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There are several reasons why this buzzy East Village restaurant continues to live up to the hype -- David Chang’s refined food, a cozy wood-paneled atmosphere, and the large-format Bo Ssäm supper. For the latter, it’s $250 (or $25 a head) for six to 10 people to feast on pork shoulder that has been cooked overnight and slow-roasted for six to eight hours, a dozen oysters, rice, lettuce, and an array of sauces (Korean-style barbecue and kimchee-and-ginger scallion) for wrap-making. Those looking to spend a little more cash can opt for the Bo Ssäm five- or six-course prix fixe for 11 or more, which includes pork belly steamed buns with hoisin sauce and arctic char with beet bonji and crème fraiche (five-course, $65; six-course, $75).
How to reserve: Call 212.254.3500
Steak frites three ways, duck au poivre, and grilled trout with eggplant caviar for you and 59 of your closest friends is just one phone call away. The expansive dining room at this charming Boerum Hill French/American spot, which is outfitted in marble tables, brown banquettes, and a mahogany bar, can seat up to 60 people (or 35 in the enchanting back garden). If you even know that many humans, congratulations. If not, just know that there’s plenty of room for that not-so-intimate birthday dinner or large brunch affair. Vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free diners can all be taken care of, too.
How to reserve: Parties of up to 10 people must call 718.935.1200
Situated in the heart of Harlem, this Afro-Asian-American brasserie offers both a spacious dining room and a wonderfully varied menu sure to fit even your pickiest friend’s tastes. Start with appetizers like the whole Nigerian prawns and short ribs before moving on entrees like tamarind-glazed oxtails and cinnamon-scented fried guinea hen. For those who like to mix and match, there’s also a wok bar to create your own main course. Big groups can always be easily accommodated -- just make sure to call ahead to save your spot.
How to reserve: Call 212.866.1262; for parties of 15 or more, email email@example.com.
If you’re the kind of crew who rolls deep and eats a lot, make your way to Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng’s Chinese eatery, which is tucked underneath RedFarm in the West Village. The large-format dinners at the 22-seat communal table don’t come cheap (it’s $78 a head), but you get your money’s worth in the form of succulent, cooked-to-order Peking duck along with duck consommé shots, pancakes, three different sauces, and other tasty sides.
How to reserve: Call 212.691.9700
Other than that one vegetarian friend, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone opposed to a meatball-centric dinner. Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman’s empire is a comfort-food goldmine. While there are plenty of locations to choose from (LES, UWS, UES, West Village), the Chelsea location houses a private lounge that can seat up to 32 guests at a time. Tucked beneath the restaurant, the space is aptly named Underballs. Each guest gets to choose two balls (beef, spicy pork, chicken veggie), two sauces (classic tomato, spicy meat, mushroom gravy, Parmesan gravy, and pesto), three sides (salad, mashed potatoes, broccoli, polenta, white beans), and two ice cream sandwiches for sharing -- all for just $25 a head. P.S. If you happen to find yourself in Brooklyn, the Williamsburg outpost houses two communal tables that can accommodate 10 each.
How to reserve: Call 212.257.4363
Lower East Side
This Jewish steakhouse housed inside an old-school LES basement is like the ultimate bat mitzvah -- except this time around, everyone’s drinking (wait, what was your bat mitzvah like?). Singalongs, Yiddish folk music, dancing the hora, and swigging shots of vodka from an ice-enclosed bottle are all part of the rowdy, memorable night you’ll have at Sammy’s. When you’re not dancing in the center of the room, gorge yourself on chicken liver, beef tenderloin topped with chicken fat, and potato pancakes. The space comes with long tables that can fit up to 40 -- just make sure you reserve well in advance.
How to reserve: Call 212.673.0330
Tapas dinners with tons of people typically suck -- you shell out tons of cash for a couple bites and end up having to stop for a slice of pizza on your way home. That’s not the case at this Meatpacking spot, which serves up a family-style menu, including salt cod fritters and orzo with squid ink, cuttlefish, and goat cheese alongside large-format drinks like sangria. Groups of eight or more can even add a paella or dry-aged rib-eye to the mix. The space, which features large windows and a mix of industrial and refined details, accommodates parties of up to 16, and you also have the option of sitting at the chef’s table to take in all the behind-the-scenes action.
How to reserve: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212.691.2360
Don’t let the small space you see up front fool you. Besides having some of the best thin-crust pizza in NYC, this family-run establishment has enough space in the back to accommodate everyone and their mother (parties of eight to 20), but still somehow feels cozy and homey. Definitely order a crisp pie with toppings like vodka sauce, sweet sausage, broccoli rabe, and ricotta, but don’t miss out on other non-pizza options like chicken Parm, spaghetti & meatballs, and carbonara.
How to reserve: Email email@example.com
Located in Midtown East, this nautical-themed eatery is the ideal spot for meals with your family or coworkers. The atmosphere is at once refined and laid-back (marble bar, salvaged wood) and there’s an excellent oyster happy hour, perfect for post-work cravings. All fish on the menu is locally caught and used in dishes like handmade squid ink spaghetti, lobster curry with Japanese eggplant & fresh bamboo shoots, and seared rare yellowfin tuna. While there’s plenty of space in the main dining area, there’s also a private room upstairs that can hold from eight to EIGHTY people, should you ever need to invite the entire town of Jud, North Dakota out for a meal.
How to reserve: Call 646.895.9585
It’s all about the bird at this popular Peruvian chain, and if you’ve got enough fowl-loving friends, bring them to the the extra-large Queens location, which has two levels and several dining areas, including a back patio. The Matador combo comes with a massive rotisserie chicken and fixings like yellow rice, beans, tostones, and avocado salad. Plump and juicy, the chicken is the result of a 12-hour marinating process that involves cumin, garlic, Peruvian beer, and other flavorful ingredients. Other South American staples (think paella and ceviche) are also available.
How to reserve: Call 718.426.1010
1. Momofuku Ssäm Bar207 2nd Ave, New York
2. French Louie320 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
3. The Cecil210 West 118th St, New York
4. Decoy529 Hudson St, New York
5. The Meatball Shop64 Greenwich Ave, New York
6. Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse157 Chrystie St, New York
7. Toro85 10th Ave, New York
8. Rubirosa235 Mulberry St, New York
9. Pio Pio 28402 Northern Blvd, Jackson Heights
10. Crave Fishbar428 Amsterdam Ave, New York
The word Ssäm refers to a Korean dish of wrapped meat, much like a burrito. Momofuku Ssäm Bar, David Chang’s no-reservations, East Village restaurant centers around Ssäm and similar Korean street food, with a heavy focus on pork and offal. (Vegetarians, tread lightly: the menu states that meatless options are available upon request, but that’s really what you're here for.) From the daily changing menu, staples that should be ordered without question include pork buns (a few, at least), kimchee (obviously), fried Brussels sprouts, cured country hams, and Ssäm, which is only available in large-format at dinner. Aside from a shorter table wait, lunch service offers individual Ssäm options like rotisserie duck, pork shoulder, and beef brisket. Always order extra pancakes.
This Boerum Hill establishment slings French-American fare and mixes up superb craft 'tails.
The Cecil, the supper club sister to jazz joint Minton's in Harlem, fuses the flavors of Asia, Africa and North America. Inspired by Executive Chef Joseph "JJ" Johnson's travels, the menu is always changing, but past hits include now-famous oxtail dumplings, hearty gumbo, and a jumbo shrimp burger snazzed with kimchi and scallions. Don't expect ordinary French fries here: Cecil's take encapsulates the spot's eye for innovations, doing away with potato in favor of battered okra that comes out crispy and laced with salt.
Located just below its sibling restaurant Red Farm, Decoy can be a tight fit, but the Decoy Chips -- which are actually fried branzino skin with black garlic dip (they're usually offered for free to start the meal) -- help immediately. Follow those with the main star; only 24 ducks are served each night , and the flavors mix traditional with fusions thanks to the sauces, including hoisin, sesame, and cranberry, and the pancakes manage to hold up to stuffing despite being incredibly thin.
Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman's meatball mini-chain has nailed down the concept of the build-it-yourself menu. The speciality is of course, meatballs, but you choose the type (beef, pork, chicken, or veggie), sauce (classic tomato, spicy meat, pesto, etc), and presentation (slider, hero, naked with a side of bread). Dessert is also customizable, and the ice cream sandwiches made with your choice of cookie and ice cream are a must.
Sammy's is a LES joint that's doling out massive steaks. What comes with these massive steaks? Oh, just a container of chicken fat that you can pour over your meal. Do it. We did!
After establishing the first Toro in Boston, chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette brought their tapas operation to New York. Set in a warehouse-like space on the western edge of Chelsea, Toro serves shareable Spanish plates that revolve around meat and seafood. To experience the full menu, start with a house cocktail and a few pinchos before moving on to hot and cold tapas, like chorizo chickpea stew and Galician octopus with potatoes. Be sure to save room for the paella, made the traditional Valencia way with shrimp, mussels, clams, chorizo, and chicken.
This family-run pizzeria has history on its side, with a thin-crust pizza recipe that has been winning over locals for the past 56 years -- especially when featured as the base for the fresh mozzarella-topped Vodka slice. Rubirosa also boasts other Italian classics, like a killer chicken Parm and housemade spaghetti and meatballs.
It's good that the Jackson Heights outpost of this Peruvian chain is cavernous -- the festive dining room boasts ample seating, so there's enough room for you to bring your friends whose help you're definitely going to need in order to conquer the heaping plates of succulent rotisserie chicken that Pio Pio doles out. The Matador Combo is the obvious standout -- a full fowl accompanied by yellow rice, beans, tostones, and salchipapa with avocado salad -- but the rest of the menu is equally solid, boasting authentic Peruvian fare like limeño cebiche and larger plates like the arroz con mariscos, a seafood-based paella topped with piquant salsa criolla.
This nautical-themed Upper West Side restaurant (with a sister location in Midtown) is your one-stop-shop for everything seafood. Crave serves classic maritime dishes with a twist, like Southeast Asian-inspired lobster curry and house-made squid ink spaghetti with chopped shrimp. The raw bar features more than a dozen varieties of East and West Coast oysters that pair well with creative house cocktails or glasses of crisp white wine.