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What's a good restaurant where we can eat at the bar?

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My friend and I really enjoy just sitting at the bar and having a few cocktails with some food at the bar. We enjoy dining at the restaurants too but sometimes it is nice to just chill at the bar and eat. Some of the places that we've tried so far and really like are Junoon, Aquagrill, Gramercy Tavern, Solera and Tamarind. Any other suggestions?

Our budget is about 100-150 per person before taxes and we typically have about two or three cocktails.

We prefer places that we can just walk in and not require reservations or have to wait a long time to be seated. We also have a slight preference for quieter places with an older crowd but that is not a deal breaker at all.

We typically try to avoid peak dinner times (6-8PM?) and try to go after 9 or as early as 5 or even for brunch.

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  1. If you drink wine, Gottino's on Greenwich Ave has a nice "Milano, Italy" feel to it. Good small plates, nice atmosphere.

    1. Are good cocktails a requirement? What about restaurants who only have beer/wine licenses?

      Best cocktails at a restaurant bar:
      WD-50
      Alder
      The NoMad
      Momofuku Ssam Bar - and most of the restaurant is counter seating anyway
      Empellon Cocina
      Louro

      Pearl & Ash has bar dining as well, they don't have a liquor license so all of their cocktails are wine based. They are much more known for their wine list. Really fun place to eat at the bar.

      I also find that Danny Meyer (Union Sq Cafe, North End Grill, The Modern, etc), Mario Batali (Eataly, Babbo, Lupa, etc), April Bloomfield (Breslin, John Dory, Spotted Pig, etc), Gabe Stulman (Montmartre, Fedora, Perla, etc), Harold Dieterle (Kin Shop, Perilla, The Marrow) spots are typically good for dining and drinking at the bar.

      The Batali and Bloomfield places tend to be much more popular/packed, though.

      Great bar dining:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/833617
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/909203

      6 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        That's a lot of awesome suggestions. Good cocktails aren't a requirement but we aren't beer drinkers. As long as there's wine, we'll do just fine.

        How hard is it to get seats at Momofuku Ssam? Do we have to have a reservation or can we just walk in and expect to get seated?

        The NoMad has excellent cocktails - we were there last week and loved it. We were even invited up to the little private area upstairs so that was exciting.

        1. re: Manhattanfoodie

          Momofuku Ssam doesn't take reservations unless it's for groups doing one of the large format meals (the bo ssam/pork shoulder butt or duck over rice). Meals there don't last very long, so turnover is quick. Even on a Friday or Saturday, I don't think I've waited longer than 30 minutes. And that's usually if we're 3 or 4 people. Parties of 2 get seated much quicker. The good thing is that if you have to wait, you can usually go to Booker & Dax next door and have a drink and a pork bun while you wait.

          1. re: kathryn

            Thanks, Kathryn!

          2. re: Manhattanfoodie

            OK, since cocktails aren't a requirement, I'll mention Maialino. My husband and I had a very pleasant experience at the bar (3:30ish? on a weekday; they have a special afternoon bar menu from 2:00-5:30). Chicken hearts, fried artichokes (and we rarely eat fried food - so good), a couple glasses of wine, a nice view of Gramercy Park, and a friendly bartender. As I said, very pleasant!

            One of the many reasons we love eating at the bar is there tends to be no rug rats! ;-)

            1. re: VaPaula

              Thanks! We'll try and check that out.

              1. re: Manhattanfoodie

                Just had a very good experience at Perilla sitting/eating/drinking at their bar. Super friendly and knowledgeable bartender, nice space, quiet.

        2. Louro, and you'll have plenty of money left over. My wife and I enjoy eating at bars from time to time. We also enjoy being able to hear each other, so that reduces the number of places greatly. A dozen oysters, a few dishes and wine or cocktails at Louro is delightful...and the noise level is really quite tolerable.

          4 Replies
          1. re: famdoc

            I guess it depends on the time, I recently commented on the noise level at Louro. It was one of the loudest restaurants I've been to in quite some time.

            1. re: Spiritchaser

              Where in Louro were you sitting? Perhaps certain parts of the restaurant are louder than others?

              1. re: kathryn

                We were at a table, not the bar so maybe that plays a part in the noise level, it was the table where it kind of transitions from the bar area to the back of the restaurant.

            2. re: famdoc

              Louro looks like it could be fun - That's what we enjoy too, order a cocktail and getting a bunch of appetizers and then just eating slowly. We've been known to eat two entrees sometimes because we've been there so long and had gotten hungry again. LOL.

            3. Not sure if you need this for a weekend or weekday but you can check these out and see if they fit your need.

              High end - Eleven Madison Park and you would be getting more like a meal instead of just bar food, usually pretty quiet (noise level) unless there are a lot of people waiting for dinner or after work on a Friday.

              Mid to high - The bar at The NoMad. Excellent cocktail program, great food but it can get crowded and noisy.

              Mid - A Voce (Madison) - only a few seats but we like it, good drinks but not an exceptional "program"

              Manzanilla - a fairly new place, good drinks, good bar food

              4 Replies
              1. re: Spiritchaser

                I didn't know Eleven Madison Park had a bar we could eat at! Does one have to get the tasting menu or are there other options in terms of food? Getting a meal is perfect for us but we may not be up for getting the tasting menu every week :).

                EMP's website doesn't mention anything about food other than the tasting menu. The cocktails here look amazing - especially the Manhattan cart.

                Thanks for the suggestion!

                1. re: Manhattanfoodie

                  The bar at EMP will have a menu consisting of (normally):

                  3 or 4 apps, 3 or 4 mains, and 2-3 desserts

                  The actual Manhattan cart is used in the dining room but every Manhattan variation can be made at the bar as well.

                  Also, if you wanted to sit in the bar area but not at the bar there are a few tables available on a first come first serve basis.

                  1. re: Spiritchaser

                    Sounds perfect. We'll hopefully be able to check this out in the next couple weeks and report back.

                  2. re: Manhattanfoodie

                    The bar area at EMP is a la carte dining only; I don't think you can get the tasting, even if you wanted to. There's an actual bar and then some tables alongside a banquette.

                    However, the complimentary snacks they provide if you are drinking at the bar are awesome.

                2. Marea
                  Lincoln
                  Picholine

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

                    We just found out about Lincoln Ristorante's bar about two weeks ago. We went there for brunch a week earlier and loved it so we HAD to go for dinner. That's when we noticed the little bar and now that's on our list of places to check out. Thanks! We haven't been to Marea or Picholine yet.

                    1. re: Manhattanfoodie

                      Picholine is really special, and so is Marea. I hope that you'll get a chance to try them soon.

                    2. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

                      Second Picholine

                      1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

                        Ive never seen anyone eating at the bar at Marea. However, I'm confused as to why they OP wants to sit at a bar, and spend $150pp. Why not sit at a table.
                        I love Marea and it's quiet, Osteria Morini has good bar dining but it is loud.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          Dining at the bar at Marea is quite popular during lunch.

                          You can also eat at the bar during "Lunner" (i.e. 2:30 to 5) when the main dining room is closed.

                          Here's the bar menu.
                          http://www.marea-nyc.com/file/6351/Ma...

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            thanks

                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                              I hate to say this on a public board, but one of my favorite times to go to Marea when dining solo is during "Lunner" (which I do quite often when in the city).

                              It's quiet, and you sort of have the restaurant to yourself. It's sort of like getting to watch a Broadway rehearsal all by yourself, with just the director and cast.

                          2. re: foodwhisperer

                            I've eaten dinner at the bar at Marea MANY times.

                        2. my favorite places includes Nougatine where you can order from menu at bar which is quite luxurious ,ie-not "bar" food as well as ability to order off the adjacent Jean George formal menu, as well as Rouge Tomate where portions are just perfect for complimenting your wine sipping.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: UES Mayor

                            Nougatine's bar is packed two- and often three-thick at dinner time with people drinking, eating and waiting for a table, either at Nougatine or at JJ. Not comfortable.

                            1. re: famdoc

                              Yeah - I've heard that about Nougatine as well. Any idea what it's like at Brunch or at like 5pm on a Sunday evening?

                          2. Minetta Tavern. Great cocktails, great food, great ambience.

                            1. Just realized I didn't add this - We usually eat out on weekends - Friday night to early Sunday evening mostly.

                              Thanks for all the great recs so far!