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Downtown anniversary dinner w/ lively atmosphere?

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I'm trying to book a reservation for Saturday June 23 for my anniversary. Since we rarely get to run into the city for dinner (ah, life with a baby!), I want it to be as perfect as can be!

Was originally thinking of doing La Bernardin or EMP, but decided I wasn't in the mood for precious and fussy elegance.

Looking for something more downtown that has a lively atmosphere, but still has exceptional food. I'm open to all cuisines.

I'm currently holding reservations at:
Lupa
Raouls
15 East (I know the sushi gets great reviews, but is it a sleepy place?)

Any other recommendations? Less concerned about $ and cuisine. More concerned with killer food and good energy. I'd also be open to a no-reservation place, if it meant we could sit at the bar and have drinks beforehand. We've already done Gramercy Tavern, btw.

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  1. For a lively. celebratory scene I'd recommend Scarpetta instead of Lupa, and The Dutch instead of Raoul's. The dining room at 15 East isn't sleepy at all if you have a prime time reservation.

    1. Locanda Verde or the Little Owl could be good options. Also consider Hearth.

      1. It isn't any more downtown than EMP, but I'd recommend Txikito. It's very lively, and it has great food and wine. I think it's quite a lot better than Hearth, and better than Lupa, too.

        I haven't been to 15 East, though. Of the recommendations you've already gotten, the ones that I'm familiar with that stand out to me are Scarpetta, which is pretty convivial, has good decor (not something I usually care overmuch about), and serves delicious food. Locanda Verde is very lively (maybe sometimes too lively and crowded). I've been there only once so far, for a light, late dinner, but the food was very good.

        You could also consider Apiary. I was just reading a complaint in another thread that it's too loud, so that might be just the kind of place you're looking for! I've been there only once, as well, but it was a really good meal. It's just a bit cramped, but nothing really uncomfortable for the East Village.

        1. I would have drinks at Ward III in Tribeca and dinner closeby at Locanda Verde. The drinks at Ward III are phenomenal!

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