You know those nights when you want to go somewhere non-fussy and easy but exciting and delicious, and also not anniversary splurge-worthy? It’s those in-between sorts of places that are sometimes that hardest to think of when deciding on date night plans. Here are a few of my recent favorites for a Friday night dinner.
Mimi – This lovely little French restaurant on Sullivan Street is one of my favorite restaurants to open this year. It is absolutely tiny so make a reservation ahead of time or try your luck at catching seats at the bar. The menu is meat-heavy and not vegetarian friendly, and I could not recommend the pork rillette, madai with brown butter and lemon, and incredible grilled pork more highly.
Timna – I was pleasantly surprised by this dark and moody Israeli spot in the East Village. Not only was the vibe nice and cozy for date night, and in one of my favorite areas in the city, but both the menu staples and the specials (we had an insane sweetbreads special here) were spot-on. I loved the kubanah bread, ceviche and sashimi appetizers, and the lovely octopus.
El Rey – A coffee shop that doubles as a fine dining experience at night? Count me in. This microscopically small storefront on the LES certainly requires advance planning for a reservation, but it is well worth it for the kale salad, octopus with hominy, vegan chicharones, and shaved cauliflower dishes.
Dirt Candy – This scene-y vegetarian restaurant is the home of the brussels sprout tacos that I know and love. Many people come for this large format entree, but under no circumstances should you be missing the Korean fried broccoli. On second thought, get an order all to yourself. I also loved the mushroom and rutabaga dishes, and the corn cake with popcorn ice cream for dessert.
Jeffrey’s – The always classic, forever stand-by. Post up at the bar for oysters (both raw and grilled), and share a steak and some fries with a bottle of red. Simple and perfect.
Lupulo – I visited Portugal this past year and since coming back to the city have been hunting for the best Portuguese experience on home turf. Lupulo fits the bill, and is the perfect spot for reserving a table, or sidling up to the bar or one of the high-tops at the front. Don’t miss the octopus rice, grilled lamb, and anything with salt cod.