Restaurants with a party vibe have hit New York City big time, and the concept of gathering drinking, dancing and dining under one roof definitely sounds tempting. No need to stress about finding a place to continue the evening after dinner, getting a cab or standing in line.
After dinner, you just continue to the in-house bar or nightclub, which are open until late. The drawback is that the emphasis is often more on creating a fancy party spot, and not so much on serving good food, but recently, a few places have popped up, which seems to be serious about the culinary aspect too. Here are some of my favorites:
Vandal is one of the most hyped new additions to the Lower East Side dining and bar scene. You pass through a flower shop to enter the restaurant, which is located below ground level. The restaurant is divided into separate, differently decorated spaces. Downstairs, there’s a lounge bar, which might be one of the hippest places to hang out right now.
What to eat? The Pretzel with beef tartare is a fun take on an old classic
Tao Downtown is big and noisy, and the large Buddha overlooking the place feels a bit 2006. Don’t let that scare you off though, because Tao is still one of the best places to spend a Friday night in Chelsea. The food is typical Asian fusion fare, and while it’s not bad, it also doesn’t manage to leave much of an impression. Downstairs there is a really nice, but tiny nightclub.
What to eat? The Crispy Thai Pork wasn’t too bad
Beauty & Essex
Beauty & Essex is one of my favorite places to start a night out. Just like Vandal has the flower shop, Beauty & Essex has a pawn shop to cover up, what’s really hiding inside. If you don’t know it’s there, you’ll probably walk right by. The restaurant has an elegant, ballroom-like feel to it, and the ladies’ room downstairs serves complimentary bubbly. Most people end up in the bar upstairs after dinner. There’s also a small dancefloor, but usually, it gets so crowded that dancing isn’t really possible.
What to eat? The tomato soup dumplings are a must-try
Macao Trading Co.
Macao Trading Co. has a hip, speakeasy feel. The food is nice, but it’s so dark inside the place that it’s difficult to see, what you’re eating, which is also the reason why I’ve listed Macao in the Nightlife and not the Restaurants section of my New York guide. After dinner, head downstairs to the tiny, but super cool nightclub. On weekends, Macao is open until 3:30
What to eat? The grilled strip steak is delicious