Getting in: Do your best to make it past the delicious wafting scent of french fries and burgers, as you must walk into the Bleecker St Five Guys, go past the tables, the condiment stand, and the burger ordering station and make your way to the back staircase.
Vibe/layout: This impossible-to-find-unless-you’re-looking-for-it cocktail bar is hidden above a Five Guys, and features two massive vaulted skylights, a glass chandelier, several couches and vintage hourglasses. In addition, The Garret has a sunken private party room decked out with a taxidermied rhino head and copper ceilings. The best part about The Garret…besides the cocktails and the fact that you can snag a burger at literally any time: the pop-in breeziness…no reservations are needed.
Drinks: Signature cocktails are made from fresh ingredients right before your eyes, but we highly recommend the Sunken Santa (rum, pineapple, velvet falernum, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, angostura) ($14).
F.Y.I.: This speakeasy proudly displays the artwork of NYC based artists, including Bradley Theodore (the swans and skull paintings), Nick Bakita (the rhino head), Philip Mortillaro (the door) and Nathan Driver (painting).
Why it’s worth it:Trattoria Il Mulino is the twelfth addition to Il Mulino New York’s global network of elite dining venues. This ‘straunt is the more casual, affordable and louder sister to Il Mulino New York, and is therefore an ideal intimate Italian ‘straunt for your next small or large dining party, date night or girls night out.
Vibe/layout: This spacious 140-seat ‘straunt baits a young demographic, and is unique in boasting an industrial chic atmosphere. Decked out with industrial accents, including concrete walls, exposed piping and light bulbs and a large NYC-themed mural by Vancouver artist, Tim Barnard, this ‘straunt offers an intimate dining setting for both small and large parties. The front section features tables for two, while the back section presents a sleek and sexy bar, which offers wood-fired pizzas as part of its late-night bar menu, and circular and rectangular dining tables for larger parties.
Ideal meal: Ricotta meatballs ($17) to start and ravioli ($26)
‘Straunt tip: Grab dinner at Trattoria Il Mulino and then check out nearby speakeasy, Dear Irving.
Why it’s worth it: Il Buco has it right; it’s slinky and seductive while still maintaining a charming accessibility and air. The seasonal food is extremely fresh and executed with skill and perfection. In short, Il Buco is perfect for a date night, ladies night out, after-work drink or family gathering.
Vibe/layout: This charming rustic Italian ‘straunt comprised mostly of wood and brick throbs with energy. The dimly lit main dining room has pottery-laden shelves, scattered with wine bottles, and copper pots hanging from hooks or stuffed in the corners. The eclectic wall art and light fixtures transform the rather cramped room with low ceilings into a fabulous authentic Italian ‘straunt. The wine cellar is more relaxed and private, and reminiscent of a room that you would expect to find in the basement of an old Italian estate.
People behind Il Buco: The owners, Donna Lennard and Alberto Avalle, first opened the hole-in-the-wall (Il Buco literally means the hole in Italian) as an antique shop in 1994 and gradually transformed it into a full-fledged restaurant.
‘Straunt tip: Enjoy a delicious, romantic and relaxed dinner at Il Buco and then check out the Invader’s graffiti on the side of The Wren, where you should grab a drink.
F.Y.I.: Reservations are a must, especially on the weekends.
Address: Noho/Greenwich Village, 47 Bond St (between Bowery & Lafayette)
Why it’s worth it: Although the name of this casual eatery promises lunch, Friedman’s Lunch also serves brunch and dinner with a focus on seasonal comfort food and an extensive list of great gluten-free items.
Vibe/layout: Despite the noisy neighborhood, the ‘straunt is clean, modern and spacious and the atmosphere is warm and cozy . The ‘straunt sports a rustic, brick-and-wood theme with a large bar and a number of booths and table seats available for large groups.
Ideal meal: Grilled cheese sandwich (Gruyère and white cheddar with caramelized onions and bacon on ciabatta) ($13) & tomato soup ($3)
People behind Friedman’s Lunch: Vanessa Phillips and Tryg Silverson are the husband and wife team behind this ‘straunt and because Vanessa has Celiac Disease, Tryg set out to create as many gluten-free, yet delicious, dishes as possible.
Why it’s worth it: Bobby Flay’s “New-Mediterranean” Noho hot spot has received rave reviews, and we’re here to add to them, but in our own special way of course. Here’s the low down: if you want spectacular appetizers (bar selection) in a trendy, intimate and energetic ‘straunt, go to Gato. We’ll be honest: the portions are small, but they are bursting with flavor!
Vibe/layout: The front of this bustling ‘straunt boasts a U-shaped bar counter for walk-ins, while the back dining area is dimly lit and set with spare wooden tables. The high ceilings compliment the brick and dark varnished wooden walls and colorful geometric floor tiles, making this ‘straunt perfect for an intimate date or a friendly dining experience.
Ideal meal: Bar (choose 3): Artichoke heart, lamb tenderloin, eggplant ($17); Vegetable: Crispy potatoes (poached egg, smoked paprika, Parmigiano) ($12); Entrée: Kale and wild mushroom paella (crispy artichokes, eggs) ($28)
The lamb tenderloin, crispy potatoes and kale entrée are must orders; the flavors are bold and assertive and are perfect for splitting between two.
Address: Noho/Greenwich Village, 324 Lafayette St (between East Houston & Bleecker)