Frying Pan (Big Red Boat in Park, 207 12th Ave)
THE destination for hot summer days. It’s a bar on a floating dock and ship (the ship is called Frying Pan) sitting off the west side so you have to walk a bit to get there. They have a fairly extensive beer/drink selection and the food is pretty good. It can get crowded when the weather is nice and there’s sometimes a line, so it’s good idea to stake out a table before noon on really nice days.
Birreria (200 5th Ave)
Beer garden on the roof of Eataly. Sadly used to have a lovely view of the Empire State building that’s now blocked, but still a solid view nonetheless. You can go year-round as they have a retractable roof. More expensive than a typical beer garden, but they have a good charcuterie and very good entrees that are shareable. Their thing is cask beers, but they also have a relationship with Dogfish Head so you can find a lot of that on the menu too. They’ve been rotating themes lately–with he latest being a ski chalet and an Amalfi Coast beachside bar.
Eataly (200 5th Ave)
Eataly is a large Italian food emporium with several mini restaurants inside, along with market stalls and the rooftop beer garden. The middle section that does antipasti is really good if you’re waiting for Birreria and the charcuterie/cheese place is extensive. The pizza place is also solid. The gelateria doesn’t have a ton of flavors but it’s good and you can get to it from the outside instead of wandering through the whole place. Definitely an experience!
OTTO (1 5th Ave)
If you don’t want to splurge on Babbo, Otto Enoteca is Mario Balati’s cheaper, more casual restaurant mainly serving pizza. They actually do a good deal for groups where you can get a multi-course menu for not that much. The pizza isn’t the greatest ever but it’s good if you’re looking for a place to take visitors or if you just want to try a Mario restaurant. As with everything in NYC, make a reservation.
City Bakery (3 W 18th St)
The hot chocolate. That is the main purpose. Rich, super creamy hot choc with a giant marshmallow. Thus, winter is the time to go, bonus time is during the hot choc festival. Must get the pretzel croissant to go with it.
ABC Kitchen (35 E 18th St)
Another NYC hot spot, sister restaurant to ABC Cocina. Very hip and modern, and the food is really good. Of all the things, the fried chicken is some of the best I’ve had and probably the least greasy ever. The doughnuts are really good too. They have some fresh-looking dishes like fish with greens but avoid those and go for the more adventurous stuff because that’s what’s better there. Must make a reservation.
Ootoya (8 W 18th St)
This is a similar concept to the izakayas but the food is a little fresher and there’s a nicer presentation. Small Japanese plates, lots of fish, and some rice dishes. Interesting place if you’re in the area.
Raines Law Room (48 W 17th St)
There’s actually two now: the original is down in Chelsea but another one is in the William by Grand Central. There’s a door knocker and you have to knock on it and a man will answer and take your name down. There’s usually a wait but Petite Abeille next door has good snacks and is right there so when they call you you only have to walk next door. The drinks are good and fairly typical to speakeasies, same general prices too. It also has food now.
The Bluebell Cafe (293 3rd Ave)
This is really in Gramercy but it needs a home on the list for now. This is a cute little brunch spot with Southern-style dishes ranging from biscuits to pancakes. The best dish though is the brioche French toast–don’t miss it! It doesn’t take reservations and can get crowded for brunch.
El Quinto Pino (401 W 24th St)
Tapas bar with some of the traditional dishes and some more interesting ones–anchovies and vanilla anyone? Good for happy hour when the sangria pitchers are a good buy.