    Have the passion fruit mousse for dessert if it is available.
    Regards,
    JK

    1. I don't know if this is what you are looking for, but Sapori D'Ischia in Woodside Queens has opera singers on Thursday night and they have that to die for dish where they make a fettucini and swirl it at table side in a wheel of parmigiano. There has always been a fun atmosphere there on Thursdays, with the singers taking requests and singing pop songs as well.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Val55

        Sripraphai is romantic and lovely only in the back garden. Inside is like sitting at Ikea.

        1. re: Val55

          I was going to suggest Sapori also. It's got this oddly romantic vibe: it's small and pretty but also unusual because the tables are set up in the middle of an Italian deli. Plus on most nights, they have live music. I've been there on the nights when there's a guy playing old standards on the piano. And the food is good. They're moderately priced.

        2. Sripraphai in Woodside is the best thai restaurant in Queens and quite possibly the entire city. Cheburechnaya or some of the other Bukharian restaurants in Rego Park are totally unique to Queens - I don't know that I would call them "festive" but the food is awesome and you won't find anything like them in Manhattan (it's a central Asian kosher cuisine that combines elements of middle eastern, Russian and asian cooking - amazing). None of these places are super far from the city, either.

          1 Reply
          1. re: biondanonima

            I was thinking about Sri too - and while the inside isn't particularly where I'd like to have a festive birthday meal, the patio outside is lovely, especially in this nice weather. We had a great lunch there on Saturday.

          2. Convivium Osteria in Park Slope. Mainly portuguese food (which in and of itself is a bit unusual), and, if you ask for the wine cellar, you will be transported to the European countryside.

            Its not wacky off-beat, but it is absolutely amazing atmosphere.

            9 Replies
            1. re: elecsheep9

              When we were dating, I did that for DH's birthday as well (we both lived in Manhattan) after a concert at Bargemusic. The atmosphere was fantastic and very romantic.

              There is also Alma in Red Hook for pretty standard Mexican food. But the view of Manhattan can't be beat. And there's Inti Raymi in Jackson Heights for Peruvian. There's a couple of Peruvian-Chinese fusion dishes on the menu as well. And it's very inexpensive.

              Okay, not totally unique and not in outer boroughs and more on the expensive side, but Stone Barns at Blue Hill is nice as well. You can check out the grounds, see the animals and plants, use the "outhouse" where you can use the composting toilet. You can take the Metro North and cab to get there.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Can you tell me more about the Peruvian place?

                1. re: MMRuth

                  I haven't been to Inti Raymi in a while, but it's one of the better places for Peruvian food. But then again, it's not like I've been to tons of Peruvian restaurants for comparison. But I liked it better than Coco Roco in Park Slope and the one on the UWS (can't remember the name). Their ceviche is good, but not as good as my beloved now-closed Pollada de Laura (sp?). That reminds me -- I should post about where to find the best ceviche.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    I posted a similar query for both Peruvian and Ecuadorian ceviche (for comparison) and according to Jason Fores it's at El Anzuelo Fino in Woodhaven for Peruvian. Still looking for Ecuadorian, since RHBF won't be up and running while I'm here, it appears.

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/510910

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      Inti Raymi is probably the oldest of the Peruvian restaurants in Jackson Heights, and it's fine, but in my experience, not what I would consider one of the better places among the many Peruvian places in Jackson Heights and Corona.

                      1. re: E Eto

                        Can you recommend a good Peruvian place?

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          My favorite right now is Punto Fijo on Northern Blvd. I also liked Las Delicias in Corona (down the street from Leo's Latticini) the couple times I've been there. Like you, I still mourn the loss of La Pollada de Laura. If you're in the mood for jalea, the one at Pio Pio is as good as I've had around these parts. I once invited a Peruvian-American friend out to Queens, and because it was the most convenient place from Manhattan by public transit, I suggested Inti Raymi (thinking it should be decent enough), and now she won't believe any restaurant recommendation I make.

                          1. re: E Eto

                            I'll give it a try one of these days. Not the easiest restaurants to get to from Manhattan without a car but it's worth a shot. Thanks.

              2. How about a place on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Dominicks or Roberto's comes to mind. Excellent Italian food, not expensive and you can get dessert/cake at one of the Italian cafes on the same block.
                AR

                1 Reply
                1. re: mrotmd

                  Yes... Arthur Ave... Very good suggestion...

                2. We love the Indo-Chinese at Tangra Wok on Queens Blvd. in Rego Park. It's 1/2 block away from the 63rd Drive subway station. Pleasant decor and service. Lots of wonderful dishes, but don't miss the Gobi Manchurian.

                  1. Great suggestions. Thanks!

                    1. how about queen's hideaway in greenpoint? its in a mostly quiet street/neighborhood and quite good. spring menu should be very good. plenty of reviews here, and elsewhere. I think it also counts for all of your requirements, although it is not exactly "ethnic" but, can't american food be considered ethnic somehow?