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

Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 09:13 AM

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. Rmis32 RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 09:22 AM

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

    1. k
      kathryn RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 09:40 AM

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

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

      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:

      6 Replies
      1. re: kathryn
        Manhattanfoodie RE: kathryn Aug 16, 2013 10:08 AM

        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
          kathryn RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 10:11 AM

          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
            Manhattanfoodie RE: kathryn Aug 16, 2013 10:13 AM

            Thanks, Kathryn!

          2. re: Manhattanfoodie
            VaPaula RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 11:37 AM

            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
              Manhattanfoodie RE: VaPaula Aug 18, 2013 08:32 AM

              Thanks! We'll try and check that out.

              1. re: Manhattanfoodie
                Spiritchaser RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 18, 2013 08:36 AM

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

        2. famdoc RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 09:52 AM

          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
            Spiritchaser RE: famdoc Aug 16, 2013 09:57 AM

            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
              kathryn RE: Spiritchaser Aug 16, 2013 10:43 AM

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

              1. re: kathryn
                Spiritchaser RE: kathryn Aug 17, 2013 04:13 AM

                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
              Manhattanfoodie RE: famdoc Aug 16, 2013 10:05 AM

              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. Spiritchaser RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 09:52 AM

              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
                Manhattanfoodie RE: Spiritchaser Aug 16, 2013 09:58 AM

                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
                  Spiritchaser RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 10:07 AM

                  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
                    Manhattanfoodie RE: Spiritchaser Aug 16, 2013 10:10 AM

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

                  2. re: Manhattanfoodie
                    kathryn RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 10:14 AM

                    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. l
                  Lacrosse_Gastronomic RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 10:07 AM


                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic
                    Manhattanfoodie RE: Lacrosse_Gastronomic Aug 16, 2013 10:12 AM

                    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
                      Lacrosse_Gastronomic RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 16, 2013 10:15 AM

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

                    2. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic
                      cobpdx RE: Lacrosse_Gastronomic Aug 16, 2013 02:08 PM

                      Second Picholine

                      1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic
                        foodwhisperer RE: Lacrosse_Gastronomic Aug 16, 2013 09:00 PM

                        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
                          ipsedixit RE: foodwhisperer Aug 16, 2013 09:13 PM

                          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.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            foodwhisperer RE: ipsedixit Aug 16, 2013 10:51 PM


                            1. re: foodwhisperer
                              ipsedixit RE: foodwhisperer Aug 17, 2013 10:48 AM

                              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
                            Sneakeater RE: foodwhisperer Aug 17, 2013 11:17 AM

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

                        2. u
                          UES Mayor RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 17, 2013 02:23 AM

                          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
                            famdoc RE: UES Mayor Aug 17, 2013 05:55 AM

                            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
                              Manhattanfoodie RE: famdoc Aug 17, 2013 09:06 AM

                              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. a
                            alepenazzi RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 17, 2013 05:36 AM

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

                            1. m
                              Manhattanfoodie RE: Manhattanfoodie Aug 18, 2013 09:16 AM

                              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!

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