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Penelope's or Rare for 30th Birthday Dinner?

I'm looking for a place to have dinner before heading out for a night of karaoke (at 38th between 5th and 6th) Saturday night and am having a hard time. I think it'll be around 10 people or so; don't want anything too expensive but I am looking for something festive (30!) so cheap to moderate works. I'm just unfamiliar with the neighborhood for anything except Korean (which we're not doing because we just had a BBQ dinner there). Would Penelope or Rare better fit the bill? Any other suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. Penelope is certainly not festive. It a little comfort food shop. Rare is an upscale burger place that could be festive especially if the 10 of you are a rowdy bunch. You could also grab a dink on the roof of Rare which is a really cool spot.

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    Penelope
    159 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

    Rare View
    303 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

    Rare Bar & Grill
    303 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

    1. Probably not the best idea for a hot muggy day, but I find that the all you can eat hot pot at Szechuan Gourmet can be festive, especially as it's a communal dish.

      And I agree with princeofpork that Rare is probably a better choice over Penelope.

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      Szechuan Gourmet
      21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

      4 Replies
      1. re: Miss Needle

        I thought they stop hot pot in the summer at SG?

        1. re: kathryn

          You may be right. When I've had hot pot there in the past, it wasn't on the menu and wall and had to ask for it. But I'm generally not in a hot pot mood during the summer.

        2. re: Miss Needle

          I've never been there, and in my search saw it a good bit so I might have to make a trip. But yeah, with the weather the way it's been, probably not the way to go.

          1. re: leuce7

            Szechuan Gourmet's non-hotpot food is really good and I've done big groups there before. It's really fun if you have an adventurous group of friends who enjoys eating family style.

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            Szechuan Gourmet
            21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

        3. Perhaps, Artisanal? Haven''t been in several years, and I wasn't bowled by my experiences there. However, many Hounds like it a lot, and it certainly has a boisterous, festive vibe.

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

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          Artisanal
          2 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016

          1. Penelope is a strange choice, and the cross town distance to 6th Ave. is probably farther than you want. More importantly, the food isn't stellar.

            You can also probably do better than Rare.

            Maybe Foodparc (many options, and a beer garden), Lan Sheng, Smorgas Chef, Nirvana for Indian, Dhaba (even farther than Penelope's), Lazzara's pizza (not incredible, but will fit a group thing)....

            It may be easier to switch your karaoke choice to open up your food choices.

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            Lazzara's
            221 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

            Dhaba
            108 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016

            Nirvana
            346 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10001

            Smorgas Chef
            58 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016

            Lan Sheng
            60 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

            FoodParc
            845 6th Ave, New York, NY 10001

            2 Replies
            1. re: sugartoof

              I was leaning toward Rare because of the rooftop bar. It doesn't have to be anywhere fancy--if I'm going for the great food I'd rather wait to go with my husband and really enjoy it than take a crowd--but it would be nice to have something fun, decent, and not expensive. Lazzara's was on my short list, but Rare seemed more summery.

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              Lazzara's
              221 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

              1. re: leuce7

                Rare rooftop is a great spot (I was there last week) but important to note that the Rare rooftop does not serve food, unless it's a pre-order for catering for groups of 20 or more. You'd have to eat in the restaurant and then go up to the roof (and probably a line on Saturday).

            2. The original comment has been removed