Sunday, April 10, 2011

when your EHarmony date looks more like George Costanza than George Clooney.

The Boat Basin
West 79th Street
(Follow the path all the way down to the Hudson River)

We all know that Internet dating sites are full of people who are "fudging the truth" about themselves. Their profile picture is probably from 7 years ago, they may still live with their parents, and they're definitely not a human rights lawyer. So in this world where 1 out of 5 new relationships start online - let's be honest, you are probably going to end up on a date with some whackjobs / fug-lies.

So what can you do to protect yourself? My advice - meet at a nice, fun place that if that will be great if things work out, but also a place where the exits are EVERYWHERE. For me, there's no better place than the Boat Basin on the upper west side. Perfectly located on the far west side of town, the Boat Basin is an upbeat and relaxing place to meet for drinks and a burger, and the view of the river is spectacular. It's THE spot for a great first date over the spring and summer months - but it's also a great place to escape from if you need it. This is one of the few places in NYC that you can exit by, car, bike, boat, kayak, on foot, or even by helicopter. No matter how much the other person freaks you out, you can pull a Mission: Impossible and get the eff out of there.

The Boat Basin is a casual bar and grill that easily packs in over 300 people on a summer Saturday. You definitely feel like you are on the shore, rather than NYC. There is a beautiful esplanade to take a walk on and see the yachts parked, and for anyone coming from outside the city, the restaurant actually has its own exit on the Henry Hudson Parkway so it's impossible to miss. The food is simple - burgers and sandwiches, but the lively atmosphere along with a bucket of coronas, the two of you sitting under the sun - who knows, maybe you'll warm up to the person across from you - and postpone your dramatic exit.

Tip: The brunch crowd is in full swing by 12:30, so try to arrive by 12 for a seat outside.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

when your obsession with pasta has resulted in a court order to stay at least 500 feet away from Mario Batali.

170 Thompson Street
Between Houston and Bleeker

Remember Mark Walberg in Fear? Remember how crazy he got over Reese Witherspoon? Well that's how I feel about Mario Batali. If he ever tries to break up with me and won't let me into his restaurants, the things I would do...especially after what we did on that roller coaster.

I've tried to find someone else; I've played the field. I had a relationship with some Italian supermodels like uber-high end Marea and Convivio, but as I'm sitting there pretending to smile while eating - I find myself thinking about the moments I had with Mario. I just can't shake him out of my head. It's like he's the only one who gets me.

Last week I snuck into his Roman cuisine inspired Lupa and had the Carbonara and the Salt and Pepper pasta. It was heaven. It was incredibly luscious, flavorful, silky - the best pasta I've had all year. The atmosphere is warm and bustling with tables pushed tightly together. If you are in the large front room, it's possible for the crowded bar area to spill over into your personal space. That's how it's done in Rome - so that's how they do it here.

So no matter how many letters they send me, how many judgments are passed, or how many times I'm tackled by security while trying to cut off a piece of his hair for my Mario hair doll - I will never stop loving his pasta, especially the gems on the menu at Lupa. Remember Mario - Love is forever.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When you oversleep and miss the bus out to the Hamptons.

Luke's Lobster
93 East 7th Street
Between 1st and A

It happens - you turn over on a Saturday morning and the clock says 8:46. You say "Oh yeah it's Saturday, that's great I can still sleep." Then it hits you. You were supposed to be at the bus to the Hamptons with everyone at 6:15. You look at your phone. 14 missed calls and 32 texts. All angry. Perfect, now everyone is going to be posting pictures of their great time at the beach, probably at some party with Diddy, while you're stuck in the sweltering city alone.

What can you do? Well, you can put your flip flops on and walk to the lower east side- because great lobster is calling right here in NYC and it doesn't require you to put a tie on and drink sparkling water.

I love when a small hole-in-the-wall place does ONE thing really well, and at Luke's Lobster they serve the best lobster roll in the city. I know, I know - you're thinking "Great, another $22 mayo drenched hot dog bun with grade C lobster meat." Nope. They take fresh, perfectly cooked Maine lobster meat (Only claws and tails) lightly season it, and put it on a toasted bun. Simple, easy, and you taste nothing but lobster goodness - a pound and half of meat for only $14.

Tip: Listen to what I just wrote above - they do ONE THING well. Don't order any crab or shrimp, or anything else off the menu. You will be disappointed I promise you.

Tip 2: The line may be long, and the way they keep track of orders is...well..they don't keep track. You have to be acutely aware of what's coming out of the kitchen, and who was standing in front of you in line so you know when your order is almost up.


Monday, March 29, 2010

when your blind date is going surprisingly well, but they say they need to get up early - but you could close the deal if you had 15 more minutes.

Milk Bar
207 2nd Avenue
(Corner of 13th)

So you've hit it off. You've talked, you've laughed - and you actually may have a shot here, but your date needs to get up early in the morning. Not to fear. The night doesn't have to end - you still have one more surprise you can drop and give the night a "wow" moment they won't forget. How, you say? Well, no matter how tired the person, how late it is, there's one line that NO ONE will turn down. And that line is:

"Lets get a cookie."

We are hardwired as mammals to respond favorably to this request - like how your leg springs up when a doctor knocks your knee with that hammer thing - you have to get a cookie. And where is the best late night cookie joint in all of NYC, with a few added sweet sensations that are sure to blow their mind? Milk Bar in the east village.

Owned by Momofuku Czar David Chang, Milk Bar is the perfect end to a great night. It's casual, fun and memorably delicious. The atmosphere is very laid back, with long bar tables and a big counter displaying a vast array of sugary decadence. From cakes to cookies to soft serve ice cream - there's something for everyone. But this isn't your grandmothers desert shop. Don't look for chocolate chip cookies or cheesecake. As with all David Chang's endeavors, Milk Bar gives you something unexpected. Example: Their most popular cookie is called the "Compost cookie" filled with pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips. Yup, think about that. And nothing washes it down like the absolutley incredible, not-to-be-missed bottle of "Cereal Milk" - whole milk flavored with the taste that you get at the end of a bowl of frosted corn flakes. One sip and you are magically transported back to being 8 years old sitting in front of the TV on Saturday morning watching Animaniacs. You'll laugh when you see their eyes light up - and you'll know the two of you just had the best "night cap" in the city.

Tip: For those of you obsessed with Momofuku Noodle Bar (Like me) - Milk Bar also serves David Chang's famous pork buns if you are in the mood for a more savory than sweet snack.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

to tell your best friend that you had a thing with their fiance a while back, but it's over now, but you wanted to tell them before they got married.

Stanton Social

99 Stanton St
Between Orchard St & Ludlow St

There will be secrets that you take to the grave, I promise you. But sometimes you need to swallow your fear - take a swig of a stiff drink and just let it out. Keeping a BIG secret from a friend can be a huge burden on your shoulders, and it's probably better to tell them now then to do it during your drunken wedding toast.

The key to breaking news like this is to focus on keeping the other person's anger as low as possible. First, be in a public place where they won't freak out. Second, play up how close you two are. How do you do that? Well - I have found that when people share food, it creates a closeness that makes it really hard to get mad at the other person.

We can solve both those by going to Stanton Social.

Perfect for men or women, it has a cool and modern atmosphere, great cocktails, good music and really exciting and memorable tapas, small plates of food that are meant to be shared.

Stanton Social, now thanks to the Food Network is more commonly known as "The place the hot judge on Chopped owns". Set in a prime east village location, one could easily walk past it, but for those with a keen eye and a stomach for the deliciously absurd, Stanton Social should not be missed. This place was once a hot spot - but just like the kids in highs school Jazz Band, the more they age, the less cool they get. The good news is that you get to take advantage of the short wait times, the available tables and the food that is still great. From French onion soup dumplings, orecchiette with spicy rabbit sausage, to the red velvet twinkie - these quirky American Tapas and deserts are sure to delight even the most betrayed bestie.

For a date night, or just to relax, there is a huge hidden bar area up the back stairs if you want more lounge and less restaurant vibe.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

to bring Jennifer Tilly for dinner.

38 8th Avenue
At Jane Street

Sometimes a hectic and bustling atmosphere can do wonders for drowning out an annoying voice. It could be your boring boss, your high pitched gay friend, or a sister who won't shut up about her kid's potty training.

Whatever the voice - you need some white noise to block it out. And nothing helps more than a crowded and loud restaurant.

Del'Anima fits the bill perfectly because you won't have to sacrifice any food quality for a noisy atmosphere. It's also a tight squeeze when you get a table, but the rustic Italian fare they create is worth the squish. The food is absolutely incredible, notably the Carbonara and the Bruschetta - they are the best I've had - and I eat those two things a LOT. They serve perfectly simple and fresh dishes in reasonable portions (The fat guy in me is always disappointed I didn't get a half pound of pasta), and the staff is more friendly than you'd expect for a hip and crowded spot like this. It's a great place for romantic dinner or catching up with an old friend - just as long as you didn't really want to hear what they had to say.

Tip: If they are booked inside - ask if there are any tables outside in back. They have 5 tables hidden behind the restaurant on West 4th. It's very quiet and is one of the few places that I like sitting outside.

Open Table

Sunday, January 10, 2010

...after your World of Warcraft clan finally slays the Lich King and wants to par-tay!

25 Hudson Street
Between Reade and Duane

Many restaurants and bars assume those who go out and spend money in New York are only yuppies, hipsters, and eurotrash. Well my friends, there's a huge unspoken population in this city that troll the night looking for nourishment and a good time - Nerds. Yes, times have changed and they've traded the pocket protectors for capes, and they don't talk Star Trek, they speak Battlestar Galactica...but yet, nerds still have a girlfriend you haven't met in Tampa.

But just because they don't understand the opposite sex, doesn't mean they don't know how to party. And when they need a place to go after an incredible victory in World of Warcraft, D&D or after spending 7 hours swinging cardboard swords in the woods - and because Medieval Times is all the way out in Jersey - they should go to Ninja.

Ninja is located in the trendiest of neighborhoods, TriBeCa - but don't be fooled. There's no bouncer or bottle service required. Only a love of all things Ninja. Once you arrive, you are asked one question: "Which way would you like to enter? The regular way - or the ninja dangerous way." If you have to think about your answer - then you should not go here. For those of you living on the edge - you are escorted down a long dark hallway where ninjas pop out with swords and kicks. You can choose two places to sit, either the Japanese village section or one of many of the private Japanese style rooms. I recommend the private rooms where you can be as loud and celebratory as you'd like, as well as get a private magic show.

When I was there, my waitress, clad in ninja clothes arrived with "Hi, my name is Jenny and I'll be your ninja tonight. Could I start you off with some water? Sparkling or Ninja Tap?" That should pretty much explain what Ninja is all about.

Granted, the food here is hit or miss - ok it's mostly miss, but really that's not the point. And yes, it's expensive, but complaining about the quality and price of food at a theme restaurant is like complaining about airline food. It's about the trip. And Ninja is a journey to nerd heaven.

Tip: There are 4 Prix-Fixe menus ranging from $39 to $88 a person and cocktails are $10, so the night can easily get very expensive. My recommendation is to stick with the a la cart menu, and order one salad or sushi roll, and a classic entree that are hard to mess up - like the Chicken Teriyaki. Also, skip the cocktails and have Sapporo for only $2.95.

Open Table

Monday, December 21, 2009

...when you want to introduce your friends to your German pen pal from 4th grade.

1648 Second Avenue
Between 85th and 86th

Listen, everyone's been to a pizza place, everyone's been to a tapas place, or a Chinese place - but has anyone been to a German place where you can eat schnitzel and drink beer from a huge glass boot? Exactly.

Aside from the "lapse in judgement" the Germans had between the years of 1914 - 1989, they've been relatively cool. They have great food, great beer and face it - lederhosen are hot. So when you need a fun place to get together to celebrate, nothing beats a German restaurant where the decor and the staff all look right out of the German Pavilion at Epcot Center.

Heidelberg is nestled on the upper east side, in old Germantown, where my grandfather used to cause trouble back in the 1930's. Now, it is one of the last remnants of the old days - and can easily be missed among the frat bars and Ann Talyor Lofts. But its warm atmosphere and friendly staff make it one of the best places in the city to raise a glass, or boot, of beer.

Here, the beer list is simple - 8 beers in 4 sizes. Small, medium large, or 2 liter glass boot. And if you don't pace yourself with this super big gulp of booze - you just might boot in the cab on the way home. So start the night off with one, or split one with someone - but NEVER (promise me) NEVER order second boot.

Now, instead of getting all your calories from the beer, try some of the delicious and authentic German food that they offer, like the Weiner Schnitzel (Stop laughing). It's just a perfectly fried veal cutlet - moist and seasoned. served with homefries and red cabbage. I always order a side of Spaetzle, which is German pasta sauteed in butter, and an order of the potato pancakes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

...when you absolutely, positively, without a doubt canNOT be seen with this person.

Raines Law Room
48 West 17th Street
Between 5th and 6th.

Remember that Bugs Bunny cartoon where Yosemite Sam tries to escape Bugs by flying to China, going into a cave, digging down 500 feet and then locks himself in a safe? Then in the darkness, someone lights a match - it's Bugs. What's up Doc? Well, that's New York City.

Sometimes, no matter how remote the borough, no matter how obscure the place is, no matter how far down the side alley you go - you WILL see someone you know. It's just one of the laws that this city has. But there are things you can do to get around this law if you're careful. So, if you absolutely can't be seen with the person your with - whether it's an affair, a sketchy business transaction, or catching up with your father who's in the witness protection program - I have just the place for you: Raines Law Room.

Down a dark and empty street, 2 full avenues from Union Square, in the quiet wasteland between the Village and Chelsea, lies an unmarked door. Ring the lit doorbell button and the door will open and an attractive foreign man simply says "We've been expecting you.". Once you walk in, the decor is of a 1920s apartment, turned into a hip spot for friends to meet and sneak a cocktail. There's no bar, just an apartment kitchen which is where the bartenders serve up classic drinks. With only about 12 tables, it hard for the place to get too crowded - increasing your odds tht you'll see someone you know. But just to be safe, ask for a table in the back.

Once you and your secret friend sit at a quiet and dimly lit table, just pull the string hanging on the wall for service. This helps keeping prying eyes of the staff away until you absolutely need them. Of course, this super secret location and service comes with a price. Drinks can run between $10 and $15, and the food menu consists of just a cheese plate. But you'll be able to rest easy, because on an off night, at an off time, with a back table at a speakeasy in this dead zone of Manhattan, I would say the chance of seeing someone you know is about 14% - which is the lowest this town is ever going to give you.

Tip: Sunday through Tuesday, they will accept reservations. Just send an email to by 3pm and let them know the number in your part and phone number. If you happen to get to Raines during prime hours, you can leave your name and cell number with the host and they WILL get in touch with you when a table opens up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 bring your broke friend who doesn't want you to pay for them.

1 Fifth Avenue
At 8th Street

I spent two years of my life unemployed, so I know how much it blows to be invited out by a friend and look at the menu and see that the only thing you can afford is the free bread. And what makes it worse? When your friend sees your face, remembers that you don't have a job and says "Don't worry, I'll pay for it". I mean, it's a nice gesture, thanks - but I'd rather not feel like Oliver Twist.

So, as a friend, what can you do? Well, you have to pick a place that's comfortable, casual, but also doesn't look like you're trying too hard to find a cheap place for them (No Gray's Papaya).

Otto is celebrity chef Mario Batali's pizza and pasta place, that although serving delicious rustic food for incredibly cheap prices, the atmosphere is sophisticated, fun and even a little fancy. But don't be fooled by the crowds inside or the decor - Otto is famous for its $9 Pastas, $13 pizzas, and plenty of $35 bottles of wine.

Maybe it's just me, but good and cheap pizza is easy to find. Good and cheap pasta is difficult. So I say, skip the pizza and take full advatange of the pasta menu - where Mario Batali has put classic hearty flavors into beautiful and classic dishes - FOR 9 FREAKING DOLLARS. Where else are you going to get that? Nowhere. That's where.

Tip: The bar area is designed like an Italian train station, and during prime hours, tables are called on a giant flipping train schedule on the wall - so be sure to pay attention not to miss your train/table.


Sunday, November 1, 2009 spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Chelsea Market
75 9th Avenue
Between 15th and 16th Street

I hate sunny Sundays - with all the getting up at a reasonable hour, the showering, the walking aimlessly around the city, and the guilt that I didn't "take advantage of the weather". No way. Give me a rainy Sunday any Sunday. Give me movies on the couch, snacking and napping. And maybe - give me ONE place to go to get a great variety of food, without having to get wet - give me Chelsea Market.

Chelsea Market is a one floor mall that is home to an incredible variety of food shops - from fresh bread to fresh lobster. I love to walk it's simple layout, and stop at each place and get one small thing to eat. You can get out of there spending $30 and have a delicious meal. It's a great place for a date, when parents are in town, or even just by yourself to kill a couple hours.

I suggest:
The free wine tastings at Chelsea Wine Vault
The Spicy Noodles at Chelsea Thai
The soup at The Lobster Place
The chocolate chip cookies at Eleni's
The stracciatella gelato at L'Arte Del Gelato

Tip: If you feel like getting adventurous (and much more costly), get an appetizer at some of the city's best restaurants, like Buddhakan, Del Posto, and Morimoto, all located on the periphery of the Market.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 make up for making your boyfriend watch The Notebook.

299 Bowery
Between Houston and 1st Street

Here's a newsflash - Guys tend to be a little over dramatic about what we have to put up with. Going shoe shopping with you, or to see your best friend for brunch, or going to your parents house for the weekend isn't exactly like being water-boarded - but we sure act like it is. And there's nothing we hate more, than to be subjected to 2 hours of absolute drivel like Mamma Mia! or The Notebook.

Once the credits rolls, it takes some serious work to make us feel better, no matter how much you said the movie means to you. So, if you have a grumpy, pouty man in your life that you need to apologize for making them suffer through gems like The English Patient, The Piano, actually any movie that starts with "The" and has a classical music soundtrack - there's nothing you can do, except put some food in our mouths and the best place to regain our respect and love is at the new gastropub DBGB.

This just-opened lower east side hot spot, created by Daniel Boulud as his alternative to his more fancy Daniel and The Modern, has a menu that is more masculine than Rambo. Once he sees the Sausage Menu there's no way that your guy won't start to warm up and crack a smile. One sausage is a great starter for one person, but you should carry on and get one of the incredible burgers or anything else from the grill. Be sure to save room for desert, where they make delicious plays on the classic ice cream sundae.

Tip: There's always a chance to get a table, even last minute - the very large front area of the restaurant is a "first come first serve" bar area.

Tip 2: The beer list is amazing, with some great selects from around the world - but be warned, some can be as expensive as $50 a pint. Seriously. So be careful not to say to the waiter, "bring me something good."


Monday, October 12, 2009

...after a long vacation and you want to feel like a New Yorker again.

Abe and Arthur's
409 West 14th St.
(Between 9th and 10th)

You never know what you have until it's gone. Usually people say that about a relationship, a job, or maybe an STD - But for me a few days ago, it meant a good beer, a good steak, and a good dessert. After I came back from a trip overseas, where everything I ate seemed to taste like lamb and yogurt, I was in serious need for some good American food and to reconnect with New York. I found it at Abe and Arthur's.

Located in the heart of the Meatpacking district, you are thrown right back into the hip and hectic vibe of the city. The staff is beautiful, the music is great, and the food is fantastic. What else can you ask for after a trip to the Congo, or Shanghai, or Kansas?

The menu is substantial, but my recommendations are the Sliders, the Rib Eye for two, and the Mac and Cheese. And you can not miss the best part of the meal - dessert. At Abe and Arthur's they serve a Ferris Wheel of donuts. Yup, I said it. These perfectly warm and soft fritters are served with two small squeeze bottles, one cream, and one jelly, and you use them to "inject" your donut with whichever flavor suits you best. Oh man...I'm weak just thinking about it.

Tip: If you aren't paying attention, your bill can easily get to the $100 per person mark - but if you have to trim - cut back on the $12 sides and the $14 cocktails.

Friday, September 18, 2009

...when your Italian grandmother comes up from Florida and wants "real Italian" even though she really means "fake Italian"

200 West 44th Street
(Between 8th Ave and Shubert Alley)
2450 Broadway
(Between 90th and 91st St)

Here's something you could never tell your Italian grandmother - Italians don't call sauce "gravy", they don't call Manicotti "Manigot" and they never, ever eat Spaghetti with Meatballs. The Great Depression and good-old American marketing convinced Italians in Little Italy that cooking is about feeding as many people as possible with the cheapest ingredients as possible - and that's how "Italian-American Cooking" was born and it still exists itoday (See: Olive Garden).

Now, while there has been a great influx of authentic Italian restaurants in NYC, serving elegant and sophisticated dishes - when Nana comes up from Florida, what she really wants is Veal Parm, Fried Calamari, and of course some Spaghetti and Meatballs. So, pack up the kids, call the aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws, and head to Carmine's.

Perfect for families, this Italian food factory produces a delicious menu that is 100% Italian grandma approved - from Chicken Marsala, to Shrimp Fra Diavolo, to yes, Spaghetti and Meatballs. With menus on the walls and all the dishes served family style, everyone gets to have a taste of everything, and the atmosphere is light and fun (No sommelier and nothing has truffle oil). And not to sound too much like your grandma - have some of the Rigatoni Country style, it's my favorite. You could use a little more meat on your bones, anyway.

Tip: The portions are BIG, so the 6th grade algebra is-

3 People =
1 Appetizer +1 Pasta + 1 Meat

Map to Uptown Location
Map to Theater District

Thursday, September 10, 2009

...when that creepy guy from high school facebooks you to meet for a drink.

Ace Bar
531 East 5th Street
(Between Avenue A and B)

If I've learned anything from meeting up with high school friends from Facebook, it's that social awkwardness is not a phase. If you were goofy at 16, then you're goofy at 36. So when that creepy guy from school won't stop hounding you to catch up - writing on your wall, sending messages or commenting on your status - the best thing to do is accept the offer and suggest Ace Bar on the Lower East Side.

The key to a successful "Just get it over with" drink is the atmosphere. You need it busy enough to drown out any awkward silences, but calm enough to actually hear each other and "catch up" so you NEVER have to do this again. Great for after work or early weekend hours, Ace Bar has a calm vibe, but also offers great time killers like Pool, Darts, Buck Hunter, and best of all - Skee Ball. It also has great conversation starters like the wall of vintage lunchboxes (Thundercats anyone?), and a giant 3-D Werewolf poster.

Tip: As I said, this is a great place for off-hours. During late night hours this place can get packed with what some consider the "frattiest" crowd imaginable. But really, are you going out till 2am with this creepy dude? I hope not.

Sunday, August 30, 2009 take that girl in the sparkly top you picked up at the last bar.

Macao Trading Company
311 Church Street
(Between Lispanard and Walker)

Picking up women in this city isn't easy - unless of course you are ridiculously attractive and have charm to spare. I unfortunately have neither, so in order to impress a woman I've had to be VERY funny and have a VERY good plan. So for all of you guys out there that have somehow managed to convince a beautiful girl in a sparkly top to follow you to another bar...then I suggest hailing the first cab you see down to Macao Trading Company - and while you're in the cab, maybe spark a conversation about Gummi Bears vs. Duck Tales.

The Macao Trading Company lets you be in trendy TriBeCa, but still have a laid back, hangout atmosphere. The decor is of a Chinese naval lost and found, with the walls covered in adornments and the faux upstairs is full of chests and cages.

When you enter the dimly lit ground floor bar with Ms. Sparkly, the bartenders clad in white lab-coats offer a warm service, which is good seeing that you are paying $12.50 a drink. The crowd is a mix of eclectic locals, fashionable Upper East-siders, and the still-employed Wall Street types, and the women who love them - basically all the people who will never admit that they are on Facebook.

With the hip surroundings, the good drinks and your should be doing well. If you're not, there's always one final card you can play. Take her by the hand and walk to the unmarked door behind the hostess stand. No, it's not a dark alley, it's a secret dance club. If this doesn't make her happy, and get the sparkley top swinging, then nothing will.

Tip: Macao is known as the Monte Carlo of the Orient, so if you're looking to gamble, then try the food. It's hit or miss.


Sunday, August 23, 2009 take your hipster friend who hates everything.

Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Avenue (Between 10th and 11th St)

Damn hipsters, you can't take them anywhere. Everyplace is "too judgey" or "full of guys with cell phone clips." I don't know what skinny jeans and a huge V-neck t-shirt does to people, but they turn into real drags. Well, we all have friends who go through a hipster phase and when you want to take them for some good food, with a bit of coolness and a bit of irony, then Momofuku Noodle Bar is your place. Located in the heart of the East Village, you are centrally located in hipster-ville, close to St. Marks St. and the lower east side so your friend won't have to travel very far to meet you. Known for the Momofuku Ramen, the short menu will keep them from fretting for an hour over which meal makes them looks the coolest.

All right, I'm a bit biased because I could eat Ramen every day of my life. Actually, for a while I did, but after 2 bouts of kidney stones I realized that I needed to tone it down to a monthly delight. The Momofuku Ramen is incredibly decadent, and for $16, this bowl of soup better be. With a generous amount of pork belly, fresh noodles and richly seasoned broth, you immediately realize, this soup is not from a bright pink bag marked "pork flavor" and sold 6 for a dollar. This is the real deal. Another crown jewel of this joint is the steamed pork buns, where two thick slices of pork belly are placed on perfectly soft steamed bread, topped with cucumber and a touch of sauce. If there is a meal to melt the pretentious facade of a hipster, this is it.

Tip: If you want a show, ask for a seat at the kitchen bar and you can watch highly trained chefs do what they do best.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

...for a late night drink with that cute coworker.

The Campbell Apartment
Grand Central Station (Southwest Corner)

It's late and you've been pretending to work on a "big project" when really you've been surfing the net waiting for 9:30 to roll around so you can walk by the only cubicle still lit up, where the that smoking-hot workaholic sits, and you can say "Come on, let's take a break and grab a drink. We deserve it."

Well, now that you've worked up the courage to ask them out, now you need the perfect place to go. You could go to the Irish pub across the street - but if you want to make an impression, you need to take them somewhere memorable, somewhere that'll be "your place." And who knew the perfect place would just be a few blocks away in Grand Central Station? The Campbell Apartment is an elegant and intimate bar that's the best spot in midtown to get someone to relax, stop talking about work, and start to open up. You can both order your favorite drinks, sit at the beautiful bar, and maybe after a few, move to the comfortable couches at the far walls. Just try to hold back smiling when other coworkers hear about it and ask if it was a date, and you say "A date? Come on. Grow up."

Tip: The bar requires proper attire (No hats, t-shirts or sneakers) and wait until 8pm, after the huge crowd of commuters leave to come by.

Fun Fact: The Campbell Apartment was never an actual apartment, but a private office of tycoon John Campbell. After falling into disrepair, the room served many different purposes, including a jail.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

…for a girls lunch with your rich mother-in-law.

Bottega Del Vino
7 East 59th Street (Between 5th and Madison)

The perfect panini is a lot like your rich mother-in-law, soft and warm on the inside, but a little crusty on the outside. At Bottega Del Vino, you can bring both of them together when you’re out shopping on her platinum AMEX. Split into two parts, an upscale Italian restaurant and the more causal café, the café is the true gem – a wine bar that serves delicious sandwiches and incredible wines served by waiters in tuxedos. This place is perfect when you’ve walked through Central Park, shopped on 5th Avenue, or as an escape from the madness of Bloomingdales.

You'll know it’s location as "across the street from the flagship Apple Store" but your loaded mother-in-law knows it as "across the street from The Plaza". Elegant with a dash of fun, you can both be comfortable without the pretentious atmosphere of her first choice, the Four Seasons.

Tip: Be sure to specify to the hostess you’d like to sit in the café and politely decline a table on the sidewalk of the heavily trafficked, exhaust haze filled street.

Tip 2: You can make this place as expensive as you want, with the cured filet mignon panini for $10.50, or the white Alba truffles over fontina cheese panini for $48.

Friday, August 7, 2009

...for when you're sick and tired of vodka tonics.

Flatiron Lounge
37 West 19th (Between 5th and 6th)

It doesn't matter if your drink of choice is an Amstel Light, Jack and Coke or a spiked Shirley Temple - isn't it time to try something new? Flatiron Lounge in Union Square strives to bring back the golden age of the cocktail, and with their intimate art-deco atmosphere, jazz music and skilled bar staff, they more than succeed. But what makes the Flatiron Lounge stand out is their nightly "Flights". Each evening they create three signature cocktails that feature a similar theme and serve them to you all at once. The night's theme can be around a specific liquor or a topic like "Rat Pack Favorites". It's the best way to try 3 new mixed drinks without being worried you'll be sick in the morning.

Tip: With three drinks in front of you, it's hard to pace yourself. Try.