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Mar 5, 2012 10:55 AM

Public or Empellon Cocina?

My best friend and I will be in the city for ONE night (March 15) and want to go somewhere with a lively, fun atmosphere and good food (we are in our mid 30s). Cool neighborhood with places to have drinks before/after dinner is a plus. I made reservations at Public and Empellon Cocina, but am open to others as well. Budget around $300 including tax, tip, drinks. Tried to get into Locanda Verde and Babbo with no luck. Also wondering about Beauty and Essex or Stanton Social...or Death & Co. I wouldn't mind popping in to one of those for a drink--do I need to make a res? Any advice appreciated!

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  1. Both Public and Empellon Cocina have pretty good cocktails, for a restaurant. I'd give the slight edge to Empellon Cocina for great tequila and mezcal based cocktails (if you like other spirits, you're outta luck there). But Public is a more impressive looking restaurant, though, in terms of decor. And you can probably have a glass of wine after dinner inside of the Monday Room, the hidden wine bar behind the host stand at Public.

    Empellon Cocina has a bonus in that Death & Co is literally one block away.

    D&C doesn't take reservations -- it is first come, first served. For a Thursday night, I would go there first, around 6:30pm, as the wait can be rather long post-dinner (if you get in at all). Because it is primarily a cocktail bar, it can be difficult for the staff to gauge when a table might be available. Some people drink just one round, others drink five or six.

    210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

    The Monday Room
    210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

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

    Empellon Cocina
    105 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

    6 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thank you!
      I'm definitely leaning toward empellon. I would love to try death and co but I probably need a back up. Any ideas? If we were to go out after dinner in LES, I assume we would need to take a cab? (can't remember how long the walk is?)
      One more question: do you have suggestions for a quick/cheap lunch in the meatpacking district? Bagel maybe?
      Thank you!!

      1. re: alsky

        After Empellon Cocina, if you want to grab a cocktail somewhere that is easier to get into Death & Co, try these, all a very short walk away:

        Amor y Amargo - bitters specialists, great housemade vermouths
        Mayahuel - tequila/mezcal specialist
        Bar at Vandaag - gin/aquavit/beer cocktails
        Black Market
        Lovers of Today
        Bar at The Toucan & The Lion - newish Asian themed gastropub

        Slightly further away (still not a long walk):

        Booker & Dax - avant garde/molecular gastronomy
        The Beagle

        And that's going no further east than Ave A or further west than 2nd Ave.

        You can use Google Maps to estimate walking time.

        The Meatpacking District is not an area rich in bagels or quick/cheap lunches. Try Chelsea Market. More ideas:

        304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

        Black Market
        110 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

        103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

        58 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

        Amor y Amargo
        443 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

        The Beagle
        162 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

        Lovers of Today
        132 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

        The Toucan and The Lion
        342 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

        Booker & Dax
        207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

      2. re: kathryn

        I passed by Empellon the other night on my way to Maharlika. The menu seemed really good. I was thinking of going there for small dishes. Is that a good way to order at Empellon? How is the food there compared to similar places. There was a Venezuelan place a block further downtown i think that also seemed interesting.

        1. re: kathryn

          Thank you for the suggestions--we had a great meal at Empellon Cucina (and a fabulous time in NYC)! It was exactly what we were looking for. The waitress suggested we order five small plates to share; we ordered four and that was clearly enough. We had guacamole, peeky toe crab, lobster/tomato frito, and the smoked ricotta. The food was really good. The lobster frito and guac were the standouts...and the cocktails were fantastic (and strong!).The restaurant is fairly dark and loud--perfectly so, as we were able to carry on a conversation but it was a fun lively atmosphere. It was very affordable as well. I think the two of us spent just over $100 with drinks, tip, tax, etc. (four small plates, two drinks a piece--I was shocked).
          Afterwards, we tried Death & Co...could not get in, they took our number but never called (which was fine; we went back to midtown shortly thereafter but I still thought it was interesting that they didn't call).
          Also visited Katz, Russ & Daughters, which were both wonderful as usual, and had a tarte at a place in Soho that was really good (pear and chocolate--YUM).
          Thanks for the help!

          1. re: alsky

            Not surprising that Death & Co didn't call you really. Depending on when you went, he probably put your name on the list, which was preceded by a dozen pages of other names ahead of yours. They'll call people until the place shuts down, but if they don't get to your name you won't hear from them.

            It's a shame you didn't go for drinks elsewhere--plenty of great cocktail options in that neighborhood. Maybe next time...