Every day, from morning until almost midnight, we at The Infatuation field restaurant questions through our text messaging service Text Rex. Real humans employed by The Infatuation answer all your questions, no robots involved. Which means we get to read and be inspired by the things you ask us.
Until we hire some more people, we can’t make an Infatuation guide to address every question that comes across the wire, but we can make an advice column inspired by Text Rex questions. Because we make the rules here, and if you’ve ever dealt with forgetting to make a reservation for your son’s 23rd birthday (which is tonight) or need a place to take your extremely loud coworkers, perhaps you’ll relate. So please keep hitting us with your creative, complicated restaurant requests. Though to the person who recently asked about where to find a “shrimp happy hour,” we’re pretty sure that’s not a thing.
(Questions have been edited, because we value your privacy and we want you to be able to convince your coworkers you came up with these ideas all by yourself. But they’re all inspired by real requests we’ve received.)
“Hi Rex!! Please help. It is my son’s birthday tonight, he is turning 23. I have been very busy and forgot to plan anything. Don’t want to seem like a bad mom. We live in the city and go out all the time. We will be six people.“
Your sense of concern is palpable, so we really doubt you are a Bad Mom. We actually get the sense you are the kind of mom who checked in to make sure her son changed his sheets and had clean underwear when he went off to college. It’s a bit strange that your son hasn’t texted you, “Hey mom where’s dinner?” yet, to say nothing of the other four people attending, so we’ll stick to the matter at hand.
It can seem like it’s impossible to get a reservation in this city, but it’s not, as long as you don’t try to go to somewhere brand new. Here are a few great, interesting restaurants where you can probably get a last-minute reservation for a group: Tuome, Houseman, Virginia’s, Hanjan, Prospect, and La Vara.
“So it’s my anniversary on Wednesday and I made reservations at Upland, Carbone, and Babbo. Which would one should I go for?“
Congratulations, you are officially the opposite of our Bad Mom above, but we’re also a little worried about you. Are you afraid of your spouse, or simply unable to make decisions? Why are you holding onto reservations that other people would desperately like to have?
The good news is we see you did your homework and picked a number of our absolute favorite restaurants. There’s something special about Babbo that makes it feel like it’s the right choice, but it’s worth considering you will absolutely be too full for the stuff people usually do on their anniversaries when they get home. A primetime Carbone reservation is also pretty hard to come by, so you might want to use that one.
We’ll take your Upland reservation.
“Any ideas for a rowdy work dinner for 14 people? We rented the back room at a bar for our holiday party and were asked to leave so need something that can accommodate people who get loud.”
First of all, this sounds like a pretty serious liability, so please be careful. We warned you.
Our first thoughts are to recommend something like the downstairs at Tijuana Picnic, or the back area at Lil Frankies. But you’ll need to not act like complete animals. They’re rowdy restaurants, but they’re also not frat houses. If you really plan to turn this into a complete sh*tshow, you could go to Sammy’s Roumanian or Puglia, a ridiculous Little Italy restaurant that does a $36 price fixed menu that includes wine. Afterwards, you guys can hit Tropical 128 and share scorpion bowls of Long Island Iced Tea. Godspeed, and don’t tell HR we sent you.
“Going on a second date... was thinking a place with games?“
Where did anyone ever get the idea that playing games in a smelly bar was a good way to get to know someone? No one wants to go on a date to play shuffleboard. Because no one actually knows how to play shuffleboard. If you really must do this, Fat Cat is the place. But stop trying to be creative, and just go to dinner and drinks - this list should help.
“Hi Rex, I am looking for something between Bushwick and the Upper West Side.“
Interesting. If this were real Text Rex, we’d ask some follow up questions at this point. Are you dating someone who lives on the Upper West Side, while you live in Bushwick? Or vice versa? If that’s the case, well, might we suggest you just pick one of the two neighborhoods? And spare the whole, “Sooo... where should we go now that dinner’s over?” thing? The new Bunker location in Bushwick would be fun for a casual date. On the Upper West, maybe try Celeste.
If you actually need to meet in “the middle,” that’s probably somewhere in the middle of the East River. You could try something in the East Village or take the opportunity to meet in the no-man’s land of 31st and Madison and eat at the incredible Her Name Is Han.