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Restaurant that feels like a bit of an adventure

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SIs and hubby coming to town for b'days.

Not looking for fine or refined -- but for something that has a bit of conversational value. Last time, took them to La Esquina and they loved talking about going through the special door, through the kitchen, etc.

Any ideas along these lines? Brooklyn also possible.

Ideas so appreciated.

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  1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/606252

    1. Freeman's is my go to place for delighting out of towners. Walking down that alleyway is just fun. The only thing is that the scene can be a bit much and they don't reservations for small parties.

      1. Perhaps Ninja? http://www.ninjanewyork.com/

        I haven't been but have heard it's a good experience place - food's ok but nothing special.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Nicolle

          I would avoid Ninja like the plague. It's a frontrunner for the most idiotic restaurant in NYC.

          The zero star New York Times review: http://events.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/...

          1. re: hcbk0702

            I believe that the review you link to was included in "Bruni's Top Ten" reviews either as reported in the Times or maybe on Eater...

            I read it again and laughed out loud -- loudly -- when Bruni suggests an additional "way" for those asked to choose their approach to their table: "out the door..."

            1. re: shaogo

              aww that's a bummer...I had heard the food wasn't special...but not that bad! I loved the concept. :(

        2. If sis and hubby like Japanese food (non-sushi), there is a great place called Sakagura on 43rd Street between 2nd and 3rd. It is located in the basement of an office building; but once you get in the restaurant, you'll think that you've been trasported to another country. The place is traditionally a sake bar (with a great selection!), with fantastic little 'tapas-style' plates for food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sasamii

            That's the first thing that came to my mind, too. The food is terrific and the sake list is among the best in the country. You have to wander through the building's dingy stairway and basement corridor a bit, which adds to air of secrecy when you enter the restaurant.

          2. if you want an adventure... head to Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn or The Good Fork in Red Hook.

            http://vinegarhillhouse.com/
            http://www.goodfork.com/

            I think Good Fork has better food, but Vinegar Hill House is a little more of an adventure - food is similar to Freeman's (which another hound recommended).

            Have fun...

            1. WD-50
              Degustation

              1. Thanks, hounds, for the great ideas. Booked Good Fork in Red Hook. Haven't been myself, so will be an adventure for me, too. Excited. Cheers!

                1 Reply
                1. re: nycron

                  It might be fun to get there by ferry. There is a ferry to IKEA that leaves from Pier 11 downtown. It used to be free, but now I think it's about $5 (maybe free with a receipt from IKEA).

                2. Definiitely Shopsin's.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: steakrules85

                    Shopsin's is definitely fun. And the conversation value would be immeasurable if you managed to get yourselves kicked out for breaking one of the many undocumented, arcane and somewhat arbitrary rules.

                    But they only do breakfast and lunch and they're also only open 4-5 days a week.

                    1. re: egit

                      Yep Tues- Sun 9-3 in the Essex Market.

                      1. re: steakrules85

                        Actually their site says:

                        TUES thru FRI 9am to 3pm & SATURDAY 9:30am to 2pm.

                        Essex St Market is closed on Sundays.