Restaurant Rolodex: When It’s Winter, Eating Out Better be Worth It

Winter can be tough on both our emotional morale and our social calendar. With rooftop bars and sunny sidewalk seating closed for bitter temperatures, going out on a Friday can sometimes feel as much of a chore as Monday’s commute. So, while I’ m not gonna hate on staying home to drink some whiskey and snuggle in with your latest Netflix obsession, I’m gonna try and remind you why we live in NYC. For many,  the always changing restaurant and bar scene are worth making a night out in even the worst of January. And lucky for us, there has been a slew of amazing new openings in the last couple of months that make fireside cocktails at the Jane Hotel or cozying up with Jazz at the Carlyle followed by trying out a new hotspot for dinner exactly why we live in this icy cold, romantic city.

Owner Joe Campanale, the same guy who brought us L’artusi and Del’anima, has opened a new Italian spot in Park Slope with the same emphasis on delicious pasta and regional Italian favorites, and of course, wine, but with more of Brooklyn vibe. Sold and Sold.

Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn
Type of Spot: Italian, Date Night, Casual, Great Food

The Aviary
This is one of the most anticipated openings of the new year. Chicago based Alinea group, the guys who run the famed Alinea and Aviary in Chicago are known for their molecular gastronomy and experiential high end dining. This new bar and restaurant at the top of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is a serious {price fixed} food and drinking experience. These guys have been working on the menu and concept for their first foray into NYC and will not disappoint. Come here for a serious night out, splurging on this foodie experience, without the airfare to Chicago.

Location: Midtown West
Type of Spot: Foodie Experience, Expensive, Molecular Gastronomy, Cocktails

Tokyo Record Bar
This NYC take on a Japanese Record Bar is a small, underground speak easy type restaurant where you and 17 other diners curate and choose the live DJ set list for a 2 hour Japanese Izakaya tasting menu. This little spot underneath Air’s Champagne bar is a great way to spend the night out with a date or small group. The six course Izakaya tasting menu is creative and delicious and won’t send you into bankruptcy.

Location: West Village, Greenwich Village
Type of Spot: Asian, Japanese Izakaya, Set Menu

Miss Ada
Hummus and Kebab lovers, rejoice! Over the last year, we have gotten a recent influx of stylish, modern Mediterranean and Israeli restaurants popping up all over Manhattan & Brooklyn that are as serious about their food as they are their over all experience. Miss Ada is one of those. A great Brooklyn neighborhood restaurants with serious food but a laid back atmosphere. The small plates and cocktails (and heated backyard garden) are great for happy hour or grabbing a drink with friends, but the food should be the real reason to come back again and again to this hip Fort Green spot.

Location: Fort Green, Brooklyn
Type of Spot: Neighborhood Spot, Casual, Serious Chef, Outdoor Space

The latest addition to the growing Gramercy and Flat Iron district restaurant scene, Scampi is coastal, seafood centric, Italian fare in a large, warm and comfortable space. The chef and owner earned his stripes at Ai Fiori, so he is serious about his pasta (bonus!), but has a love and passion for seafood. Come here with a group, for a work dinner, or dining with your parents, as there is plenty of room, great wine list, and a large delicious menu.
Location: Gramercy, Flat Iron
Type of Spot: Italian, Pasta, Good for Groups, Out with Your Parents, For Seafood Lovers

The latest Japanese addition to downtown Manhattan comes from Chef Masa and his team, looking to bring a more approachable (and less expensive, but still expensive) Japanese experience. With a focus on family style Japanese robatayaki menu, which includes raw, grilled, fried, and more types of dishes in a dark, sexy space that is perfect for, for a fancy date or celebration with friends before a night out.

Location: Tribeca
Type of Spot: Japanese, Special Occasion, Date Night, Great Atmosphere, Grab Cocktails at The Bar

The Loyal
Modern, American bistro from the chef and owner of Michelle Starred Nix and Dovetail, and a personal neighborhood favorite, Narcissa. John Fraser knows how to make delicious, simple and approachable fare that feels upscale but isn’t fancy. Designed in a comfortable, dark space that is very much a West Village restaurant, The Loyal is a place where everyone will find something they love.

Location: West Village
Type of Spot: American, Neighborhood Spot, Date Night, Good for Groups, Great Wine List

A quick F train ride into Brooklyn (south of Carol Gardens in Gowanus) will land you at one of the best Mexican spot in town, where you’ll find an outdoor garden and bar overlooking an open kitchen, where they will be making tortillas and other delish items you’ll soon want to order. While you may not be able to enjoy this now, the actual Oaxacan Mexican cuisine is refined but traditional and delicious. I am always looking for legit Mexican food served in a place where you want to sit and stay awhile and Claro is just that.

Location: Gowanus, Brooklyn
Type of Spot: Mexican, Outdoor Seating, Great Drinks, Casual, Good for Groups

This new East Village restaurant is the latest addition of modern Korean chefs with serious high end cuisine cred opening hot spots in and around NYC. A slightly more casual spot with an all small plates menu meant to be shared is great for date night or a small group. But bring your own spirits because they are still awaiting their liquor license.

Location: East Village
Type of Spot: Korean, Small Plates, Date Night, Not Cheap, BYOB (for now)

The Lobster Club
The third and final restaurant in the 2017 re-openings of the Seagram building, The Lobster Club, is managed and run by Major Food Group (The guys from Carbone and The Grill), and is exactly what you would expect: a beautifully designed uptown spot with delicious food and a see and be seen place, similar to that of it’s upstairs sisters The Grill and The Pool. Come here to splurge for a fun night out with sushi and Asian favorites, or impress out of towners with a drink at the bar followed by dinner at the upstairs The Grill or The Pool.

Location: Midtown West
Type of Spot: Sushi, Asian, Scene-y, Splurge, Fancy Date Night


Check Out My Other Favorite Restaurant Recommendations from my Restaurant Map

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