Back when Jake and I were dating, Thursday was my favorite night of the week. I would scoop him up from his work-trip at the Atlanta airport, always clad in his dashing business casual attire, and we would drive off to a local restaurant for date night.
Now, married and living in New York City, his business trips have shifted from plains to trains and our weekly date nights toggle between Wednesday & Thursday. At any rate, we reserve these evenings serendipitous drop-in date nights in our new neighborhood.
Here are a few our favorite finds so far!
1. Thursday Kitchen | East Village
Casual spot for Korean cooking with French & Spanish influences, plus playful drinks & desserts
This small but mighty kitchen completely blew us away with unique flavor profiles and unorthodox takes on Korean classics. We were so infatuated with our evening there that we ventured the very next day to their sister kitchen... (see below)
2. Mokyo | East Village
Korean-inspired comfort food & small plates in a casual, rustic setting with exposed brick walls.
If we thought Thursday Kitchen was good, we were unprepared for the dynamite flavors that leaped off the menu at Mokyo. If we had to compare, Thursday Kitchen is perfect for a casual yet cozy evening out with someone you've been seeing - Mokyo, on the other hand, is first date level. Even bring-your-boss-to-impress-them level. My favorite item? The miniature lobster rolls. They are just a good as they are cute!
3. Wayan | in Nolita
Cédric Vongerichten (son of Jean-Georges) serves French-accented Indonesian fare in a sleek setting.
When people ask me what my creative hobbies are outside of painting, I say exploring creative cuisine. Case in point, our dining experience at Wayan was a work of art. The atmosphere is delicious, the presentation is stunning, and the Indonesian palette is a true culinary adventure. Every bite will have you seeing colors!
4. Deluxe Green Bo | in Chinatown
Soup dumplings, scallion pancakes & more drive this lively, utilitarian Shanghai-cuisine specialist.
Admittedly, we have been here twice together (and once on my own!) in the short time that we have lived here. Each visit we stuck to their menu hard hitters - the pork soup dumplings and the spicy wontons with peanut sauce. For a mere $20 & two satisfied stomachs, that is my kind of fast-casual date night.
5. Fiaschetteria “Pistoia” | West Village
Pastas, prosciutto & other Tuscan dishes are paired with Italian wines at this intimate eatery.
The perfect, novelty spot for an intimate evening in West Village. Imagine eating in a bustling Italian restaurant the size of your parents living room, sipping on house made wine, and devouring a warm plate of pasta you saw getting prepared as you walked through the front door. This place does not take reservations and is 100% worth the wait.
6. Nyonya | Little Italy
Down-to-earth restaurant serving ample portions of traditional Malaysian cuisine.
I am surprised to be adding this one to the list given how long it took Jake to convince me to go here. What this restaurant lacks in interior vavavoom certainly makes up for in flavor. When navigating the menu, don't be afraid to ask the server for their favorites. We did & devoured everything that came to the table.
7. Nowon | East Village
Korean-American plates are served in an intimate setting with hip hop influences.
We came here on a double date when we first moved and I am still thinking about the tasting menu we splurged on. This spot is aesthetically my antithesis, which was half of the fun, but every thing that came to the table was speaking my language. Could not recommend enough for an off-beat, memorable evening with friends!
8. WanWan | in NoLita
A new Thai spot with a rotating menu
Jake, once again, gets all the credit for taking us here. The food was so unbelievably prepared that I submitted a five star review on our walk home! I don't believe the buzz has caught up to this joint yet, so I would book it now while you can!
9. Omakase by Korami | in Hell's Kitchen
Compact menu-free operation with colorful decor offering reimagined sushi dishes.
I can officially say that I understand the hype around omakase experiences in New York City. This one was a more budget friendly option compared to others we've seen, but the individual flavor profiles of each of the 15 courses was worth that and more. The entire restaurant seats about 12 people and you sit right at the counter to watch the magic happen. If you see Chef Henry, please say hello for us!
10. Epistrophe | in Nolita
Brick walls & bookshelves lend character to this homey spot serving Italian fare & global wines.
A dear favorite. If I had a 90's TV show based in New York, this restaurant would be my version of Central Perk from Friends. They serve food all day and maintain a quaint and kind atmosphere at all hours. This is one of the places we hope to take our parents for their next visit!