It’s the variety that defines the city’s culinary scene. New York City is home to Michelin-starred restaurants and farm-to-table eats to street carts and dollar slices. So what’s one to do with an overwhelming amount of options? Go somewhere special. Here’s a round-up of places for you to experience New York City restaurants and bars like no other.
Go down the rabbit hole and descend into this izakaya. Tucked away in the basement of a midtown office building, Sakagura offers an extensive list of sake and a variety of small dishes. Combining the two is easy with its menu that offers food and sake suggestions for the perfect pairing.
PYOS. Pick your own raw seafood at this no-frills old-school restaurant, and have it deep fried or grilled with a garlic butter sauce. Oysters, shrimp, fish, lobster, complimentary salad, BYOB. We can go on… but do we really need to?
Let’s face it: nobody likes doing laundry at the laundromat. There’s the difficult question of how to kill time between each cycle: do I sit and wait? Do I go home? If you’re lucky enough to live in Greenpoint, Sunshine Laundromat is your answer. The lone dryer in the back is the door to a bar that serves up Roberta’s pizza and a variety of craft beers, and over 30 pinball machines to win bragging high score rights on their website. Never has there been better motivation to do laundry.
East Village, New York
If loud bars aren’t your thing, but you still want to go out and throw back a beer, Burp Castle is your spot. Paying homage to the 90s when monk’s donned robes and a strict ‘no talking policy’ was enforced at the bar, the tradition continues today where patrons may be shushed to create an environment that’s conversation-level friendly and discourages yelling. Choose from the rotating tap list and whisper beer wishes to the bartender, and pair good beer with great conversation at this intimate spot.
James Beard House
Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Feast on multi-course tastings paired with wine prepared by acclaimed visiting chefs from around the U.S. Located in the former townhouse of American cook and television personality, James Beard, the elegant space and sit-down dinner is one you’d want to break out your best attire for. Arrive and pass through the kitchen, where you’ll have an opportunity to meet the chef and culinary team, then begin the dining experience with a sampling of passed hors-d’oeuvre and wine in the outdoor garden. After enjoying a themed multi-course meal, conclude the night with a Q-and-A session with the chef.
This distinctive dining experience is in the most unexpected of places. From the elevator operator who takes you from street-level to an unmarked floor to the servers in costumes, all encounters are characteristic of the 1920s at this dinner theater venue. Have British fare and enjoy live jazz music in this low-lit, intimate restaurant reminiscent of a vintage train station.
M. Wells Dinette
Long Island City, Queens
This is no ordinary museum restaurant. Sharpen your math skills because you’ll be paying for a bill in a classroom. Inside MoMA PS1, a former school, a chalkboard menu and cubby desks complete the charming M. Wells Dinette schoolroom experience. Enjoy French-inspired dishes and assorted bevies. No museum admission required!
Great food usually doesn’t go hand-in-hand with karaoke but it does at Insa. This upscale Korean BBQ spot also has karaoke rooms. Stuff yourself with meat and drinks, like a large cocktail bowl, in the room or at one of the long tables in the restaurant, and warm up your vocal chops. Each room comes equipped with a tambourine and a disco ball—’Yonce ain’t got nothing on you.
Lower East Side, Manhattan
Follow the rules or get kicked out. What are the rules, you ask? No parties more than four, one adult per kid, don’t ask the server for recommendations, are just some of them. No popcorn here to munch on while you watch people get booted, but who needs that when you have sliders on doughnuts, pancake balls, and malts? The menu is bananas—it has every comfort food combination you never knew you wanted.
East Village, Manhattan
The list wouldn’t be complete without the OG that ignited the speakeasy trend in NYC. Tucked away behind an unmarked door in Village Yokocho, a Japanese izakaya, the craft cocktails here never disappoint. Watch Japanese cocktail making at its best, or simply enjoy a rare whiskey. The small, cozy space with a dark wood bar, flickering candles, and regal cherub mural is great for date night. Be prepared for a wait at this hidden gem.