HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

Business trip this month and dining solo at the bar - Thoughts?

  • 4

Headed into town the last week in April for three weeknights. Really excited about getting a spot at the bar and enjoying great food, and always love chatting up with folks around me. As always, I've spent an agressive amount of time figuring out where to go and I've been able to narrow down pretty well. It seems my last several trips have been very West Village/Downtown centric - been to Market Table, Spotted Pig, Scarpetta, Kingswood - and I'm seemingly still on that trend.

Hoping to get some thoughts on my selection, mainly with regards to atmosphere, notoriety, and consistency for delicious food. And more important, a great bar scene with good people watching and cool bartenders. Pretty set to sit at the bar at Babbo night one, because I've been dying to do so...and last time my wife picked Scarpetta over this and I'm looking to wrong a right. Here are the other selections that I have for the following two nights:

Minetta Tavern - although I feel like I've already maxed out on the McNally scene I do love Pastis
Little Owl - been really dying to get here but worried about the size and the bar crowd.
Locanda Verde - good for the weeknight crowd?
Blue Ribbon Bakery - heard the food is great, but know nothing else
Waverly Inn - should I even bother? Or will I get a spot at the bar okay?
Perilla - friends loved it, and I'm doubly curious but is it too similar to Little Owl?
Freeman's - lived in NYC for three years and go back frequently, but this would be my first jaunt to LES
Marea - it's on my list but I'm not 100% sure why?
Degustation - is this something that would work for me?

Price isn't much of an issue, but I'm probably not looking for fine dining. After Babbo, I had to remove EMP from my list. Besides, I should experience that with my wife. I'm open to any suggestions, and hopefully I've been able to paint a good picture of the scene I'm looking for. But if these choices don't match the "fun bar scene" criteria, I'd love to know. Feel free to make any suggestions...I'm staying between SoHo and WV so if I'm oversighting great spots in SoHo or TriBeCa I'm game for thoughts there.

Should say that the results above were a result of extensive research here on this board.

-----
Perilla
9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

Babbo
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

Spotted Pig
314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

Little Owl
90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

Market Table
54 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014

Blue Ribbon Bakery
33 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

Kingswood
121 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10011

Waverly Inn
16 Bank St, New York, NY 10014

Scarpetta
355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

Marea
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Minetta is a few notches up Pastis and has a much more ambitious menu. One of my favorite places in town. Wonderful atmosphere and service too. And good bartenders!

    Little Owl's bar is seriously tiny and cramped. I think 3 seats. Last time a friend went he asked "these seats aren't really supposed to be here, are they?" and they replied in the affirmative. He was able to walk in around 9:30-10pm on a weeknight. Overall it may be a crapshoot since the bar there is so tiny.

    Locanda Verde is excellent and the bartenders are great. Don't miss the cocktail list, the sheep's milk ricotta, the porchetta sandwich. This would be really fun for a solo dinner.

    Blue Ribbon Brasserie I think has slightly better food than its sister restaurant the Blue Ribbon Bakery, but the Braserie's bar is pretty small. Four stools I think, and they're always occupied when I've been there. But it's fun since you can see all the raw bar prep from that area. The bar is in front of the main dining room and does get a little busy since that's where all the people waiting for tables congregate. Might be OK if they happen to be slow that night.

    Never been to Waverly.

    I'd say Perilla is a bit more sophisticated and worldly than Little Owl, with more incorporation of flavors from around the world, but I personally wouldn't do both of them. Maybe add in one of Gabe Stuhlman's places? Fedora, Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey's Grocery? Pearl Oyster Bar is also nearby and is great for a solo diner.

    Also you should know that Freemans has a new ish sister restaurant, Peels, on the Bowery. The cocktails there are quiet good. I personally like the upstairs bar better since you get a bird's eye view of the chaos on Bowery below you.

    If you want to do a Michael White restaurant, stay downtown, and have a good bar scene, how about Osteria Morini, instead?

    Degustation is so small, I would make a reservation, but it would be great for a solo diner. What about Aldea, if you're looking for something upscale? It's got a chef's counter in back.

    Similarly, have you looked into Txikito or El Quinto Pino? Have been hearing good things about Caliu lately as well.

    EMP doesn't serve a full dinner menu at the bar but they do serve lunch at the bar if you still want to give it a shot. Not really a place with a fun bar scene, though.

    If you're willing to consider EMP, I'd say that at least one of the Danny Meyer places might be worth a shot, I think Maialino's bar is typically pretty busy, as is Gramercy Tavern's.

    -----
    Pearl Oyster Bar
    18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

    Perilla
    9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

    Eleven Madison Park
    11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

    Gramercy Tavern
    42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

    Freemans
    Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002

    Little Owl
    90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

    El Quinto Pino
    401 W 24th St, New York, NY 10011

    Blue Ribbon Brasserie
    97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

    Blue Ribbon Bakery
    33 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

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

    Txikito
    240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

    Aldea
    31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

    Locanda Verde
    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

    Joseph Leonard
    170 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

    Maialino
    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

    Peels
    325 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

    Osteria Morini
    218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

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

    Caliu
    557 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Always love your responses kathryn, thanks! I keep reading about Peels so maybe I need to drop little owl for this. We've been to Mailano before for brunch, and have adored Gramercy Tavern for years - so fortunately I don't have to add those to my (self-inflicted) torture of deciding!

      I'm going now to look into Txikito and Joseph Leonard....

      -----
      Gramercy Tavern
      42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

      Txikito
      240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

      Joseph Leonard
      170 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

    2. Fun bar scenes and great food:

      Empellon
      Hotel Griffou
      Casa Mono
      Momofuku Ssam Bar
      Maialino

      Further uptown:

      Nougatine (you can also get the Jean Georges dining room menu at the bar)
      Modern Bar Room

      Marea is great for bar dining, though not much of a scene (based on my two meals at the bar recently). Probably best to reserve a table with your wife.

      -----
      Casa Mono
      52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

      Momofuku Ssam Bar
      207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

      Jean Georges
      1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

      The Modern
      9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

      Hotel Griffou
      21 W 9th St, New York, NY 10011

      Nougatine
      1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

      Empellon Taqueria
      230 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

      1 Reply
      1. re: H Manning

        Been to Ssam Bar and Ma Peche, agree that they are unique and not to be missed. Been to the Modern Bar Room for cocktails, but not sure I'm up for a return this trip.

        I love Mexican so maybe I'll look into Empellon as well! Thank for the suggestions! And for helping my decision against Marea :)

        -----
        Marea
        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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

        Empellon Taqueria
        230 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014