Thursday, January 8, 2009

It’s After Midnight. Dinner Anyone?

dell_anima-small44When I first met Celest I knew we’d be best friends when, surrounded by a group of clearly self-righteous 9-5ers, she loudly exclaimed, “There’s no inherent value in being a morning person!” I’m a night person. Period. And hearing Celest utter those sage words lifted me of a 20- year guilt trip I’d been carrying on my shoulders like a poorly constructed purse strap attached to a 50 pound bag of bricks…needless to say the guilt was crippling every time I admitted to setting my alarm to 11 AM. After meeting Celest, I put the bag down and copped to my late night internal clock. She taught me to trust that just because most of the world runs on a morning schedule, that doesn’t make morning people qualitatively better; they’re just more common. And as all good foodies know, those meals that are most common are rarely those that are most prized.

So my gift to you this holiday season is the ultimate late night list for New York City dining destinations serving gorgeous food past midnight, guilt free. This list will help you in a pinch if you typically go to bed at a “reasonable hour” but one night find yourself out gallivanting ‘til dawn, in need of some serious eats. If, like me, you’re truly nocturnal, this list will also help make certain you’re hitting up all the best spots ‘round town for all the choice bites come the bewitching hour. Quite a few wine bars made it onto the list, a vestige from their late night European roots I’m sure, as have a good deal of locations in my own neighborhood. What can I say? I like my late nights downtown and walking distance from my apartment. Guilty as charged. These days, a girl’s gotta save on cab fare.

Top 30 Late Night Hotspots

1. Best of the Best: dell’anima
My current neighborhood obsession, for its open kitchen that actually stays that way ‘til 2 AM every night. Not to mention the perfetto pastas, the smoothest ricotta this side of the Atlantic, and Joe’s smile!

Location: 38 8th Ave. at Jane St. (West Village)
Kitchen open until: 2am, 7 days a week
Standard Order: Braised Octopus & Ricotta Ravioli (often these are not on the menu
so be sure to ask if they can be made to order), about $16

2. Best Spicy: Fatty Crab
Once upon a time they stayed open ‘til 4 AM nightly…Now I’m lucky to squeeze in under the wire for my chili crab fix paired with a coconut filled with rum, but it’s damn worth waiting for a table at this village rockstar.

Location: 643 Hudson St. btw. Gansevoort and Horatio St. (West Village)
Kitchen open until: Monday-Saturday, 2 am and Sunday 12 am
Standard Order: Chili Crab (mp), Pickled Watermelon with Pork Belly ($12),
Young Coconut and Rum ($12)

3. Best Eclectic: Blue Ribbon
My first NYC apartment was on this same Soho block. For me, Blue Ribbon has always felt like coming home (for fried chicken), after a boozy night out. The crowd is always hopping, as does the menu—from French to Southern comfort food in one fell swoop. For small plates, check out their wine bar on Downing St…it’s a fave.

Location: 97 Sullivan St. bt. Spring and Prince (Soho)
Kitchen open until: 4 am, 7 days a week
Standard Order: Fried Chicken ($21), Oysters (1/2 dozen for $12), Cheese Fondue ($14)

4. Best Pick-up Joint: Employees Only
Everybody should be so lucky to have Employees Only as their “local.” I’m spoiled by the martinis, the menu, the 4 AM gratis chicken soup, not to mention the accommodating gentlemen behind the bar.

Location: 510 Hudson St., btw. Christopher’s St. and W. 10th St. (West Village)
Kitchen open until: 4am, 7 days a week
Standard Order: The Ginger Smash ($14), The Tagliatelle ($16), The Staff Meal (varies)

5. Best Gastro-Pub: Spotted Pig
If you don’t get the gnudi at The Pig, you’d better order the burger, and though the kitchen closes at 2AM, the party continues upstairs, way into the wee hours…Just smile and wink your way past what seems like a fire exit. Cheers, this is gastro-pub fare at its finest!

Location: 314 W. 11th St. at Greenwich St. (West Village)
Kitchen open until: 2 am, 7 days a week
Standard Order: Gnudi ($15), Cheeseburger ($17), Cask Ale ($9)

6. Best Uptown: Landmarc
An uptown option worth traveling for! Yes, technically it’s in a mall, but so is fellow Time Warner Center resident Per Se. This is a great option when you find yourself out late, and inexplicably, way above 14th St. With a plethora of reasonably priced half bottles of wine and a dessert sampler to feed a crowd, you can create your own tasting menu.

Location: 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Fl. (Central Park South)
Kitchen open until: 2 am, 7 days a week
Standard Order: Steak Tartare ($18), Caesar Salad ($13), Pasta of the Day (varies)

7. Best Midnight Eggs: Inoteca
Midnight Eggs at Inoteca are served truffled, on toast, and over a bed of asparagus, from brunch through late night so your cravings are covered all day long. W
ash it down with the perfect pairing: a bellini at breakfast or a glass of nero d’avola at dinner. Buon Appetito!

Location: 98 Rivington St. at Ludlow St. (LES)
Kitchen open until: 3am, 7 days a week
Standard Order: Truffle Egg Toast ($ 7), Cheese Plate ($11-$21), Verdura Misti ($8)

8. Best Kept Secret: Smith and Mills
This Tribeca trendsetter caters to the fashion & film crowds whose appetites are for tiny glasses of vino and an even tinier menu. Ladies should definitely powder up in the bathroom – it’s brilliant.

Location: 71 N. Moore St. (Tribeca)
Kitchen open until: 3am, 7 days a week
Standard Order: Charcuterie Plate ($18), Fennel Mac And Cheese ($14), Scallop Ragu ($20)

9. Best Tapas: Bar Carrera
Bar Veloce was the original, but Carrera stole my heart with its sultry Spanish/no fuss, E. Village vibe. Now the Houston St. location is my fave—Stefan runs the place with style and charm. On offer late: delicious and unexpected wines, sherries and an array of tempting tapas. Hey, even Mario insists Spanish ham is better than Italian…

Location: 175 2nd Ave (Soho)
Kitchen open until: 1:45am, 7 nights a week
Standard Order: chorizo bocadillo ($6), lamb meatballs ($6), cabrales cheesecake ($5)

10. Best Sherry: Terroir
A FREE sherry happy hour everyday from 5-6 and late night eats every night till 1 AM…is this New York or am I just dreaming? The folks at Terroir have dreamt up a quiet little village wine bar that’s part college kid casual (note the binder as menu) and part liberal adult chic (the Obama t-shirts say it all) while paying equal homage to unusual wines and nibbles from around the world.

Location: 413 E. 12th St. at 1st Ave (East Village)
Kitchen open until: Mon-Sat 2am
Standard Order: Sherry (free!), Cauliflower Frittata ($6), Sage Fried Sausage ($7)

To be continued…

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One Response to “It’s After Midnight. Dinner Anyone?”


  1. Christine

    I love your dining lists! I went to the Spotted Pig for my birthday with some friends and we ordered the gnudi and burger, as you suggested. The gnudi dish was definitely our favorite!

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