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Feb 12, 2013 09:14 AM

Two Fun, Upbeat Dinners in New York for Thirty-something Guests

Hello everyone! This is my second time posting on these boards, and I always find your recommendations and restaurant savvy extremely helpful!

My twin sister and her husband, both in their early thirties, are coming to town in early March for two nights. We’re looking for a really great food itinerary for their trip!

I consider myself a foodie, and have eaten at many of the great NYC restaurants, but I’m having a difficult time narrowing it down to two restaurants for dinner.

Here’s the criteria: somewhere delicious, mid-priced (around $25 for entrée) but with a nice, upbeat atmosphere, younger but still sophisticated crowd (thirties, not twenties), and impressive / unique for an out of town guest. Anywhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn.

Maybe there’s someplace new that fits the bill?

Personally, I like vibrant bistro environments, and prefer smaller, neighborhood restaurants to larger, more clubby restaurants (like Beauty and Essex, Buddakan, etc.)

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

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  1. Where is the visiting couple coming from?

    Any particular cuisines they like or dislike?

    Any ideas you're throwing around already, given that you have eaten at many NYC restaurants?

    How about noise levels, are you OK with a more boisterous place since you asked for "upbeat"?

    Off the top of my head:
    Momofuku Ssam Bar
    Empellon Cocina

    1. Louro
      The Marrow
      Le Philosophe
      Il Buco Alimentari
      Empellon Taqueria

      1. I'll second and add a couple:
        Momofuku Ssam (more fun just ordering a bunch of different plates to share, although you can do it as app-entree-dessert if you like)
        Empellon Cocina
        Acme (a bit clubby, especially on weekends, but the food - excellent)
        Recette (small plates)
        Aamanns-Copenhagen (small plates, all miniature open-face sandwiches. Weird concept to us Americans, but it works suprisingly well.)

        In Brooklyn (quiet down, Chowhound Overlords, we're not going to make the OP make two separate threads) -
        Convivium Osteria (the epitome of an excellent small, neighborhood joint)
        Marlow & Sons

        Public is great, but I think $25 might the the cheapest entree on the menu. That said, only one or two break the $30 mark, so they're in that general neighborhood, if at the higher end of it.

        Around that same price point - most things $25-$29 - never hurts to give Babbo a call and see if they've got an opening.

        Another option is to something cheaper one night (maybe Chinatown?) so you can splurge a little more the other night.

        1. Thank you all for the suggestions! To answer some of the questions, the visiting couple are coming from Dallas, and they are very open-minded when it comes to different kinds of cuisine.

          I think the first night, we might try Louro. The menu looks great, the ambience seems really nice, and I've heard good things. I was able to get a reservation for 4 at 8:30.

          Now, for the second night, there will be 6 of us (two friends are joining.) I'm debating between Empellon Cocina and Momofuku Ssam Bar. Which would be better for a group?

          Thanks again for all of the great suggestions!

          5 Replies
          1. re: bbnyc

            Both would be really fun with a group if people are adventurous and into sharing lots of small plates. Just keep in mind that the tacos at Empellon Cocina come 2 to an order, and are difficult to share, so you'd need to order multiples. Same for the pork buns at Ssam Bar, they also come 2 to an order. Both kitchens are happy to do larger plates of 6 so that everybody gets one.

            But of the two you asked about, only Empellon Cocina takes reservations.

            Momofuku Ssam doesn't -- it only takes reservations for their large format meal. And if you did the Bo Ssam meal or Duck meal you'd miss out on the fun of trying lots of different things.

            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks for the suggestion! I imagine Momofuku Ssam would be sort of a nightmare for a party of 6 on a Saturday night if they don't take reservations...

              Other than Empellon, any other good ideas for a group dinner?

              Thanks again.

              1. re: bbnyc

                Lots of the ones mentioned so far would be fun with a group, I think. Public, L'artusi, Txikito, Recette, Acme...

                Also do give Babbo a call. You never know. They have one table for six but I am not sure how popular it is -- seems like a lot of parties for 2 and 4 go there.

                1. re: bbnyc

                  I would totally reserve a duck at Ssam Bar - it's one of their best dishes, and between six people you'd have more than enough stomach room left over to order a bunch of other things (the bo ssam, not so much) - maybe pass on especially filling things like the pork buns, but you could do a few rounds of smaller plates - uni, octopus. the roasted maitake with duck liver mousse, apple kimchi (of course), some crispy pig ears, etc - leading up to the duck as the finale. And you're the envy of everyone else in the restaurant. Both for the duck, and even moreso for the reserved seats.

                  All the above are good, though - Public might be the most adventurous, if anyone wants to try kangaroo or whatnot. They're also a fantastic brunch option - the most creative in town, by a mile - if your group is here on the weekend. No rezzies for brunch, but get there early enough and you should be fine.

                  1. re: sgordon

                    Momofuku Ssam only does 1 duck dinner on Saturdays, and early. They're already booked up for Sat 3/2 and Sat 3/9.