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Tattooed Couple looking for funky, trendy, fun, fancy dinner. And DRINKS!

So, here's the deal...

My girlfriend and I will be in NYC May 13-15. We're a couple of tattooed, quirky and unique individuals (I sing in a band and she works at an artisan art gallery) from Ohio, and I'm looking for a place to take her to dinner.

We're staying at the Gershwin Hotel (because, after doing a bunch of research, we decided that if she and I were a hotel, we'd be the Gershwin) and we have tickets to see Wicked at the Gershwin Theater on Saturday night. Due to the fact that, I imagine, a big chunk of the evening will be occupied by the theater, I had planned on going to the "big" dinner on Friday night, unless, of course, you all think I can swing it all on Saturday. When I say "big" dinner, I mean that when we go on trips, we usually have one upscale, fancy dinner, and the rest of the time just pig out on local fare.

So, here's the skinny: I'm looking for a place that's funky, young, hip, unique, trendy... someplace where we won't be shunned by uptight elderly folks who go to fancy joints on a regular basis. I would say that we lean towards contemporary American fare, but here's the caveat: she isn't a big meat eater. I'm not saying that she's a full bore veggie, as she eats pepperoni pizza, will ~sometimes~ have chicken, and loves, loves, loves bacon, but she won't eat beef, or other forms of pork, and absolutely no meat in her pasta or sauce. She's special like that. I, on the other hand, will eat, and have eaten, just about anything and everything. I don't discriminate. But, I'd rather not go to an exclusively veg restaurant. We frequent Michael Symon's restaurants in Cleveland, Lola & Lolita, and she always gets the macaroni and cheese (minus the chicken,) or a simple olive oil pizza. And, at our favorite restaurant in Akron, Crave, she always gets the Caesar Salad with truffle oil.

On top of that, we love the cocktails. Around our parts, half our regular dinner bill is comprised of drinks and cocktails - she loves bellinis, and I love sampling all kinds of Martinis and other cocktails.

Location isn't really an issue, unless we make a rez for Saturday night and then we'd have to stay relatively close to the Theater District. I don't want to say that I don't have a budget, because I don't mind spending money, but I'd rather stay away from places that are going to run me into debt. From things I've read on the boards, wd50 seems right up our alley, but I don't know if their menu caters to the girl's particularity.

There you have it. We're just two rad kids from Ohio who are madly in love and plan on exploring the Big Apple for a whirlwind weekend. What say you, hounds?

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  1. Well, first of all, you definitely don't need to broadcast your tattooed, quirkiness here, like you might need to in Ohio. Restaurants here (even the nicest of them) are used to and welcoming of all kinds. ;)

    I think wd-50 is a great option and, with enough advance notice, I don't think they would have a problem catering to your GF's preferences. Will she eat fish? If so, that opens her options there considerably. I would still recommend it, and their cocktail program is top-notch.

    Other must-stops for you: you are staying fairly close to Raines Law Room, one of the city's best cocktail bars. You really can't beat it. Other cocktail spots of note are Little Branch, Death & Company (also might be worth looking into for dinner; their food is very good), and Milk & Honey (IF you can make a res, which is a pretty big if).

    For "funky, young, hip, unique, trendy," you should certainly visit the Ace Hotel one night. They typically have a DJ in the lobby, good cocktails, and I personally think the Ace is much cooler than the Gershwin. Also, both restaurants in the Ace (the Breslin and the John Dory Oyster Bar) are great, although the Breslin is pretty meat-heavy so it may not work for you. Could be a nice breakfast option one morning.

    -----
    Little Branch
    22 Seventh Ave South, New York, NY 10014

    Death & Co.
    433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

    Milk and Honey
    134 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

    Raines Law Room
    48 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

    The Breslin
    20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

    The John Dory Oyster Bar
    1196 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

    14 Replies
    1. re: loratliff

      echo the thumbs up on The Ace!! Right up their alley!!

      1. re: loratliff

        Thanks for the rec on The Ace Hotel. We actually looked into getting a room there, but in the end, decided on the Gershwin in order to save ourselves a few hundred dollars. Besides, from what everyone has told me, a hotel room in NYC is just a place to rest your bones for a few hours.

        As I said, wd-50 is currently at the top of my list, and if you think they'll accommodate the girl with enough advanced notice, then maybe that's the way to go. But, I'll also look into your other recs, as well.

        Thanks for the list of cocktail spots. Those are DEFINITELY places we would be interested in! :)

        1. re: Antevius

          Second, third, and fourth on the Ace. I stay there every time I come to NY. The Breslin is great option for food too. As for your thought about a hotel in NYC, try to find a place that's halfway decent. A clean bed is pretty important in my book (especially in NYC). I agree with Kathryn that you should definitely check out PDT and Death and Co. I also like Little Branch, but it's on the opposite side of town (West Village). Have fun!

          -----
          Little Branch
          22 Seventh Ave South, New York, NY 10014

          The Breslin
          20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

          1. re: ecwashere7

            For hotel, I recommend Comfort Inn on the LES. Very clean, affordable, and in a fun section of the neighborhood.

            We have bypassed Katz's in favor of other, lower key lunch options. We liked Pink Pony, 'inoteca, and Bruschetteria.

            -----
            'inoteca
            98 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

            Pink Pony
            178 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

            Bruschetteria
            92 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

        2. re: loratliff

          Below 14th Street, the waitstaff will have just as many if not more tattooes than you do. Especially at David Chang restaurants.

          It's my recollection that at Milk & Honey, non-members are not allowed to make reservations for any time before 1AM on Friday and Saturday. And they've taken their web site down, which I interpret as wanting to go back to non-public contact info again....

          1. re: kathryn

            If you want an experience in a place run by Sasha Petraske of M&H, you should definitely look at going to White Star in the LES. It has a slightly different feel which would actually probably be even more in line with what the OP is looking for, as it attracts a slightly more hipster/tattooed crowd than M&H, Death & Co, etc. Definitely not as hard to get into as some of the other spots and generally less pricy; IMHO it is a gem of a spot that still hasn't been discovered by many of the folks trying to get into M&H. Keep in mind it is cash only.

            -----
            White Star
            21 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

            1. re: orthorunner

              Not as hard to get into but also sometimes crowded as a result, yes? I'm not a huge fan of the drinks there. BTW Petraske is no longer affiliated with White Star either.

              http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2011/01...

              -----
              White Star
              21 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

              1. re: kathryn

                When I have been there it has not been crowded, but I have gone during off times. I had not heard that Petraske had split from White Star, which certainly affects my recommendation as I have not been there since. I am surprised to hear that, as I have been when Sasha was there, and he said it was a favored "hideout" for him as he was not all that fond of the celebrity status he had gained in some circles.

                -----
                White Star
                21 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                1. re: orthorunner

                  Yep, no more Sasha at White Star, and like Kathryn, it's never been my favorite.

                  The original poster has PLENTY of suggestions at this point, but just to fuel the fire, I'd much recommend Dutch Kills and Weatherup Tribeca over White Star.

                  -----
                  White Star
                  21 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                  1. re: loratliff

                    glad you like Weatherup Tribeca -- i went last week and really enjoyed it: it's more spacious and more mellow and comfy than some of the other places i think...

                2. re: kathryn

                  I think White Star is better than ever these days. I go there all the time, especially on weeknights. The drinks are well-done and the bartenders are fantastic, they'll help you figure out what you are in the mood for. It is a lot less nice there on Fri-Sat nights after like 10:30 (LES prime douche time) but generally it's really mellow and relaxing compared to other bars in that area. I recommend popping in for a visit. The cocktails do vary in price depending on what they are made out of, so don't be afraid to ask how much your drink is gonna cost.

                  -----
                  White Star
                  21 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                  1. re: bolletje

                    Bolletje: what time is good to avoid douchey LES scene?

                    1. re: globocity

                      before 10:30, I would say :)

                      I have been going around 7 on Fridays recently. There's a cheap sushi happy hour nearby until 7 and I go with my friends and get stuffed with crappy sushi and cheap sake then complete the evening by blowing our budget at White Star. The awful people start to roll in around 10:00 or so at which point I should probably stop being at bars anyway.

                      Maybe I am awful too, I don't know :)

                      -----
                      White Star
                      21 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                      1. re: bolletje

                        Funny, we saw plenty of douchey looking people in the LES this past weekend starting at about 11:00 until 4:00 am or so. They reminded us of the "interesting" crowds in San Diego's Gaslamp.

                        I really wanted to try White Star but (un) fortunately we ended up drinking way too much at various wine bars.

                        As for tattoos, my significant other has full sleeves and in no way stood out because of them. He was missing the hipster 'stache and Prohibition era outfits as seen on so many guys in the LES.

                        -----
                        White Star
                        21 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

          2. You are only like the Gershwin if you are dirty, smelly, small and stained. Otherwise you are not like the Gershwin.
            You might want to check out Commerce as the place is loud, lively and great food. The bar area will be crowded so be prepared to stand while you wait for the table.
            You also may want to check ut Little Giant on the LES. You guys will love exploring the hood before and after dinner its right up your alley. The food is excellent and no one will care how you look. Its smallish 10 tables or so but on a nice night you can sit outside. There is also a great tequila bar across the street.

            -----
            Little Giant
            85 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

            Commerce
            50 Commerce Street, New York, NY 10014

            5 Replies
            1. re: princeofpork

              Just my opinion(s), but there are better places in the Village than Commerce. Same goes for LES with Little Giant. If you want a meal on the LES, wd-50, Freemans, Supper, Shopsin's, and Frankie's 17 are much better options, in order of my preference.

              -----
              WD-50
              50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

              Shopsin's General Store
              120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

              Frankies 17 Spuntino
              17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

              Freemans
              Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002

              Little Giant
              85 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

              Supper
              156 E 2nd St, New York, NY 10009

              1. re: loratliff

                Lo - after checking out your recommendations, I must say that you've definitely got our vibe pegged. Checking out Freemans, Supper, and Frankie's 17's menus, I can already see multiple options for the girl and even more for myself. I think she'd even prefer to go to places like these than some totally swank joint. And Death + Company is a definite MUST.

                1. re: Antevius

                  Freemans has good cocktails, as does their sister restaurant, Peels.

                  1. re: Antevius

                    I second Death & Company, and in your case, Please Don't Tell will be exactly what you want. Expect inventive drinks in the $14 range.

                    Sending Midwestern visitors to Freeman's doesn't make much sense to me. Peels is a notch more East Coast in theme, by the same people. The food isn't mind blowing, but the rooms are nice, and the drinks and desserts are really good. Your waitstaff will be hip and often tattooed. speaking of which, unless you have ink on your face, you'll find entire regions of our city are filled with people like yourselves

                    The VanDaag suggestion you got nails the hip, new and inventive request. The place is new but still well tested, and it's got some buzz. It's going to fit the experience you're after and feel as if you're in a neighborhood spot, plus you'll enjoy the East Village.

                    Diner in Williamsburg would be perfect for you as well.

                    Kenmare, The Lion, and Beauty & Essex are places to look into for the trendy, creative crowd who want to throw down money. I don't think you're going to find what you want here, but they're worth reading about.

                    -----
                    Kenmare
                    98 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

                    The Lion
                    62 W 9th St, New York, NY 10011

                    Peels
                    325 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                    Beauty & Essex
                    146 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                  2. re: loratliff

                    NB: Shopsin's is only open for lunch, so not much of a dinner + nightlife spot.

                2. Ma Peche before or after the theater

                  -----
                  Ma Peche
                  15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                  1. First off, you should know that you're visiting during the Manahttan Cocktail Classic -- a "conference" of sorts with the best bartenders, mixologists, etc. in the nation. Kind of the Manhattan version of Tales of the Cocktail. A lot of the dinners, classes, and parties are sold out, but not all--it might be worth a detour if you see a class you like.

                    Additionally, you'll be here on the weekend, which means you have the opportunity for at least two funky, young, hip brunches. I would definitely consider the Breslin (which has a fantastic caesar salad with whole anchovies) for brunch. Also 2nd The Breslin and lobby of the Ace hotel for good cocktails.

                    Prune might good for brunch and/or dinner, but check out the menu to see if it'll work for her at dinner. It's the definition of quirky. If you go, try the deviled eggs and/or garrotxa with red onions. (The chef's memoirs just came out, it's called Blood, Bones, and Butter, BTW.)

                    For cocktail bars, if you're looking for cool and trendy, DEFINITELY check out PDT and Death & Co. Both are very popular on weekends, though, so I'd show up at PDT one night at 6pm. The tables are by reservation but reservations are hard to get -- only taken day of, via phone, at 3pm. The bar, though, is first come first served. Enter through the hot dog joint Crif Dogs, go to the red phone booth, pick up the phone, and enter the "speakeasy" and try not to let the taxidermy hit you in the head. Try the Benton's Old Fashioned, a bacon infused old fashioned. Don't miss the Torres Tots: tater tots with chihuahua cheese, chorizo gravy, chile de arbol, chipotle crema, and scallions. They also have interesting hot dogs and I believe they can be made vegetarian upon request. Oh, and if you like mezcal, The Mezcal Mule is just the right mix of fruity, sour, smoky, and spicy. PDT is tiny, so make sure you get there early. On the weekend, the wait can be hours long (it's very difficult to gauge drinks vs. dinner as people can do many, many rounds of drinks).

                    For Death & Co, the food is good, so have some mac and cheese before hand, but it can add up, so I'd do Death & Co and have dinner elsewhere. They have a huge menu organized by base spirit and if it's stirred vs. shaken. Love Szechuan peppercorn and gin? Try a Petticoat: Szechuan peppercorn infused gin, lime, Marie Brizard apry, velvet falernum, cane syrup. I also like the Hot Lips: Los Amantes joven mescal, jalapeño infused Chinaco verde, pineapple, lemon, vanilla syrup, cane syrup, salt rim. I think that they also have 4-5 different champagne based drinks as well. Don't be afraid to go off menu, either, and ask for recommendations. It's slightly bigger than PDT but not much. Get there early. Before 7pm if possible.

                    You might also like their sister bar Mayahuel, a temple to tequila and mezcal, with a bit of Dia de Los Muertos decor. Phil Ward is one of the shining stars of the NYC mixology scene, he actually used to work at Pegu Club and Death & Co, and has been described by some as a cocktail savant -- cocktail recipes come fully formed from his brain, no tweaking necessary, it's been said. His wife, a mixologist of some regard as well, does the list at Vandaag, catacorner from Mayahuel. Sleek, modern design, and a delicious and creative cocktail list with interesting items like beer cocktails and aquavit cocktails. Both of these are a bit easier to get into than D&C or PDT. Vandaag is actually a restaurant with a large bar area.

                    Best breakfast and brunch:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/707772

                    Best mixology / bespoke cocktails:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609073
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/709227

                    I'd also look into the Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey's Grocery, and Fedora group of restaurants, started by a restauranteur from Madison, Wisconsin who creates really great neighborhood restaurants with wonderful atmosphere and service. Very hip, but check out the menus online to see if there's enough for your lady to eat.

                    And if she likes pepperoni pizza, try the spicy soppressata at Motorino.

                    -----
                    Please Don't Tell
                    113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                    Prune
                    54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

                    Pegu Club
                    77 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

                    Crif Dogs
                    113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                    Fedora
                    239 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

                    Mayahuel
                    304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

                    Joseph Leonard
                    170 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

                    The Breslin
                    20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

                    Motorino
                    349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                    Vandaag
                    103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    Jeffrey's Grocery
                    172 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: kathryn

                      LOTS of awesome information here, kathryn. Thank you so much! Dia de Los Muertos decor sounds like something she would absolutely LOVE and if they've got great cocktails, as well, well hell, we're there! I'll also check out the menus of the places you've suggested. This is my homework this week. :)

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Just an FYI: most of the "good" classes at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic are already sold out.

                        1. re: loratliff

                          I see classes by David Wondrich and Dale DeGroff, two giants in the cocktail world, that aren't sold out yet. And the Sunset Cruise. (I went last year, it was a lot of fun.)

                          1. re: kathryn

                            Or, would it be more practical to go AFTER the show? We should be getting out around 11pm, so I imagine there would be a wait to get in at that hour. Basically, I'm debating in whether I should go there Friday night with no concerns, or on Saturday, pre- or post-show.

                            1. re: Antevius

                              IIRC they close around 1am so you may not get into Death and Co. at all.

                        2. re: kathryn

                          A few questions: if we're seeing the 8:00 performance of Wicked at the Gershwin, could we feasibly go to Death + Co. beforehand for either drinks or dinner? How much time would we have to give ourselves to get to the theater, and what time should we arrive at D+C?

                          1. re: Antevius

                            Sure. D+C doesn't open until 6 p.m. though, and I think you'd need to leave at 7:30 p.m. to hop in a cab to the theater, so I'd arrive to D+C right when they open so you have the most time.

                            1. re: loratliff

                              Would you recommend going to D+C on Friday evening instead, so that we don't have to rush, and therefore set up an evening put and about for drinks & such, or rather on Saturday prior to the show?

                                1. re: thew

                                  yes, agreed...it's much to rushed to try and grab a cocktail at D+C and then worry about timing to the theatre...either go Friday night (a great idea), or late-late-Saturday (w/ a backup plan in case you don't get in)...you want to savor the cocktails and not worry about hurrying to another part of town :)

                                2. re: Antevius

                                  Yes but I'd still get there early, as I've seen it completely full by 6:45pm on Friday.

                                  1. re: Antevius

                                    My shock with D + C is they close early - or, as they say, stop seating early. Be warned.

                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                      1am, depending on the night. Not ridiculously early. Little Branch closes at 2am.

                                      -----
                                      Little Branch
                                      22 Seventh Ave South, New York, NY 10014

                            2. Try the Fat Radish in the LES, fits what you are looking for both food wise and vibe wise perfectly.

                              -----
                              Fat Radish
                              17 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002